We all love a facebook memory, don’t we? I’ve been thinking about what to write for my guest blog, so it was timely this picture taken 2 years ago popped up in my feed. It’s me lifting at the 2016 Eliekio Australian Masters Nationals, Oceania and Pacific Rim tournament
I love this photo. It means so many things to me. A culmination of three years training since discovering the barbell. Testing myself in ways I never had before. It makes me think of how strong weightlifting has made me – and not the way you’d expect.
During a heatwave in the middle of January, my second child was born. And boy, did I feel the heat – adjusting from one child to two was really difficult. My son was only 2, little more than a baby himself, and didn’t have the tools to understand the baby needed me more a lot of the time.
After 6 weeks, I knew I wasn’t ok. I felt heavy all the time. I felt trapped in the house. I was trying to be all things to all people, and of course I couldn’t. I remember breaking down and crying one night, feeling like an absolute failure. I told myself I wasn’t just a bad mum, but a bad person.
The next day I knew I had to make changes. I chose a 2 prong approach: mind and body. For my mind, I went to my amazing GP who referred me to an equally amazing psychologist. For my body, I knew I needed movement. I found a mum’s functional fitness group and went 3 times a week at first. It felt good to move my body. It felt good to sweat and channel all the frustration I was feeling into a healthy outlet. Did I notice an immediate benefit? Yes, I can honestly say I did.
Over the next few weeks, the pressure I had placed on myself to be all things to all people disappeared. Time inside those grimy gym walls was MINE. As I clapped the chalk on my hands, stood behind and thought just about my cues, my body, what I needed to do to get that lift, that jerk, that snatch, I felt unshackled. In loading up my body, I freed my mind.
Lifting doesn’t just help me vent my spleen in a healthy way, it makes me feel good. And I mean, really, REALLY good – I get those endorphins working overtime!! We live so much in our minds, it’s sometimes easy to forget we have these bodies, and they’re made to move. Some may find zen in meditation: I find it in movement.
As an Olympic Lifter, I see health, strength and fitness come dressed up in so many different shapes, sizes, ages and abilities. I meet everyday people and see them do extraordinary things. I have days where the lifts just don’t go as planned, where it feels heavier and harder than normal. Days when I question my purpose; days when I’m tired and don’t wanna.
In other words, gym-life echoes mum-life!
Working through this in the gym gives me greater capacity to get through the hard days I have as a mum. As a weightlifter there are times you need to be tough and just get on with it. There are also days where you need to pick your battles, be kind to yourself, and do what you can do and finish on something you know you rock at.
I’m not saying you should all do weightlifting – even though you should, because it’s bloody awesome with proven benefits to body and mind. But when you can, just get out and move. Go to a space that forces you to see other people, even if it’s a nod hello. Make yourself sweat, just a little. Feel the muscles move. Know how beautiful your perfect body is for all the things it does. Balance is so important for mindset. Walk. Dance. Talk to Nikki about your options 😉
Move your body to free your mind.
Jennifer Zeven is a mother of three, weightlifter and copywriter for Blurb-ology. She lives in the Adelaide Western Suburbs, loves walking on the beach, and of course, lifting that barbell.