Starting an exercise program is rarely just about losing some extra weight, building some muscle or toning your flabby arms. The reasons people start exercising usually runs much deeper than about the results it will give you from working out in the gym.
Many of my clients come to me to wanting to lose weight but underneath and asking why and I’ll get a whole mix of reasons,
(1) “I want to be able to wear jeans again.”
(2) “I want to change my wardrobe and feel sexier. I don’t like the way I look in the mirror."
(3) “My friends told me I’m getting fat.”
Understanding the ‘why’ you workout, you diet, or you strength train will help you get past the excuses of ‘I don’t feel like going to the gym today’ and the ‘I don’t have time today maybe tomorrow’.
I remember when I first started exercising in highschool it was to kick-ass like Jackie Chan and Jet Li in the movies. It looked badass to be fast and strong. If I could have the skills like they did my confidence in myself would skyrocket.
Today my ‘why’ is because I realize that being healthy and strong brings a certain amount of freedom that money can never buy. By staying healthy and in shape means I can remain independent for longer and rely on myself as I get older.
Non-Obvious Benefits From Lifting
Here I want to talk about the benefits of strength training and exercising. This is not the usual it’s good for your health, you’ll feel better, and live a better quality of life reasons though all of those are true. But I want to cover reasons that are on a deeper, psychological level.
Usually exercising is the catalyst for getting other parts of your life in order. People who exercise routinely find that they eat healthier, sleep better, have more energy and are more productive.
At the same time the identity of who they are starts to shift as well. You see, everyone has a story they tell themselves whether they realize it or not.
It’s the ‘I could never drink protein shakes’ or ‘I’m an out of shape businessman’ and the ‘I could never be that disciplined’ type of internal dialogue that identifies who we are in relation to the world.
Once you start strength training the internal dialogue starts to change and it becomes ‘I make sure to eat protein with every meal’ and ‘I am someone who exercises and takes care of myself’.
You start to take on the mindset of someone who is healthier and your habits and behaviors start to shift as well. No longer will you separate yourself from people who are in better shape and exercise but you start to identify with that group of people and become them. You start adopting habits that are associated with living a healthier life, eating better, and watching your stress levels. This awareness transforms you.
Another life changing benefit is the gain in confidence in yourself and your capabilities. You walk down the street possessing the confidence that you are able to carry yourself through space with control and competence.
This is a big one for me because as a woman I know I will be able to handle myself if necessary. I feel that the streets are safer because I exude a confident posture and the attitude that no one wants to mess with.
Being confident about who you are and what you’re about permeates other areas of your life. You create more opportunities to build great relationships and attract people you want to meet because you don’t hold back from seeking events to meet others. You believe more in yourself so you’re more likely to take risks and put yourself out there in social situations.
Strength training will also help you in your relationships and your career. People who are confident are linked with higher income and having desirable characteristics for potential mates. They are more attractive than others who do not workout.
I’m A Foodie And I’m Sure You Are Too
There is never a shortage of new types of foods that the food and restaurant industry comes up with.
(1) Lemon ricotta pancakes (you can totally get this locally in Portrero Hill. Click the link to find out where)
The average person gains 3-5 pounds a year unknowingly. As we get older we become more sedentary and this causes a deterioration of our muscles which make it even harder to get moving in the first place. It’s the use it or lose it concept. We don’t burn as much calories because we are moving less yet we are eating the same amount of food or more which leads to weight gain.
In addition, apps and restaurants make it so easy to order food and get it delivered instead of cooking and knowing what we are putting into our mouths. We don’t realize how loaded with calories those restaurant foods contain.
For instance, I love In N Out burgers and fries. One regular cheeseburger and a side of fries adds up to about 900 calories. That’s more than 50% of my daily maintenance calories and this is one meal!
With strength training an increased muscle mass can burn off these calories. As I mentioned in my previous email, when you lift heavy things off the ground your entire body needs to gather resources to lift it then recover from the effort. Put an hour a day, 3X a week of heavy lifting and your body is using up a lot of resources to do that.
Strength training gives you a little more leeway in your diet for an extra slice of cake or another serving of your favorite dish without adding to your beltline.
Combat Middle Age Syndrome
We will all get old and we will become middle age eventually. But getting old is not inevitable and it’s not downhill as society would like you to believe. I believe it’s a chance to get better and a chance to grow stronger physically and mentally.
You know that typical middle ager with the dreaded gut and the slothy, slouchy walk. You know see that person walking down the street with a lot of extra in the middle, walking with no purpose, and looking down at their phone.
Strength training can combat those middle ager symptoms and transform you into a younger person. It helps you combat excess fat and helps build postural muscles to help you stand up straight so you don’t slouch over.
And here’s another big benefit that lifting weights will help you with as you grow older, it gives you the strength to take care of yourself and remain independent. Having more muscles gives you the ability to get up and down the stairs without feeling winded, you are able to move things around without hurting your back and be able to get up easily when you fall or even catch yourself before you land.
After analyzing the top regrets of dying patients palliative nurse Bronnie Ware wrote an article called Regrets of Dying. She concluded that,
"Health brings a freedom very few realize, until they no longer have it.”
When you have this freedom as long as possible you have an ability to connect, create and contribute to the world around you. You become a better version of yourself and when you do you can contribute more to the world and be a better person for the people around you.