Thoughts from a Disordered Weight-Lifter turned Intuitive Exerciser
A note from Victoria:
Hello and welcome to my maternity leave! I’m not sure at this point if baby Myers has come into this beautiful world, but at this point I have officially taken my leave. Over the coming weeks, you’ll be introduced to some amazing guest writers that all come from the Nourishing Minds Tribe.
It was such an honor to have the opportunity to give space for another to share their voice, and I hope you enjoy the guest posts and the varying content, thoughts and ideas! Each guest writer will be sharing an article twice over my two month maternity leave. So be sure to be checking in for new content every Monday, Wednesday and Friday to read and learn more.
Today, Elena Kunicki, is sharing her story and thoughts of going from a disordered weight-lifter to moving into a place moving her body from a place of intuition. Enjoy!
Let me tell you a little secret about weight lifting...you don’t have to live like a bodybuilder to do it.
(**For the purposes of this article, I’m going to assume that the intent to build muscle and strength is an inherent part of weight lifting - even though there could be many other reasons why someone chooses to make weight lifting part of their life.)
To some of you this might seem obvious, but I think the rise of what I’ll call FITstagram is feeding us a different story. If you lift weights and have a goal of building strength and muscle, OBVIOUSLY you also count macros, meal prep, eat a ton of plain “lean protein, steamed veggie, and carb” meals and do the most “optimal” workouts possible, regardless of personal preference. Intuitive living and weight lifting can’t go together, right?
WRONG. You CAN be an intuitive eater, exerciser, etc. AND be a weightlifter - if you can learn to embrace the grey.
Let me give you an example. When I was struggling with disordered eating, I was obsessed with finding the perfect “macronutrient ratio” that would help me progress in my workouts. I HAD to have exactly “X” amount of protein at each meal. I HAD to eat protein every “X” amount of hours. If I couldn’t achieve this, I felt anxious. And sometimes I just wanted to eat some bread and olive oil for a snack or plain pasta for dinner and not worry about protein, ya know?
Flash forward to now. I don’t count macros, but I do know the estimated amount of protein that I need daily to recover from my workouts and get stronger. But sometimes, I don’t feel like eating any protein-containing food, I just want that bread and olive oil! (if you can’t already tell, I really like bread). So I eat that, and I don’t sweat it. I can add more protein to my next meal if it works out, OR I just fall a little short that day - and I survive.
The same can be said for any aspect of weight lifting or nutrition. Don’t feel up to the lift you had planned? Do a lighter or shorter workout, do a home workout, move that workout to a different day of the week or just SKIP IT ALL TOGETHER. Don’t get caught up in following the plan perfectly - because that simply doesn’t matter. In fact, I would argue that you are better off letting your BODY lead the way instead of a pre-programmed plan that does not account for all the beautiful chaos that is your life. If your body is telling you to modify or skip a workout, odds are you need that recovery and it will allow for better workouts in the future!
Look at your strength progression over months and years, not days and weeks. Most sustainable change happens gradually and over periods of time, and the same goes for gaining strength.
One more thing I want to say before I go: PLEASE don’t think that because you identify as a weight-lifter, you have to get “lean” at some point. You don’t. I’m biased, but I think weight lifting is great for so many reasons; it makes you feel strong and powerful, it can help release anger and anxiety, it can keep your bones nice and strong, etc. At the very BOTTOM of that list is that it can lead to a lower body fat percentage. To me, lifting weights isn’t about taking up LESS space, but MORE.
I love weight lifting for the way it makes me FEEL, and I love it much more now that it’s become a PART of my life, not the thing that my life revolves around. If you’re into lifting too, don’t accept that part of Instagram that makes you feel like you need to do “x, y, and z” to be a weight-lifter. You don’t have to give your life TO it, you can enhance your life WITH it. You can build muscle and strength without being obsessed with food and exercise.
You can be an INTUITIVE weight lifter.
PS - If lifting isn’t your jam, you can apply this rant to any other form of exercise you do that is associated with a certain diet/lifestyle (i.e. Crossfit and Paleo, Yoga and Vegan/Vegetarianism, etc.).