A girlpower moment
I was a bit overwhelmed this summer, and I paid even less attention than usual to the Games. I didn’t even watch the opening ceremony, and I usually do, though that’s typically about the extent of my interest in any of these things. Likewise, I never paid much attention to weightlifting, until Lidia Valentín nabbed bronze in Rio and awakened my inner fangirl.
As a result, I found this video and I now have more new idols: these ten-year-old girls who lift weights that still make me tremble. I now feel like I ought to retire from the world, shamed by my puniness and lack of drive.
This is from Channel 8, TV station from Ms. Valentín’s neck of the woods, El Bierzo in Castile and León, northeastern Spain. At the beginning, the interviewer asks the girls if they enjoy weightlifting, and towards the end, she asks their coach – Valentín – about the outlook for the local women’s youth team.
Nah, just kidding. I’m merely a casual gym goer and that only recently: this late spring I got it into my head to begin weight-training, and found my road to fitness El Dorado. I even find it hard to believe this is somehow beneficial, given that I always hated gyms and working out (I discovered that what I hate in fact is cardio, which is boring and unmotivating… bleh). I don’t do it out of any particular ambition or goal: I now like going to the gym, I’m interested in learning how to train properly, and that’s it.
I don’t aspire to reach Lidia’s size and feats (ahahahahaha, as if I could), but I find her absolutely inspiring… I love how she makes a point to flaunt her femininity and coquetry, though I hate having to use this latter word, by the way; it sounds so disparaging and negative, rather than something pleasurable and joyful… anyhow, she seems escaped somehow from one of those mythic sagas of warrior women, sans Valkyrie helmet and raven. Weirdo that I am, I appreciate anything that reminds me of these stories of unabashed girlpower in ancient eras.
More girlpower from bygone days
In the image: Forties’ fitgirl Abbye “Pudgy” Stockton, American bodybuilder who blazed the trail for women’s weightlifting around WWII and postwar era.
She was far from being the first famous woman weightlifter, an honor that belongs to the strongwomen who awed crowds in circuses, sideshows and variety halls in the Victorian era, but she was definitely among the very first voices to advocate strength training as a healthy and fulfilling activity for ladies from all walks of life.
For Pudgy Stockton didn’t stop at being dubbed the Queen of Muscle Beach: she actively channeled her experience and knowledge into encouraging girls to take up weight training, founded and managed women’s gyms, promoted the first women’s bodybuilding contests, and devoted her life to smashing the old silly idea that females would instantly become monstrous, unsexed freaks if they so much as touched heavier weights.
Links of note
Someone running into this anew is probably thinking: LOL, you know she’s just going to wind up looking like a male midget in drag in no time if she keeps this up… besides, everybody knows exercise is no fun… only holier-than-thou health-freaks and narcissistic bimbos / himbos can claim it is with a straight face.
Booo-ring… you’ve no idea what you’re missing out on. Don’t be one of Those People who perpetuate these stupid myths. Not that I’m the person to explain why these are stupid myths in detail, because other folks with a proper fitness background can put it in words much better than I can… there’s plenty of those in the fitness blogosphere, but as a beginner, I’m partial to Nia Shank’s way of breaking down the elements of sane and sensible training for women, and particularly her article: 8 Reasons Women Should Strength Train.
As for my own experience, this is what I can say:
1. I’ve found weight training to be much more approachable and stimulating than running like a hamster on a wheel, or showing off your lackluster choreographic skills and coordination to a room full of people, in an attempt to follow the leader in an aerobics-dance type of class.
2. I actually began SEEING and FEELING the results from very early on, not just in how my body looked but also how it performed, handling increasing amounts of weight as the weeks went by, which I find truly encouraging; I never got this from aerobic activity or dieting (blergh), which just leave me skinny-flabby and grouchy, so I invariably ended up abandoning them.
3. Speaking of dieting, I haven’t really done that since I was an idiot teenager who bought into idiot media, and I thought I had to, not because of any serious health considerations… at any rate, the heaviest I’ve ever been in all my life is 50 kg / 112lb, which is 3 kilos heavier than I was then (it doesn’t sound like much, but keep in mind I’m short, and shorter still back then).
I’ve no idea how much I weigh now since I don’t own a scale (I don’t know why anyone would tolerate this devil-made contraption in their homes, unless they regularly compete in some discipline or for weighing luggage prior to air travel). Anyhow, now that I’m going to the gym regularly I find it much easier to want to stick to healthier, reasonable eating choices (cracking down on sweets, alcohol, and processed stuff, adding more vegetables, protein and some supplements).
The key word here is want: I actually want to do it, not because I might be able to be healthier in my old age (who can guarantee I’ll live that long?), or to get a beach body (meh. Haven’t set foot on a beach in years, nor missed it), but because it does help me feel and do better performing an activity I enjoy, as opposed to the way I feel and the results I get working out when my body is bogged down with do-nothing crap. Not that I’m one of those unsufferable clean-eating types who prefer hemlock to sinful eats… if temptation crosses my path now and then, I welcome it with open arms and a big French kiss #noregrets.
And, since I’m not forced/guilted/coerced/preached into staying onto the straight and narrow day after day after day, I also find it easier to say no and go on my way if temptation becomes clingy, attached, and too regular of an occurrence, thus getting in the way of my goals.
4. I’m convinced that regular exercise has played a key role in making my skin look better. I’ve no idea why that is, but ever since I began training my face looks noticeably clearer and brighter. I know it’s not just improved eating habits, which came into the picture a little later, and I began seeing positive changes almost from the moment I began training.
5. My father is intrigued about this strength-training business, and has been saying for weeks he wants to try the gym too. This is important to me, as Papa Nessie is a gentleman of a certain age, a certain weight, and longtime sedentary habits, a combination which of course worries me… so before he changes his mind, I’m giving him for Christmas a trial gym membership (monitor included, so he doesn’t get too newbie-excited as he always does, and endangers himself). Here’s hoping it will take as it did with me, and he’ll start taking better care of himself.
If health and fitness are among your 2017 resolutions, you could do worse than hitting the barbell rack. And, If you’re worried you’ll wind up like Ah-nold pre-governorship, fear not: it’s just not going to happen from spending an hour in the gym 2 or 3 times a week… it’s even more improbable if you’re like me and eat everything you like, including a dose of beering or wining on weekends in good company (within reason, as I pointed out earlier). No one gets like those massive dudes that easily, not even the massive dudes, which is why anabolics exist.
In my gym bag
Unrepentant beauty addict as I am, I’m a little surprised whenever people show the contents of their gym bag in social media, and they’re schlepping around about the same amount of personal care products I pack for a trip several days long… I don’t know, I like to take my time for my rituals, and devoting gym time to that seems like a pain.
This is the only product that never leaves my gym bag: scentless spray deo from the supermarket (brand Deliplus from Spanish chain Mercadona). It’s dirt cheap, alcohol-free, and it really has no scent whatsoever. I can’t really rely on its effectiveness for the 24 hours the packaging claims, but for a quick spray at the gym at the end of a hot or stressful day, it gives me peace of mind.
By the way, a small rant before I go: you know how men are always complaining about women going to work out doused in perfume? At my gym it seems the guys are invariably the worst offenders (there’s more of them, to be fair)… at any rate, almost every time I go, sooner or later I end up working out next to some coxcomb marinated in Axe. I’m not overly sensitive to fragrances, but this certainly doesn’t improve my already poor opinion of this brand.