I decided to write this post as a source of both inspiration and information for women who would like to lose weight and feel better about themselves. This post is for women of all ages but I will focus mainly on the benefits that resistance training brings as women start to age (30+ years). Again this is not my usual Outlander type of post but I wanted to share certain facts with my readers and Outlander fans out there who are participating in “My Peak Challenge 2015”.
1. Resistance training is an effective way to prevent osteopenia and osteoporosis.
I became aware of this when I was pregnant with my second boy. I read it for the very first time on a fashion magazine, and it was a subscriber’s letter to the editor mentioning that her OB recommended her to do resistance training exercises to prevent osteopenia, which was a common thing in her family history. I felt good about reading this since I was already at that time a fitness addict, even though I could not exercise much during both of my pregnancies (I had nausea and even walking made me feel sick during the first 5 and 1/2 months of pregnancy). After I gave birth, I asked my OB about it and she confirmed that to be true. The current generation is becoming more aware of it. Here is a link to the abstract of some research based on resistance training exercises (of course, there are plenty of them in the internet).
2. Increased muscle mass due to weight bearing exercises make you lean.
Muscle is denser than fat and weighs more than fat but it occupies less space in your body. As a result, you would look a lot leaner. This is one of the reasons why I suggest women, especially friends, to stop weighing themselves and start measuring themselves instead. I tend to believe that weight is not a very reliable indicator of physical fitness. Based on my own experience I was 5 pounds less in my late 20s. However, I still wear the same dress size and pants from those years (I still have some of them) fit me even better.
3. Forty five minutes of resistance training four times a week would not make you bulky but toned. It will give a nice muscle definition but not a bulky look.
Physical trainers and ballet dancers are muscular because they are basically working more than 2 hours a day. I have encountered women being scared of developing a lot muscle to avoid a “manly” look. Testosterone is what makes men very muscular, and women do not have high levels of this hormone.
I would like to “discuss” a little bit about push-ups and other plank exercises. One of my husband’s cousins mentioned to me two summers ago that push-ups are one of those exercises that girls really hate. I totally agree with him. Before my first pregnancy, I avoided doing them. I preferred jumping and lounges. However, the truth is that push-ups give a lift to the breasts without the need of surgery or even a bra. It basically means that you can go braless all the time though I really recommend to wear a sports bra when exercising. Other plank exercises are good in their own way. Mountain climbers and burpees are a combination of both aerobic exercise and resistance training. Side planks are great for the obliques. All of these exercises are not easy at the beginning but they become more bearable as your body gets used to them. In my case, I can do burpees without any issue. I struggle with the single-leg variation but I still do what I can. As I mentioned before I hated push-ups 12 years ago. I love them now. I can do full push-ups when doing the walk-out type. I still drop to my knees sometimes when I do the regular type. Sometimes I drop to one knee and keep the other leg up.
I am not a physical trainer or nutritionist but the last company where I used to work had one of them on site and I learned a lot from him. I used this knowledge to lose the extra 10 – 15 pounds that I had after my pregnancies, and so far I am very happy with the results.
Finally it is important for women to accept their own bodies, especially their body type which is an end result of genetics. We all store fat in our bodies differently. Some women may accumulate fat in their arms. Others may accumulate fat more in their trunk or abdomen. Other women may accumulate fat in their thighs. No matter what, the fat will melt but it is a slow process that requires patience and perseverance. Women have a tendency to consider what the fashion industry dictates as a standard of body perfection. One can use a model as a source of inspiration, and that is fine with me since I follow fashion industry trends often. Models gain little weight. However, they work out to keep in good shape and eat properly to maintain their lean physique, especially in their 30s. My personal preference is to use somebody who was overweight, a physical trainer or a ballet dancer as a source of inspiration. The reason behind this preference is that the model body type is not a typical female body type. It represents only a small percentage of the female population (source: I learned this from my former physical trainer).
If you are participating in “My Peak Challenge”, I think I cannot be more inspirational. Get a pair of weights and start sweating, and keep in mind why you are doing this: You are helping others and also yourself in the long run.