Her Campus Logo Her Campus Logo

I Started Weight Training, and Here’s Why You Should Too

If you’ve ever seen me in person, you’d know that I am small – quite small. As a kid, I’d always get comments about how skinny I was, how I looked “anorexic,” or that I didn’t eat enough. I simply had a fast metabolism and short family, so naturally, I was more petite than other kids around me.

Now, as a 20-year-old college student, I honestly feel self-conscious about my size – especially when it comes to going to the gym. Whenever I put on leggings, I feel like my legs look like bony toothpicks sticking out of my torso. I especially get nervous showing off my arms as I’m too embarrassed to show my tiny biceps that barely exist.

A few weeks ago, I was complaining to one of my friends about how small I look in clothes, and she responded with: “Why don’t you come lift weights with me at the gym?”. I looked at her with wide eyes and shrugged off her comment. Me? Lifting weights? I’m probably so weak that I wouldn’t be able to squat a bar on its own.

woman doing pulldown exercise
Photo by ?ULE MAKARO?LU from Unsplash

Fast forward two weeks and I’m standing behind that same friend in line for the Smith machines at the Hadley Plant Fitness. I remember looking around at all the buff guys, curling and squatting weights that were heavier than me. I was extremely intimidated, at the very least, but so lucky to have my friend or else I seriously would have been too scared to enter the weights section for all eternity.

That day was brutal, but necessary. I found out my limits: what was too light or too heavy for me, what exercises I could see myself doing on my own after learning the form, and what muscle groups I wanted to target over the next few weeks. Was I extremely sore after? Absolutely. But it was a good pain; it felt empowering to know that I pushed myself out of my comfort zone.

Even after just a week, I already have started to feel better about my body when I am in the gym. I realize, now, that everyone there is trying to work on themselves just like I am. Who cares if they see how skinny and small I am? All that matters is that I am pushing myself to new limits and developing both physically and mentally through my fitness journey.

So, ladies, if you have been looking for a sign to get more comfortable with going to the gym and strength training – this is it. If I can do it, so can you. Besides giving me long-lasting energy throughout the day, lifting weights has already increased my appetite and helped me sleep better through the night. I truly believe that training muscle groups with weights is one of the best ways to tone and strengthen your body overall.

Workout partner
Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels

Honestly, my goal of this new routine is to feel better in my body. I am not looking for 6-pack abs or sculpted thighs and glutes: all I want is to feel stronger and healthier. Of course, weight training alone can’t do all the work – I am really trying to incorporate more protein into my diet with lean meats and legumes to promote muscle building and retaining my strength. One of my biggest issues was that I simply wasn’t hungry, so I wouldn’t eat enough, but already I sense myself planning out my groceries for the week according to my protein intake goals.

I am so excited for the weeks to come, and hope to motivate other girls to venture into the weights sections of their gyms to try seeing what works for their bodies. Even though it’s hard to believe, I promise that no one is judging you for how you look or how much you can lift. Your workout is all about you- your growth, your strength, and your journey.

Karen Hareli

U Mass Amherst '22

Karen is a junior at UMass Amherst pursuing a Biochemistry degree with a Psychology minor. In her free time she loves to cook, workout, draw and paint, explore new restaurants, and most importantly play with her adorable cat, Leena.