I Stopped Running & Started Weightlifting—This Is How My Body Has Changed

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I used to believe the advice I read in women’s magazines about the success running and fad diets would have on my body. I believed that women were supposed to be petite, delicate, even a little weak. I believed running would give me the long, lean body that I desired. I was wrong.

It’s only been a few months, but I can already see the difference my new weightlifting routine has made on my body.

Here’s a little backstory: I’ve always been active. Growing up, I played sports, took dance, ran, and was a cheerleader. You name it, I probably did it. However, it’s hard to keep up an active fitness routine after college. There’s no more organized sports or clubs. You’re basically on your own when it comes to maintaining fitness.

I turned my focus to the gym. I became a master of the stair climber, the elliptical, and the rowing machine. Don’t get me wrong, I also lifted weights. However, it was only a small portion of my work out, and the weights I did lift were very small. To me, it was only about ‘toning.’ This is because I let society tell me that as a woman, I should lift light weights to make sure I didn’t get too ‘big.’ I relied mainly on calisthenics and yoga to get my strength training in.

Throughout this monotonous, unchallenging routine, I was aware of the other women in the gym with big arms and the toned glutes. They looked practically sculpted, not at all ‘manly’ or ‘big.’ I thought they were gorgeous, and yet I did nothing to pursue their body type. I assumed it was in their genes, or perhaps they had a stricter diet than I did, and never gave it a second thought.

One day a few months ago, I happened across an article and things finally clicked. An Instagram fitness blogger wrote about her experience with weightlifting, and she reminded me so much of myself I had to listen. She had gone through the running phase, the eating light phase, and she was tired of it. She stumbled into weightlifting and never looked back. Today she lifts heavy, eats a lot of clean food, and does minimal cardio. She’s never been happier, so I decided to give it a try.

As I was saying, it’s only been a few months, but here are some of the improvements I’ve seen already.


 

I have better posture.

I’m no expert so I couldn’t tell you exactly what it is about weightlifting that improves your posture, but it does. My shoulders are straight at all times, I walk with ease and elegance, and I hold my head high without ever having to say to myself, “Stop slouching!”

 

I have a bigger appetite, and the ability to eat all the food.

Okay, obviously I’m still avoiding donuts and Big Macs, but I finally see the light: If I lift a lot of weights, I’m ravenous all day and can eat as much as I want. In fact, it’s bad if I don’t eat almost everything in sight.

You need to take in enough calories to repair your muscles, so I’m enjoying the extra peanut butter, roasted veggies, bread, and nuts. The more protein, the better.

 

My skin is brighter.

You expect cardio to do more for weight loss than anything, but that is wrong. While weightlifting seems easier, less physical, it’s actually tremendously better for toning your body and slimming you down.

My belly is tauter than it’s ever been and I actually notice a golden hue in my skin that wasn’t there before. Seriously.

 

I have more energy.

Sounds crazy, but exhausting yourself with lifting weights actually provides me with more energy throughout the day. I get really pumped when I push myself to the max, and the energy just keeps fueling through me, especially when I top it off with a protein drink or bar.

 

I sleep better each night.

While I have energy throughout the day, I come home at night ready for bed. I’ve experienced insomnia in the past and it’s never fun, but lately I’ve been going to bed completely fulfilled and I knock out within minutes.


 

These are just a few positive experiences I’ve had so far with weightlifting, but I can tell there are more to come. I’m in love with my body already and can’t stop looking in mirrors, car door reflections, the screen of my Mac when it’s asleep.

I feel strong, excited about life, and ready to kick each day’s ass. This is all thanks to weightlifting, and no thanks to cardio. Or salads.

Taylor Engle

Fashion and culture writer/editor at Forever Twenty Somethings. Judging your outfit. Let me write about it.

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