Dan’s Note: I first asked Cathy to write about her story in October of 2018 for fiftyonestrong.com. Now that more time has passed, I asked her to bring us up to speed.
I wrote a piece after my first month of training. Now that’s it’s been 17 months since then, Dan asked if I would write about my current perspective on lifting, motivation, goals, etc.
First off, I can’t believe I have been lifting for a year and a half! The thought of lifting had never, ever entered my mind so when my son suggested it I thought “what can it hurt to give it a try?” Because my son was disciplined in his lifting regimen the question of going was not if but when. It got me into the routine of going whether I felt like it or not. I was also a little intimidated to go into a gym’s weight room. Having Andrew with me made it a whole lot easier. I felt out of place because I am a woman and also older than average at that. In time I felt right at home putting weights on the bar. In fact, there have been numerous times that the big burly guys will come up and comment on how good my form is on various lifts. I think they understand how important resistance training is to quality of life.
Which takes me to my next point: why I do it. I am convinced and have proof, that it has increased my strength and general wellbeing. I have become familiar with a few bloggers (Barbell Medicine, Iron Culture) and have learned more about why resistance training is so important and how your body responds to it. As a postmenopausal woman, I know that loss of bone density is a real problem. I’ve also learned that older adults need protein in their diet to increase muscle mass because as we age our body has a harder time creating more muscle.
I can’t stress enough how integral Dan has been in all of this. Not only is he very knowledgeable about lifting but he is also your biggest cheerleader. He’s a very positive guy. He also gets to know his clients. He’s concerned about what’s going on in your life and how it affects your ability to get to the gym. He listens to your feedback and adjusts accordingly. There has not been a time yet that he has given me a workout that I was not able to complete. He starts out slowly with you and with very doable weights. He started me out going to the gym twice/week. After a few months, he asked if I thought I could do three times/week. For me that was doable. When I’m traveling he asks if I can find a gym. If not, that’s okay but then he will give suggestions for some other kind of activity. He definitely holds you accountable!
Another benefit for me is that it gives structure to my day and gets me out of the house no matter the weather or temperature. As someone who has endured depression all of my adult life having to leave the house, especially in the winter, is very good for me. In all honesty, I don’t think it has improved my depression specifically but it has improved my overall mental sense of wellbeing. Also, my success in continuing to lift more and more weight has given me more confidence in general. I am more willing to take a risk and try something that is new to me. Lifting has also helped in very practical ordinary ways, i.e. carrying laundry up and down stairs, hauling groceries, blowing snow and shoveling. There just isn’t a downside at all to this training that I’m aware of.
So, if you’re on the fence I say give it a go, especially if you are a woman! I wish I had known much earlier what I know now. However, it’s never too late to start. With every workout I am “investing” in my long term health. Aging is inevitable but losing strength and muscle doesn’t have to be.
In October 2018, Cathy deadlifted 85lbs x 4 reps. Yesterday she hit a HUGE milestone and deadlifted 225lbs!