Pumping Iron – Intentionally.

“You should plan to be here 3 days a week. Well, more like 4 or 5.”

“I can definitely commit to 3. 4 or 5 times on a good, not-so-stressful kind of week, ya know?”

“Well, yes. But 4, 5 gym sessions will get you back to 120 pounds in no time. It will be easy for you, actually.”

My lips curl in dismay as my eyebrows raise to new heights that I didn’t know was possible – was this really happening? 

Since joining a new gym three weeks ago, I was now taking my “free fit assessment.” I didn’t realize this would include being told that I could stand to get rid of 15 pounds. Not exactly the thing a woman wants to hear in the wee hours on a Monday morning. Perhaps it wasn’t the weight that so much bothered me – it was the intent of why I would be working out in the first place.

The trainer showed me a few strength training exercises and then let me loose to do what I had really come to do: lift some weights. De-stress. Get strong.

I turned on my favorite playlist from Spotify – HellaWella Strong Women Playlist – and began squat repetitions. These used to be hell, you know, back when I was training in college for field hockey. Somewhere along the way, they became fun. Yeah, adult life is weird like that.

“Working out” is too often associated with only weight loss and less with overall mental and physical nourishment. To me, that’s kind of dangerous. I’m sure 95% of women that walk through the gym doors would like to shed some pounds. There’s nothing wrong with that. But, lifting weights reminds me a bit of what it’s like to have faith.

If you go to church, expecting that all of your problems are going away, you are doing the same thing as walking through the doors with hopes of only looking better. What about the process of prayer? Of having a spiritual relationship? What about gaining confidence in your ability to pick up a 20lb dumbbell? Or perhaps, that euphoric victory of spending 10 extra minutes on the elliptical? Or moreover, creating a healthier lifestyle for yourself?

You see, intention matters. With everything. Not just with things like our spiritual lives, or our relationships, or our tasks at work. I think intention – even at the gym – is important. Legalistic attitudes create unhealthy patterns which culminate in a greater sense of discontent. If I am going to be spending 3,4, or 5 days a week at the gym, I am not going to enslave myself to the idea that I had to lose weight to look good.

Instead, I have made a resolute commitment to work out for the sake of the process. Because it creates strength, confidence, and an outlet for me. Because it’s literally, good for my body and maintains healthy levels in blood pressure, endorphins, and with muscle activity. Because I like to do it.

We have to fight for this. Especially as women. We have to fight for pumping iron because it’s a healthy thing to do – not simply because it will allow us to look thin. And if you don’t like lifting a hunk of weight, try kettle bells. Give rowing a go. Take a walk outside. Ultimately, healthy living is for you to decide. Don’t let someone take that away from you.

Oh, and because it’s awesome, here’s some great tunes you can ad to your workout playlist if you are needing an extra boost. These are the gems I have been jamming to. They are awesome. Lift on, friends, lift on!

  • Independent Women, Destiny’s Child
  • Shake it Out, Florence + The Machine
  • Equestrian, US Royalty
  • Runaway, Ziggy Alberts
  • Family Affair, Mary J. Blige
  • Wannabe, Spice Girls
  • Fancy, Iggy Azalea
  • Stay, Kygo
  • Wild Things, Alessia Cara
  • Sorry, Justin Bieber
  • Spirits, The Strumbellas


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Heather Newell Oglesby

Hi! I'm Heather. I am a writer and counselor in-training. I share stories so we can keep the magic of being human alive. I spend a great deal of time going on long walks with my wife, rollerblading, learning, and traveling to find new adventures. By day, I work as an Education and Employment Specialist for Jefferson Center for Mental Health, working with adolescents who have experienced their first episode of psychosis. A Colorado native, I love dark-roasted coffee, sunshine, and succulents. Enthusiasm, passion, and possibility: that's me at my best.

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