Beauty & the Barbell

As you may have noticed, I love working out. What do I love more than working out? Working out with friends! Since I could remember, utterly exhausting myself and seeing what I am capable of, has been my biggest hobby. And who wants to hobby alone all the time? Friends make everything fun, from bikram yoga classes or running an ultra marathon, having someone there suffering (err supporting) with you helps keep you going. I am pretty positive that there is science to back this.

April marks a quarter into the New Year and also four months into the journey I started with weightlifting. Just under four months, Dec. 15, I started lifting at Pinellas Barbell alongside two other barbell novice beauties — Marina, who I’ve known since elementary school, and Jamie, who I was meeting for the first time. Reflecting on this short period of time is perfect, because in another four months, I will have made even more progress.

Marina  called me one day to share that her boyfriend, Nick, and his close friend, Sean, were opening a weightlifting gym, Pinellas Barbell. I was excited to hear this and started firing off questions about how I can join. Marina starts opening up to me about how she has wanted to start weight lifting and really wants to get in the best shape of her life. What better time than the present and while we’re young? I could not agree with her more. I opened up to her about how I have always wanted to start weightlifting but was always unsuccessful at following through since I did not know what I was doing. I told her we could team up and start together. That’s when Marina brought up the Barbell Beauties. The idea was a weightlifting class three times a week designed for girls like us. Marina presented the plan to Nick who agreed to providing the training for us. I was ecstatic as she was telling me this. Marina also had another girl in mind to join us, Jamie. The more the merrier, this is what I always wanted: a dedicated group of girls who would follow through, be supportive, and TRY.

I was excited for so many reasons. It was December and I had spent the three previous months partying my life away after ending a long term relationship in September. I was partying my feelings away so I could put off my heartache; I should know better because that solves nothing and makes situations worse. I was gaining weight, I was not working out, I was not myself. Marina’s phone call was like a sign from God. The first thing Marina said to me was if I wanted to make this work, I would need to cut the partying and drinking. I couldn’t agree more and I knew that a group like this would benefit my overall mental and physical health in so many more ways than one; I knew this was how I could not only find myself again, but help re-build myself.

Dec. 15 to Jan. 23 was spent getting up and falling down.

Making workouts, then undoing them. All at the expense of my own poor decision making. I take full responsibility. That was not like me; when I say something, I do it. My biggest wake up call was not finishing a race I have run every year for the past five, the FL Road Races Holiday Halfathon. I have completed many half marathons (over 20), even if my training isn’t what I would like it to be. I usually have done enough cross training and can keep going the 13.1 miles without stopping. I was treating my body so poorly however, I just shut down at mile FOUR. My right calf was hurting so much I literally thought I was going to tear the muscle so I pulled out. It was a slap in the face and I knew I needed to make a change before I fell off anymore.

Jan. 23, my 28th birthday and the mark of my own personal “New Year.”

I declared what it was that I wanted to do and just started. I was so fed up with myself because my actions were not lining up with my goals. It was almost like I was on punishment. I was not going out, at all. The first few weeks I was dumbfounded at seeing how much money I was saving, how much more I was killing work outs, and how tired I was NOT. All these positive feelings gave me fuel to keep going and keep the cycle of positivity spinning. I also had the realization that I did not need to punish myself; being hard on myself has not worked in my favor before so why be hard on myself again and expect different results? I began doing the things I love again: kayaking, spending time with my pups on the island, working out, drinking mimosas in the mangroves and getting out of the stale scene I was growing weary of seeing nightly.

I have touched on many activities and sports from water to land, however weightlifting has never really been something I’ve truly dedicated myself to. Not because I did not want to, because I did not know how to. The most I got into was some basic bicep or tricep curls at the gym, or trying out a random machine, looking at the little sticker picture of how the machine is meant to be used/ what muscle is worked, pick a random weight and constantly adjusted the weight because it never felt quite right. 3 sets of 10 sounded right so that’s what I did. Then I would get bored and go do cardio. All I know is cardio so to me, if I wasn’t out of breath and experiencing an Orange Theory approved heart rate, I wasn’t working out efficiently enough.

I am happy to say I am making real progress: My first measurements were taken Jan. 12 by March 9 I measured again. This time with three inches off my waist. I even ran another half marathon this past March to make up for the December nightmare, and I finished with out stopping & felt more like myself than I had in a long time. My weight has not changed, not even 1 lb ,which doesn’t bother me at all, I have never let numbers on the scale get to me. I actually find it pretty fascinating, the science behind burning the fat and replacing with muscle. I love feeling myself get stronger and better at what I am doing; my current max deadlift is 215 lbs!

I am more about the numbers on the barbell. I am still learning; proper form, new nutrition guidelines, and getting comfortable being uncomfortable – I am finding my stronger self by healing thru the aching.  I can often be heard asking “How many?” since I focus so much on what I am doing – I don’t know how many I’ve done.  I can get frustrated when I can’t get something down (those damn sprinter arms on box jumps!) and I get super squeally with delight when I pull (lift) something off. This is just the beginning for this Barbell Beauty.


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