One of few women with a bar

Luz Silva, Editor-in-Chief

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A couple of weeks ago, I was telling my parents a story of what happened when I went lifting with some Elgin police officers. As I’m telling the story, my dad begins laughing and interrupts to ask “why are you doing that?” So I asked what he was referring to, and he says lifting

“You don’t need to do that,” he said.

I ended up walking away from my dad because I imagine he meant no harm, but his comments were sexist and made me feel odd. I was thrown off because I had been lifting for a while, and apparently, my dad had no clue. On top of that, he confirmed some negative feelings I use to have at the gym.

I began weightlifting three years ago but not willingly. During my senior year, my high school required all athletes to enroll in a weightlifting course for our gym class. The hardest part of the class was getting past the feeling of incompetence because I had to learn the basics of all the different movements we needed to perform. I had never in my life imagined myself practicing what seemed to be unconventional movements to me.

Many girls feel intimidated by the idea of powerlifting because the image of an ideal woman created by society is typically slim and lifting is feared because they might become bulky rather than becoming slimmer. In a world that revolves around appearances, it’s easy to feel the need to change one’s body either artificially or by hitting the gym constantly.

What I have to say is that we have to leave the misconceptions of health and fitness that society has created behind and get informed on how to properly and adequately work and feed our bodies to meet our desired physical image. Powerlifting, through squats, deadlifts, bench pressing and countless other exercises and variations, works your largest muscles and allows them to build in strength and ultimately enables you to use your body effectively.

The hardest part of starting is learning the proper form to allow results, and more importantly, prevent injuries. But I’ve learned by asking, watching people at the gym or on YouTube videos or working out with a friend who lifts. There are gyms that offer trainers who can help or some schools offer weightlifting courses. If you ever have the opportunity to take the course, I would highly recommend it. It’s easier to learn when you have the opportunity to be guided and have the ability to ask questions directly.

As mentioned before, one of the biggest fears is becoming bulky or “swole” because many people begin to see definition in their body pretty quickly. This is actually you becoming toned. There are many different exercises that all allow you to sculpt your body in the different ways you may desire, and it is important to note that if you begin to lift heavy, fat will begin to become muscle and this may cause you to notice that you are not losing weight, but don’t be discouraged. It is more valuable to measure changes in body fat percentage. Body fat percentage is the amount of fat divided by your total body mass and multiplied by 100. Essentially, it is how much of your body is fat compared to your total weight. Toning your body allows you to decrease body fat, and that is desired to live a healthier lifestyle.

Despite the negative stigma around women lifting weights, I have learned to embrace it because of what it has done to my lifestyle and body. What I enjoy about lifting is that it has allowed me to discover my body’s strength, it has made me more conscious of what I feed my body and how I treat it and has helped me increase my self-confidence.