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Strong and Beautiful

November 30, 2010

Last winter, when I was visiting the gym 5-6 days a week, strength training was never a problem.  I LOVED going through a leg circuit on the machines, using free weights on my arms, and attending Chisel classes.  The Willpower & Grace class I was taking each week was helping my legs to find such great definition, and more importantly, I felt SO STRONG!  [And am I the only one that feels most beautiful when I feel strong?]

Then, running took over my work out time, and the gym membership ended, along with any and all dedication to “heavy lifting.”  Or light lifting. Or any lifting for that matter.  Strong arms and stellar legs went right out the window, along with any regular core work.

 I’ve said it will change and it hasn’t. “Do more strength training!” has been on my to-do list for FAR too long. 

The day after my 5K PR, as my abs were sore, I noted that I needed to do more core work.  “It will make me a better runner, in the long run!” I didn’t commit.

When I was in between crutches and running, I thought about squats and lunges. “It’s the perfect time to devote myself to some leg strength!” I didn’t commit.

Carrying a large box from one end of my office to another, I remembered what it used to feel like to do so with ease.  “I should really do some strength training with my body bar!” I didn’t commit.

Then, a week ago, I was boarding the train to Julie’s for a Very Savvy Thanksgiving vacation.  I couldn’t lift my suitcase into the overhead compartment. Embarrassing? Yes, especially with college students abounding.  Disappointing? Yes, especially because less than a year ago, I would have been able to do so without any problems.  The tipping point? YOU BETCHA. No more T-Rex Arms.

 While in Ithaca, I used Julie’s hand weights twice. I committed.
Last night, I spent 11 minutes with my body bar and hand weights, along with 50 crunches on the floor. I committed.

At first, I was disappointed, thinking about how much I could lift, and what I was doing at the beginning of 2010.  “I shouldn’t be here,” I thought.  “I should be farther along.” 

I know, however, that this kind of thinking won’t lend to this commitment.  Just like any new relationship, I need to take strength training again slowly.  Using  weights appropriate for me, and not comparing it to anyone else is a good place to start. (“She is lifting three times this amount, I can, too” is equivalent to “everyone I know is married, let’s rush to the alter!”)

Because I no longer belong to a gym, I’ve been collecting some “to do at home” work out favorites from the web.

 My Favorite Gym-Free Strength Workouts:

What are you favorite at home strength work outs? Have any stellar resources you think I should check out?

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17 Comments leave one →
  1. November 30, 2010 12:38 pm

    DVDS. I (attempt) to do some circuits of NMTZ by Jillian Micheals. Its hard but I think you would see results if you stuck to it. I still need to commit. Ha.

    I’m the same way though. I will stick to the weight training for a few weeks and then I will stop doing it. If only I had the same motivation for weights that I have for running!!

  2. November 30, 2010 1:00 pm

    Pushups for sure. I practice yoga a LOT and do a lot of pushups and let me tell you- that bag was heavy ;)

  3. November 30, 2010 1:13 pm

    I really admire your commitment to at-home workouts! I often fall into the trap of “I can work out after I do this one thing (insert “check my email”/ “watch The Hills”/”brush the cat”/anything else” here). This is how I ended up with two gym memberships (office gym and home gym).

    I like the 30-day Shred for a fast workout, but she doesn’t hit all the muscle groups. Otherwise, I like doing a circuit that might go something like this:

    Upper Body:
    – push-ups
    – shoulder presses (or anything for shoulders – I switch it up)
    – tricep dips
    – bicep curls
    – bent-over rows (for the lats)

    Core:
    – plank
    – lowering both legs to the floor from a 90-degree angle
    – back extensions on the stability ball (for the lower back)

    Lower Body:
    – squats
    – lunges
    – deadlifts

    I alternate like so:
    – One lower body
    – One Core
    – One (or two) Upper Body (ex. I will do triceps and biceps together because they are opposing).

    I like whole body workouts that use your body weight because they are simple and translate to functional strength.

  4. November 30, 2010 1:47 pm

    I have an at home circuit workout listed under workout/fitness section of my “Top Posts” page. I think it was a pretty good one. It used resistance bands, but dumbbells can certainly be substituted.

    And I’m 100% with you – I feel beautiful when I feel strong. I miss lifting weights so much!

  5. November 30, 2010 2:09 pm

    Bob Harper has a TON of great stuff on his site! :) And I know you don’t need gym equipment to do it–I used soup cans and Harry Potter books! ;)

  6. November 30, 2010 2:39 pm

    Yay for your new commitment!! I always feel most beautiful when I am in shape and taking care of my body.

    I like to do yoga DVD’s at home. I have also found some great workout’s (for free…ahem) on exercisetv.com!

  7. November 30, 2010 3:04 pm

    This is fabulous – go YOU! I’ve had some good luck with Yoga Download and Exercise TV. Both have free workouts and ones you can pay for (I always stick with the free ones).

    http://www.exercisetv.tv/workout-videos/yoga/?videotype=free-full-length

    The 20-minute yoga classes are all free. I love them.
    http://www.yogadownload.com/OurClasses/BrowseClasses/tabid/211/Default.aspx

  8. November 30, 2010 3:16 pm

    I don’t have any at-home tips for you. I’m totally not motivated enough to do strength training at home. I love it at the gym though. I’ve been “on hiatus” from strength training for months and months, but I started again this past Sunday. I told my gym buddy that within three weeks, she’ll feel like Superwoman. It really does help you feel so strong… physically and emotionally too.

  9. Aimee S permalink
    November 30, 2010 3:44 pm

    Good for you! I too don’t have any at-home tips, because I have zero motivation at home. I can go to the gym and work out just fine, but at home I find other things to do. Mainly baking, which then ruins any chance of exercise, and increases the need for it! I have heard the p90X workout DVDs are awesome and amazing. I have several friends who purchased them (they are not cheap, but maybe ebay???). Keep up the strength training, your body will thank you!

  10. November 30, 2010 3:47 pm

    I can hear the “Getting Strong Now” rocky music playing the background. You go, Heather!

    Spark People has a load of great online videos. I love to just goof around on YouTube. Women’s Health Mag online has printer friendly versions too.

    Good stuff!

  11. November 30, 2010 4:02 pm

    I totally feel more beautiful when I’m strong and in shape – gives me some extra confidence (and better posture!) The pure2raw twins have links to some great QUICK exercises that are killer!

  12. November 30, 2010 5:39 pm

    “She is lifting three times this amount, I can, too” is equivalent to “everyone I know is married, let’s rush to the alter!”

    Love that – so true! Comparison is a nasty, dirty trap. Proud of you for committing, friend!!

  13. November 30, 2010 5:59 pm

    Strong=beautiful!!
    Keep it up girl. Lifting is one of those cool things where you can totally see your progress.
    I have a few at-home workouts posted over on my blog as well as my training website :)

  14. annecalista permalink
    November 30, 2010 8:57 pm

    Way to get back into it! Thanks for the links to workouts :-)

  15. November 30, 2010 10:33 pm

    Thanks for those links, I’m attempting to take on strength training this month for the first time, so these will definitely help!

    The only strength training I’ve done is a poor attempt at doing Jillian Michael’s 30 Day Shred, and I can tell that will really do wonders if I do it properly so that’s my only idea!

  16. November 30, 2010 10:39 pm

    Yoga is huge for my arms. I also have some great DVD’s and workouts that trainers and PT’s in the past have given me. I like to pull them out.

  17. December 1, 2010 10:35 am

    (First off, let me just say that the moment I started reading this post I knew I was going to refer to “T-Rex arms” in my comment. I was so pleasantly surprised when I saw that you already mentioned it :))

    I have SUCH a love/hate relationship with strength training. Even though I know how great it makes me feel/look (much better than cardio, for sure) it just never seems to come as easy as hopping on the elliptical. I get myself motivated in two ways: 1) I don’t want to have t-rex arms – or any gangly, weak body parts for that matter and 2) I refuse to lose the muscle that I’ve already gained <—- that's where my stubbornness comes in…I hate putting work into something and then having to start all over from scratch. I'm not sure if stubbornness was the right word, but I think you know what I mean :)

    OH and I can't help but think that guys are impressed when girls can do REAL pushups at the gym. Whaaat who said that??

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