Beyond the Limits

“Strength does not come from physical capacity. It comes from an indomitable will.”
Mahatma Gandhi

Strength training pushes me beyond my limits, and I love it.

I love to be active and thrive when I am in constant motion, but I never thought I would say that strength training is a must for me. I learned this week that without the dopamine rush of consistently lifting weights my mood and overall well-being is not great. I walk a bunch every day and practice some sort of Yoga or stretching but until I began strength training there was never any rhyme or reason to what I did.

Two years ago I stumbled onto a YouTube trainer that clicked with me. For some reason I always had a bazillion or more excuses as to why I didn’t lift weights. The same ol’ “not enough” time was usually the front runner of excuses. Since I started October 1st 2021, I have added 4-5 days a week of weight training to my wellness routine. I can now say that I am shocked that up until age 51, I had not found the love for the feeling I get (and the sustained feelings) following a training session.

I recently completed another 10 weeks of training and thought I would take one week off.

In taking that week off, I experienced worse sleep, elevated irritability, overall sadness, and a much gloomier outlook on life. Could it be the lack of strength training? I wanted to say it was my recent hand I injury while wrestling a bag of baking soda that resulted in a torn ligament. (do not even ask). As I look back on the week off, I do believe with certainty it was the lack of training (and dopamine) that allowed my injury and the rest of my pain to take a hold on my attitude.

When I am lifting weights I am amazed and in awe of my strength and my chronic pain takes a back seat. I am confident and empowered as I do lunges and chest presses. I thrive when I am shaking after a good session. My uplifted mood takes me through my day with ease and I am filled with unstoppable energy.

Harvard found in a study that the mental benefits of exercise has a neurochemical basis. Exercise reduces levels of the body’s stress hormones, such as adrenaline and cortisol. It also stimulates the production of endorphins, chemicals in the brain that are the body’s natural painkillers and mood elevators. Endorphins are responsible for the “runner’s high” and for the feelings of relaxation and optimism that accompany many hard workouts — or, at least, the hot shower after your exercise is over.

Behavioral factors also contribute to the emotional benefits of exercise. As your waistline shrinks and your strength and stamina increase, your self-image will improve. You’ll earn a sense of mastery and control, of pride and self-confidence. Your renewed vigor and energy will help you succeed in many tasks, and the discipline of regular exercise will help you achieve other important lifestyle goals.

So there it is. Proof is in the pudding. Without the added adrenaline rush from strength training I found that walking 20,000 steps just isn’t enough for me anymore.

The made up belief that I didn’t have enough time was just that–a grossly false made up belief. I have the will to get out there and do it. I do have time. I make the time. By choosing to wake up just 30 minutes earlier I have time to be still, walk, workout, and be out the door by 8am. So simple.

This week begins the next 10 week session and that will take me right up to my total hip replacement where I will then focus on healing.

“Physical fitness is the first requisite of happiness.”

-Jospeh Pilates