I have been noticing a terrible trend in the men and women around me, and it is time to address it. I apologize to my friends who will likely recognize themselves in the following examples—I write only out of love for you all. But you are driving me crazy. These are all real-life examples from friends and clients (male and female!) in this past week alone:
- “A 105 squat isn’t that good, but it’s good for me…”
- “This may not sound like much to the runners out there, but I ran 3 miles in 42 minutes!”
- “I still can’t bench press very much, but it felt so much easier!”
- “I can’t dead lift as much as [some random dude], but that was a personal record!”
- “It’s not a lot, but three days in one week is good for me.”
- “I put on ten pounds of lean mass! I know I’m still not very big, but it’s a lot for me.”
- “I know I’m still fat, but I’ve lost six inches!”
STOP MINIMIZING YOUR SUCCESSES! Your journey is personal, and that makes your progress personal. It’s yours, you earned it. If you accomplish something, don’t downplay it! If it’s awesome for you, it’s awesome. Period.
What I love most about power lifting is that it is ultimately an individual sport. And, to ensure fairness in competition, it is divided into multiple categories. These categories exist for a reason! I can’t bench press anywhere near the amount of weight my training partners put up, but they are men who outweigh me by well over 100 pounds! It’s the same for runners–how could someone who has been running for three weeks possibly be expected to run as fast or as long as someone who has been running for 20 years? We can apply this perspective to any sport or goal–it’s important to keep things in context.
Women have been taught to be humble, to be thin and weak, to be quiet about our accomplishments, to be unimposing and docile. To see so many women breaking past those boundaries to pursue strength, muscle, and endurance is absolutely mind blowing. But it’s not enough to do it—we have to OWN it. You may be new, face challenges, experience setbacks…but you are HERE dammit, and there is no reason not to claim your achievement. If you do something awesome, let yourself have it! No one is going to laugh if your progress isn’t in the same range as theirs. The people who are ahead of you have just been doing it longer or have a different set of circumstances. Men, you aren’t off the hook either—for you guys, it may even be harder because masculine ritual basically requires you to laugh at each other, but suck it up and keep your focus on what you’re doing.
You can own your accomplishments and be humble. In the same way that health and fitness must be a lifestyle, not a short-term endeavor, change is a long-term work in progress. This is why I urge clients to choose goals that don’t focus on weight loss—the weight loss will come, but if that’s your only goal you will eventually tap out your potential. With healthy fitness goals, there is always room to be bigger, stronger, faster, and to have more endurance. You can recognize that you’ve gotten stronger without suggesting that you set the standard for strength.
Powerlifters and Strongmen set a pretty good example, in my opinion, of what it looks like to have tons of pride but still be humble. I have seen 250 lb men who can squat 800lb (and aren’t ashamed to tell you all about it…) get excited about a 120lb girl who can squat 135. It is understood that “awesome” means awesome to you. Surround yourself by true athletes and good trainers who see past what you’re doing to recognize your potential, and learn to recognize this in others.
Also, never underestimate the influence you have on other people! I know two women, one a friend and one a client, who don’t know each other—each has talked to me about how the other has inspired her at different times and in different ways, as they are both at different places in their journeys. Whatever shape you’re in, wherever you are in your goal, remember that there is someone behind you trying to summon the courage to go forward, and sometimes it’s more inspiring to see someone else struggling to “get there” than it is to watch others who make it look easy. Even elite athletes, coaches, and trainers can be inspired by your progress! I am humbled and inspired daily by the progress of my clients and others in my gym. Here are a few examples:
- A client who brings her baby to the gym just to get her fit on! While the rest of us whine about what a pain in the butt it can be just to drive over to the gym, she’s lugging a pack and play in one hand, gym bag in the other, with a baby on one hip!
- A young strength athlete in the gym with a prosthetic leg. Remind me never to make an excuse for giving up.
- A friend who recently overcame self-consciousness and self-doubt, bit the bullet, and is now learning how to lift in her mid-30s.
- A young athlete, one of three 12 year olds on a team of 15-18 year olds (and the smallest girl on the team), who pushed herself through the same rigorous team workout long past when her body began to fail, far beyond when someone else would have given up, to the point of crying. And kept going!
Who inspires you? Who do you inspire? If you keep your accomplishments to yourself, or if you make less of them, you rob others of the inspiration you could be providing. Marianne Williamson said it best:
As we let our light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence actually liberates others.
Speaking of my awesome clients, one brought me cookies yesterday! Big shout out to Candice, who gave me permission to share the recipe:
Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies:
- 1¼ cups old fashioned oats (instant will make the cookies a bit softer, I prefer traditional)
- ½ cup white, almond flour
- ½ tsp ground cinnamon
- ½ tsp baking powder
- ½ cup raw honey
- 1 egg
- ¼ tsp sea salt
- 1 tsp vanilla
- ¼ cup chocolate chips
- 2 tsp butter