Sunday, March 1, 2009

Thank You, Michelle Obama!

I’d like to thank the First Lady for encouraging me to go for three sets on the strength training today. After the first two, I whined, “Ugh, I’m tired, I want to stop.” Then I remembered the picture of Michelle Obama in that rockin’ pink dress on the cover of People magazine last week. Do you see those arms? Um…yeah…I want me some of those. Or at least something close.

Michelle Obama works out 90 minutes three days a week with a personal trainer. CNN ran a story about it recently with some added tips on how to start a strength training routine. One part that struck me as catty was this: “When Obama emerged with uncovered arms on Tuesday, some grumbled about her showing too much skin on an occasion where other women were wearing long sleeves or suits. Boston Herald columnist Lauren Beckham Falcone wrote to Obama, ‘It's February. Going sleeveless in subzero temperature is just showing off. All due respect.’”

She’s just jealous. If I could do sleeveless like Michelle Obama, heck yeah I’d be doing it in subzero temps!

I know many of you reading already have a strength-training regimen. I also know some of you reading are concerned you’ll bulk up. Three words: It. Can’t. Happen. Not unless you start injecting A-Rod drugs in your bum, you will not bulk up like a body builder. I work my upper body five days a week. I do 3 sets/15 reps of four rehab exercises five days a week (wall push-ups and rotator cuff, biceps and lat work with a Theraband), and in addition, I do 30 minutes of upper body work twice a week. You’ve seen my photo. I’m no body builder, but my muscles are toned. Not Obama toned, but then, that’s my new goal, right?

And as if having toned arms isn’t enough, strength training builds lean muscle mass and bone density (click here to read what the Mayo Clinic says about strength training). Because I haven’t had a period in two years and my blood tests all come back normal (I’m not in perimenopause), my doctor sent me in for a bone density test to make sure I wasn’t wasting away inside. After the test, the technician told me I had the bones of a 30-year-old! 45-year-old, creaky-joint, gray-haired me has the bones of a 30-year-old! (Now if I could just get that skin elasticity back…) She asked me if I lifted weights and I told her I did. She said that was it and to keep it up. And so I do.

I’ve written about this before, but I’m still amazed at what ST did for me while I was losing weight. I’d started walking for exercise in April 2006. My measurements were 44-38-49 and I weighed 187. In September, five months later and just before joining the gym, they were 41-36.5-45.5 and I weighed 164. Two months later, after adding strength training to my routine and upping my cardio routine by implementing the elliptical and bike, and by walking at higher inclines on the treadmill, my measurements were 39-33.5-42.5 and I weighed 152.7. While the scale moved at a respectable rate, what really improved were my measurements. Eight inches gone in two months!

I don’t use weight machines anymore. I prefer dumbbells and a barbell and my own body weight (Pilates and yoga), but whatever you choose to use, use it! Work your arms, your back, your core, your legs. Cardio isn’t enough. In fact, I’ve cut back my cardio routine to 2-3 hours a week and ramped up the ST to 3 hours a week and I’m maintaining my weight just fine. I was worried at first since I’d been such a slave to cardio, but taking that leap of faith rewarded me with much stronger, leaner muscles than I could ever achieve sweating on an elliptical for six hours a week.

As always, I recommend the books “Body For Life for Women” by Pamela Peeke, “The Body Sculpting Bible for Women” by James Villepigue, Hugo Rivera, Nicole Rollolazo, and Robert Kennedy, and “Strength Training For Women” by Joan Pagano. Also, a big shout out to MizFit who also has the rockin’ arms (and rockin’ everything else) and offers a lot of simple, everyday ways to fit ST into your day.

So…thank you again Mrs. Obama for inspiring me and being a role model for women’s strength training. I hope you ignore those green-eyed naysayers and keep on keepin’ on with those sleeveless dresses.

13 comments:

Shelley said...

Dang, I had not seen that picture of Michelle Obama - she has got some awesome arms! Going to check out those books you recommended now!

Lori said...

It's so awesome to see a strong, fit woman in the White House!

And strength training doesn't make you bulky. It's what put me in a size 8, even though I am still considered overweight by BMI.
I owe that to ST!

Hanlie said...

She really does look fabulous! If I had arms like that I'd also show them off!

Kath52 said...

This is a great introduction to strength training, Lynn. You make it very accessible.

Carla said...

I do some strength training, but my arms are never going to look like that. Too much fat on them still. (Even though I'm down to 135...my arms still think I'm 150. Weird.) I am in the minority here, perhaps, but I think it was silly of her to have bare arms in freezing weather. There's a time and a place--the public will get plenty of looks at those arms, that's obvious! Save it for the warmer weather, M!

Sandrelle said...

Lynn, great post. I love, love, LOVE strength training. I'm addicted to it because I have seen huge changes in my body and my confidence, strength, etc. In the past 4 months I have also cut back on cardio and increased ST to 3 hours a week. It's very empowering to strike a pose and see some nicely toned muscles--I love my arms! In today's media where thin is the only measurement, I find it refreshing that a beautiful and powerful woman can show off her biceps! Kudos to Michelle, she's worked darn hard for that body and she looks fantastic, who cares about the weather and what she "should" be wearing.

MizFit said...

you KNOW I ADORE IT as well.

totally.

MizFit

Diana said...

I love it that Michelle went sleeveless. I go sleeveless all the time, not because my arms are so great (they're okay, still working on them), but I'm hot all the time.

I think a lot of the women that gave her flack for showing her arms are just jealous.

I'm all for strength training. I think it's the best thing that's ever happened to me.

debby said...

Thanks for the reminder, Lynn! I totally believe in strength training. But I got off course for a little while. I am going to recommit to a serious workout again!

VeeGettingHealthy said...

First Ladee does have some great arms. Fantastic for her - I don't remember hearing that she works out - I know Prez does.

Oh well.... I'm probably a couple of years away from having arms like hers, if ever. Sigh.

Vee at www.veegettinghealthy.blogspot.com

Pubsgal said...

I believe Mrs. Obama has the constitutional right to bare arms. ;-) Even in mid-winter. (If you've ever sat for a photo shoot, those lights are quite toasty.) And I'm glad she has exercised it in the name of strength training awareness.

Vickie said...

you can add this (your post) to all the things we have in common.

Totally prefer free weight to the machines. (Actually turn my nose up at the machines.)

love yoga - love pilates - my cardio is down to about 3 hours a week - walking in the winter and walking/swimming in the summer. When I upped the free weights - I was able to down the cardio (if you know what I mean).

I love the empowerment of free weights. I like the thought process/focus of correct positioning and muscle isolation. It is nearly as mental as yoga - in a different (kind of) way.


sleeveless was the topic in my class this morning. I have no opinion - but the rest of the class thought it was inappropriate in a business type setting - and wonderful in a casual or party type setting.

Anonymous said...

I am not hatin' on Michelle, but come on ladies! That photo was SO Photoshopped...have you all taken a look at her arms in regular photos - like when she was in Hawaii earlier this year? She has regular looking arms, kind of on the heavy side...Just goes to say, just because you love her (and I think she rocks) does it mean she is Xena Warrior Princess...she's a nice lady, but those are NOT her real arms, and btw, that's not her real body...she is not svelte and she is not a nymph with biceps! Sorry to busy anyone's bubble, but the accolades are a little much!