Disclaimer: It does not require a man to gain strength, confidence, be healthy or be the best version of yourself. This is an anecdotal reference of my personal journey.
You, my sister, are capable of achieving great success physically, mentally and spiritually if you just put your mind to it.
There is something oddly satisfying in knowing and understanding my physical strength. What surpasses this satisfaction is being able to pinpoint milestones, review transformations and apply determination and focus through through everything I do. Who knew this getting fit business would have cascading benefits across all other dimensions of my life? I thought I was just going to get some iron therapy, but as it turns out I’ve gained focus and confidence to last me all day. Here is a solid confirmation that changing your physique is possible. Not from an instagram model or celebrity or a crossfire olympian, take it from a real person with no previous sporting experience (me). Coming from a basic asian childhood with parents who basically ignored all kinds of sports and physical fitness (sorry mom! *cringe*), I grew up to basically be overweight, suffer from regular asthma, suffer from random rashes and worst of all ignoring the true causes of it. So when I finally hit a milestone in my fitness journey, you could only imagine the frantic rush of adrenaline when I lifted my 200 pound husband on my back and walked around the house. Soon I realised it wasn’t just about lowering the number on the scale, it was actually about getting stronger and practicing control over my life. It was a change in mindset which ushered great changes in my life.
How I Got Started And Kept Going
At first it was the vehement disgust at my spare tire (aka love handles). Joining the gym was an immediate result, and husbands guidance was a true blessing. Well not every sister has a permanent fitness coach in the form of an husband, but this should never deter you from setting and smashing your fitness goals. As strong women we don’t make excuses to block strength, even when it comes to our health. Baby steps is the key. Once I learned the basics (this requires a bit of research and study) I was better off training and looking after myself. Ever heard the phrase “nothing good comes easy”? Yeah, well this is the moment I kept repeating it. First few months were brutal because I was always disappointed. I mixed cardio with strength training. This is when my lungs started to get stronger. Eventually I didn’t need to have my inhaler with me all the time. Focus and determination didn’t really happen until I was a few months into my training. And by few I mean more than six months. By then I had seen tiny changes which inspired me to keep going. I would say this is the key when it comes to inspiration. Once you see those little changes, you will truly be motivated and determined to keep going. But this doesn’t come without being a little persistent at first. Most people lack the motivation to stick to their fitness routine because they have not seen the changes they thought they would see. No wonder so many are looking for crash diets and quick fixes. Unfortunately those lead to nothing but a quick crash into failure. Changes in the body happen as a result of training your body (gym or home) then feeding it the fuel it needs to make those changes happen.
They say females should stay away from weights. They say it makes women bulky and slowly turns women into men. What’s up with all these misconceptions? Ain’t nobody got time for that!
Weight training requires the use of muscles – which do females haves. Due to the hormone balance in womens body, lifting weights do not cause bulking up in muscle like men. If you see bulky “men-like” women then you can be sure they are on something to alter their hormone balance. Natural weight lifters, such as myself and countless other women, have toned their body using the basic principles of muscle hypertrophy. Lifting causes micro tears in the muscle fibres. Upon repairing, it causes the muscle to get stronger and slightly larger. Continue this on a large scale and you have stronger muscles which require more calories to sustain itself even when you are resting aka your body is working hard / burning calories even when you are not working out. More calorie burn ultimately improves your metabolism, appetite, mental clarity and off course burns heck of a lot of calories.
Knowledge Is Power
I would say that more than physical strength, my mental strength helped me to be able to lift. Knowledge is such an integral part of who we are as Muslims that the lack of which directly affects us mentally and physically. Hint, ignorance of the body definitely causes sickness and weakness. Gaining a bit education in todays world is super easy, prioritising is the hard part. The human body is balanced and in that balance is simplicity. It did me a great deal of good to understand basics of nutrition, the muscle-skeletal system, and how to tie it all together. Subhan Allah the human body! It is more under our control than we think. Alhamdulilah, for me revisiting high school biology was more fun now then it was back in school. Literally, it’s that basic – unless you want to venture into higher studies and research (I recommend). This truly helped me to get an insiders view of what’s happening within me. Plus it was a win win situation, gaining knowledge teaches me about the body which which in turn made me humble and appreciative.
Food Is More Important Than You Think
Nutrition aka food is the fuel of the body. It fuels, repairs, maintains and keeps you strong and healthy. The lack of which results in all types of chronic illness and diseases. Remember my asthma, I had that for 18 years, turns out was an immediate result of my weak lungs and poor gut health. Once I made changes to my diet, my physical health and emotional health quickly improved. It is very important for us to understand the relation our gut has with our brain. Both work together to create a healthy body, and positive emotions. When I ate nutritionally poor foods, my health was weak. When I included nutritionally dense and whole foods, I felt stronger, satisfied and had mental capacity to smash career and personal goals. It was like the circle of life. Eat good to feel good to accomplish good then get hungry so I eat good to feel good and accomplish more tasks. As simple it may be, it nonetheless blew my mind. Food was such an integral part of my transformation. Nature has provided us with the tools we need to create a better version of ourselves. We just need to acquire the knowledge of how to do so.
Consistency Is A Virtue
As in everything Islam has taught us, consistency should govern all our work. Don’t forget fitness too. Remember the circle of life? Well it applies here too. Hard work shows results which motivate you to keep working hard. I had a few troubled days in the beginning but who doesn’t? It’s almost a milestone in itself. The moment where you stop slacking and actually decide to never miss an item on your exercise routine, is the moment to rejoice and give yourself a gift because you surely earned it. This is the same point where so many others quite. The constant slacking off gets bigger until fitness routines are no longer in the schedule. If you keep consistent in working out then you can translate this energy into every other aspect of your life.
Fitness Is More Than Just Aesthetics
An important part of strength training is focus. I needed to be focused in my workout routines. Every lift requires concentration, controlled breathing, activating core muscles and completing the rep with proper form. With so much to get right, it automatically forced my nervous system to concentrate on one task and do it right. Repeat this for 1 hour every day for more than a year and my nervous system along with my mental focus dramatically improved. The attentiveness I learned while lifting became a part of my personality. It helped me to apply this tunnel vision talent through out my other tasks. If you are looking to develop the art of single tasking successfully, then I would definitely suggest iron therapy. As with the ancient advice of not multitasking, strength training helped to develop the art of completing one task before moving on to another. After all fitness is more than just aethestics. We are creating a more fit version of who we are. Looking better is a by product but not the sole gain.
So…Get Strong Sisters
Building strength isn’t something alien to females. Are we supposed to be that frail damsel in distress? No way Jose! Physical strength ultimately translates into health. How much you can lift depends on how long you have been lifting. That’s irrelevant. But getting started and keeping that constant change proves the true fighter. How I learned to lift my husband was a direct result of keeping a constant healthy change in my lifestyle, alhamdulilah. Thinking back to the time when I had to hide the inhaler in my pocket, the best therapy I received was clanging and banging with weights. My husband weighs 200 pounds. I weigh 145 pounds. While being absolutely modest as I can, I can tell you that I lift my husband. And if you want that kind of physical strength I’ll give you warning : this kind of determination comes with mental strength, confidence and the power to transform you into the best of you can be. If you can handle it then get on board sista!