Credit: Getty / Thomas Tolstrup

I’ve always been a huge cardio bunny. Basically this means I did cardio, but nothing else. Because what else was there? Then, I met my personal trainer girlfriend, and I was introduced to an entirely new world: the world of lifting.

Lifting weights at the gym requires an entirely different vocabulary than just doing cardio. I know what an elliptical is. I know (and hate) the treadmill. But I’d never heard of overhead extensions, military presses, or hammer curls until I slipped into this entirely different section of the gym. Plus, there’s an entirely different type of maintinence required to do this sort of thing. It’s a lot easier to half-ass a 20 minute elliptical workout when you didn’t get any sleep and haven’t eaten anything but marshmallows, than it is to finish leg day.

I’ve only been lifting weights for about six months, and my body has already transformed — but how I feel about my body has changed even more. The amount of dedication required to write up a workout and stick to it (rather than push a button and do as the machine says) is huge. But even more than my newfound determination to get a squat booty (trust me — it’s a thing) is my respect for my body.

I’d never respected my body before I started lifting. In fact, I was actually pretty mean to it, and frequently got angry with my body for not looking how I wanted it to. I felt guilty about what I did or didn’t eat. I wanted both more and less control over my body and how it looked, for a single workout to transform it or for some magical angel to come down and bless me with a perfect figure. But this changed when I started working out more seriously because I now understand what my body is capable of.

Paying attention to my body’s capabilities has been huge for my confidence and self-respect. Of course, there is totally nothing wrong with only ever doing cardio, or never working out at all — more power to you! But for me personally, working out has become really important, because I like to see results. Not necessarily in terms of the shape or even the size of my body, but in terms of how I can push myself that day. How much weight I can move.

It’s nice to see numbers ticking up and to be happy about it, for once.