When I started working out I wasn’t in a very good place in my life. It happened during rehab, at the beginning of my addiction recovery treatment. One of the main components of my rehabilitation program was exercising, and, let’s just say I wasn’t very good at it at first. In fact, I hated it. Cardio was the worst; I was so out of shape and my body was so damaged by years of abusing drugs and alcohol that I couldn’t run a few yards without feeling out of breath.
My addiction to drugs and alcohol started when I was a teenager and went on into my early adulthood. At 23 I decided to get sober, and that’s when I went to rehab. The drugs I consumed for more than a decade almost completely damaged my respiratory system, so any type of physical activity was a real challenge for me.
But, little by little, I started gaining resistance and strength, and I started trying out new ways of working out that I might enjoy more than running, and that’s how I started lifting weights. Like any beginner, at first I wasn’t able to lift more than a few pounds, but that was the best thing about lifting: it gave me a purpose, I wanted to be able to lift more and I knew I had to work for it.
It’s been 9 years since I finished my rehabilitation program, and weight lifting is still one of my favorite activities. Today I would like to share the 4 ways in which my life improved with weight lifting.
- Less Stress
Whenever I have a bad day at work, or there’s something worrying me, I know that the best way to feel better is going to the gym. From the very beginning of my training, while I was still at rehab, I found that lifting weights helped me reduce stress -which I had plenty of at the time-.
Lifting helps me keep my mind off things that worry me and make me anxious by focusing on my body, and, after the workout, I always feel relaxed and at peace, and these feelings don’t fade away fast, which helps me deal with my problems in a calmer way.
Several studies indicate that resistance training can improve anxiety, which, in turn can improve sleep and bring many other benefits that can improve your quality of life.
- Weight Loss
Usually, when people say they want to lose weight, what they mean is they want to lose fat. There is a debate that’s been going on for years on whether if weight lifting is an effective way to lose weight or not. Weight lifting builds lean muscle, so, if you practice it regularly, you might gain muscle mass, which will show as more weight on the scale, but which is a good thing. Besides, weight training helps burn fat, which is what you’re actually trying to lose. In addition, it also boosts your metabolism, which allows you to keep burning calories long after you finished your workout.
Everyone’s body works differently, and while for some cardio might be the best option to lose weight, I personally prefer weight lifting. Not only is it the type of exercise I enjoy the most, but, after trying different workouts, weight lifting is what I found helped me best through my weight loss journey.
- Self Confidence
After I lost some extra pounds of fat and started gaining muscle, I started looking better, and I started loving who I saw in the mirror everyday. This was something I had never felt before. I felt proud of my progress, and, as a result, I was more self confident. And it’s true what they say, when you like yourself, others will like you too.
But it wasn’t only my new physical appearance that made me more confident. Knowing that even though it was hard at the beginning I was able to push through it, made me feel like I could do anything I set my mind to. And this drive ultimately translated into being able to stay sober all these years no matter how hard it was.
- Sense of Accomplishment
When you’re in your 20s you feel like you should have your life together. You think that you are getting older really fast and if you haven’t accomplished certain things by a certain age, you’re a failure.
That’s exactly what I felt like when I was at rehab. I was 23, with no degree, no skills, no passions, no idea what to do with my life. It took me some time to understand that everyone has their own journey, and I shouldn’t buy into society’s idea of success and failure.
But, in the meantime, weight lifting helped me achieve that sense of accomplishment I needed. Setting goals and being able to meet them through hard work made me feel like I was doing something important -and I was, given the many life-changing benefits that lifting brought to my life-. I became more ambitious, more disciplined, I started taking care of my health… those things are what helped me become who I am today.
9 years of sobriety have taught me that the key to success is hard work and good habits. My number one good habit, and one of my passions, is weight lifting. By reducing your stress, helping you lose weight, increasing your self confidence and giving you a sense of accomplishment, weight lifting can change your life. Give it a try and come back and tell us how you liked it.
Do you have any questions about how weight lifting is good for your health? If you’d like to add or suggest something, please leave a comment below.