Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Strength Training: One Year Later

Last spring when the symptoms of my Rheumatoid Arthritis started to subside, my Charlotte Rheumatologist really pushed me to add strength training into my fitness routine.  Truth be told, I have never been great at strength training on a regular basis.  I'm great at doing cardio, but strength training sort of overwhelmed and intimidated me in the past. 

But I came across article after article, like this one, touting the benefits of strength training for people with RA and my doctor continued to emphasize that strength training would strengthen my joints which would protect them from further damage from this disease.  When your decision about whether or not to strength train becomes a question of your long term health, it became pretty obvious that I needed to find a way to incorporate it on a regular basis.

In early April of 2014, the nagging joint pain in my elbow, wrists and fingers began to subside so I started off by going to classes at the YMCA, such as Body Pump, which is one of my all-time favorite strength training classes.  After moving to Minneapolis in May, I decided I couldn't justify the cost of a gym membership since my condo building has a great gym so I decided to try Bobbi McCormick's summer shred program.  I loved her program so much that I ended up doing 3 different shred programs.  I now have a lot of different workouts to choose from each week.  One of my organizational projects for the year involved printing off all of the workouts and arranging them by the area of the body that they work out (full body, lower body, upper body) and I have a special section for Tabata workouts. I've also wrote down or printed out a lot of workouts from Peanut Butter Runner's blog and included them in this binder.  She has a page full of great workouts.


In the last year, I've learned that I need to go into the gym with a plan.  I need to know exactly what I am going to do and the sequence of the moves I will do.  I've also learned that I prefer workouts that combine strength training with short bursts of cardio.  I like workouts that are broken up by 30-60 second high intensity cardio, like mountain climbers, burpees, or high knees, for example.  Lastly, I've learned that I need an accountability partner.  My accountability partner, Amber, lives over 1,500 miles away but we keep each other motivated by texting/instant messaging about what we are planning to do and if I am planning to get up before work to workout, I usually tell her as then I am less apt to change my mind when the alarm goes off.

A year later, the results in my muscle tone are probably subtle to others...

April 6, 2014

April 6, 2015

but they're noticeable to me.  I feel more fit, my clothes fit better, I run faster, and most importantly, I can say that I'm managing my RA - it's not managing me.

Do you consistently strength train?  If you do, where do you get most of your workouts?  

23 comments:

Kelly (She Wears a Red Sox Cap) said...

I totally get this. I actually started working out consistently when I started having stomach problems because when it's a matter of immediate health, it definitely makes it harder to not do it.

Eric is constantly trying to convince me of the benefits of strength training. But the one time I was really consistent about it, I found it made me want to eat everything in sight. However, I was taking a class and it was at night so I'd come home and eat everything. Sometime I should try doing it in the morning or at least earlier and see if that helps. I've been doing some lifting stuff with Eric lately on Sundays. Max enjoys walking around us and laughing at our moves. I'm not sure how many days a week I can push that to though haha.

Do you have all your workouts electronically? I'd love to try a couple that I could do at home. What kind of equipment do you need?

(PS. I love that you and Amber are accountability partners!)

Becky said...

This. Is. Awesome. When I started reading this post I was thinking "she has come so far in a year," and the muscles (I can totally tell the difference!), and YOU managing your RA are such proof of that! So proud of you!!!

Marisa A. said...

I totally see it! I too was never into strength training as it seemed way too intimidating to me. But thanks to a former co-worker who convinced me to go to a strength training class over lunch at our work gym I quickly became addicted. It's awesome seeing how much your body changes once you incorporate strength training. The barre classes I've been going to have been great in getting my glute/hip balance in check so I can't wait to get back to my normal routine.

katielookingforward said...

I've been teaching yoga sculpt for 2 years, and while my body isn't chiseled like some of the teachers in the cities, I definitely notice that my body is happier with the amount of lifting I do. Plus, I can feel pretty confident going into other workout classes knowing that I've got a good base fitness.

Jeanie said...

There's definitely a good before and after shot here! Congratulation -- what admiration I have for you!

Nora said...

I can see a definite difference in your muscle tone, it's more than just subtle! Love that you can manage your RA and not the other way around- that must feel great. So happy for you!

Allison Nimlos said...

This is exactly why I love going to Orangetheory. I love the variety and I love that I don't have to think about what I'm going to do. I just show up! And it also doesn't let me quit early, because I'm in a class. I can't just be like, eh, that's enough. I have to do the whole thing.

And yay for managing chronic illness! Boo ya!

J and A said...

Good for you! I love weight training WAY more than cardio. I love videos that do both though, they are my fav. You are looking great! Strong arms.

Stephany said...

I can tell a difference, too, in your arms! It must feel so wonderful to feel so in control of your RA - I know you worked super hard to get to this place!

I somewhat consistently strength train. I do enjoy it more than any other type of workout. I like cardio, but I love how powerful strength training makes me feel! Generally, I find my workouts through Pinterest! I also really like Peanut Butter Runner, too, for workout inspiration.

Marlys said...

Way to go, Lisa! And you do look great! I'm so happy you are in control of your RA, along with this training! BRAVO!!

Carolina John said...

outstanding! I am absolutely loving lifting heavy things right now. I've been squatting more to help my hip out, and hitting the back and upper body to make me a faster swimmer. And my muscle definition really shows too.

I can totally see a difference in those 2 pictures! Way to go.

A said...

A+. Brava. Good for you. I'm glad that this last year has brought you positive change and progress. Keep it up!

Linda said...

LOOK AT THEM GUNS. :)

CharisFaith said...

funny enough it's more obvious in the arm holding your phone than the other arm. You look amazing! I need to get my consistency back. I'm so flipping tired right now it's ridiculous!

The Many Thoughts of a Reader said...

Way to go! I've just started adding some in because I just started looking into other work out ideas besides the treadmill ha. I need intervals in my workouts. I can't even just run. I need to walk/run or go fast or slow because doing the same thing is boring to me.

megabrooke said...

Good for you! I can totally notice the transformation between last year and currently! I LOVE strength training, and similar to you, I used to be all about the cardio, not so much about lifting. Now it's the opposite! While I do still enjoy running and HIIT training, I really love to lift! I find workouts online, on YouTube, in magazines, on Pinterest, and I use a lot of the Beachbody workouts which incorporate strength training. Also, lifting has helped me to totally improve on my running time! That's a nice benefit too!

Lauren @ Sassy Molassy said...

It's awesome that you've kept up the strength training! I know that a lot of runners would rather JUST run and not do the other stuff, but the cross training is really important too. I swear that if I hadn't gotten into weight lifting and yoga I would still be that runner having knee injuries all the time. It's fun to do the shreds and different programs like that to keep you motivated and excited, but also to have them to refer to like you do now. I love that you have them all printed out in a binder.

Elizabeth said...

I SO need to add strength training in. It's on my list for this fall :) So glad that you've had such good results!

Abby said...

You look amazing!!! I am exactly like you with strength workouts - I have to do cardio bursts in between my lifts. And have to do circuits. If I'm not huffing, puffing, and sweating at the end of a work out - it's a waste of time in my books!

That is awesome that it's helped manage your RA so much!

I have to be honest and say the hardest part of HIM training wasn't all the hours of cardio - it was that there was no time for strength training!

Amber said...

Yes I love this post and love being accountability partners! As you know strength training as made a huge difference in my life over the last 1.5 years and it all started with Bobbi's shreds!!! I do most of my strength training through classes at the YMCA now-a-days but I love knowing that I CAN get in an awesome workout at home too.

And I can totally see a difference in your arm definition between those two photos!

San said...

I do not consistently do strength training, unless you consider yoga part of strength training ;)
I should definitely diversify my training a bit... I usually only focus on one thing and then switch it up every few months.

Kyria @ Travel Spot said...

I know that just the feeling of being stronger and your clothes fitting better is enough, but I definitely think you can see a difference, and that's an added bonus.

I am not strength training right now. I really should be, but my gym is crowded and I get lazy. I really need to have maybe one day a week at the gym with some of the heavier equipment (I really love the bench press and the hammer equipment), one day with some of the lighter stuff and one day at home. I used to do all kinds of strength training when I was in college, as it was part of my required curriculum (one of the perks of being a Kinesiology major). I did weights, circuit training, aerobics and yoga. I had buff arms. I could do a handstand. Those days are long gone. However, I really want to get them back. I just need to do what you did and get a routine down, because without it, I will not be consistent.

Jolene - EverydayFoodie said...

I can see the progress too! Good work girl :-) I don't strength train regularly, but I do off and on. I prefer strength training to cardio.