Last weekend, I had the distinct pleasure of being asked to give a small seminar on all things women and strength (and a mini squat workshop) to a group of really fantastic ladies at Mayhem Fitness. I had two hours to cover whatever I wanted and felt was important, including some hands-on coaching time. I spent a loooong time trying to think about what points I wanted to drive home, what things I felt were absolutely critical to learning about the physiology and psychology of lifting and strength, and what I wanted to say to a group of relatively new (and some brand new!) trainees. I’m rather verbose (duh) and could talk about women and strength all day long so this was challenging, to say the least. I tried to think about what I wish someone would have said to me when i was first starting out.
So what was the one thing that I wish someone had told me?
Strength is a choice.
It is a choice that you make every single day. No one puts weight on the bar for you, no one can get focused for you, and no one does the work for you. You have to choose, every single day, to go down that path.
And as you make that choice day in and day out, something sort of awesome begins to happen. All of a sudden, you become accountable. You learn what you’re made of and often times, it is surprising and a little scary. The sense of agency that comes from moving hundreds of pounds is transformative and violent and downright alarming. Coming to the realization that you are 100% in control of your own stuff and that you have more fortitude than you thought is far more panic inducing than missing a lift or going a little overboard on some cookies.
You are presented with evidence that you can do hard things - and if you just did that hard thing that you thought you couldn’t do at the gym, then you can do that hard thing in life. Fear of success becomes more crippling than the fear of failure - because failure is just a learning opportunity. Succeeding means you raise the bar, both figuratively and literally. People may have higher expectations of you and more importantly, you have higher expectations of yourself. Settling stops becoming an option. Choosing to embrace that can be intimidating, but the choice to embrace that reality and march forward is just that - a choice.
Do we always make that choice? No.
Do you sometimes sob in your car after you miss a really important lift? Yes.
Are there days where you just can’t get it together? Absolutely.
Having to make that choice can be tough, but the wonderful thing about choices is that you get to make them again and again.
And you can always choose strength.