Lifting Heavy Things: A Love Story with Ups and Downs

March 1, 2023

I fell in love with heavy lifting in my early twenties. I spent years in and out of the gym, trying to get that perfect physique. But, as many of us do, I also had a not-so-great relationship with food and alcohol, which hindered my progress. To make matters worse, back then, it wasn’t cool […]

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I'm Shauna!

Health Coach, Sober Friend, Hybrid Athlete & now Blogger! Also a 40+ Mom of two boys who loves living life to its fullest and sharing it with people who feel the same.  Life is short, we gotta squeeze it for all it's worth!


I fell in love with heavy lifting in my early twenties. I spent years in and out of the gym, trying to get that perfect physique. But, as many of us do, I also had a not-so-great relationship with food and alcohol, which hindered my progress. To make matters worse, back then, it wasn’t cool for women to have big muscles. But fast-forward a couple of decades, and everything’s changed. Big booty babes are everywhere, breaking the internet with their badass physiques. And I want in on the fun!

The Highs of Lifting

So, I’m back at the gym, using progressive overload and lifting heavy.

And I’m seeing results that I’m loving!

It’s amazing to feel my muscles grow and my strength increase week after week. The feeling of accomplishment after a good workout is like no other. And the compliments I’ve been getting from strangers are just the cherry on top! A woman stopped me at Walmart to tell me I had a nice body. A woman stopped me at a stoplight crosswalk to tell me I was phenomenally fit. And last weekend, during a half marathon, a woman came up beside me to tell me I had fabulous delts. I said, “I wished they helped me run faster!” and she laughed and said they would at the final sprint when I had to pump those arms. Hellz yeah!

But, as we all know, the road to fitness success is not all rainbows and unicorns. There are also days when the weights feel heavier, and the workout seems impossible. So, in the next sections, I want to talk about the lows of lifting, the unpredictability of our bodies, and what we can do on those tough days to keep pushing forward.

So, let’s dig in!

The Lows of Lifting

Now, let’s talk about the lows of lifting. We all have days where we just can’t seem to lift the weights, they feel heavier than normal, and we feel low in energy. The workouts seem to drag on and feel in slow motion. On those days, it can be tempting to just give up and call it a day. But trust me, that’s not the solution.

I remember one particular day, near the end of a long leg and back workout, I was so tired that during a barbell back row, when I went to rack the weights, I missed one side and the barbell fell onto my beautiful new iPhone, crushing it. Definitely a low moment, and that day, I decided it was time to wrap the workout up even though I still had an exercise after that.

However, most days, I try my best to push through. I believe in the Pareto principle, which states that 80% of our time is spent getting to the 20% that matters. Just like when you run a marathon or an ultra-marathon, the first 20 miles are usually not too bad. It’s the last 6 or the last 12 that hurt and you have to break out all the tools in your mental toolkit to keep you going. The same principle applies to lifting. When my workouts are tough, I try to practice positive self-talk and encouragement because this is where it counts.

This is what separates being average from being great.

That doesn’t mean that you WILL lift your heaviest that day, but it does mean that you DO need to push yourself the best you can for THAT day so that you can go home and know that you pushed the most you could both mentally and physically that day.

Not all workouts in the gym are just for physical gains. Maybe that day was for mental gains that will boost your physical gains next week! The goal is to give it your absolute best for THAT day, and it might look different than you expected.

Success is not linear, and although the concept of progressive overload is linear, it’s not going to be a straight and rigid line. There are going to be some blips and bumps, and that’s okay as long as it’s trending upward!

The Unpredictability of Lifting

Perfect segue, let’s talk about the unpredictability of lifting. One day you might feel like a superhero and lift more than you ever thought possible, and the next day you can’t even lift the weight you normally warm up with. That’s just the way it is, and it can be frustrating. But that’s part of the journey, and we have to accept it. Hopefully it’s more of a one-off day rather than a string or phase (if it feels more like a phase you may need to look at underlying issues and or consult your doctor).

One practical tip I’d like to share is the rule of threes when you are moving toward a goal.

A third of the time, you’re going to feel great, another third you’re going to feel okay, and another third you’re going to feel the discomfort of pushing toward a goal. That is what progress feels like, friends. You’re doing it. You’re pushing outside of your comfort zone to reach for a worthy goal.

Another thing to keep in mind is that progress is not just measured in terms of weight lifted.

It can be measured in other ways, such as the number of reps or sets completed, or even just the feeling of accomplishment after finishing a tough workout. Celebrate the small wins, and keep pushing forward.

So, when the unpredictability of lifting throws a wrench in your plans, don’t get discouraged. Remember that every workout is an opportunity to grow and improve, even if it doesn’t go as planned. Keep pushing, and you’ll get there.

In summary, lifting weights is not always sunshine and rainbows. There are highs and lows that come with it, but if you’re committed to your goals, you can push through the tough times. Remember, the journey is just as important as the destination, and it’s the effort you put in every day that adds up to long-term success.

Here’s a recap of some practical tips to help you through:

  • When you’re feeling low on energy, focus on practicing positive self-talk and encouragement.
  • Know that success is not linear, and there will be bumps along the way, but as long as you’re trending upward, you’re making progress.
  • Use the rule of threes to remind yourself that discomfort is a part of progress.

If you find yourself struggling, here are some additional tips to help you get through:

  • Take a break and rest if you need it.
  • Remember why you started in the first place.
  • Stay connected with like-minded individuals who can encourage and support you.

And most importantly, keep pushing yourself to be the best you can be, both mentally and physically. You never know who you might inspire along the way.

So, let’s get lifting, ladies!

In closing, lifting weights can be challenging, but it’s also incredibly rewarding. It’s a journey that requires discipline, dedication, and perseverance, but the results are worth it. The confidence and strength you gain in the gym carry over into all areas of your life. So, embrace the highs and lows, the unpredictability, and the discomfort. Remember to celebrate your wins, big or small, and don’t be too hard on yourself when things don’t go as planned. You’ve got this!

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