I've always been a pretty athletic person. Having played tennis throughout my adolescence and doing CrossFit for a couple of years, being physically active has always been a passion of mine. In 2016, though, due to some unfortunate circumstances that life threw my way, I let my fitness fall to the wayside. I subsequently gained a lot of weight (about 30 pounds), partly because in addition to not working out at all, I was eating a lot of unhealthy food. But in 2017 I'd had enough, so I decided to turn things around and get back on track.
The first thing I turned to was weightlifting. This was mostly because I really missed the strength-training component that came with CrossFit. After six months of consistent strength training, I've seen some pretty incredible changes — not only in my body, but also in my life.
My Physique Changed, but I Didn't Lose a Single Pound
You may look at my "after" photo and think I lost a lot of weight. And I wouldn't blame you, because I definitely look smaller. However, I weigh exactly the same as I did six months ago. I didn't lose a single pound! That's the most fascinating part about strength training: it will truly change your body, but because muscle weighs more than fat, the number on the scale might not really change. In fact, it may even go up.
This was a great reminder that the scale doesn't matter when it comes to getting healthy and feeling your best. Your body and mind can completely change without worrying too much about how many pounds you weigh.
I Lost Belly Fat (Without Doing Any Ab Exercises)
I've always had trouble with my midsection. Even when I was playing sports or doing CrossFit regularly, I never saw my belly shrink. I just thought having a flat tummy wasn't in the cards for me, and I was truly OK with that. That's why I was really surprised to see my waist shrink after a few months of regular strength training.
I know some of it had to do with my diet (I started intermittent fasting four months ago), but I can't entirely leave strength training off the table. My trainer always tells me that the compound lifts we usually do — that is, movements that work multiple muscle groups at the same time — target the core more than we realize. For example, front squats, pull-ups, and the push press are movements that require a lot of stability in your abs.
So even though I never did ab routines, I still worked the hell out of my core, and that helped me build more muscle and shed fat around my midsection.
I Fell in Love With My New Muscle Definition
I've been told for most of my life that weightlifting is for dudes and that lifting heavy weights will make women look bulky, manly, and even unattractive. But as I saw new muscle definition gradually showing up on my body, especially around my arms and back, I couldn't help but be so proud of my new figure.
I love how strong I look, and that "muscly" look that is stereotypically associated with men is exactly the thing that helped me shed excess fat and let my curves shine through. It's ironic — the very workout that is considered to be the most "manly" is the one that helped me appreciate my womanhood more than ever.