Why I Lift

If you’ve been following me for a while, you probably know that I love weightlifting. I’ve done a weightlifting series, written about the benefits, and just talked about it in my story and other posts because, well, it’s my passion! I write about it, post about it, talk about it because I love it and that’s what I’ve chosen to fill my life with (as much as I can of course). Now, lately, i’ve heard through social media and YouTube of many weightlifters, athletes, bodybuilders, etc. who get “shamed” for lifting because they only care about their looks, they’re narcissists, douchey–whatever you want to call it. And while I thankfully have never experienced this, I am still a part of that group being incorrectly called out.

Now are there some people who only lift for those above reasons, probably yes, but like any “stereotype” they are few & far between–the outliers–causing the rest of us to get a bad rap. So today I want to talk about why I personally lift. I think that anyone, whether or not their passion/life is involved with fitness, should always be knowing their why. Why they started, why they’re doing it, why they want to continue, etc. Knowing your why can help you push through when times get hard (very often), it helps you live a life you love, confident in what you are doing, and it helps shape who you are as a person. If you can’t think of a why, then consider it’s time to move on. Your why is fundamental.

So, why do I lift?

I lift because I love it. I enjoy pushing myself to lift more weight, for more reps, to try difficult movements and conquer them. I love knowing that I am physically making a change in my body, mind, and life. From the moment I step foot in the gym, until I walk out (or limp if it’s leg day ya know) I just love it. The whole process of working on myself, for myself, by myself to become better and stronger is something that I look forward to carrying through my entire life.

I lift because it makes me confident. Unlike those accusations of being too focused on one’s self or body, I struggle to love my body. If you’ve read my story, you know that I hardcore struggled in the past with body dysmorphia, with accepting my body for what it currently is and loving it at all stages. I just wanted to be skinny. But, when I stop foot in that gym and start lifting, all those thoughts go away. I’m no longer consumed by how my body looks, but rather what my body can do!! It doesn’t matter if I’m skinny when I’m squatting more than my bodyweight, it doesn’t matter that I tend to hold my fat on my lower belly when I am fighting through the last reps to BUILD my muscle and body. Lifting has shown me that while I still struggle, I no longer want to be tiny and skinny. I want to be strong and healthy and muscular and a freakin’ badass in the gym.

I lift because of what it’s taught me.

Lifting is much bigger than just who it builds physically, it builds your character, your attitude on life, you as a person, how you live your life. It has taught me discipline and perseverance. Results take time, goals take time and through the process you have to be discipline to hit your lifts and nutrition. Persevere over challenges, bounce back from setbacks and come at it even harder and stronger than before. Lifting has taught me to set goals, focus hard to achieve them, and work for it. It has taught me to live a life that I love–no matter what anyone else’s opinion is. It has shown me that I can become whoever and whatever I choose to set my mind to be.

I lift because it makes me stronger.

Not only physically, but mentally too. Sure, the muscle gains are evident. But the confidence to live the life I love, to be damn proud of what I am doing, and to fight for what I want isn’t as easily seen–but it’s there alright!!! The mental toughness to push through hard times, to not quit or give-up. Lifting has even helped my mental health by reminding me to listen to my body. Sure, I’m pushing myself in the gym to get physically stronger. But if I ever want to see that progress, lifting reminds me that I need to take care of resting and my mental health as well.

I lift because it makes me happy.

This last one kind of bundles the previous paragraphs into one. All of these things that lifting does for me makes me happy. I’m not always a cheerful, positive person, but lifting helps change my perspective and brings me joy in what I am doing and who I am becoming. And honestly, your why should be bringing you happiness otherwise why are you doing it?

Lifting is helping me build myself–mentally, physically, in and outside of the gym, my character, who I am, and who I am becoming.

This is why I lift.

My Story

So here it is. I’ve finally gotten the courage to write and share my story. I’ve written about bits and pieces of it on other blogs and my “About Me” page, but I’ve never laid the full story out on the table. It’s not that I am ashamed of it–it’s made me who I am and taken me where I am today. But, I will admit: it is hard. Hard to open up, to show vulnerability and share what I have been through. Hard to explain my disordered eating and the relationship with food and fitness I once had. I wanted to wait until I had everything perfectly written and mapped out, but then I realized that it never will be perfect. But that doesn’t mean it can’t inspire. It will never sound just how I want it, but that doesn’t mean that others won’t read it and hear my message.

So why do it, you may ask. Because, I want to inspire. I want someone to read my story and know that there is hope. I want someone to say because of you, I didn’t give up my fight.. I want fitness to be able to change people’s lives liked it changed mine. And if that means sharing my story, then not a single thing will stop me from doing it. (Please bear with me this is a long post, but I think it is very much worth the read.)


Growing up I was always an active and athletic kid. I found my passion for volleyball at the age of 10 and all through middle and high school I never looked back. Because I was an athlete, I was introduced to and always around exercise: weights, sprints, jump rope, box jumps, Insanity…you name it. I ate pretty well, and had a good understanding of what was healthy and nutritious for my body versus what was not. But I also very much loved my pie and ice cream (yes, often together), chips, desserts, etc. Fortunately for me, I was never overweight due to my body type. In fact, for most of middle and high school I was underweight until I had fully grown into my body. I never thought much about how much I was eating or what my body looked like, I was just going along doing my athletic thing.

When I got to college to play volleyball, things were still looking good. Sure, the dining hall had assortments of desserts and oily, fried foods, but I still was able to make relatively healthy choices as well as enjoy the other foods in balance. Plus, I thought with being an athlete, there was no way I was going to gain the freshman 15–I was too active, right? Wrong! By the end of my Fall semester (and volleyball season), I had gained 15 pounds. Was I overweight or did I look fat? Not at all! But it didn’t matter because in my eyes and my mind, I was. I despised myself for gaining all that weight and I began to hate my body and the way it looked. People kept telling me that it was all muscle, and while some of it definitely was, it is physically impossible for a woman to gain 15 pounds of muscle in a 2-month time period. This means I had gained muscle and fat and either way, I was unhappy with it all.

Flash forward to the Spring semester, coming back from winter break, I decided I was going to do something about it, I was going to lose the extra weight. We had volleyball workouts 3 days a week for the first few months, then it changed to 5. On days and weekends I wouldn’t have volleyball workouts and/or practice, I would exercise on my own. I would run on the treadmill or use the elliptical or stationary bike for 30 minutes and easily burn 300 calories. And the more calories the machine showed, the happier I was. Then, when eating I would try to eat very little (a lot of salads) and stay away from bread, desserts, and lots of other things. I began to label foods as “bad” and “good”–the first sign of my disordered eating. Throughout the day my mind would constantly be counting the calories I ate and subtracting the calories I burned, hoping to get to a satisfactory number. I would even overestimate the number I ate and underestimate what I burned on purpose, so that I would lose more weight than I was “calculating”. Back then I thought I was eating around 1600-1800, but in reality it was probably closer to 1500-1600….and I most likely needed 2100-2200 a day.

All of this took a physical, mental, and emotional toll on myself and those around me. My workouts started being affected–I couldn’t lift as heavy. I lost my period for 6+ months. I was always tired and moody; I would get very hangry all the time and snap easily. I was never good enough. Even when I stopped trying to lose the weight, I had developed a disordered relationship with my food, deeming them as “clean” and “unclean”, “good” and “bad” that I continued to lose weight because I wasn’t eating enough to fuel my body. I eventually got down to 130 pounds…and at 5’10” that’s not a real healthy weight to be at, especially for an athlete like myself. I had lost 25 pounds in 6-7 months. Yet I still wasn’t happy, I still saw fat on myself and hated my body. I would still feel happy when I knew I ate under my calories and would force myself to workout when I “had a treat”. I had developed what is known as orthorexia nervosa (I probably had slight anorexia as well).

I’m going to do another post on this, but just to get an idea, orthorexia nervosa means a fixation on eating healthy and pure foods, as well as being so obsessed with controlling your diet and consumed with thoughts of eating, what you ate, quality, etc. It may seem harmless from the outside, but when taken too far, like me, it can cause serious damage.

Due to a knee injury, I took my second year of volleyball off. During this time, I began to workout on my own (mostly lifting and circuit training mixed with some running). As I started to lift more and more, I realized that I wanted to change. I no longer wanted to be as skinny as could be, no longer wanted to see a lower number on the scale. I decided that I wanted to be #StrongNotSkinny. I began to cook healthy meals that were enough and that fueled me. I fell in love with this healthy lifestyle and I developed a passion for fitness lifting and nutrition. I started this blog for accountability and a way to share my passion as I recovered. I knew it would be hard, but very much worth it!

Flash forward to now (I’ve rejoined the volleyball team) and I was right. Recovery is very hard and there are days and times I still struggle–with body image, with doubt, with food anxiety. But I know that I am on my way to being fully recovered and enjoying a healthier lifestyle. Fitness changed my perspective and helped me understand who it was that I wanted to become and then go out and get it! And now, I want to share that passion and my journey with others so that I too can help them!

I want others to see what it is like to truly live Beyoutifully Healthy!

Weightlifting Part 3: Routines: How to Find Yours

Okay, so now that you’ve hopefully learned some new things about weightlifting, and you’re thinking maybe I could give it a shot, it’s time to pick a routine style! And if you’re freaking out thinking what, I have to pick a type/style now, don’t worry. I’m going to go through the different ones here and tips for finding your best fit.

1. Full Body

The first type of lifting routine you could do is full body. This means that each lifting workout you do, you do exercises that hit all the muscles in your body. Basically, you’re not focusing on a single muscle group or groups. Each workout you want to hit legs, biceps, back, triceps, shoulders, and chest with rest in between days. It is very important to have rest days, especially when doing full body. This shouldn’t be an issue because typically you’ll only do 3 lifts a week, spaced out making sure you have 2-3 rest days in between each lift.

Pros:

  • Build a balanced body from hitting all muscles in your workout
  • If you miss a workout, it’s okay because you’ve already worked all your muscles that week.
  • Can maximize calorie burn from continuous movement

Cons: 

  • Can take longer amount of time
  • More difficult to focus on building/growing a single muscle group
  • Can lead to overtraining and putting intense fatigue on the body

Who this works for:

  • People with limited time to workout (only lifting 2-3 days a week)
  • Beginners
  • Athletic teams (allows them to work full body)
  • Those who love cardio, but want to start incorporating lifting

2. Split

Split routines focus generally focus on 2-3 muscle groups at a time (unless doing upper vs lower body). There are numerous ways to split up your routine based on what works and feels the best for you. Some of the possible splits are:

1) Two Day Split: Upper body/Lower body

2) 3 Day Split: Push day (chest, shoulders, triceps), Pull day (Back, biceps, forearms), Leg Day

3) 4 Day Split: Legs, Chest/Triceps, Back/Biceps, Shoulders and Abs

These are just ideas. It is still important to take rest days although the number of days will differ depending on your routine. Aim to allow 2-3 days in between working each muscle group. For example, when I was lifting on my own, I did 4 day split like this: Legs, Back/Biceps, Chest/Triceps/Shoulders, Legs. So yes I did legs twice because you know…booty is important. But seriously though. It is.

Pros:

  • Focus on shaping and growing certain muscles
  • Easier to switch up your routine
  • More manageable because you aren’t fatiguing your whole body at a time

Cons:

  • More difficult to miss a workout because you wont have worked all your muscles
  • Less calorie burn
  • Muscle and Strength imbalances more likely

Who this works for:

  • Advanced lifters who haven’t seen much progress/muscle growth or have seemed to hit a plateau
  • Bodybuilders/Fitness Competitors
  • Those looking to grow a specific muscle(s) or wanting to focus on more specific muscle growth

No matter which routine you decide is best for you, the important thing to know is that you’re getting stronger and bettering yourself and your healthy by lifting! Also, don’t be afraid to try different routines until you find what works best for you, and then even when you do, don’t be afraid to switch it up or add new exercises in. Also, it’s very important to make sure that you do not compare you lifting journey to anyone else’s. It can be easy to get caught up in the progress photos and looks you see on social media, but just remember that everyone started somewhere different and is currently at a different place in their journey than you. Weightlifting and fitness in general is all about continuing to grow and get better, so keep focusing on you and your workout and the results will come! And hopefully you too will fall in love with lifting the way that I and so many others have!

What strength training routines do you like best?