When I started to lift weights eight years ago, at age 48, I wasn’t thinking about getting strong, or becoming a competitive athlete, or being a personal trainer, or writing about health and fitness.
I absolutely was not thinking moms should lift weights… but that would inevitably come too.
My aspirations were much more modest and, dare I say, a bit shallower.
Yes, I said it. I confess.
By this point in my life, I’d raised two kids; they were in their teens. I’d spent decades doing almost nothing physical; multiple knee surgeries in my twenties and a lifetime of back and neck problems had me convinced there was no exercise on the planet that I could do safely and also enjoy.
Then, in my early 40s, I found Zumba and got completely hooked. I adore dancing, and those classes connected me with a fabulous community of women. Zumba and the vibrant Zumba community we have here in Vermont got me started on the road to regular exercise, which led me to explore changes to my nutrition, which in turn led me to a place where I wanted my body to look different.
I could make it through an hour-long Zumba class and not want to die, but I still wasn’t thrilled with my body. The typical word for what I wanted to be is “toned.”
And, yes, I admit it: I wanted to reshape my rather flat derriere.
So I started looking into how one might go about becoming more bootylicious, assuming one prefers not to resort to the typical celebrity solution of fat injections.
Lo and behold, I discovered there are exercises one can do to grow the glutes! And as a byproduct, completely by accident, I stumbled into a full-body strength training program. And spoiler: moms should lift weights if they want to work on their… assets.
This wasn’t aerobics with some little pink dumbbells thrown in. This was real training, with big-girl weights.
I was intimidated as hell the first time I stepped into the gym. I didn’t know what I was doing and I don’t LIKE not knowing what I’m doing. But the instruction was good and I like a challenge. So, I forged ahead and gave it a try.
Little did I know when I picked up my first barbell that my dedicated glute pursuit would quickly pale in importance beside what would become a complete transformation of not just my body, but my spirit, my health, my mindset, and countless other aspects of my life.
Lifting weights did in fact start giving me the aesthetic results I’d been seeking, and even changed my goals about how I wanted to look.
But I hadn’t expected to fall utterly in love with it for its own sake.
Getting stronger was such a high! I rediscovered the dormant athlete who had been hiding inside me since high school. I started competing as a powerlifter (a sport focused on how much weight you can lift, not on how you look). At age 50, I found yet another amazing community of supportive, empowered women who shared my passion for weightlifting.
Learning that I could push through physically hard things showed me I had mental and emotional fortitude I didn’t even know I possessed.
Knowing I was taking proactive steps to keep my body and bones healthy felt really good.
Most of all, I discovered that getting physically stronger had a profound impact on my self-confidence and how I moved through the world.
Over time, it’s become clear that not only was this experience NOT unique to me, instead it was something I heard time and time again from other women. It seems just about every woman who starts to lift weights undergoes some version of this same transformation and new sense of empowerment.
We could talk all day about the long list of reasons moms should lift weights.
And yet… Fewer than 20% of women strength train. Our culture doesn’t encourage women to be physically strong. In fact, many myths scare women away from lifting weights:
- “You’ll get bulky!” (You won’t.)
- “You’ll hurt yourself!” (Strength training is far safer than running, cycling, and pickleball.)
- “You don’t know what you’re doing and besides, that’s something guys do.” (You’ll learn, it’s not that hard, and last time I looked, women have muscles too, and we have to contend with just as much gravity as men.)
As we age, we lose both muscle and bone. When women don’t fight this dirty trick of time by challenging our bodies with weight-bearing activities, we become frail, break hips, end up unable to live independently, and develop a wide range of illnesses that strength training helps prevent.
Women who don’t lift also miss out on the myriad of well-documented emotional and mental benefits of strength training, as well as one of the most effective ways to transform our body composition, for those who desire that type of change.
So, eight years in, I’m on a mission. Moms should lift weights, and I want to encourage as many of them as possible to learn about strength training and try it out… along with learning about other key related principles of nutrition and health.
I want to help women—of ALL ages, especially those in their 40s, 50s, and beyond—discover, celebrate, and harness strength.
What I’ve found in the years since I started to lift weights is that women have questions. A LOT of questions. And a lot of fear about appearing stupid or out of place. I remember all the questions I had, and I answer questions every day in Facebook groups, on Instagram, in the gym, from my friends, and from people at conferences and work events when I mention that I lift.
I want to give the VT Moms community a place to ask questions.
Any question. All the questions. Questions about strength training, the pursuit of health and longevity, nutrition, body image, mindset, general exercise and fitness, and anything else even tangentially related.
I’m a mom, and I know moms tend to take care of everyone else at their own expense.
But we owe it to ourselves and our loved ones to devote the same time and energy to our own health and strength (both physical and mental) as we do to raising strong children and building a strong family. And there are many ways to do this that can fit into our busy mom lives. Moms should lift weights to improve their total mental and physical health- and we are here to support and educate you!
So here we go! Hit me up!
Do you want to know more about why moms should lift weights? Want to know how to start? Or how to progress? Want to know other things about fitness, health, and wellness? Ask an Iron Mama will be a regular feature on Vermont Moms, so ask away!
Please submit questions for Miriam here. You can ask her anything, so have at it! Questions may be featured in upcoming articles.
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