I started weightlifting seriously late last year. Like marathon training, it is changing my life.
One thing that I have learned over the last year is how much physical exercise and our goals in that area parallels our goals for life in general. Here I’d like to talk about my weightlifting over the last five months, and what I have learned along the way.
1. Physical Strength Helps Mental and Emotional Strength
I love doing a squat with the weight on my shoulders. I recently bought a power rack (which I’m so excited about–getting it delivered and set up on Wednesday!) so that I could squat more weight. For now, I’ve had to lift the weights from the floor, up over my head and then down across my shoulders. This is fine, except I know that I can squat more weight than what I can throw up over my head. I can’t wait to get my power rack so I can add more weight across my shoulders and squat. There is something about having that weight on my shoulders, lowering and then lifting that makes me feel really strong.
There are things that we need to do in life that feels like a heavy burden. Can we lift it? Squatting heavy loads helps me to feel that whatever burdens I might have in life are able to be dealt with. Just like in real life squats with weight on your shoulders, the weight might be too heavy at first, but if we increment the weight as our bodies grow accustomed to one weight, we can eventually handle more. When I perform a squat, this is something that I meditate on. And each time that I have done a set of squats, later, I remember this and I think about mental and emotional burdens, and I know that I can handle them. Maybe I can’t take something on all at once, but bit by bit, my heart and mind will be able to handle what I need to handle. It may feel like too much now, but as long as I keep trucking, I know I’m going to be ok.
2. Change is Slow But It Happens If You Are Persistent
It’s been five months since I started training seriously with weights. While I can see the changes that are occurring in my body, I am not all of the sudden She-Ra, Princess of Power. I still have fat I need to cut before my abs show through, I still have muscles that are weaker than they should be, and there is still a heck of a lot I need to learn. But I have definitely seen changes in my body, and in my understanding of my body and how it reacts to weightlifting. One of the things I’ve come to realize is that it is okay if the change is slow, because this is something I want to do for the rest of my life. So I have a long time to work on this.
3. You Get Back What You Put In
When I first started lifting weights in early November, I took it slow and easy. I was learning, and I didn’t want to injure myself. As I’ve grown and learned proper positioning, I’ve been able to lift harder. It’s been the past two months that I’ve really challenged myself to lift heavier and put a heck of a lot more effort into it. In these last two months is when I’ve seen the most improvement. I’ve come to realize that what I put into weightlifting is exactly what I get out of it. The more I read about it, the more I learn, the more I talk to others about it, the more passionate I become about it, and the harder I work during my lifting sessions, the more I am able to lift in later sessions.
Isn’t that the way life is too? It’s all a matter of effort and what you put into it. If you want something bad enough, you just have to work at it. Work at it with all the effort you can muster, and learn about it as much as you can. The more you put into something, the more you will get out of it.
4. It’s For You To Do; No One Else Can Do It For You
I remember when I was a small child and I would pretend to fall asleep on the couch so my dad would carry me up the stairs to bed. But we all outgrow that and we come to a place where we have to do stuff ourselves. Nobody can lose for you the 20 pounds you gained. It’s yours. You are the one who has to lose it. When I look at my weights just before a weight lifting session, this is something I remind myself. Ain’t nobody going to lift these weights for me.
If you want muscles, you are the one who has to lift that weight. And that’s how it is with any kind of physical goal. You and you alone are the only one who can make those changes for yourself. It’s good to have a community, or even just one friend that you can turn to for encouragement, but in the end, it’s something you have to get done all by yourself. You are responsible for your own self. When you take something like that on and conquer it (whether it’s lifting weights or losing weight), it becomes reinforced inside of you. “I did this! I did this all by myself!!” And it gives you a new kind of confidence. This is good. This is very good. I hope you roll with it.
What about you? What have you learned about life through your exercise and physical goals?