How I ended up at the gym

Suspicious girl's tale of weightlifting

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I’ve always been very concerned about my body, my health and general well-being.

My pain tolerance is pretty low, so the dilemma “should I go see the doctor?” has always been out of the question. Does it hurt or feel weird in any way? Then the answer is “yes, go!”.

I turned 25. I rented a place with my boyfriend, made enough money to live comfortably, had dental insurance and played the piano during my spare time. Life was pretty good. But that was the first time, when I felt that the age was slowly creeping on me. That was early, way too early! Suddenly, I noticed that a hamburger  a day (even a healthy one, with rye bun and lean ham) kept pounds coming my way. Considering how closely I was watching myself over all these past years, there was absolutely no way for me to miss these small changes.

Then I fell into a mild depression, which lasted over three months. My situation wasn’t bad enough to take antidepressants, but it felt like the mildest fever – not dangerous, yet constantly irritating.

My first motivation to work out was to stop the fat before it made me chubby. I needed a long-term solution, so I couldn’t go for cardio (which burns both fat and muscle). Having gone to a few yoga classes myself, I neither got the exercise nor the enlightenment. Conclusion: yoga’s not for me. Same story happened with swimming. I detested group workouts, so that option was out. 

The idea of weightlifting has always been kind of flying around, now that I think of it. All I had to do was to study the subject and get down to it. Study I did. I learned a bit about the hormonal balance, micro- and macronutrients, multi-joint and isolation exercises. If you google it, it’s all much easier than it sounds now. I also purchased several workouts from an instructor at a local gym, just to be on the safe side with the technique.

Endorphins kicked in after every workout. Physically it felt like I was very slowly eating a bar of milk chocolate while resting in a hot tub.

Then I got overtrained. That wasn’t because of my instructor’s incompetence (I dropped the instructor after 7 sessions to make my own way), that was the enthusiasm, which plagues most of weightlifting amateurs.

But by then I was hooked on endorphins and nirvana-like state of full composure, when there’s nothing left in the world, except for a barbell and a stretching aching muscle. 

Three months later I suddenly realized I haven’t been feeling depressed for a while. I could easily touch the floor without bending my knees. It was easier for me to stand in public transport. Six months later my boyfriend was suddenly much more interested in my company than before (if you know what I mean). It was also about time when I noticed the first glimpse of six pack on my belly.

I lost a lot of fat weight, gained it all back in muscle. Re-gained my high school senior shape. 

I’m not going back.

Now, a few tips, which I found to be very important (although often underestimated by beginners):

1. Pick a gym closest to you! Ideally, close enough to you that you can walk there even if it’s raining stones outside. Fancy or not; as long as it’s got a stack of dumbbells, it’s good.

2. Sleep a lot. Literally. As long as you can. Better fall behind on some minor tasks, and convert that time into sleep. SLEEP!

3. Get yourself a few gym outfits. Don’t go for the highest price and most technologically innovative fabrics. If you’re a beginner, it’s a waste of money. Get yourself several inexpensive outfits, instead of going for one expensive suit.

4. When doing exercises, move slowly. Feel the right muscles tense and stretch, stay focused. Start with tiny weight, move up. Over the first two months, don’t worry about “sets” and “reps”, learn the trajectories.

5. Muscle is incredibly hard to build for men, about ten times harder for women. If you’re a woman, you won’t bulk up and look like a man. Ever. Seriously. Never.

If you’ve got any weightlifting-related questions, I’ll gladly share my experience.

Cheers to you, and keep it up!

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