"Alright, Erika," you're probably thinking. "Give me this miracle drug that will finally make me feel confident, happy, and brave enough to try anything."
I'm sorry to tell you, but it's not a miracle drug. It will definitely take some work and dedication, but I'm telling you, this is the way.
I feel you getting impatient ("Just tell me already!"), so here it is: lift weights.
No, lift heavy weights.
"Wait, that's it?"
Yes. That's it.
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If you regularly lift, you know what I'm talking about: the feeling of power and excitement you get when you enter the gym. The victorious feeling when you make a new personal best. The slightly cocky feeling you get when someone asks if you want help with that, because you're a girl, and you lift the heavy-ass box on your own and saunter away like it was nothing (cause it really was).
I never feel as sexy and strong and just plain powerful as when I'm in the gym. The thought of when I sold a couch and I helped them lift it up on the truck and the man exclaimed "Good Lord, woman!" because he was so impressed with the ease I did it with still makes me smile! The other week a woman approached me at the gym and told me, "You look so wonderfully strong." Girl, that's exactly what I was aiming for.
Photo by Scott Webb
I'll tell you some more reasons why this is the most awesome thing you could ever do for yourself, and then I'll tell you my not-so-secret-but-many-people-just-don't-know formula to getting the body and mindset you want.
1. You learn how powerful you are
Maybe you're an avid gym-goer, and even dabble with some light weights sometimes. That's awesome! But the confidence you gain from loading the bar with more weight every week is unbeatable. Seeing yourself getting physically stronger is such a confidence-booster, and you will constantly amaze yourself with what you can do.
2. You look fantastic
No matter where you are on your fitness journey, your physique will improve from lifting weights. It's the most effective way to burn calories (along with HIIT) and even continues to burn for hours after your workout! Not to mention the way your body will transform: you get muscular, toned legs; nicely shaped shoulders; a firm butt; and maybe even the ever-elusive but always sought after abs.
A lot of women worry about getting "bulky" if they touch anything over the 10lbs dumbbells. Don't. Unless you put in insane amounts of work for years, you will never look like the bodybuilding ladies you see on TV. We just don't have enough testosterone for it. All it will do to you is make you look strong and lean.
And I don't know about you, but feeling proud and satisfied with my body makes me approach situations with a hell of a lot more confidence than if I'm trying to hide in a big sweatshirt.
Photo by Christopher Campbell
3. You constantly get proof of your improvement
One of the many awesome things with lifting weights is that you get better every time. How often do you get to feel that "I made it!" feeling in your day-to-day life? Maybe when you're sprinting to the subway and manage to throw yourself through the doors at the last second, haha.
Every workout you strive to add just one more rep, or just one more pound, to your routine. That is how you get stronger -- your muscles constantly need to rebuild themselves to handle the new weight.
This means that you're doing a PR (personal record) every single time you go to the gym!
Every time you work out you feel proud, accomplished, and improved. Every time you get that rush of "I did it!!" and let's not even talk about the endorphins getting released overall! Walking out of the gym with that satisfied feeling will for sure make you leave with a confident smile on your face.
4. You walk differently
Okay, this one might sound weird. But when you lift weights, you get a different gait. You trust your body more, you feel your muscles actually engaging in the movement, and you walk the way a woman does when she knows she can kick your ass.
Have you ever walked alone on a dark street and felt scared? I know I have. Feeling strong and powerful will make you walk in a way that deters evil-doers, because they are searching for weak prey that's easy to overpower. Not you!
If you want to gain even more security, take a self-defense class! Knowing that I can defend myself, along with the strength I've gained from weight lifting, lets me walk anywhere with confidence.
Photo by Clarke Sanders
Now: My not-so-secret formula to success!
I was very intimidated by the weight section when I started training for my first obstacle race. I didn't know what I was doing, and it was full of buff guys in tight t-shirts.
Which, you know, wasn't all bad. ;-)
So off to the internet I went! I educated myself about the different exercises and proper form (super important!!) and got a free intro lesson from an instructor since I was new to the gym. He was a big, fit dude, and the look on his face when tiny little me said that I wanted him to show me how to do barbell squats and dead lifts -- priceless.
So first of all -- do your research and make sure you're safe. I highly recommend these articles from Nerd Fitness to get you started!
Second of all -- don't make it complicated.
If you want faster results, eat mostly protein, vegetables, fruits, nuts, and berries. Make sure you get enough calories though, because you need a lot more when you're lifting!
And don't freak out if you have a muffin or two! Life is to be lived and enjoyed. :-)
To make it easier and more fun, I have created a really cute (if I say so myself, and I do) weekly workout planner and tracker!
A thing I REALLY recommend getting is a pull-up bar. I know it's not a weight, so it might seem weird in this article, but it's one of the most effective exercises and you feel so amazing doing them!
They're inexpensive, easy to hang in your doorway, and such a great way to keep your healthy habit up during the week by doing one every time you pass through. We have had the ProSource pull-up bar for years, and love it.
I am still glowing from my workout earlier today, so I can surely attest to these claims! It eases my anxiety, it's great therapy if I'm upset about something, and even though it's the most tiring thing I do on a weekly basis it somehow energizes me. :-)
So what are you waiting for? Grab your free workout tracker and get going! :D
Free weekly workout tracker!
Make it easy to plan and track your workouts, and see how you improve each week!
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Hi, I'm Erika!
I know what it's like living with anxiety and depression, but living and living are very different things. I believe in practical tips and methods, and I will use them to help you be the brave, daring, darling individual you are.
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If you don't see the email, check your junk folder! It likes to hang out there. :)