Sunday, June 26, 2016

A Love Affair With The Barbell, It Can Happen to You Too!

Flashback to when I first trained with a barbell. 6 years ago I think when I was just a casual runner, before I lifted weights. My coach was first teaching me how to do some Olympic lifting - specifically a move called a Snatch (hold your laughter folks!) I asked my coach what the snatch was working. Like - was it toning my butt, could it get me into bikini modeling? His wise answer was, "it works everything." And he was right. It does. But I still rolled my eyes on the inside when we were suppose to do snatches in a workout. BTW. I know the term snatch leaves things WIDE open for all kinds of jokes. One of my favorite things to say when I am coaching, is "alright everyone, now it's time to warm up our snatches." Grinning.

It took me about 2 years of Crossfit before I stopped sighing while viewing a workout of the Day with some form of overhead lifting. I used to think, "why can't they just do regular stuff? Deadlifts are WAAAY less intimidating. Which is my point exactly.

It wasn't until I was really comfortable with the techniques, that I ever grew to love weightlifting. Before that  I had so much resistance to barbell moves because of my inexperience and fear. From the start, I had a gigantic fear of dropping the barbell on top of my head. As a coach, I have never trained any woman who doesn't have these fears as well. Guys tend to be a little more ignorant of the dangerous possibilities. But I guarantee we all have some form of fear of the barbell.

Badass Chick, Jackie Perez
And slowly things changed for me. I developed a love affair with the barbell. It was nothing that slapped me in the face suddenly but I began to notice that when I was having a day where I felt unworthy, or lame, or was being judgey with myself - it seemed that after I worked with the barbell on overhead movements - that my mentality shifted dramatically. Still to this day, give me 20 minutes with a barbell and I am reincarnated from a lame-o weak duckling into a BADASS CHICK.

Through watching others that I coach, I noticed the transformation isn't unique to just me. I watch people walk into the gym with zero confidence and walk out smiling, eager to approach life with gusto enthusiasm. Fast transformations of energy are happening everyday inside Crossfit boxes and gyms everywhere. Now that's newsworthy.

Not the kind of exercise bike your Mom rode. Photo Credit Kraig Scarbinsky/Digital Vision/Getty Images
Your brain chemistry changes dramatically when you exercise or move your body. Your brain chemistry responds immediately to your newly oxygenated blood and air. Movement causes your thoughts to shift because your neurotransmitters are firing messages to your brain of positive-ity. This is endorphins, and they along with others, are what keep people addicted to exercise. In fact, I notice I feel really crummy and become very mean after 3 days without some decent movement. So, movement moves changes thoughts into positive ones and those positive thoughts energize you and leave you coming back for more. That's why when I feel down in the dumps, the best thing to do is walk, workout or do focused deep breathing.

The first barbell move that I learned to love was the clean and jerk. Using power and strength, you grab the barbell from the ground and "clean" or lift it to your shoulders. Next you transfer strength from your legs and toss the barbell to the arms locked out overhead position. wa-la. I like this move because you end up in a power pose position which we know increases testosterone and decreases cortisol. Boom. And everyone, yes, even girls, want some testosterone - because it makes you VERY brave.

If you weren't interested in barbells before this, you will be afterward.

As I told someone I coach. If you are afraid of something in life (we all have something) then do some weightlifting. It is my strong belief that we live our life as a metaphor - every way you live your life is a reflection of your thoughts and beliefs. If you're afraid of one thing, then that fear transfers to every area of your life as well. The simplest way to overcome a fear of one thing is to face fear in a different area, that's a SWEET life hack of monumental proportions. When you have things that you are fearful of, you can manipulate the fear by practicing bravery in other areas. I'm not kidding you on that.  Pride and self love are two of the bi-products of practicing bravery. And when you have pride and self love, life is WAY less frightening.

So how you do learn to love weightlifting? First you have to want to do it, even just a little bit. My reason came from vanity. I wanted to look like a Crossfitter. I walked into my first Crossfit box, 6 years ago, and said - so this is where the beautiful bodies are born! You have to want to have strength. And if you have just the smallest desire, then practice. Then, you go easy on yourself, you start really light and then learn to do it properly. Clean and jerk is very commonly the first skill to master with the barbell. Snatches and overhead squats have a lot of working parts - so they would come later. Then lastly, you get heavy. No powerlifter ever picked up a 300# barbell and threw it over their head, no. Instead they started light and went up in weight slowly.

dream body alert!

Practice lifting a barbell to love the way it makes you feel. Practice because it's a little scary, but so is life - and the more you lift it - the less scary the other things in life become. Life hack.

Lift because when you feel good on the inside, you radiate it on the outside. Barbells are your friend who you don't want to let down by playing weak. Barbells put you in touch with your strong side; the fearless one. But even if you don't love the barbell right away, give it time. The barbell love is accumulative- it gets bigger each time you lift it.

Lift heavy my friends.