A journey in words...

Welcome to my journey in words! A story about health, exercise, weight loss, food addiction, humor, size discrimination, sarcasm, social commentary and all the rest that’s rattling around inside my head...

I now twit, er... or tweet. Anyway, you can follow me on twitter @Aeon1202

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Strong is Beautiful

“Strong is Beautiful” is the exercise motto I’ve adopted for 2013.  I’ve borrowed it from some of the American Olympic Women’s Weightlifting team – some really nifty girls that you can read about here.

I don’t need to be quite as powerful as they are, nor will I be.  In order to achieve their level you have to dedicate yourself to training like it’s a full time job.  Same goes for professional bodybuilders.  We ordinary girls who put in a half hour of weight training three or four times a week can expect to reap the benefits of weight loss, toned limbs, increased endurance, increased strength and healthier hearts all around.  All good things.

I have no fear whatsoever of getting “bulky”.  I’m already bulky – I can only see myself getting sleeker, fitter and stronger.  A few years ago a friend of mine was proudly showing me the fine, graceful curve of the bicep muscle she’d developed from the hard work at training she’d been doing of late, and all I could think was: “wow – that looks awesome.  I want that!”

Last year my fitness routine primarily included cardio: dancing and walking.  These are great, and they make my blood sugar great and help keep my cholesterol perfect – but alone they are not giving me the appearance change that I’m looking for.  The more research I do, the more I find that toning and muscle development needs to be added in a serious way, so I set about trying to figure out what I could add to my home routine that wouldn’t take up too much space or break the bank.

This is how I discovered kettle bells.  I’d seen them before and always thought of them as this intimidating, spine damaging thing being thrown about by scary, growling guys at public gyms.  These things:

But the more I looked into it, the more great things I was hearing about workouts that included them.  Nobody seemed to be throwing their back out during use either, so off I went to the store to investigate.  I wound up purchasing the 3-in-1 Kettle Bell sold by Empower Fitness.  It costs around $40.00, something my workout budget could handle, and comes with a DVD containing workouts and instructions as to its use.  It’s a pretty innocuous looking device, shown here:

As the name suggests it can be adjusted to weigh five, eight or twelve pounds depending on your level of fitness.  After figuring out how to detach and reattach the weighted parts correctly and how to safely stand while wielding it, I launched into my first workout.

The DVD has a warm up portion that’s seven minutes, three training sections that range from eleven to fifteen minutes, and an eight minute cool down.  Since it was my first time, I did warm up, the eleven minute cardio/strength combo, and then the cool down – resulting in a total half hour or so of exercise.  I kept the bell on its lowest setting, which is five pounds.

It wasn’t easy, but it was doable even for a beginner like me.  The instructor on the DVD is pleasant to watch and work with.  The only parts where I had difficulty keeping up where when she went to the ground and did squat thrusts off the kettle bell.  My stomach and thighs literally get in the way when I’m trying to perform a quick move like that, but obviously I’ll keep at it in the hopes that shrinking stomach and thighs will cease to be a problem eventually.  There are also some high/low impact jumping jack type maneuvers that were tough, but I managed to get through and felt good about it when I did.

I’ve suspected for a bit now that I don’t push myself hard enough when I’m just dancing on my own, so having an instructor to push me along is helpful.

Afterward my hands were pretty shaky.  This is normal for me since I have ET, and it went back normal (for me anyway) within an hour or two.  I suspect that as the muscles in my forearms grow stronger this workout will actually improve my general shakiness a bit, since physical therapy with hand weights is a recommended treatment for ET patients.

In general though I felt good.  I could tell that my body was going to be sore the next day by the slowly gathering ache, but I can confirm today that it’s the right kind of ache – the kind that tells you you’ve had a workout that did you some good in all the right spots.  Also, my back seems perfectly fine.  Today I’ll do some cardio, then pick the weights back up on Monday.

I plan to add “belling” to my routine at least three times per week in minimum half hour sessions, and continue either dancing or walks with Ted for another two sessions – for a total of five workouts per week or cumulative 200 minutes of workout per seven days.

Strong is beautiful!  Rhar!


Update:  I received the following nice letter from the Marketing Coordinator at Empower shortly after I emailed them to tell them I'd written about them on my blog.  I must say, really liking this company!

"Good Morning Carolyn!
I wanted to send a quick note to tell you I really appreciate you sharing your post with us!  We are very honored when someone writes a review about our products.  It’s a wonderful feeling when all of the hard work that went into making specifically the 3-in-1 Kettlebell pays off.  What I mean by that is... you completely understood and got exactly what we were trying to do with it.  Show women that Kettlebells are not something to shy away from.  They are amazing tools and my team and I are extremely happy that our product can help women see how unintimidating they can be so they can move down their road to a healthy lifestyle.  So thank you again for sharing and keep up all your hard work… It is worth every minute of it!"


  1. Oooooh I'll send you a message, I need to hear more about kettle bells, I have avoided them like the plague because I can basically hear my spine cracking just looking at them, but if you're liking them I need more info... :)

    1. I have heard from a lot of folks afraid for their backs, so yes - I would definitely look into them! I will admit it's VERY important you keep your back straight and not arch when you're lifting, but I suspect that's true of all weight lifting style workouts.