6 health classes realized in 5 years of lifting weights

In the summer of 2017, I agreed to do six weeks of personal training to introduce weightlifting for an article.

I’m always trying different things as a lifestyle journalist, but they’re mostly just fleeting preferences for content.

However, strength training is different. When I agreed to write that article, I had no idea it could ignite a passion that would become a lifestyle.

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I never started lifting weights, and although I loved dancing and netball as a teenager, I don’t consider myself a “bodybuilder”. Occasionally, I bored myself on the cardio machine.

But 5 years on, the discovery of strength training has changed not only my body but my whole life. Fitness is now my specialty as a journalist, I have a healthy relationship with foodand I’m stronger, better, and thinner.

“Resistance training is key to almost any training goal,” personal trainer Luke Worthington previously told Insider.

I’ve been lifting weights continuously for five years, it makes me feel empowered and, instead of treating exercise as punishmentI’m excited to go to the gym.

I’ve learned valuable lessons along the way that will probably help me when I’m starting out, including that exercise alone won’t make you lose a significant amount of fat and no the so-called “tighten”.

1. Exercise is overrated for fat loss

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Despite working more than I used to, I haven’t lost weight in almost two years on my fitness journey. I’ve actually gained weight, and while some is muscle, it’s also fat. I am simply eating (and drink wine) too much.

I didn’t lose weight until I taught myself about calories and minimized overeating. Endurance training and eating a high-protein diet also help me maintain muscle.

After losing body fat and losing 35 pounds, people mistakenly thought that I just worked out. But since I’m strong (I can lift 255 pounds), I don’t fit the image most people associate with a workout person.

Formal exercise accounts for only 5-10% of the calories the average person burns in a day, Personal trainer Graeme Tomlinson previously told Insider. This is why I train to become stronger, stronger and empower myself, does not burn calories – If I want to lose fat, I aim to reduce calories with my diet.

2. Lifting weights doesn’t make you bulky

Contrary to popular misconception, lifting weights does not automatically make women “bulky”. Building muscle is actually a really hard and slow process, especially if you don’t eat excess calories.

“If you do it three times a week, the muscle gain won’t be noticeable for most people,” says the personal trainer. Sarah Carr previously told Insider.

The appearance of female weightlifters is the result of hard training and specialized nutrition, Carr says, and genetics also play a role.

Five years later, I love the muscle I have and I still haven’t become bulky.

3. Toning is a legend

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Lifting heavy weights can help create a “toned” figure many women desire. But it is a legendary that muscles can be toned – they just grow or shrink.

Looking “toned” basically means having some muscle mass and low enough body fat to see it, personal trainer Pete Geracimo previously told Insider.

The way to get there is to build muscle with resistance training and lose fat through a little bit calorie deficit.

4. Consistency Overwhelms Perfection

Not every workout is going to be good. Some days my workouts feel harder than others. Sometimes I don’t want to go to the gym at all. But 90% of the time I go, I show up and do something.

Knowing that I won’t always feel motivated to work out and will have to push myself to the gym at times, has been key to me staying consistent and achieving my fitness goals. I don’t beat myself up if I sometimes have a lighter workout.

Over-training doesn’t help me reach my goal faster and sometimes I lose one more day of restbut I’ve made progress – and make fitness part of my lifestyle – by acknowledging that consistency is more important than perfection.

5. Changing your training is fine, but the fundamentals always work

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Every time I change my workout style (such as from a fitness program to a CrossFit-style workout plans), my body has adapted.

This often leads to delayed onset myalgia (DOMS), which is wrongly thought a sign of an effective workout. So I don’t change my monthly training to look for DOMS.

My exercises will always include basic movement such as squats, hinges (deadlifts), push (bench press), pull-ups, lunges and carry.

The basics are the basics for a reason, and to progress you need to train them consistently, apply Worthington says.

6. Anyone can be a ‘bodybuilder’

I used to think “bodybuilders” were born that way, and if I wasn’t one, there was no hope.

The past five years have shown me that’s not true.

Finding a way of moving that I actively love changed everything for me. Not everyone enjoys lifting weights, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a certain type of exercise for you. You just might not have found it yet.

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