How I Got A Balanced Body.

“Consistent, smart strength training played a powerful role for me in leaving burnout and living a balanced life. While movement was always a part of my world, I didn’t learn how to REALLY strength train until 2011. Up until that point the only “strength” I did was holding a plank or doing a group fitness class with 8 pound weights. I didn’t have a consistent, well-rounded strength routine that I practiced in my life. My workout routine involved repetitive movements and developed muscular imbalances that caused injury and burnout. I kept trying to fix myself with more of the same bad exercise habits: too much endurance training, too much stretching, and no smart strength training. Unsurprisingly, I just kept getting the same results: nagging injuries, frustration, and more stress. Isn’t exercise supposed to help not hurt? It can, but only if you train smart. The only way to get out of a bad the cycle is to stop the madness. STOP doing what’s not working and develop a balanced plan that will.

I knew that if I wanted to really take care of my body, I needed to make a change. And what my body needed more of was balance and strength. Since I didn’t really know where to start, I hired a coach to help me build a plan from the ground up. She put together a program custom fit to my needs that helped me build strength and body symmetry. My plan involved getting on the weight room floor and reuniting with my hips, glutes, hamstrings, and core. I  needed to restore the power in my muscles and stabilize my joints.  I did squats. I deadlifted. I swung kettlebells. I did rows. The strength training healed my stress related  injuries and allowed me to recover from imbalance. But more importantly it enabled me to become a new version of myself: a stronger, more confident, injury proof woman.

Today strength training is a healthy habit I can’t live without. Since it has been a consistent part of my life I haven’t had an injury and am able to do all the activities I love with ease, gratitude, and joy. Many people are scared of strength training or find it to be intimidating. But it doesnt have to be. All it takes is the courage to start and you can give yourself the gift of strength.

Strength training is an essential component to the balanced body breakthrough exercise program. The American college of Sports Medicine recommends a minimum of two strength sessions a week to develop and maintain strong muscles. Consistently strength training for a minimum of 20 minutes twice a week will allow you to achieve the following benefits:

1. Get ‘that body’ you really want (Lean, toned muscles; More definition). How do you get more “toned”? Light weights and lots of reps right? At least that’s what we’ve been told for years to believe. However, training to “get toned” with high-reps and light weights will not provide the same benefits as lifting properly with heavy weights. Getting ‘toned’ requires two things to happen:      

  •    Ridding excess body fat
  •    Increasing the size of muscle cells to provide shape.

‘Toning’ is all about building muscle. For some, it requires the additional removal of any fat covering up the muscle, but it is muscle itself that gives you sleek, sculpted curves so you don’t just look bony once you lose excess body fat. So how do you lose body fat and increase lean muscle concurrently? Combine a healthy amount of cardio / anaerobic exercise (HIIT, sprint-type workouts, plyometrics) with at least one to three weight workouts a week with weights that are a ‘just right’ challenge for you (heavyish weight with proper form).   

2. Strengthen Bones & Muscles. Lifting weights not only builds muscles, it makes for stronger bones too. Did you know an average woman can lose up 1% of bone mineral density every year? For men, it is not quite as much, but it adds up! After the age of 25, we lose more than one-half pound of muscle every year without a regular strength-training regimen. Add strength training to your arsenal of weapons against osteoporosis. When you strength train, the act of moving your bones through muscle action increases its density. Your skeletal system becomes stronger in response to the demands that strength exercise places on your body. Increased bone density will reduce the risk of fractures and chronic disease as you age. According to the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) you can significantly reduce your risk of developing osteoporosis by engaging in regular weight training workouts.

3. Burn More Calories. We tend to think of cardiovascular exercise as the calorie torcher necessary for losing weight. However, it’s better to lose inches AND gain muscle than to just simply lose pounds. Muscle, unlike fat, is metabolically active. Cardio burns calories during the workout. Strength burns calories both during AND after the workout. The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research found that women who completed an hour-long strength-training workout burned an average of 100 more calories in the 24 hours afterward than they did when they hadn’t lifted weights. Replace 10 pounds of fat with 10 pounds of lean muscle and you can burn an additional 25 to 50 calories a day without even trying. This “afterburn” effect is the metabolism boost needed to maintain a healthy weight over time and maximize your calorie burn.

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4. Lose More Fat. In addition to burning more calories, resistance training may help your body to burn more fat overall. Score! In one study on over 700 females, lifting weights for just 25 minutes three times per week led to the gain of nearly two pounds of muscle, and the loss of four pounds of fat. If you’re familiar with how physiques work, then you know that is a radical change in appearance! Now, picking up heavy things burns a respectable amount of calories on it’s own. No doubt about that. But that’s not why lifting weights is so effective for burning fat.When you lift something heavy, you’re setting your body up for metabolic reactions that allow you to utilize nutrients better and continue burning calories for up to 36 hours after your workout. There’s this thing called your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR). It controls how many calories your body burns while you rest. As you gain more muscle, you increase your BMR, along with how much you can eat and still stay lean. The more lean muscle on your body, the less body fat you will store, and the harder it will be to gain weight.

It is important to remember that losing fat may cause noticeable changes in your body (e.g. decrease in size, increase in tone) when looking in the mirror, but the number on the scales may not change. This is because resistance training can increase the amount of lean muscle you have, which is heavier but takes up less space than fat. So simply put, if fat goes down, but muscle goes up, your weight could essentially stay the same. Read more here: The difference between weight loss and fat loss and why you should focus on FITNESS not skinniness for long term health.

5. Have Better Posture. Stronger bones will improve your posture and how you carry yourself. Weight training can ensure that the muscles between the shoulder blades, lower back and abdomen stay strong, which reduces the likelihood of developing muscular imbalances that can lead to poor posture. Better posture will enhance your overall appearance and reduce your chances of suffering from back pain.

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6. Ease Joint Pain and Prevent Injuries.  Muscles function as shock absorbers and serve as important balancing agents throughout the body. Well-conditioned muscles help to lessen the repetitive landing forces in weight-bearing activities like running or basketball. Also, well-balanced muscles reduce the risk of injuries that result from muscular imbalances (super strong quads and weak hamstrings?! not with smart strength training). Build a foundation of strength and you’ll be less likely to run into injury from sports or daily activities. Stronger muscles better hold your joints in position, so you won’t need to worry about your knee flaring up during your next run.

7. Impress Yourself With Progress. The amazing thing about resistance training and lifting weights in general is that it is you are able to see how far you’ve come. For example, you may have started weighted lunges with 10lb dumbbells and barely making it through your set, to being able to easily get through it with 20lb dumbbells. I love weight training because it helps bring you satisfaction, you can physically see and feel if you have gotten better. Both of these things can encourage you to keep going and continue to improve.

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8. Reduce Your Risk of Heart Attack & Diabetes. As we age we naturally lose muscle mass, which makes us weaker and more prone to weight gain. Resistance training can help slow down age-related muscle loss, which means that you are not only looking better, but you are also protecting your health. During exercise, muscle tissue helps to remove additional glucose and triglycerides from your bloodstream, which can help to reduce your risk of type 2 diabetes and heart disease. There is also evidence that suggests that resistance training can help with high blood pressure.

9. Kick A$$ in life.  Yes, you heard right! When you are stronger, fitter and have more endurance, you will automatically become better at other movement-based activities that you attempt. Like lifting your suitcase into the overhead bin on the airplane…arm wrestling your brother…carrying all six-eight grocery bags at once…lifting (and keeping up with) your kids…moving boxes and furniture in your house…opening a pickle jar…and on and on..

10. Maximize Your Gym Time. Cardio sessions can sometimes take up a good portion of an hour, which can be tricky to squeeze in before work or between commitments. Fortunately, with resistance training, you don’t need to spend hours at the gym to see results. All you need is a 20-60 minute lifting session about three times a week to start seeing great results in as little as two weeks. However, I like to reinforce this efficiency mindset with all of my trainees: Get In. Work Hard. Get Out. You’ll have more time to spend with your favorite people, and to do your favorite things.

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11. Build a Nice Butt. Want a nice booty? The gluteus maximus is one of the strongest muscles in your body. The shape of your glutes are influenced by muscular development. When it comes to building size in your glutes, there is no substitute for a deep, heavy squat. This will also help rid you of cellulite, while “firming” and “toning” your legs in the process. You’ll also strengthen your lower back and help prevent back injuries that are all too common as we age.

12. Change your body shape. You may think your genes determine how you look. That’s not necessarily true. Weight training can slim you down, create new curves, and help avoid the “middle-age spread.” Dropping only 3 percent of your body fat could translate into a total loss of 3 inches off your hips and thighs.

13. Boost Your Flexibility. Ignore that super ripped guy fumbling in yoga class for just a minute. Researchers from the University of North Dakota pitted static stretches against strength-training exercises and found that full-range resistance training workouts can improve flexibility just as well as your typical static stretching regimen. The key word here is “full-range,”. If you can’t complete the full motion—going all the way up and all the way down—with a given weight, you may need to use a lighter dumbbell and work up to it.

14. More energy. Exercise gives you endorphins (natural opiates produced by the brain), …endorphins make you happy, feel great and give you more energy!. Ever had a workout, where you were just ‘going through the motions’, as opposed to a workout where you were really ‘in it’—putting your mind into the muscle or movements at hand, giving 100% effort…then…how did you feel after? Perhaps, initially, a bit tired…but chances are, you left that workout with a new spring in your step—renewed energy. Lifting heavy weights challenges you in new ways…leaving you with newfound energy from the ‘rush’ you got in that workout. Strength training has also been shown to help you sleep better (since your muscles are craving recovery, rest and repair post-workout)—and better sleep equals more energy in the long run.

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15. Boost Your Body Image. Lifting weights can help shift the focus of your body image from size to ability. In other words, instead of focusing on your weight or the size of your waist, you’ll begin to better appreciate your body for its strength and what it can do. When we focus on actual fitness instead of body size, more muscle can mean more ease in moving our bodies, and better relationships with our bodies and with exercise.

16. Gain Confidence. You know it: Exercise boosts the ego—it helps you feel great in your own skin. The foundation of building inner confidence (and self belief) lies in setting goals that may seem beyond your capabilities and working towards them (consistently and with commitment) until you achieve them.  And there’s something about strength training that makes you feel, well… Strong. And that feeling of inner strength — that your muscles are growing, you’re developing definition, and you’re boosting your metabolism — all of those work together as a powerful confidence-booster.

At this point you’re probably thinking everything sounds amazing, but have this little voice in your head telling you that you’re going to get big or bulky. I hear this way too many times. It’s simply a mis-belief that is holding you back from seeing results you love in a short period of time. Get it out of your head right this second: you will NOT look like a bodybuilder if you add regular weight training into your workout routine. In fact you may finally just achieve that lean, “toned”, body you are killing yourself over with all that endurance training.  How do you know it won’t work if you haven’t really tried it?? It’s worth a shot…. be prepared to be impressed with your body and your results.

If you are really still worried about gaining size and becoming the next incredible hulk, consider this: Bodybuilders are doing EVERYTHING in their power to build muscle and are still struggling! Its very difficult to see massive muscle gains, unless, of course, you’re training like a monster, consuming a massive amount of calories, and injecting yourself with synthetic hormones. When you follow a strength training program customized to fit your body’s needs and goals, you’ll see the results you want (not the extra bulk).

Ready to pump some iron? Here are my answers to your questions to help get you started on the road towards strength success and my Balanced Body Strength training program to kick start your smart strength training life.” 

The above is an excerpt from the Fitness section of “Balanced Body Breakthrough”. This book is my coaching resource guide to getting your mind, body, and spirit in great shape so you can love your life. It contains real, usable, resources and tools that you can immediately use to find the feel good life you deserve. I’ve seen this information work like magic in clients lives and I want to share the secrets to success with you. The book is written and ready to help you, but in order to do that, I need to find the funds to make this book into a real product. After all of my research, I chose to kickstart the project through a platform called InkShares. InkShares is reader based crowd funding that works off book pre-orders. *** In October 2015, InkShares changed their pre-order requirement to 750 pre-orders for all books. That means, if readers believe in your book and 750 pre-order copies are sold, the book gets published through InkShares. They handle editing, design, marketing, and publishing of the book from start to finish. If 750 pre-orders are NOT sold, the book does not get published (insert sad trombone sound here).  I have less than 90 days to get reader support and reach 750 pre-orders of the book to get published. If you pre-order copies of the book, not only will you help me reach this goal, you’ll get 225 pages of high quality self-care content to support you in living a life you love at the incredible price of $9.99 (such a steal!)

Do you want to keep reading? Do you want the tools to unlock balance, wellness, and sustainable self-care in your life? Do you want my Balanced Body Breakthrough Fitness program to train smart? Pre-order your copy of Balanced Body Breakthrough and let’s make this book come true here: 

https://www.inkshares.com/projects/balanced-body-breakthrough 

Id be so grateful if you wanted to share this post and encourage your friends to purchase their copy of Balanced Body Breakthrough on Facebooktwitter, or email.  Sharing is caring and everyone deserves to feel amazing long-term. 

What happens if I dont sell all 750 pre-orders? Well I haven’t thought that through yet because I like to think positive 😉 But should this campaign not be successful I will continue to find a way to use the “Balanced Body Breakthrough” content to help people beat burnout, live in health, and achieve their own definition of success.

Remember, it’s never too late to start! Strength training can take your body to the next level, while also having a number of positive effects on your overall health. Don’t be afraid to lift weights. Just keep in mind that resistance training is not the ONLY solution to achieving your health and fitness goals. Instead, focus on creating a balanced exercise program, consisting of strength training AND cardio training, while also leaving time for rehabilitation and rest.

I believe in strength training. I have seen it change my body, boost my performance, and powerfully impact my life. And I believe every person deserves a chance to discover their own strength. So heres to you – living without limits.

Yours in health,

Caroline

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One thought on “How I Got A Balanced Body.

  • By Julia Jordan - Reply

    Hey Caroline! Awesome article–thank you for sharing your journey. I loved lifting weights in college–the gym had great squat racks to use. Now I don’t have access to one :/ Do body-weight exercises still count as strength training? Or should I try using free weights? What do you recommend? Thank you!! Xoxo

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