Debulking the Myth of Women and Weights

This is simply a re-post of the Oxygen Australia feature.  I wanted to have the actual content available on this site since it won’t be on Oxygen for long, and this is a big-time mantra of mine.

I know, I know.  Not everybody is still hung up on the idea that ladies who lift weights will grow facial hair and walk around readjusting their newly-sprouted man parts.  But not everybody is still NOT the majority, and despite numerous articles and scientific studies to the contrary, the dreaded stigma still exists.  I hear about it almost every day, and as long as there is a shadow of a doubt about if, why, and how women should be lifting, I feel obligated – NO compelled – to work tirelessly toward debulking The Myth.

I am 44 years old.  I’m the mother of a grade-schooler and I drive a station wagon.  My family resides in the suburbs on a street that is the geographical equivalent of homemade apple pie.  We have 2 dogs, 1 cat and a freshly mowed lawn (most weeks).  My gym is located less than ½ a mile from this neighborhood, and I’m just one of the multitudes of moms in there most mornings.

By most accounts I’m an excruciatingly average gym-goer, save my regular display of muscle definition and bikini-clad confidence at the community pool in the summer.  I also happen to perform 30 unassisted pull-ups on Mondays as part of my new 5 x 5 program, and will deadlift 1.5 times my body weight by the end of this month.

So my question is this:  With reportedly so much information available and plenty of useful equipment in such close proximity, why am I still in the workout minority?  Why aren’t there bukus of buff women out there literally littering the landscape? 

You wanna know why?  It’s The Myth.  And The Myth is comprised of a bunch of other little myths which collectively fuel The Big Myth.  Like the myth that women are dumpy and misshapen after kids and after 40.  The Myth that encourages a woman to pick a weight that completely disrespects her ability to lift it.  The Myth of endless hours on masochistic machinery.  The Myth of 756 leg lifts in an effort to ‘tone’.  The Myth of spot-reduction.  And my favorite of all the Myths – lifting heavy weights will make a woman look/act/sound (you pick the verb) like a man.  And don’t even start in about those old stereotypical images of she-men from 1974 or whenever forever ago.  Yes steroids exist out there, but if you’re not using them, you won’t look like a man.  End of sentence. 

So my advice to average women everywhere?  Get over it.  Get over your fear and your intimidation and your inability to see how crazy you are by doing the same things but expecting different results.  Nothing else will reshape your body like resistance training.  And if you see me out and about looking fit it’s not because I’m a triathlete or a marathoner or whatever other sporty fanatic I might appear to be.  I am a bodybuilder, and I look this way because I lift and lower heavy stuff on a regular basis (and I’m not a man).