Skip to Content

By request: what I’m currently doing with weight-lifting

This has come up a few times recently in the comments, sooo, here you go! But before we do that: this post is gonna talk some about weight loss/gain (and there’s a picture of me when I was pretty skinny), so if that’s a topic you aren’t up for, maybe skip reading here for today. Also: I’m not an expert, and any weight-lifting you do is at your own risk!

I mentioned in a recent post that I’ve been back on the weight-lifting train, and that I’ve put back on a lot of the muscle I lost.


My body type is naturally on the smaller side of things when it comes to muscles, so if I don’t lift weights, I tend to settle into a not-that-strong state.

Also, when I am experiencing really bad stress, I lose my appetite, and that also makes me get weaker/scrawnier.

My skinniest times in life have always, always been the times when I have been in a state of Very Not Thriving.

I know some people get extra hungry when they are stressed, but when stress is off the charts for me, I just cannot manage to be hungry.

All of that is to say that for a while, my body situation has been very up and down. I got super skinny in mid-2018, leading up to the first time I left my marriage.

I feel slightly nervous about sharing this next picture (I think mostly I’m afraid of being judged on several levels!), but here you go, because it shows a good contrast with what happened later.

Kristen in 2018.

As things got put back together (or so I thought), I lifted weights and also went to Cross Fit with Lisey, and I gained a lot of muscle.

Kristen, Sonia, and Zoe

My 2019 legs were way more powerful than my 2018 legs!

Then life deteriorated again on multiple fronts, and by last year, I was a little on the skinny side again.

Kristen wearing a pair of blue Converse.

But now I’ve gotten back into the habit of doing some weight lifting, and I am trying really hard to eat sufficient protein so I can build some muscle back.

I actually hate lifting weights

There are some types of exercise that I enjoy, such as hiking.

Dilapidated wooden bridge in the woods.

Weightlifting is 0% fun for me, though. I do it solely because I am trying to be strong and because I am trying to keep my bones as dense as possible.

And I do like feeling strong!

But the process sucks. I cannot at all relate to people who say they are addicted to working out. Bleah.

So, to make it manageable enough for me to be consistent, I:

  • lift only about 3x a week
  • only do a couple of exercises each time (usually three sets of each)

If I felt like I had to do this every day, or that I had to do 6 different types of lifts each time, I would give up.

I have to keep it to a level that feels reasonable to me if I have any faint hope of keeping this habit up.

The exercises I do

I try to do a leg day, an arm/shoulders/chest day, and a core/back day. But honestly, a lot of the things I do for my legs also work my core and back.

Kristen in a black dress.

Look! I have a visible little shoulder muscle!

For legs/hips, I do:

  • kettlebell swings
  • barbell deadlifts
  • barbell back squats
  • kettlebell squats
  • a leg press machine at the gym

For arms/shoulders/chest, I do:

  • bicep curls
  • dumbbell kickbacks
  • bench press (with a barbell at the gym, with dumbbells at home)
  • standing dumbbell flys (flies?)

For core/back I do:

  • leg raises (lying on the floor, legs straight and together, and I lift them so my body is a 90-degree angle)
  • hanging leg raises (at the gym; I have nowhere to do them at home)
  • a back machine at the gym
  • a floor back extension (lie on the floor, face down, and lift upper body off the ground as far as possible)

I don’t do all of these each time; I usually pick three exercises to do, and I do three sets of them. For things that are done with heavy weights, such as a deadlift, I do three sets of six. But for something like the leg raises, I do three sets of 20.

I know that this is not a professional program, and I know I could be much more muscle-riffic if I had a set program I stuck to, or if I lifted more regularly, or if I lifted longer each time.

unfinished concrete floor.

But this is what I can manage to faithfully do right now, and I remind myself that any weights I lift are better than no weight lifting at all.

Done is better than perfect!

And progress is more important than perfection.

The equipment I have

A rec center membership

This is not technically equipment but…the girls and I have a family membership to the nearby rec center. It’s very affordable for a family plan when you pay annually, and they have pretty much every kind of workout equipment you could possibly want. 

At home, I have: 


I initially was just using some lighter plastic kettlebells from Aldi, but now I’m using my heavier metal kettlebells.

Adjustable dumbbells 

I don’t have room here at home for a whole range of dumbbell weights, so I’m happy to have some that are adjustable; you just add or remove end plates to adjust the weight up or down. 

A barbell and some plates

I have a barbell and a bunch of plates for it here at home, but honestly, I end up mostly doing barbell stuff at the gym, because they have a squat rack there.

It’s basically impossible to do a barbell back squat if you don’t have a rack! 

And I also can do a barbell bench press at the gym, since I need some kind of rack for those too. 


One caveat to finish this up: it is quite possible to hurt yourself if you lift weights with improper form. So, if you have no background in weight lifting, it might be helpful to have a few sessions with a personal trainer. 

I’ve also had a physical therapist assess my form for various movements, like kettlebell swings; I didn’t go to PT for that specifically, but she checked my form while I was there for knee issues. 

There’s a lot of information on the internet about correct weight-lifting form as well, but of course, that’s not quite as effective as having a live person watching you in real time.

Any other questions? Ask away! And if you have tips on this topic, please do share what’s working for you.

P.S. Here’s a post I wrote in 2019 about working out, and that one goes more into the reasons I keep lifting weights, plus a little about my eating philosophy. 

P.P.S. I hope I will be able to figure out how to keep lifting weights while I finish my nursing degree. Physical strength seems like a serious attribute for a nurse!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


Thursday 21st of September 2023

I also workout at home and love the Street Parking program. It's similar to CrossFit, but very accessible to whatever equipment you have. I also get bored with straight lifting, but like doing it in a metcon.


Thursday 21st of September 2023

I have bone density issues due to a medical condition that affects my calcium levels. Just like you, I'm not a fan of working out but I am able to convince myself 2-3 times a week to do a 30 minute Body Pump class at home. I gave it up for about 6 months during grad school and felt like I lost all the progress I had previously made, so I've been more diligent now about not skipping often. The rule that tends to keep me on track is to never skip a work out on Monday.


Thursday 21st of September 2023

Wonderful topic Kirsten and I love the comments that folk have been sharing. I was going on a trip in April this year and realized I wanted to increase my endurance and strength, so set some step goals (it was a very active trip) and also hired a trainer at a local gym. I didn't join the gym, just worked with the trainer twice a week for 5 weeks before my trip. I also had purchased the Metabolic Renewal online program about 18 months ago, and completed the (approx 12 week) program one time. When I booked my trip, I also began the 12 week program again, it is 3 sessions a week, 15 min long, and the intensity is kind of up to you. I found that with the gym and walking and MR, I was in great shape for my trip (and we did 28,000 steps one day, in high heat and humidity). When I got home I didn't do much for a month, however I am now a member of the gym and have an accountability partner in one of my best friends. We arrange to go to the gym at the same time, although our workouts are VERY different. It is the booking of the time that seems to be key for both of us. We show up because we are meeting our friend and helping her to show up. We say hi and then usually are at opposite sides of the gym for most of the time.... I have just been meeting with my trainer again because after 6 months I feel ready to really up the ante and start increasing my upper body strength. I have strong legs but I currently find pushups from the floor, or pull-ups, to be out of reach. So my goal is to work incrementally toward making those both possible. My trainer knows my goals, and she is great about helping me be realistic yet also ensuring I am challenged. I have realized that my step counts have dropped, so that is also a current goal - to increase the number of steps I am getting every day. As someone else has noted, if we pay attention and find we aren't 'there' by mid afternoon, it is time to get moving. If I count backwards 5-4-3-2-1, I can leap up and go walking down the lane and knock off 2000 steps. So that is what I did today! Thanks for the shares, everyone. Just as Frugal Fives can be encouraging, finding other's tricks and tips can be inspiring. And if I do something new for a month or so, it is more than I was doing before.


Wednesday 20th of September 2023

I love seeing that you are ok with motivation coming and going. What is going on around us can really affect how much we can do. My husband doesn't see it this way and it makes discussions difficult.

I was also just curious as you have mentioned a time or 2 about leaving your marriage in 2018. I've been reading for a long time but didn't remember that. Maybe you didn't blog about it which is absolutely understandable! It just surprised me when I read about it. If you didn't blog about it then, I hope you are finding it helpful to do now. I facilitated a divorce recovery group for a long time and sometimes people just weren't ready for it and then were at a later time. Almost always they were glad to get the support of a group. We change and grow in all ways!


Wednesday 20th of September 2023

I also quit eating when I’m stressed out! I hate that bc then I usually get sick and then I’m more stressed out.

kept trying to lift weights and always ended up hurting my back. My doctor finally told me to stop and do resistance bands or something instead. Then my husband came up with a free rowing machine from a neighbor. I do that and I walk. He is way more intense about exercise than I am, and he does a free workout group (nationwide!) called F3. It is only for men, but there is a “sister” group called FIA. He has made a lot of very solid friendships through this group, so is anyone needs a FREE workout/community option, it’s worth checking out.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.