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I Tried Weightlifting and Grew Out Of It

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The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at ODU chapter.

Growing up, I always thought that the only way to achieve my “dream body” was through weightlifting. I would watch my older sister’s weightlifting routine and later on, I found myself following the same procedure. I even would look up to the weightlifting influencers that I came across online. 

It first started with my obsession with Gymshark influencers. Strong women like Whitney Simmons, Kathryn & Kendra and Lucy Davis all inspired me to embrace the weights and train like “powerful women”. They all stepped out of the stereotypical women’s workout and encouraged girls of all shapes and sizes to lift heavy. This regime was a new trend that challenged women to exercise in gyms. 

It worked for a while and it was something I enjoyed. I worked on a 7-day split: Legs, Push, Pull, Rest, Repeat and trained in gyms where it was mostly men. I felt empowered and confident for doing something that most women were scared to do at the time. 

Over time, I grew an immense amount of muscle and could lift more than most of the guys in my high school. I would set personal records for squat, deadlift and bench that would amaze myself as well as the gym-goers around me. My personal best in all three categories almost added up to 1000 lbs. This new obsession started as a way to be healthy to something I enjoyed doing as a hobby. 

However, as time went on I started to face health problems. I started to feel constantly bloated, inflamed and sore. Even worse, I was always hungry. I had no idea why I was feeling this sort of way and for a while, I was lost in my fitness journey. 

 Although social media would falsify weightlifting making women “manly” and “bulky”, I also started to recognize the bulkiness I had. At first, weightlifting toned me, but over the years the size of my muscle and size started to increase. 

When it got to the point where I couldn’t keep up with the problems I was facing, I started to research the correlation between women and exercise. I found that women’s bodies don’t operate in the same cycle as men’s. Women operate on a 28-day cycle whereas men operate on a 24-hour cycle. While men can lift heavy for all days of the month without any problems, women face issues lifting heavy all the time due to hormone changes. 

This finding resonated with the feelings of why I was feeling groggy and unable to lift as heavy versus other days of the month when I felt strong and limitless. 

After finding this out, I started to look into syncing my exercise with my menstrual cycle. Essentially, lifting heavier at the beginning of my cycle and slowly moving into lighter, low-impact exercise towards the end of my cycle. 

You can check out how to do this in my latest article “Cycle Syncing” as well as check out my latest TikTok on the physical changes I noticed. 

When I started exercising according to my cycle my body changed, specifically when I incorporated pilates. 

I started slowly by transitioning from the gym to mat pilates. I researched the most valuable way to do pilates and found “The Sculpt Society”, a sculpting and dance cardio fitness app. This app offered at-home pilates that I was able to do anywhere, with the option of ankle weights and light hand weights. 

As a result of switching my method of exercise, I started to shed fat and regulate my hunger cues. I wasn’t constantly bloated and lethargic all the time and was able to eat normal-sized portions of food. Most importantly, I felt more confident in my body and finally felt like I was going in the direction of my “body goals”. I wanted a more “toned” look and that was what I was achieving with this new form of exercise. 

Pilates changed my view on exercise and regulated not just my mental health but also my physical health. It is something I still do about 3-4 times a week and absolutely love. To all those who are thinking of trying out pilates take my advice and go all in. 

Hello! My name is Isabel Hipolito and I am from Chesapeake,Virginia. I am a freshman at Old Dominion University studying strategic communications with a focus in public relations and am currently a sister of Zeta Tau Alpha on campus as a the fashion merch chair. Writing is a skill that I always enjoyed doing throughout high school and in college, so being a member of HerCampus is something I am very passionate about. I was inspired to join HerCampus because my sister Kristina Hipolito was president of the chapter at Virginia Commonwealth University and encouraged me to join the chapter at ODU for not only the professional experience, but also for the lifelong friends you make after joining. I am excited to see where my position in HerCampus takes me.