Why I Lift Weights

Over the years, lifting weights along with eating paleo have changed my life for the better in more ways than I can describe in one simple blog post.  In my book, Everyday Paleo, I describe in detail my journey that led me to living a paleo lifestyle and how my own health and the health of my family improved drastically due to some major lifestyle changes. Consequently I love to write articles on this blog which focus primarily on paleo nutrition, lifestyle, recipes, how to feed a family paleo, and now and then you will find articles that also touch on fitness, mainly thanks to contributions by co-owner of EPLifeFit.com, our very own; Jason Seib.

Fitness is a huge part of my life but that doesn’t mean that I spend several hours a day thinking about my fitness or even working on my fitness!  Fortunately, after several years of trial and error and finally learning from and eventually working for the best of the best, (and eventually actually listening), I have found a way to incorporate the way I work out into how I live my life.  It. Just. Works.  I don’t have to plan for hours on end or try to fit it in.  I have simply made fitness a priority and not a drudgery or a duty or an appointment that I have to keep.  My relationship with fitness no longer defines how I want to look or something that I may or may not continue.  Fitness for me is insurance.  Insurance that I’ll get through my day, live longer, and someday lift my grandchildren and maybe even great-grandchildren high above my head rather than sit quietly while I hold them in my lap.

A large part of my fitness is lifting weights and below I have shared with you the 10 reasons why I choose to do just that.

Why I Lift Weights

1. I can save my family.  I know without a doubt that if I had to, I could carry and run or at least lift and drag every single member of my family, husband included, to safety if I needed to.  Jaden asked me several years ago when he was around five, “Mom, why do you workout?” and my response was, “Because Jaden, if I need to, I can carry you and your two bothers and run.”  His response was, “Cool!”  I like knowing that in any event, I am capable. To me, that’s empowerment.

2. I don’t get hurt anymore doing silly things and old injuries are gone. I can clearly remember the times I have gotten hurt prior to lifting weights and I realize now that lifting weights is not just about being strong but it’s really about stabilizing joints, becoming more coordinated, improving range of motion, and learning body awareness.  I clearly remember reaching behind me while seated to pick up a toy off the floor, and pulling a muscle in my back, simply from reaching my arm behind my back.  Now I can move with freedom, aware of how my body works, and how to accomplish day to day chores and how to play safely and with ease.   I also suffered for years from what was diagnosed at the ripe old age of 24, as chronic hip bursitis and at that time, I was told that all I could do to treat the pain was to rest.  Anyone with young children knows that the “rest” treatment plan is impossible. Today, thanks to paleo and lifting weights, the only time you’ll find me resting is when I’m actually tired.  That old searing, aching, throbbing pain in my hip that used to wake me up at night, sending John to the store to pick up more pain meds, is now a thing of the past.

3. I’m confident.  Lifting weights has taught me a lot about myself. I used to be ashamed, I would apologize for everything, I was lost in a sea of insecurities that I constantly tried to hide.  I have always been a fighter but anxiety and fear often knocked the fight right out of me and I would end up always back at square one; no matter what I thought I could accomplish, I always ended up holding myself back. Today, I am capable of talking about myself in a positive manner, and I can take a compliment and not feel ashamed or embarrassed like I used to.  I know I am capable of doing things I never thought possible before.  As I get older, I become more confident with who I am.  I stand up straight when I walk into a room with my head held high, and I have lost my old insecurities that used to plague me. After experiencing my body heal; to go from being sick and out of shape to someone who is capable and healthy, has been the best confidence booster I could have ever asked for.  I know that I can do it –  no matter what that IT might be.  Being strong is not just about what one can do physically; for me personally, lifting weights has given me more mental strength and toughness than I ever could have imagined, and this perk wasn’t something I expected or even hoped for when I first picked up a barbell.

4. My bones are healthy.  It is scientifically proven that you can build bone density by lifting weights. So today, I say yes to a straight spine, sturdy limbs, and I say yes to longevity. I will not relent and listen to the top Hollywood female trainers who scream and preach and whine that women should never lift more than three pounds and that we should use stretchy bandy things to workout so that we won’t get “bulky.”  Have any of you ladies out there ever carried a bag of groceries, a kid, your diaper bag, and your purse all at the same time?  Of course you have; and I’m guessing that all of those things individually, much less combined, probably weigh a bit more than three pounds. These “Hollywood trainers” that scowl at weight lifting also make recommendations like eating a baby food diet, which probably has a lot to do with celebrities having wonderful issues such as osteopenia.  I would like to have five minutes alone with some of those “Hollywood” trainers, but in the meantime, ladies, please eat real food and lift weights!  Your bones will thank you.

5. My kids are learning by example. I love it that my kids want to work out with us too.  We are showing them how to be active and the time we spend working out gives us MORE time with them and instead of laying by the pool, unable or unwilling to play, we are in there with them tossing kids up high, dunking and splashing.  They see us run after them, swing on the monkey bars, and they know when they ask us to pick them up, we will always say yes.  The other day, I heard a woman tell her child when he asked her to come play with him on the playground, “No honey, adults like to just sit and watch.” I could tell by how she looked longingly after him that she wanted to, but couldn’t. I lift weights because I never want to have to say that to my child.  I will not let life pass me by any longer as I sit and watch.  I did that for long enough and now; I’ll jump right in, every time that I can, because I can!

6. I get to hang out with my husband. Lifting weight is something John and I can do together and it has brought us closer.  John has held me up and has got me through every single tough time in my life and he is my rock.  When we lift weights together, I feel his support and encouragement and his happiness that he has a healthy wife, his joy that he has a strong woman to support him, and I see his confidence that we are teammates in this wonderful life. Together we are dedicated to being healthy for our children, and that pretty much rocks.

7. I finally understand what I’m doing in the gym. I used to be a gym wanderer.  I would spend time on a treadmill, an elliptical, or a bike and then I would just kind of wander.  I would try some machines and end up hurting something, not being sure how to use the machine, or being embarrassed.  Often I would use a machine and instead of feeling like I was working out, I would just sit there and wonder, “Why on earth will squeezing my legs together as I sit in this strange and uncomfortable fashion on this lame embarrassing machine make my thighs smaller – I have tried this “squeeze my legs together machine” for half my life and my thighs NEVER GET SMALLER!?!??”

That all changed when I started lifting.  I remember the first time I attempted to deadlift.  I had Robb next to me, coaching me, making sure my technique was dialed.  He explained to me how this movement would help me outside of the gym, and that I was also learning how to safely pick up objects (kids) and how the deadlift triggers a neurological and hormonal response that would make me feel better and become leaner!! Wow. This was the beginning for me! I realized that fitness, when executed correctly has a purpose and that my gym wandering days were over!!

8. I lift heavy weights because the rest of my life is a marathon.  All day I’m running.  Running after the kids, chasing the dogs who ran away again, picking up kids from school, taking them to the next thing, lugging groceries, playing soccer, tossing  footballs, mopping floors, running through airports, chopping, cooking, washing clothes.  It’s a daily freaking marathon.  Lifting weights is my Zen.  I have to concentrate, I have to be in my own body and present in that very moment.  I get to sweat.  I get to feel my heart beat, hold my breath, squat down low, stand up tall, hear the clank of metal on metal, grip tight to the bar, dig my feet into the ground.  I get to be me, and have it BE all about me, even for only a short 30 minutes, I am working towards being able to continue this crazy life that is my marathon, so why go to the gym to run MORE. I would much rather lift weights.

9. I worry less. I used to worry about working out, how I would fit it in, and if I didn’t work out everyday, I wouldn’t be burning the right amount of calories to stay in whatever might have been my current size of jeans.  I would start a program, like a boot camp I once did, and I would see some results, and then the boot camp would end, and I would worry.  What do I do now??? I don’t know WHAT to do, and I would watch those results disappear out the window.  Now, I worry less because of reason #7.  I know what to do!  I can go on vacation and NOT work out for a week or two and NOT WORRY because I know what to do when I come home and I understand that it’s not calories in and calories out but eating smart and exercising smart.  It’s liberating and let’s be honest, we all need one less thing to worry about.

10. I lift weights because I love myself and I love my body. And not in a “check me out sort of way.”  I love myself and I love my body because for the first time in my life I’m comfortable in the skin that I’m in.  I am capable.  I am not longer afraid.  I am ok.  I no longer look in the mirror and cry and fret over what I see, not because I see perfection looking back at me (because that will never happen and that’s ok because perfection is an illusion in our minds thanks to the above mentioned Hollywood trainers) but because I finally see health looking back at me.  I lift weights because it’s part of my long – life plan, not my squeeze my hind end into a bikini plan.  I have my head screwed on straight for the first time ever and that makes me happy.  I no longer dream of perfect thighs, but instead I dream of all the wonderful adventures that life has in store for me because I am finally capable of really living.

Thanks dear readers for continuing to follow Everyday Paleo and for letting me share my life and journey with you.  I love this little blog and although it’s changed and grown over the years, my heart is always here and I hope to continue to make Everyday Paleo as informative, fun and as useful as possible for folks and families striving to live a paleo  lifestyle.

For more on fitness and how I train, come on over and visit us at Everyday Paleo Lifestyle and Fitness.

As always, enjoy!

Comments

  1. Carie says

    Just the other day I told someone I truly feel like I could save my own life if I needed to. Like you said, it is empowering. Could not agree more about being an example to your kids. My boys see me taking care of myself…eating real food, lifting heavy things, sleeping and not sweating the small stuff. They totally get it. Lastly, Chuck and I are very close and we do a lot of things together that solidify our love for each other, but when we are in the gym together, whether it be a WOD, or lifting something, it brings a different, special kind of closeness that I cannot put into words. I know he is very proud of me and I know he loves that he would actually have to work hard to take me down. haha!
    Thank you for writing this…touched me very much.

  2. says

    Great post Sarah. And congratulations on all the changes you’ve made in your life. I’ve been lifting for years, but your post really opened my eyes to my girlfriends perspective. She struggles with many of the same issues you had when first starting at the gym. But she’s made it more of a priority in her life lately, and it’s pretty amazing to watch her gain both strength AND confidence. Going to pass this along to her. Thanks and keep up the great work.

    Jason

  3. says

    Very cool post! I just got back to crossfit after having a baby and slowly but surely my strength is returning. I did crossfit till I was 36 weeks pregnant and there are few things stranger than seeing a heavily pregnant woman doing a PR deadlift but I did it and I have a healthy, strong baby boy who I do push-presses and squats with whenever I can and who will always have a fit and strong mommy because of crossfit!

  4. Piper Harris says

    You could have been writing my life! Thank you for your honesty and vulnerability. I’m slowly but surely easing into #3, confidence is a weird thing. I’ve lacked it most my life and now that I’m feeling it I feel guilty for it! I realize this is breaking all those old thoughts and embracing who I am today, it’s great knowing you’ve experienced similar in your life-thanks again for sharing!

  5. Megan Ward says

    I have a selfish question regarding the hip bursitis. Since starting CrossFit and paleo about a year and a half ago, I now have chronic trochanteric bursitis (for about the past 9 months). I’ve never had it before. My primary doc suspects impact to be the cause (hello running and jumping) but is sending me to a PT for more thorough examination. I take about 740 mg of curcumin daily and 3 grams of DHA/EPA. In addition I eat strictly paleo, with the only cheats being some 85% dark chocolate a few times a week. I’ve taken a few weeks off here and there to try and kick it, also went on NSAIDS (boo!) for a while. Both worked, but it came back when activity resumed. Do you have any advice for people who develop something like bursitis when the habits get better, not worse? Sorry to jump on this, but I’ve been struggling so much with it lately (hello Memorial Day Murph – ouch) and got excited to see someone else mention it.

    • Lynda says

      Megan – I highly recommend this book on trigger point therapy. It describes in detail where and how to do self-massage on trigger points that cause referred pain elsewhere in the body. I was struggling with shoulder bursitis and tendonitis for over a year after starting crossfit, and applying the techniques in this book improved it greatly within a couple of weeks (after going to PT and chiropractors and taking NSAIDS didn’t really improve it). This book is great for all of the random aches & pains that crop up too.

      The Trigger Point Therapy Workbook: Your Self-Treatment Guide for Pain Relief, by Clair Davies

    • Sarah says

      Hi Megan,
      You might want to seek out an ART (Active Release Provider) in your area. Like the trigger point therapy that was suggested by Lynday, ART will also direct your fascia and break up and scare tissue and adhesions that could be adding to your symptoms/pain. Also, I recommend keeping your WODS around 10 minutes long (which is smart training all around anyway, bursitis or not) and focus more on the heavy lifts rather than the repetitive stuff that happens over and over and over during long WODS. It for sure sounds like overuse that brought this on. But first and foremost do the trigger point or ART, cut back on the long metcons,stick to more heavy lifting and shorter metcons and focus on a lot of mobility stuff and soft tissue therapy. Here’s a link to the ART website where you can find a local provider. Good luck and let me know how things go!! http://www.activerelease.com/

      • Megan says

        Thanks for the ideas! Unfortunately the closest ART provider is 80 miles away and that’s just not doable right now. But I’m going to try the trigger point therapy. The long metcons is going to be hard, because our box doesn’t have any open times, I can’t really spring for a separate gym membership, and our trainers are very hardcore – they love long chippers. I’ve already stopped running, since it hurts too much, and started rowing, so I’ll just have to see if I can modify. I’ve stopped going as often though – I used to go six days a week – and started doing some yoga. And I’ve got an appointment with a physiatrist. I did CF for 9 months or so before it started, so I’m hoping if I can just heal up and be smart, it won’t come back. Thanks!

  6. says

    Great post! YES! I couldn’t agree more. Lifting weights and becoming strong has changed my life. I recently turned 47 and at every birthday I’m excited knowing that not only am I WAY stronger than my 20- and 30-something year old colleagues, I’m getting stronger every year! To me that’s incredible. What a way to turn aging on its head!

    I hear people whine about being “old” (they’re 40!!) and I think, man, that’s going to be a long, rough life because EVERY SECOND every one of us is getting older! Getting older is a blessing because – uh, what is the alternative?! No, I’m good; I’ll take aging in health, thank you. ;-)

    Lifting weights and becoming strong changes you from the inside out. You *think* it’s about changing your body but as you and Jason have often pointed out, the real transformation is what happens when you start to see your potential and BELIEVE. Not just for strength but to push beyond your comfort zone, to do what you didn’t think you could do or society said you couldn’t, and that knowledge changes you FOREVER. :-)

    Paleo was the next step in really taking the bull by the horns and looking at what makes me feel better not only physically (protein, fat, veggies) but mentally (not being a slave to my cravings for sugar and lactose). As you said, “empowerment” is really the watch-word here. When you truly feel empowered there’s really nothing standing in your way (not even yourself!).

    Thanks Sarah for a great post and being a pioneer in this paleo community that has come to mean so much to me. Cheers!

  7. says

    I love this. All of it! So true. I had never thought of the saving my family part, but I feel sort of badass thinking of it that way, lol.

  8. says

    What a great post! I agree 100%!

    One thing I discovered with doing a consistent weight program was that it also improved my injuries. I stopped running for 2 months because of an IT band issue and that’s when I started lifting. It’s been 2 years now and I love it! My body is much stronger and not prone to injuries like it was when I was unbalanced and just doing cardio.

  9. says

    Wrenching my back hoisting a gallon of milk to the top shelf of fridge 20 years ago did it for me!… Love weight lifting, the look of my arms, the power of it, the strength. Perfect, inexpensive, at home, indoor workout – in front of TV, with radio, or iPod. You never wear out or break plates, barbells, dumbbells etc. Also, it’s important to be able to still do cartwheels and round-offs to show these kids we’ve still got game over 40!

  10. Erin D. says

    Great post! You inspired me to nail a pull up last summer (done!) While I’m still in mainly a learning stage with weights, I have found great benefit. It is a silly notion that a woman will bulk up. Dance and dance-fitness training be my sport, so long and lean (not skinny!) and full range of movement are very critical to me. Lifting weight doesn’t conflict with that. I hope that the teen girls that I train in dance are inspired to seek strength as a lifelong goal. Same for my own two daughters.
    Totally inspired to start practicing dragging my husband in the backyard this summer!

  11. Molly says

    I love this whole thing. I started lifting a few months ago and feel an INCREDIBLE difference. I love being strong. I think there is such a strange trend among women that strong= bad. We get the idea that we should be defenseless and need a man to come lift heavy things and open jars. My female friends all constantly say that they “don’t want to get bulky” so they only do cardio. I love being strong and the challenge of new heavier weights. It is amazing to me what weight lifting has done for my confidence. It has nothing to do with how I look, and everything to do with how empowered I feel. Also, working out with my husband is awesome for our marriage.

    Such a great post!

  12. Carolyn says

    EVERY woman needs to read #10. After just a couple of Crossfit workouts I walked with my shoulders back, my head up and lots more confidence. I have learned to laugh at myself but to know I CAN do anything I want to do!

  13. Alesha says

    I’m so inspired!! I went to CrossFit with my sister tonight and there is nothing that makes me feel so accomplished and proud than finishing a WOD. I never thought I could do 1/4 of the things we do at the box. :)

  14. JP says

    Your picture sums up why I lift as well. I can dead lift my husband and KB swing my kid. I feel empowered and am a happier person for it. I’m working on getting to my husband weigh on the squat so if need be I could carry him out on my back. Nothing better.

  15. Claudia says

    What an awesome post and I agree with you all the way. I wish my husband would lift with me, but we are doing some exercise together, so some is better than none. BTW, I LOVE your book! Keep up the good work, you inspire us all! :)

  16. ybus says

    Well said! If only more people thought this way. I’m so excited that we’ve found you at the start of our paleo journey.

  17. Laura says

    Thank you for sharing! It’s so true — I have been lifting weights for years, and I have never become “bulky” or “manly”. Yes, I no longer have skinny stick arms, but I don’t look like a man either. And I do take pride in being able to carry heavy things from a store without needing to ask for help. I am in my 40s, and I am stronger now than I was in my 20s and 30s. And my kids also take pride in telling their friends that their mom can play soccer, baseball, ride bikes, etc., with them whereas a lot of their friends’ parents can’t/won’t.

  18. says

    Comment #10 is very inspiring. I am going to share what you stated with my patients. I see many patients for weight loss consults, and will send them to your website/blog for motivation.

    Thank you,

    Dr. Samantha Mathers

  19. Emily says

    This has probably been one of my favorite blog posts that you’ve done so far! Very inspirational! Thank you :)

  20. Laura says

    Thank you for posting this Sarah. I just printed it out and will post this on my refrigerator for inspiration. I have just started the Paleo lifestyle and looking forward to living the optimum life. You are a true inspiration.

  21. Maria says

    The thing that hit me hardest in this post was the notion of you supporting your husband And the joy he feel having a strong woman backing him up. My husband knows I’m always there for him but I’m totally letting him down in he physical dept. that was a kick in the butt I needed. Thank you.

    • Sarah says

      Marie, I totally hear you. I felt the same way as you are feeling now for a long time! You can do this!! : )

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