Why do I lift heavy weights?

I was at the gym again this morning, lifting heavy weights.

Often I will stop mid-workout, turn to the guy next to me (not to be too gendered, but in the room where I lift, with the rack and the benches and the heavier weights, it’s mostly guys around me) and laughingly say, “Why do we do this? I mean, it’s kinda weird. We pick up heavy weights, move them around a few times, and put them down. What do we accomplish?”

The guys in the room generally laugh and say something witty back. And, in retrospect, I guess they’ve been kind because none of them have said to me, “Your weights really aren’t heavy!”

They’re heavy to me.

So, why do I do it? I was thinking this through this morning after my workout. Why do I push my body so hard? Especially as I get a little bit older and a little bit shorter – and any of you who know me know that getting a little bit shorter is probably not the most desirable thing on my agenda – and the heavy weights can’t help but push me in the wrong direction. Why do I do it?

Why have I deadlifted more than my bodyweight? And bench-pressed way more than my body weight? (Got that bragging in well, didn’t I?) Why do I?

Well, first off, it’s fun. I love lifting, and I love lifting more than people think I can. Second, when I started lifting I was in business school, and it was way more fun than studying. Then I developed muscles, because I have the type of body type that does. And that was fun too.

And third, and probably deepest and therefore probably most “important,” it makes me feel powerful. Being physically powerful makes me feel completely powerful.

As someone who was, I guess at least in some ways, somewhat of a victim when I was young – or at least somewhat victimized – lifting heavy weights makes me strong and makes me feel strong. Maybe it’s like when my oldest child, who only saw themselves as a “smart kid,” became a varsity athlete and began to see themselves as an athletic kid.

Maybe it’s changed how I view myself. Or maybe it’s given people a chance to view me more how I view myself (and less how my size might lead someone to view me). Deadlifting 115 lbs. reminds me of how powerful I am. As does bench-pressing 120. (I’ve now successfully bragged and told you roughly how much I weigh. ☺)

I like being strong. I probably was always strong on the inside, and I like being strong on the outside too. I like the way it feels, and I like the way I feel. I like reminding myself – as I’m learning more and more we all have to learn, or relearn – that, as Christopher Robin once said to Pooh, “You’re stronger than you think you are.”

I think that’s why I lift stupid heavy weights.

I’d love to hear your thoughts, and please share this post with others if it resonates with you!

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