The Tart’s Opposition to Resistance Training Weakens

Men with hand weights

I tend to think of the universe as a gentle, matronly, teacher. Sexist, I know, but there it is. Even so, I’ve been testing her patience. For the last few months, the whispers in my ear have grown progressively more strident. 

“You’re letting your health slip, Hope.” 

“Maybe you should make a huge salad to go with dinner again, Hope.” 

“There’s a reason you only have two pairs of pants that fit you, Hope.”

Recently, she moved beyond suggestion into providing me with models of people with sedentary jobs, yet who have managed to reach a dazzle-you-with-their-health stage. 

Molly became a pretty solid runner on top of her horseback riding. A good friend set a goal of running a marathon in the fall and a realistic training schedule to get there.  Another had her own health epiphany. I don’t even need to look below her neckline to know what I’ll see; health breathes through her clear skin, sparkling eyes, and glowing cheeks.

Young man doing press-ups

So I’ve been floating down the River of Denial on a wooden raft, grown slumberous and sloppy in the sun. When that pesky mosquito of reality lands, I’ve waved it off and reached for another beer. 

Thankfully, the big guns arrived last weekend. Turns out the universe has a partner, and he’s into shock and awe. He jerked me into the hotel bathroom, turned on the lights and said, “Look. I dare you to see what you’ve become.” 

(What is it about mirrors other than one’s own that make them so revealing? It’s the same glass — albeit in different proportions — the same Nitrate of Silver, yet the images reflected are so disimilar.) 

Now don’t get me wrong; I’m not fighting a ton of absolute excessive weight. I do have other health challenges, though, that make them relatively as important as a hundred excess pounds. I’ve also let my strength and balance decline, and though I walk, by no means would be an example of cardiovascular excellence. In other words, I’ve committed an across-the-board health cluster-duck. 

Happily, I know the single step I need to take to both make a quick change to my body and infuse me with, well…hope: weight training. 

So last night, for the first time way too long, I did a 20-minute workout using compound moves, my own body weight for resistance, and handweights. Olde skool, yes, but it’s quick, dirty, and effective. I know because I had the trembling after to prove it, and have stiffness already this morning. 

Why am I telling you this? Well, a few reasons: 

1. If I commit to strength training three times per week in public, I’m making it more real to me. 99.9% of you guys won’t know or care, but it tells me I’m at a new level of change than if I remain silent. 

2. I’d like to acknowledge that those of you who are fit, or who put real effort and action into exercise and clean eating, do make a difference for those of us who don’t. We might hate you while we love you for the silent reminder of where we should be in action, but it does help. You don’t even need to open your mouth — other than to shovel in that butternut squash arugula salad. To quote Emerson, “Who you are speaks so loudly I can’t hear what you’re saying.” So thank you

3. An invitation to the rest of you:  

Have you been ignoring your health? Are you on the cusp of making a change? Is there a single, small baby step you could take that would make you feel more hopeful and empowered to ease into the next? If you want to publicly commit to it here, please feel free. If not, no pressure. We all come to big decisions at our own pace.

And while we’re at it, who are the people around you who inspire your own fitness goals? Do you have people to look to for advice if/when you’re ready to step it up?

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19 thoughts on “The Tart’s Opposition to Resistance Training Weakens

  1. Hey, good for you! The number one challenge to my own weight loss/health goals is the whole get up and go get started thing. You know the one. I find if I can just get past the idea that I have a CHOICE about fitting the workout into my schedule, I tend to just do it and stop thinking it over. Trouble is, I have to do that every day. Which means I usually get in some kind of workout four out of seven days. Which is better than my rear-growing sitting down all the time routine I used to do.

    Though that one was easier. Until it came time to wear pants.

    Keep your spirits UP and remember to rest your muscles for a day after you work them so they have time to repair.

  2. Good luck, Hope.

    Running, for me, is like your resistance training. I can maintain a militant-style exercise regime, but my “balance” doesn’t come until I have made a commitment to running. No matter what else I do, I feel healthy ONLY after finishing at least a 5 km race.

    Happy strength training.

  3. Good for you! I’m a huge advocate of resistance training. I lost 30 pounds a few years ago through weight lifting and clean eating. Sadly, I’ve let myself slide in the last year and put several of those pounds back on, but I’m trying to get back on track.

    3x a week is what I aim for too, plus walking at least a mile/day on my lunch break. I feel so much better (mentally and physically) when I do it. The effect of endorphins on mood and attitude are just an added bonus. 😉

  4. Hope,

    Way to go!!! I’m so proud of you! There’s just something about announcing a goal publicly and writing it down that makes the difference. You’re going to feel great and energized, and before you know it, you’ll crave for your workouts. 😀

    Although, I do enjoy running and I crave it, my body seems to be immune to the activtiy no matter how many miles I clock, and the scale will NOT move!!! I struggle with being able to find the time or even want to add a variety of exercise to my routine.

    So I’ll join you in announcing my new goal in hopes that it will be enough to stick to the plan. I will dust off my exercise CDs and actually press play for at least five days out of the week. Anything more than that is just bonus. Let’s see if can make it. I only seem to be able to make it to day four of these CDs before I look out my window, then grab my runnng shoes and sprint far away from the television. LOL

  5. Good for you for announcing to the public your goals. I have also done the same thing, and I have been told over and over, strength training is the best. Yes, your muscles that have been hidden for years will hate you for a while, it took mine a few weeks to stop loathing me..but they will thank you for it later..promise 🙂

  6. Beki, that inertia thing is a killer, isn’t it? That is an advantage of doing exercise daily — or at least aiming to do exercise daily. WTG on your own regime. 🙂

    Dawn, 5 K? Awesome!! And thank you for the well wishes. Wishing you strong running-fu.

    Tracey, so true about the relationship between mood and exercise. It’s not just the aspect about feeling proud of oneself, but also the free, natural chemicals.

    Jody, thank you, but you are one of my fitness inspirations, m’dear. I thought you ran regularly. As for your goal, is that resistance training you’re planning to do?

    Kirsten, hee. *passes a decaff, non-fat, soy mocha, on the house*

    Sugar, thank you! I know from experience you’re right. It takes surprisingly little time for the body to respond if we give it what it needs.

  7. Hope, that is so nice of you to include me as one of your inspirations. It’s nice to know that some of my crazines is worthwhile….LOL I do run regularly and when I go too long without pounding some pavement I start to feel blah!

    As for my goal, the DVDs are a combination of everything. The workouts are designed to work on every muscle in your body….that’s why it’s so hard!!!! I can run 26 miles and be fine for work the next day, but honestly one hour working out to these DVDs left me even unable to get in and out of my truck… and forget about making it up my stairs to kiss kids goodnight. They have to tuck themselves in when mom has to crawl up the stairs….LOL

  8. Go Hope!

    I heart resistance training. And I’ll jump on board: I stopped going to the gym when I hurt my back a while back, but I have no good excuses for staying away now. I’m going to ease myself back in with a mile run on the elliptical 3 days/week plus 20 minutes of strength training. We’ll see how long it takes me to stop turning purple after the first 10th of a mile…

  9. Jody, if I may be so bold as to pretend I know what I’m talking about, you probably need to start with lighter weights and/or do fewer reps. As with running, it’s better to ease into a weight-lifting program. Some stiffness the next day is to be expected, but you shouldn’t be that incapacitated. Also, there’s no need to work a body part more than three times per week. More, and the risk of injury escalates.

    Amy, yay for fellowship in commitment. (I know. We both need to be committed for other reasons. ;)) I like the elliptical myself, if it’s a lousy day to go outside, or too slippery.

  10. I need to commit myself to some sort of exercise (and no, I can’t count PUSHING UP from the couch to SPRINT into the kitchen to DEAD LIFT the chocolate-covered pretzels out of the bag). Sigh.

    Between mentalpause, and a newly diagnosed thyroid issue, my body seems to be changing into something I don’t quite recognize–and I feel a little uncomfortable in it.

    Added into that is all the sitting while writing on my laptop, and the dreadful winter weather. . .OMG, I’m afraid to see WHAT is going to emerge from this writer’s cave when it’s springtime!

    Thanks for the motivation. It’s time. 🙂

  11. Donna C, I’m very happy if I provided a gentle nudge. You’re going to have a lot on your metaphoric plate in the next while, and I know I always cope better when I take care of myself physically. If you want to, let me know what routine you settle on.

  12. Jody, your dedication to running also inspires me. And Hope, you’re the mighty Tart!

    I’m really good at the baseline: I walk 3+ miles or dance every day. But I need to push my heart and muscles more. So I’ll commit to two things:
    – At least a couple days a week, I’ll step up the intensity–either do the exercise bike, or climb the steps at the lake bluff–so I SWEAT.

    – Every other day, starting today, I’ll work just a few minutes with those hand weights gathering dust near my TBR pile, with the goal of seeing results in six weeks or so.


  13. Weight training is awesome! I have done it fairly consistently for…heh…16 years. I am also (as Amy will attest) a pretty marathon walker. I think you just don’t have a choice after a certain age, that is, if you want to keep enjoying life the way you did when you were younger.

    I’m not at all perfect in my health habits (there’s that whole wine and cheese addiction) but exercise is something I’m pretty militant about. Women over 35 start losing scary amounts of muscle mass every year. You MUST do something if you want to maintain it. Other than couch surfing.

    So, GOOOOO TEAM TART!!!! You are doing the right thing.

  14. MJ, Jody is the bomb, isn’t she? And glad you’re up for a bit of a personal challenge. 🙂

    Otherlisa, 16 years is astonishing. Short of personal trainers or a few doctors, I think you’re the only layperson I know that consistent. Fantastic!

    And I love “Team Tart”. That may just have to become a t-shirt or coffee mug. 😉

    Medeia, ha! Your comment got caught in the spam because of your link, and then I didn’t get an e-mail notification. Thank you so much for the award! I’m assuming the title implies you find this place optimistic at least some of the time. That’s important to me! Thanks.

  15. YAY for workouts! My life would not be complete without a regular exercise regimen.

    I dig weight lifting. I much prefer to do it over cardio (though I always feel better after cardio, too). I am a big fan of free weights, compound moves and body-weight training. It seems that not enough people use their own body weight and range of motion to their advantage (those big dudes at the gym that refuse to actually do push-ups or pull-ups… wha…?). The fact that you do these kinds of workout moves makes me happy. I think those kind of exercises include practicality, of which I am also a fan.

    Isometrics are often overlooked as well. I always find that variety and diversity keep the mind and body stimulated and greatly enhance any workout program. And olde skool style works great. The best workouts I have usually involve less machines and more improvisation with the materials available.

  16. theskinhorse, we have those gym dudes here too. 😉 Yeah, as I get older, I’m more concerned with functional fitness than appearance, and there doesn’t seem to be much doubt that free weights and compound moves have a lot to offer over the machines.

    I actually enjoy both the process and results of exercise. My problem is with consistency, but I’m working on that.

    Thanks for the seal of approval on my plan, and I appreciate having another role model to admire!

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