Weight lifting builds bone density. Weight lifting increases strength and power. Weight lifting burns fat all day long. Weight lifting makes you look tougher than Chuck Norris at Comic Con. Oh sure, everyone always talks about the benefits of strength training but there is a dark side no one ever talks about. No, literally, a dark side. Namely, in my pits. Because I have very dark hair and very light skin, see. For those of you not similarly cursed (it’s not a bug, it’s a feature?), let me explain:
This is me in the shower after my workout. You will notice I am wearing a bathing suit for modesty. I do not wear a bathing suit in the shower at home but if I’ve learned anything from Ashton Kutcher it’s that I can’t have nudie pics of me floating around on the Internet or I’ll never get to inherit Demi Moore’s creepy doll collection, right? But my shower curtain really is transparent. Anyhow, here I am showering blissfully, trying to wash off all the germs from the gym. Well as blissfully as one can with a) the door ALWAYS open (Children have a strong aversion to shut doors – they assume candy is being consumed. They may not be wrong.) and b) a peanut gallery. Jelly Bean is obsessed with bathing and so she must stand and s-t-a-r-e at me the whole time I shower. Eh, you get used to it.
All bodybuilders go to heaven… I actually found this painting at a thrift store. I can’t decide which I love more: the mullet or the muscles. (Or the 3.95 price tag!) Either way this has got to be the most terrifying guardian angel ever.
Let’s just get this out of the way right now: You should strength train. It’s good for you and in far more ways than the usual trope of “super charging your metabolism.” It builds better bone density. It increases neurological connections. It makes it so you can lift the 50-lb bag of cat litter into your cart at Costco without worrying about your heart exploding. And, yeah, it looks prettier and burns more calories than adipose tissue. (Although whether or not you consider that last point a bonus is highly variable on your culture, individual preference and whether or not you’re a serf in the Middle Ages.)
I still don’t love it.
From the inimitable Jen Sinkler
Being a woman who lifts weights automatically makes you open to weird comments (as does being a mom of “a lot” of kids) and over the last decade (!!!) of hoisting iron, I’ve got more than my fair share. Here are some of my personal favorites:
“Are you a lady Marine?” (No, but thank you!)
“You used to have such a cute little runner’s body! Do you miss it?” (Are you calling me big?)
“I think it’s cool that you lift, just don’t turn into a dude okay?” (No sex change operation says no worries on that front)
“Haha I’d hate it if my girlfriend was stronger than me hahaha!” (Hahah I’d hate it if I were your girlfriend too, hahaha!)
“Don’t want to run into you in a dark alley!” (Good. Don’t.)
“You’re going to hurt yourself.” (Distinct possibility with this girl!)
“You must be a bodybuilder.” (There are reasons for a girl to lift weights besides being a competitive body builder.)
“Weight lifting doesn’t burn enough calories to count as a real workout.” (Erm, calorie burn is not the best nor even the only measure of a quality workout.)
Someone stole my book. Right off the dumbbell rack on the weight floor where I’d left it propped open with a 2-pounder. (Because what else do you do with a 2-lb dumbbell? Use it to crack pecans? Roll out dough? Do that weird forearm exercise where you curl it backwards??) In all my years of Experimenting, I’ve left a lot of things at the gym, ranging from small stuff like lip gloss and wet towels to bigger stuff like my phone. Oh, and one of my kids. (Twice. Yes, same kid. We’ve already started a fund for his therapy.) But this is the first time I’ve ever had the lost item not show up again.
Confession: I wasn’t really sad about it. Annoyed, yes. But I won’t miss Rachel’s Cosgrove’s Lose Two Dress Sizes in Two Months book. And I definitely won’t miss toting it around the weight floor. I have my reasons.
The Gym Buddies weren’t sad to see it go either. They liked it even less than I did.
My girl Rachel Cosgrove – author of The Female Body Breakthrough which was one of my top 3 favorite Great Fitness Experiments ever – is back with her hotly anticipated follow-up book. And because she was kind enough to send me a review copy the Gym Buddies and I have been testing it out. We’ve been lifting. We’ve been sweating. We’ve been foam rolling. (Lie: I still don’t feel anything when I foam roll. I try it half-heartedly about every third workout.) And it’s been…
Okay, this is awkward.
I don’t know how else to say this other than I’m kind of disappointed. I didn’t want to be. I kinda feel like a traitor. I love Rachel, you guys. I adored her first book. It was life-changing for me. Between the FBB and The New Rules of Lifting For Women (her weight-lifting collaboration with her husband), I learned to love lifting heavy and embrace building muscle as a training goal as opposed to losing weight. She bucked the conventional wisdom and created new, challenging and creative workouts. Her new book? Well, I think this anecdote sums it up:
Do this now. Yes, right now. It will just take a minute. Probably less. Whatever you are doing, drop it (okay not literally, especially if you’re doing dishes – but then how would you be reading this?) and take off your shoes. Do it! (I get bossy when I’m excited. You’re gonna love this!) Now stand up and lift up one leg at least 6 inches off the ground. Don’t rest your foot on your knee or anything else. Close your eyes. Use a timer or count in your head to see how many seconds (or one-mississippi’s) you can hold it for.
Now THIS is what I call scary muscles. (Don’t worry, it’s only a tattoo)
It was a bevy of blonds recently when dark blond Ryan Seacrest sat down with platinum blond Ellen Degeneres (married to honey blond Portia di Rossi) to talk about… something… and the conversation turned to his golden blond girlfriend, Julianne Hough. Specifically how he’s “afraid” of her because she’s so strong and tough. At least that’s how it got reported. What he actually said was, “‘She’s such an athlete. I’m afraid sometimes to do stuff with her because I know I’m going to get injured.” So I don’t think he’s really scared of her and her lady muscles but more scared for himself and his 13-years-older-than-hers muscles. But nevertheless, it’s sparked some interesting discussion about how women with muscles are “scary.”
I’ve been called scary before, by a man. Several years ago, in the middle of a workout, one of the personal trainers commented loudly to another trainer, “Those girls scare me!” Those girls meaning Gym Buddy Allison and I.
Even babies do better pull-ups than I do! (And look way cuter doing them too! Awww!)
This past Monday found New Gym Buddy Kari (everyone say “Hi Kari!”), trying her best to follow my weird directions, standing on a weight bench and doing jumping pull-ups, which if you’ve ever tried them, can be plenty hard. As she boinged up and down, a gentlemen (known for doing multiple sets of pike pull-ups) walked past her and commented, “Do those even count?!” I’m sure it was meant as a joke. Probably. But I snapped. “Not all of us can be dudes!!” I yelled across the weight floor to him. I meant it as a joke. Probably. To his credit, he walked over and apologized, saying, “I’m sure you girls could kick my butt.” To which I replied, truthfully, “No, we couldn’t, but thank you all the same.” And then he left before the conversation could get any more awkward, as conversations with me tend to do.
Neck veins: All the cool kids are wearing them these days! I’m so fashion forward! Image Source
Pop quiz: What do Madonna, Angelina Jolie, me and a random dude off the Internet all have in common? No it’s not that we all have “Call Me Maybe” stuck in our heads. (Okay, that could possibly be true. Curse you Carly Rae Jeppson.) Actually we have all had our gardenhose veins called out by strangers. The first time it happened to me I was standing on my head at the gym basking in the glow of what I thought was the admiration of all the onlookers. “Look at that!” “How does she do that?” “I’ve never seen that on a woman before!” It was that last one that clued me in that they might possibly not be as enamored of my circus tricks as I am.
Finally Gym Buddy Krista gasped, “Look at that VEIN! It’s huge!” Girlfriend speaks the truth. My neck veins are so prominent that I can take my own pulse just by looking in a mirror.
So I had a lot of empathy when I got this e-mail from a reader:
I am so completely creeped out right now. The ‘stache, the look on his face, the fact that she looks 16. Plus jeans shorts? The mesh tank wasn’t enough of a statement on its own?!
Last week found me kicking the laundry basket down the hallway with my foot. No, I’m not making my household chores into sports (although there’s an idea). It’s because my shoulders were too sore to lift the blasted thing. Of course it’s not just me who’s resorted to doing weird workarounds because of soreness. The DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness, also known as the reason why you hurt worse two days after your workout than you did the day after) are so frequent among the Gym Buddies that we’ve come up with our own subcategories. Toilet sore – my fave of the bunch – is when your legs are so sore you have to fall the last few inches to the toilet seat. Bra sore is when you can’t reach behind you to clasp your bra because your arms hurt so bad. Panty sore is where your hip flexors are so knotted up you can’t lift your leg up to step into your undies. And ponytail sore, well that’s what I had last week. Which sucks since I wear my hair in a pony all the time. (And a grey hoodie. I’m the mom from the yogurt commercials!)