Loving Our Muscle (and why you should too!)

by | Aug 7, 2023 | General

The world has somehow convinced women that, above all else, they should NOT lift heavy weights or they will become “bulky”. Gasp!

Bulky? How dare we?!

I’m here to shed my own opinion on the matter because, in fact, I think everyone should learn to love muscle and be lifting very heavy a couple times a week (in combination with other forms of exercise!).

Some background info on the photos of me and Crystal. These photos above are roughly 12 years apart. We have been training and lifting as heavy as we can for pretty much the entire 12 years (5-6 days a week). We both generally combine strength and conditioning in the form of CrossFit. Although we have focused on different outcomes at different times, one common theme is consistent: we work as hard as we can in the gym. If it says 5 back squats, we are loading to a weight that we cannot do 7-8 back squats with. When I speak of lifting heavy, I am also always assuming you have perfect technique and am never encouraging people to go beyond their limits or lift unsafely.

I am not suggesting that you need to look or want to look like either of us, but we have found a real love for our bodies and their capabilities and the muscle we carry has a lot to do with that. Here are six reasons to love being strong and carrying muscle:

  • The reason I love these photos is because it gives you a sense of where our body frames were 12 years ago. Not shocking – they’re very similar to what they are now. Your general body frame doesn’t change. I was not a small, 125lb female in 2011 and am now a 167lb female in 2023. Your body can only become a better versions of itselfit’s not going to morph into someone else’s body. Muscle is extremely hard to gain, it requires years of hard work and consistency. We should consider ourselves lucky when we see more of it, not be worried that that might happen.


  • CKP and I are almost exactly the same weight that we were 12 years ago (within 3-5 pounds). I am about 2-3 pounds heavier now than I was then. Our body fat percentage is lower now than it was in 2011. Why, you ask? Because we both have more muscle. I am a proud 167 pounds on a 5’8” frame. The scale doesn’t tell you the whole truth. Both of us would choose our 2023 bodies with a few extra pounds on them.


  • We have both followed various nutritional methodologies over the years and have arrived at a place of eating for fueling our bodies, and fueling them well. Both of us enjoy feeling well and training, so we eat well to do those things. The fantastic part 12 years later is that I am eating more calories today than I was able to in my late twenties while easily maintaining my weight and performance. The more muscle you have, the more nutritional freedom you earn. The only thing in our basal metabolic rate (how many calories we burn at rest) that we have control over is how much muscle we carry. You guessed it – muscle burns more calories for us at rest. Put simply – as your body puts on muscle, it burns more calories doing nothing. If we aren’t actively putting on/maintaining muscle, we are likely losing it (after age 30) so every year your basal metabolic rate is going down. That means that every year your eating would have to get cleaner and cleaner if you didn’t want to gain weight (unless your activity levels continuously increase…not likely for most people). OR … you could work hard to gain/maintain muscle mass to keep your body’s metabolic rate high.


  • CKP and I have both crushed some pretty awesome goals in the last 12 years in the gym. Focusing on what your body can DO, instead of solely what it looks like is very freeing. I am proud of my body. I didn’t always appreciate my large, strong legs because they didn’t fit into size 4 pants… but now, I love them because they let me squat heavy, bike on trails, run, row – whatever I want to do. Not to mention, they are going to keep me independent for a long time to come. I have no intention of slowing down my life because “I am getting older” and neither should you.


  • The beauty of the 12 years between these photos is that we weren’t on a mission to “lose fat and get toned”. We were on a mission to bike/ski/row/run fast, lift heavy, and work hard – the results with our bodies just happened. Many women tell me they want to “get toned” and I must explain that, while there might be some fat loss involved initially, to see your muscle on the outside of your body, you need it to GROW so that it pushes on your skin and creates some shape. You can’t see muscle definition without muscle. This happens by lifting heavy. Lifting heavy and training hard requires fuel in your body. It also requires a good night sleep before you train and after you train. See where I’m heading here… 😉


  • Both of us have experienced very competitive ups and downs through the years. In fact, I let my competitive goals cloud my judgement and our friendship at one point – but that’s a story for another day. While the “glory” of being in the spotlight of competition can seem enticing, I think we can also agree that learning to just love working out 5 days a week without a deadline, competition, or insane expectation of ourselves is the real win. Don’t get me wrong, our competitive spirits will never die and we will always be motivated to do and try new things. However, our entire lives don’t revolve around those feats as they once did. We have found habits that promote independence, confidence, and community, plus a lifestyle that is sustainable for many years to come – the goal most should be striving for.


I always say that if you’re thriving, then you need to continue what you’re doing. If you’re struggling, you need to make a change. If you’ve been scared to make the change to lift weights, please let this post be the nudge you need to give it a try. Find an experienced coach and great group of people and start lifting. I can promise you; you won’t regret it.

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