My introduction to working out and strength training was not exactly a “positive” one. As a kid, I was perpetually ten lbs overweight. (Of course, this was calculated using BMI (body mass index).  My parents, who were always insanely active, expressed misplaced parental concern about the “issue.” This peaked on my 15th birthday when they got me the gift every teenager dreams of (cue eye roll): a gym membership. I was fairly disappointed at first. Why couldn’t I just get a beeper like a normal kid? But I’m originally from Alabama, so politeness won out and I decided to schedule my first personal training session.

My Introduction to Weight Training

Once I hit the gym, I found my happy place. I started working out a few days a week, and there, amongst the machines and weights, I found my teenage salvation. Best of all, the gym allowed me to get out of the house, and away from the usual arguing with my parents over curfew and whatnot. It was the perfect outlet for all my built-up adolescent angst.

As I grew stronger, I became ever-more obsessed with weight-lifting. I increased my workouts to five days a week. By the end of high school, I could bench-press 100 lbs, leg-press 400 lbs., and crush every high school boy I knew in arm wrestling. My senior theme song was “Man-Eater.” (Looking back, I guess there’s a reason I didn’t get asked out on dates…)

Losing My Strength

But, like most, I fell off the exercise wagon after high school and it took a serious health crisis for me to get back into it. Since then, I’ve gone through various personal trainers and enjoyed them all. I have a high expectation for entertainment and really want to be amused and challenged while working out. My current trainer, Tony Johnson with Mindful and Fit, is a blast to work with.

No matter how many different forms of exercise I try, I always come back to strength training. Something about it really suits my achievement-oriented brain. I love having so many benchmarks for improvement as I increase reps and weight. As I’ve said before, I’m not on a weight loss journey – my goal is to live a long life dedicated to health and wellness. Weight-training is the perfect way to monitor every improvement as my body grows ever-more resilient.

In the spirit of trying new things, I decided it was time to mix things up a little. I committed to focusing specifically on Olympic weightlifting. I’ve begun a brand new routine of bench presses, cleans, and more. To top it off, I set an ambitious goal to be able to bench press 150 lbs.

My BMI doesn't mean anything because I'm getting stronger

Hitting Strength Training Goals

Throughout, the training experience has allowed me to reflect on just how empowering lifting is, particularly as a woman. I have an ectomorphic body type – also known as Kapha in Ayurvedic medicine. Kaphas are known for their muscular frames and killer stamina, both huge assets when you’re trying to lift gigantic weights.

It took every ounce of my Kapha strength, but last week, I finally accomplished my 150 lbs. Bench press goal, under Tony’s careful supervision.  Hooray!

As for BMI, I’m “supposed” to be 130 lbs. for my height. Well, guess what? My recent DEXA scan showed that I have a whopping 135 lbs of muscle.

This strength is my pride and joy. The media’s obsession with female weight loss has made many women are afraid of “bulking up,” but the benefits of strength training and building muscle are absolutely undeniable:

  • It increases bone mass
  • Strengthens joints and connective tissue
  • Decreases risk of injury
  • Improves mood & immune system
  • Lowers risk of Osteoporosis, Heart Disease, Diabetes, Sleep Apnea, Arthritis and even some forms of cancer.

My BMI is not as important as how strong and healthy I feel

Why A Good BMI is BS

So, yeah… I’m never going to hit my “ideal” BMI. And I’m completely ok with that. I strongly believe that the BMI metric and USDA’s Food Pyramid belong in the bowels of health history fails  As I’ve progressed on my wellness journey, I’ve learned to appreciate the power of non-scale victories in keeping me focused on what really matters.

If like me, you’re interested in getting fit the right way, with a routine that’s perfectly customized to suit your body, I can’t recommend Tony enough. To get started training with him, simply submit an inquiry form or email tony@mindfulandfit.blog. Let him know Hunter sent you!

For me, strength training is the ultimate gift to my body. Today, I challenge you to take the time ( I know, it’s hard) to do something nice for YOUR body or practice self-care Pack a healthy lunch (You do it for your kid, why not for yourself?), buy your favorite kind of in-season fruit, go for a morning swim, do 20 push-ups or sit-ups, take a relaxing bath, make a cup of tea, or pick your own way to treat your inner Goddess.. You deserve it!

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Your body mass index (Or BMI) shouldn't be the final say on your weight loss or health and wellness success. You can measure fitness success in so many other ways beyond what your BMI says. Here's how.