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How (and why) I’m working out

How and why I'm working out

I’ve mentioned my workouts here and there on the blog and also on Instagram, and lots of you have asked for more info about what I’m doing.

So, I thought a post was in order.  This is super off-topic, which is why I haven’t posted about it until now. 

But questions keep coming in, so off-topic we will be today!


A little background

I turned 40 in 2018, and I realized I was entering the stage of life where my bone density and muscle mass would be on a decline.

It’s not like I was feeling particularly frail at the moment, but I felt like I wanted to try to do what I could to combat the coming decline.

Also, both of my parents have experienced bone density problems as they’ve gotten older.  So, I’m assuming that I’m not in great genetic shape for bone health as I age!

Anyway, I thought that adding some weight training to my life would be a good idea since it would take care of both the bone density issue and the muscle mass issue.

change plates and bumper plates

Reasons I am working out:

  • more muscle mass
  • more bone density
  • more strength for daily activities
  • more strength for fun exercise (hiking, boogie boarding, biking, etc.)

I am not doing this because…

  • I was unhappy with my body (I already thought I looked fine)
  • I’m trying to change my body shape into anything in particular
  • I enjoy it (I don’t! There is a 0% chance of me becoming obsessed.)

What exactly am I doing?

I’m doing mostly compound movements (exercises that work lots of muscle groups) with kettlebells, dumbbells, a barbell, and a chin-up bar.

So, that means things like chin-ups, deadlifts, kettlebell swings, power cleans, and the like.

bumper plates

I do three sets of about five of those exercises, and I do this three times a week, because any more than that feels overwhelming to me.

I’m in this for the long haul, hopefully, so sustainability is a prime concern. It has to feel manageable or I will feel like giving up.

Where am I working out?

The gym is a less expensive option initially, because home gym equipment is not cheap.

But I am much more inclined to actually DO a workout if I can knock it out at home.

Plus, in the long run, a home gym does pay for itself. It’s just a little painful up front!

So we’ve been slowly buying gym equipment, some used, some new, and we have just about everything we need now.

I’ll add that you really don’t need oodles of equipment, especially when you are starting out. I just used this little kettlebell set from Aldi when I was starting out.

Aldi kettlebells

You can add things gradually as you need them, and if you budget what you’d spend on a gym membership, it’s not too overwhelmingly expensive.

What has weight lifting done for me?

Well, I don’t know what the situation is with my bones. Hopefully they are slowly getting denser!

I can definitely see that I’ve added quite a few pounds of muscle to my frame, though, and I weigh 25 pounds more than I did a year ago.

(Though since I mostly gained muscle, I don’t think I look massively different. All the ThredUp rescue box photos are after my weight gain.)

20 pound kettlebell

I can tell that when I do things like biking, hiking, or even carrying groceries, I’m much stronger than I used to be.

I also think my posture is better than before, since my back and shoulder muscles are stronger.

In addition, my knees have been less problematic now that I have more in the way of quad muscles, so yay!

Did I change my diet?

Nope, not really.

I’m not bodybuilding or anything, so I’m not interested in drinking protein powder, making big diet changes, or making myself eat when I’m not hungry.

parsnips, peppers, and an egg


Again: sustainability is really important to me.

I’m still trying to eat healthy, of course…enough protein, whole grains, not too much sugar, plenty of fruits and veggies.

Basically, I try to eat more of the good foods.

I hate restrictive food rules. HATE THEM.

So, I still eat brownies too.

(Brownies are made with this recipe, should you need some chocolate in your life. All pantry ingredients!)

Do I have recommendations for you?

I could post a list of my workout routines, but I’m hesitant to do that because I don’t want anyone to get hurt.

I had extended family members who helped me learn to do these exercises with proper form and alignment, which is important for injury avoidance.

If you want to get into weight lifting, I think it’s probably wise to get help (a trainer, a class, an experienced friend) so that you know what you’re doing.

York fitness bumper plates

Bodyweight exercises are a little easier to learn on your own, but it’s still important to make sure that you follow instructions regarding form so that you don’t get injured.

The important thing: get moving

I obviously do think that weight training is valuable (I’m certainly not doing it because it’s fun!), but I believe the most important thing exercise-wise is to get your body moving.

Walking, swimming, biking, housework, yard work…there are lots of non-weight-lifting things you can do to fight the sedentary tendencies we all have in this era of technology. 

trail biking

The human body is meant to move, so whatever you can to do make that happen is probably going to have a positive effect on your health.



Hopefully I covered all of the questions that you guys have, but if I missed something, let me know in the comments and I’ll do my best to answer there.

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Sunday 4th of August 2019

Kristen, I love this post! Thank you! And congratulations--your results are awesome and your mindset is impressive, too! Was your barbell something you got used/locally? Do you have a recommendation on brand? I am finally going to invest in one but there seem to be tons of options and I have no idea...!!


Thursday 1st of August 2019

I do have a question. How long do you work out each time?


Thursday 1st of August 2019

That depends on what workout I'm doing. If it's a day with high intensity interval training, that might take less than 20 minutes. A workout with weights would take more like 45-60 minutes.

Madeline Kasian

Wednesday 31st of July 2019

I am in my 60's and since my 40's I have been doing my workouts at home. I use light weights-- purchased at target with coupons years ago-- and we invested in a good quality treadmill. WORTH IT OVER THE LONG RUN! I don't like getting up,driving to a gym, etc. I also use a STEP with a Reebok Step video on my TV and a Richard Simmons exercise video I love. GOOD FOR YOU for building good health habits that will pay off big time.... Building in some outdoors exercise is always fun too..hiking is a family hobby!


Wednesday 31st of July 2019

Good for you! My profession is Rehabilitation Assistant in an hospital (physical therapy and occupational therapy). I mostly work with seniors, and let me tell you that I often know right away if omeone has been active through out their life versus inactive! It really does change the aging process (or decline is some instance) and the way they carry themselves. Keep it up!!

Jem Horwood

Wednesday 31st of July 2019

0% chance of becoming obsessed, LOL

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