Life Lessons All Women Who Lift Know

by Megan Grant

Anyone who has found a sport that they're passionate about will understand that it changes your life in more ways than one. In my case, the catalyst was Olympic weightlifting. Once I started, I found that there are so many important life lessons women who lift learn through the sport — things that change the way you view yourself, others, and the world around you. I know it's going to sound corny as hell, but it's 100 percent true: It's not just a sport — it's a whole lifestyle. My mentality, attitude, and mindset don't change all that much once I drive away from the gym. The lessons I've learned at the barbell and on the platform have more powerfully and positively influenced me than anything else I've ever experienced.

I will be forever grateful for weightlifting, because it freed me from the things that once held me back. It taught me how to love and appreciate myself, and it taught me what many might consider something unusual: The hidden powers of surrounding yourself with people better than you. Nothing motivates me more than lifting next to a girl who is stronger and faster. It lights a fire in you.

Lifting has taught me so many memorable lessons, that I don't think this will even cut it — but here are few, just to start. The best part? You keep learning all the time. Always.

1. Your Body Is An Incredible Machine

It's remarkable in every way — physically, mentally, emotionally. In the gym, I lift thousands of pounds every week, and then I come back the next week and do it again. My body endures three part-time jobs, five trips to the gym each week, and the typical stressors that come with being an adult. And I know I'm not the only one juggling a lot. Just look at everything you've got on your plate: You're amazing.

2. You Are So Much Stronger Than You Ever Thought

I think one of the biggest surprises when I first started lifting was just how little effort I was putting in. I thought I was trying, but I was only using a small fraction of the force and power and strength that was within me. And to this day, there are times when I quit a heavy deadlift or bail out of a heavy squat because I was convinced it was going to beat me, when in reality, I still had gas left in the tank. Lifting helps teach you this "don't take no for an answer" mentality, and I have absolutely noticed that in other areas of my life, I'm more motivated and inspired than ever before.

3. The Body's Capacity To Heal Is Truly Remarkable

I'm not just talking about healing after suffering an injury. Every single day that you train is followed by healing. Your muscles are fatigued and experience countless tiny tears, which is what makes them stronger after they've recovered. How amazing is it that you're able to get up the next day and do the same thing all over again?

4. Your Flaws Are Part Of You, But They're Also Irrelevant

By which I mean, your flaws do not define you; just because you have them doesn't make you a failure. When you adjust your priorities to feeling as healthy, happy, strong, and energized as possible, you stop caring about your stretch marks, cellulite, wrinkles. I used to dwell on these annoying little nuisances so much; now, I hardly notice them. It's wonderful finally paying more attention to the bigger picture.

5. You Deserve All The Respect In The World

The inner-workings of your body become more important than ever before, and suddenly, you're thinking of every way to treat yourself as positively as possible. From cutting out toxic habits to cutting out toxic people, the reach-for-the-stars mindset you carry in the gym spills out into all other facets of your life.

6. No Force Compares To Women Coming Together With The Goal Of Improving Their Lives

Whatever sport you've fallen in love with, you form a most unique kinship with the women standing right next to you, because you all share at least one goal: You're there to become better versions of yourselves. I know that as a lifter, the women I train with will totally get it when a failed lift leaves me near tears; and they'll share in my excitement when I finally conquer that next big clean and jerk.

7. Negativity Breeds Negativity

We all have those days where nothing seems to be going right, and all we want to do is complain — and that's totally OK! Those days are not only acceptable, but needed... but you can't dwell on them. You learn fairly quickly as a lifter that if you get stuck in a tornado of negative thought, it will indeed snowball. This new lesson – that you must think positive to do positive — permeates into your job, relationships, and more. As cheesy as it may sound, you start to understand that if your mind believes it, you can achieve it. (Don't laugh! It's so true.)

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