My Fitness Journey as an Older Mom: Balancing Family, Fitness, and Heavy Weights

It was not until I incorporated strength training into my life that I started to not just see changes, but also feel the changes.

19 min read

Health & Wellness

My Fitness Journey as an Older Mom: Balancing Family, Fitness, and Heavy Weights

Women take on a lot of responsibilities: career, school, friends, family, and the pressures of societal norms. Not to mention putting on make-up every morning, walking flawlessly in heels, doing our hair, and even learning extra skills like braiding cornrows and applying hair extensions to help fund gas money. Then one day, maybe, you become a mom, and there are so many more responsibilities to add to the never-ending list: cleaning, cooking, managing the schedule, doctor's appointments, how to nurse the baby, and so on. I mean… you can see why it is common for us women to put fitness and our self-care routines on the back burner. Everyone else comes first; we serve and please all the people in our household and forget about ourselves until one day we walk past a mirror and don’t recognize the person looking back at us.

Think back to the beginning. I don’t know about you, but as a young girl I grew up in a generation where aerobics and cardio were all the vibe for women. I thought that doing long-duration treadmill or cardio kickboxing classes were where I had to be to lose weight. I did this for years. However, I did not feel or see any of the changes I wanted to see in my body until I got serious about lifting weights.

It was not until I incorporated strength training into my life that I started to not just see changes, but also feel the changes. I felt strong and powerful as I did my everyday chores like groceries, laundry, and taking out the trash. Everything became a lot easier for me.

My daily endurance even improved, I was less tired, and I did not feel as exhausted as I used to. And whether you believe it or not, this was after I had my two children, who were already five and three years old. I was nearing forty! But enjoying, like never before, the way my body looked and the strength it gained. My favorite aspect of lifting is the environment I have immersed myself into. I now lift with other moms and women whom I consider my sisters. We train hard together, bring our kids to the training facility, and enjoy post-workout coffee dates. We are serious in competition and often train as a team against other gyms. Not to brag or anything, but we kick some serious butt. There is something about being moms that activates in our brains and bodies when it comes to training and competitions. We just do it better – we know how to commit, how to manage our time in training, and how to listen to our bodies and movements by addressing weak areas.


How Your Kids Can Benefit from Your Exercise Routine

In my case, having a family was tough to juggle at first. I had a new little baby. I was up all hours of the night, learning how to feed, protect, and nourish her. It was tough! Then I had another one. I now understand the saying, “The toughest hood is motherhood.”

But as I developed my routine, it became a piece of cake. I got up at 5 am, made it to the gym, lifted my weights, and then I was home making breakfast and getting the kids ready for school by 8:00 am. Sometimes I could even get in a 2nd session with the kids. They watched and cheered for me as I was going for some very heavy lifts; they were my best supporters.

One day, my tiny daughter, who was five at the time, stepped onto the lifting platform. No one stopped her. The entire gym got quiet and just watched, anticipating what she was going to do. She looked at the bar, gripped it with a “clean grip” with precise form, lifted up the training bar (less than 10 pounds) in a full clean, and jerked it overhead like a pro! We all saw this little 50-pound girl lifting this bar with perfect technique and form. Everyone cheered and clapped, a few gym members even commented that she executed better than they could. She then started training in the “kids” sector of Olympic weightlifting with my coach. I had no idea she was picking up visual cues from being in the gym with me for so long! She was terrific; it later translated to her becoming team captain on her softball and basketball teams. My son also learned lifting techniques when he was only seven and now plays football, basketball, and baseball.

Now that I have acquired multiple degrees in kinesiology (the study of the human body), I know that lifting weights can have numerous benefits for kids’ physical and mental well-being. Weightlifting builds strength, increases bone density, boosts metabolism, and improves overall body composition. All these benefits are something I learned about a little later in life. But my hope is that women can take this information and use it to create the same amazing experiences that I have witnessed as a mom who lifts.

Many studies(1) also show that lifting weights provides a sense of empowerment and confidence, helping women navigate motherhood's challenges with grace, resilience, and vigor. By balancing family responsibilities and fitness goals, women can experience the transformative power of lifting heavy weights and prioritizing their health without neglecting motherhood.


The Benefits of Lifting Heavy Weights for Women

Improves Bone Health

As women, it is important to think about our bone health. Studies have shown that weightlifting can significantly increase bone mineral density, reducing the risk of fractures and improving overall physical strength.

Additionally, women have a smaller bone structure than men and an increased risk of osteoporosis. Lifting weights will mitigate the risk of losing precious bone; lifting heavy weights promotes muscle growth and strengthens bones. This is particularly beneficial for older women who are at higher risk of osteoporosis and muscle loss. If we become weaker as we age, the chances of suffering from a fall increase greatly. Studies(2) show that these falls can lead to hip fractures and death. Let’s prevent that! Strength training can help you support your own skeletal structures, move well, stay pain-free, and keep your feet under you.


Promotes a Healthy Body Composition

You're going to love this one; who doesn’t want enhanced metabolism and weight management?! Weightlifting can help increase muscle mass, which in turn boosts metabolism and helps with weight management. This is especially important for women as they tend to have a slower metabolism compared to men.

Lifting heavy helps improve overall body composition by increasing muscle mass and reducing body fat, leading to a healthier and more toned physique(3). This is what happened to me! I am living proof. I started my weightlifting journey later in life and it still created a huge difference in my body composition.

Lifting heavy can help women increase their metabolism and burn calories even after their workout. This is known as “EPOC”(4), or Excess Post-exercise Oxygen Consumption, commonly known as “the afterburn effect”. In this process, your body is trying to get back to homeostasis after you completed a high-intensity workout and, in doing so, elicits calorie burn. This can be especially beneficial for those looking to manage their weight or lose excess body fat.

When you lift heavy weights and challenge your muscle this increases muscle mass, which in turn boosts your metabolism and helps burn calories even while you are at rest. Lifting weights regularly can assist in weight management as it builds lean muscle, contributes to a toned physique, and improves self-confidence and body image.


Boost Mental Health

Additionally, weightlifting has been shown to enhance cognitive function and improve mental well-being, making it a great way for women to improve not only their physical health but also their mental and emotional well-being(3).


Enhanced Cardiovascular Health

Contrary to popular belief, when you incorporate heavy lifting into your routine, it offers cardiovascular benefits too. Intense weightlifting sessions elevate heart rate and improve cardiovascular endurance, reducing the risk of heart disease and other cardiovascular conditions(5).


Lifting Heavy Weights as a Transformative Journey for Older Moms

Lifting weights has a positive impact on mental and emotional resilience. It can help reduce stress levels, improve mood, and boost overall mental well-being(6). Lifting a heavy weight provides a sense of accomplishment and empowerment, which can be especially transformative for older moms looking to regain their strength and confidence.

Lifting heavy challenges older moms to push their limits and overcome mental barriers, fostering mental resilience and a sense of accomplishment. The process of setting goals, working towards them, achieving new personal records, and weightlifting can boost self-esteem and confidence(6).

We can't forget about what lifting does for stress relief and improved sleep. Regular weightlifting sessions can enhance the quality of sleep, helping moms feel more refreshed and energized to tackle their daily responsibilities.

By prioritizing their own health and fitness, moms who engage in weightlifting set a positive example for their children(7). Demonstrating the importance of self-care and physical strength can inspire kids to adopt healthy habits and embrace an active lifestyle.


Balancing Family, Fitness, and Heavy Weights

Time management and prioritization are key for us older moms who like to train hard and lift heavy. Moms show their dedication and determination by finding a balance between family responsibilities, fitness goals, and the demands of heavy weights. This can serve as a valuable lesson for their children on the importance of setting goals, staying committed, and finding ways to incorporate physical activity into a busy schedule. Older moms can integrate weightlifting into their daily routines by planning their workouts and allocating dedicated time for exercise.


Battling Cultural & Societal Norms

Cultural and societal norms and expectations can also influence the extent of a mom's impact on her children's fitness level. In some cultures, moms may be more central in shaping family behaviors, including physical activity choices.

There are many cultural norms that can hinder moms’ workout experiences, especially one that involves lifting heavy weights. These norms can result in comments that discourage or undermine a pursuit of such exercises. For example, “You're going to get hurt lifting those heavy weights,” or “You’re a girl, you don’t need to lift heavy!” or the dreaded “If you lift weights, you're going to look like a man!” An unfortunate and pervasive misconception.

There are traditional gender roles in some cultures where women are expected to prioritize their domestic responsibilities and take care of their families at the expense of taking care of themselves. This can lead to a lack of support which create additional challenges in finding time and motivation for exercise. Not to mention the stigma around self-care where some cultures will view self-care activities, including exercise, as selfish or indulgent. This can make it difficult for moms to prioritize their well-being and fitness.

We can't forget about childcare options. There are often limited or no childcare options available, making it difficult to find the time to exercise. And we are all too familiar with the time constraints that moms often battle. Mothers have multiple responsibilities, such as taking care of the children, managing household chores, and working outside of the home. These time constraints make it challenging for them to find time and energy to exercise.

One reason I love to write and create blogs like this is to encourage and empower women to engage in activities that make them feel strong and confident. This is essential in life. It's important to promote a positive and inclusive fitness environment that celebrates diversity and recognizes that women can benefit from all forms of exercise, including weightlifting. By supporting and respecting women's choices we can help each other overcome these cultural barriers and societal norms and prioritize each other's physical well-being.


Moms’ Influence on Children’s Fitness

We know that moms have a strong influence on their children's choices, but it's important to recognize that the influence of other family members and external factors should not be overlooked. A supportive and health-conscious family environment can have a collective impact on children's fitness and overall well-being.

Because ultimately it is the mothers who are the primary role model for their children when it comes to fitness. Yes, it's true! A study by Kathryn Hesketh(8) found that moms are the ones who set the pace in fitness for their children, so it is important for moms to be hitting the weights!

From the moment a child is born, their world revolves around their mother. We are their first teacher, their first friend, and their first love. The bond between mother and child is like nothing else in the world. It’s a relationship that shapes the course of a child’s life, impacting everything from their emotional well-being, cognitive abilities, and social skills. Studies are finding that it impacts their physical health and fitness too.

A recent study(8) found a strong correlation between how active moms are and how active their kids are. A mother who is physically active is likely to have a child who is also physically active. If a mom did moderate to intense exercise for one minute, her kid was likely to do 10% more of the same amount of activity. Furthermore, if a is mom sedentary, the more likely her child will be as well.

Of the busy moms in thise study, 53% of them did 30 minutes of moderate to intense physical activity or weightlifting at least once a week(9).This shows that even small improvements in the amount that moms exercise can have big health benefits for both mothers and children. Promoting and encouraging moms to be active can positively affect their children's exercise levels and health in general.

While it's important to acknowledge that every family is unique and the level of influence can vary, research suggests that moms can indeed play a significant role in shaping their family's fitness level through their motivation, support, and positive example.


Tips For Starting Your Weightlifting Journey

1. Educate Yourself!

It's important to gather information and learn about proper weightlifting techniques, form, and safety precautions. This can be done through research, reading books or articles, watching instructional videos, or seeking guidance from a qualified fitness professional.


2. Start With Lighter Weights

This is a no-brainer! Begin by lifting lighter weights to build strength and perfect your form. This allows your muscles, tendons, and ligaments to adapt gradually, reducing the risk of injury.


3. Focus on Proper Form

Prioritize learning and practice correct form for each exercise. This helps in targeting the intended muscles effectively and reduces risk of strain or injury. This is where your trainer or coach comes in; find someone who is qualified and has extensive experience coaching in weight lifting. Look to the SunnyFit® app if finding a coach in person is not within reach; there you will find barbell and dumbbell classes for beginners.


4. Warm Up and Cool Down

Prior to weightlifting, it's crucial to warm up your muscles with dynamic stretches or light cardiovascular exercises. After your workout, cool down with static stretches to help prevent muscle soreness and promote flexibility.


5. Progress Gradually

Gradually increase the weight you lift as your strength improves. This progressive overload principle helps to continually challenge your muscles and promote growth while minimizing the risk of overexertion.


6. Listen to Your Body

Pay attention to any discomfort, pain, or signs of fatigue during your workouts. If something doesn't feel right, it's important to modify or stop the exercise to prevent injury. If you have a good coach and focus on training form and technique, the risk of injury decreases significantly.


7. Seek Professional Guidance

Consider working with a certified personal trainer or strength coach who can provide personalized guidance, ensure proper form, and help you create a safe and effective weightlifting routine. We have some great instruction for FREE on the SunnyFit® app from yours truly and other amazing trainers.


8. Train, Train, and Train Some More!

Remember the phrase, “Practice makes perfect?” It is true; if you have ever trained with me, my favorite phrase is “beautiful reps = beautiful results”. So, treat every rep importantly, even if it’s in your warm-up or very light.


9. Try Different Types of Lifting

Just like music, there are different “genres” of weightlifting. There is bodybuilding, casual gym-goer lifting, Olympic style lifting, powerlifting, and CrossFit. The options are endless! Give it all a shot because you never know what you will fall in love with. Remember, your fitness journey should be fun and enthralling.


10. Enter a Competition or Meet

Ask your coach or trainer about the next CrossFit competition, weightlifting meet, or powerlifting meet; this is where women can shine and really break into our true inner weight lifter! I can’t put this in words, but I can tell you it is worth the experience once you feel comfortable with your lifts. Competitions will teach you a lot about yourself, how you overcome, where your comfort zone is, and what you need to work on in your training. It is a great opportunity for personal growth and achievement.


Get Inspired!

In addition to the steps mentioned above, finding motivation and drawing inspiration from the experiences of women can enhance a woman's weightlifting journey.

Sheina Laws is a busy mom of two boys and holds a high-level career as an industrial and organizational psychologist. She shares that lifting heavy isn't just a workout but a transformative journey for her. “The empowerment I feel in the gym transcends every aspect of my life. The confidence gained from pushing my limits teaches me that failure is not a setback but a stepping stone to success. In both personal and professional arenas, I've learned that embracing challenges and pushing through failures is the key to achieving new personal bests - a lesson I carry from the weight room to the boardroom.”

Jil Johnson started her weightlifting career in her later years. Having held a prestigious and influential rank as Staff Sergeant in the Army, Johnson was eager to establish a sense of community following her departure from her military service. Johnson explains, “Fortunately, I stumbled upon an incredible group of inspiring and motivating women who have become an integral part of my life both inside and outside of the gym. Balancing work, school, and a long commute can be exhausting, but I prioritize my workouts to keep my heart and lungs healthy. The weights are always welcoming and ready to challenge me.”


The Final Rep

Weightlifting has the power to transform the lives of mothers, offering physical, mental, and emotional benefits. By incorporating heavy weightlifting into their routines, women can increase strength, improve bone density, boost metabolism, and enhance cardiovascular health. Furthermore, weightlifting can serve as a transformative journey, promoting mental resilience, stress relief, and improved sleep. By balancing family, fitness, and heavy weights, older moms can set a positive example for their children and prioritize their own well-being. Embrace the power of weightlifting and unlock a stronger, healthier, and more confident version of yourself.

Prioritizing self-care and fitness not only benefit the individual but also serves as a valuable lesson for the entire family about the importance of balancing responsibilities. Joining fitness communities or partnering with other moms who share similar fitness goals can provide support, encouragement, and accountability. Online platforms like the SunnyFit® app and local fitness centers often offer specialized programs and classes tailored to the needs of older women and moms.


1. Smith, M. M., Sommer, A. J., Starkoff, B. E., & Devor, S. T. (2013). Crossfit-Based High-Intensity Power Training Improves Maximal Aerobic Fitness and Body Composition [RETRACTED]. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 27(11), 3159–3172. Accessed 5 Mar 2024.
2. Vaishya, R., & Vaish, A. (2020). Falls in older adults are serious. Indian Journal of Orthopaedics, 54(1), 69–74. Accessed 5 Mar 2024.
3. Kraemer, W. J., Ratamess, N. A., & French, D. N. (2002). Resistance Training for Health and Performance. Current Sports Medicine Reports, 1(3), 165–171.
4. Cleveland Clinic. (2023, December 22). How to calculate EPOC (and why it matters). Cleveland Clinic. Accessed 5 Mar 2024.
5. Publishing, H. H. (n.d.). Give your heart health a lift. Harvard Health. Retrieved March 25, 2020, from Accessed 5 Mar 2024.
6. Trost, S. G., Owen, N., Bauman, A. E., Sallis, J. F., & Brown, W. (2002). Correlates of adults’ participation in physical activity: review and update. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, 34(12), 1996–2001. Accessed 5 Mar 2024.
7. Diethics. (2020, May 21). Do you want to have a physically active child? Be an active mother! – Health, Beauty & Diet Ethics – Accessed 5 Mar 2024.
8. Kathryn R. Hesketh, Laura Goodfellow, Ulf Ekelund, Alison M. Mcminn, Keith M. Godfrey, Hazel M. Inskip, Cyrus Cooper, Nicholas C. Harvey, Esther M.f. Van Sluijs. Activity Levels in Mothers and Their Preschool Children. Pediatrics, March 2014 Accessed 5 Mar 2024.
9. Active Mums Have More Active Children. (n.d.). HFE. Retrieved February 13, 2024, from Accessed 5 Mar 2024.
10. Nelson, M. E., Rejeski, W. J., Blair, S. N., Duncan, P. W., Judge, J. O., King, A. C., Macera, C. A., & Castaneda-Sceppa, C. (2007). Physical Activity and Public Health in Older Adults. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, 39(8), 1435–1445. Accessed 5 Mar 2024.
11. Edwardson, C. L., & Gorely, T. (2010). Parental influences on different types and intensities of physical activity in youth: A systematic review. Psychology of Sport and Exercise, 11(6), 522–535. Accessed 5 Mar 2024.
12. Pugliese, J., & Tinsley, B. (2007). Parental socialization of child and adolescent physical activity: A meta-analysis. Journal of Family Psychology, 21(3), 331–343. Accessed 5 Mar 2024.
13. Jago, R., Sebire, S. J., Lucas, P. J., Turner, K. M., Bentley, G. F., Goodred, J. K., Stewart-Brown, S., & Fox, K. R. (2013). Parental modeling, media equipment and screen-viewing among young children: a cross-sectional study. BMJ Open, 3(4), e002593. Accessed 5 Mar 2024.


Recommended Products

Leave a comment

* indicating required fields

Please note, comments need to be approved before they are published.

1 comment


Wow, what an inspiring story! Balancing family, fitness, and heavy weights as an older mom is no easy task, but you’ve shown that it’s possible. Your determination is truly admirable. Keep up the great work!