The journey has been about so much more than pursuing a “bikini-ready” body. It has taught me about myself and challenged me in ways I never realized. As I have tapped into the capacity of my physical strength and what my body is capable of, I have also unknowingly tapped into hidden powers of mental fortitude and grit. I can without-a-doubt thank lifting for uncovering this world of self-love, determination, and endless pursuit of improvement.
As you can deduce, these lessons and skills apply far beyond the gym.
The way we handle situations, approach challenges, and embrace growth are paralleled both inside and outside of the gym.
At first, this was problematic for me. I hated change. I preferred to live cozily in my little box. I RARELY attempted anything new, mostly due to fear and insecurity. In the gym, this looked like performing the same routine every week, including the exact same elliptical or treadmill, followed by the same order of exercise machines (if this sounds familiar, you’re not alone. We are creatures of habit; it happens. Until you decide to change it!). Outside of the gym, this looked like never trying anything new and anxiety attacks at the first hint of change.
See how much our approach to training mimics the discipline, strategies, and overall approach in other areas of our lives? How you perform in the gym is a good indicator of your performance elsewhere in your life. Whether you like it or not. This is great news, however, because you can use this to your advantage.
Once you start trying new things, you will gain courage and confidence that will spill over into all other areas of your life! Now THAT is amazing.
Fast forward to 9 years later, after several bouts of new experiences by being forced to put myself far beyond my comfort zone (thanks to falling in love with learning about exercise and human movement and the pursuit of my DPT). I now regularly experience uncomfortableness by putting myself in new situations and embracing the unknown. From trying new things at the gym to creating this blog and learning a whole new side of vulnerability, I embrace them all. (Notice I said embrace. Still scared sh*tless, but now I embrace those scared sh*tless feelings…Most of the time).
Lifting has helped me overcome obstacles in my life and taught me many important life lessons. Much of my growth I owe to the iron in the gym. While it is true that I train so I can live a long healthy life and do the things I want to years down the road, there is much more to it.
Below are 5 of the biggest life lessons I have learned from strength training. 5 big reasons I will always continue to strength train. Because it’s about so much more than a six-pack and booty gains.
1. Consistency trumps everything.
Nothing else matters unless you are consistent. Without consistency, you will continuously be starting from square 1. Over and over and over again. While that is still being consistent, technically, it is not productively consistent. You must be consistent and relentless in the pursuit of your goals, no matter what they are. You need to be gritty.
In the end, the successful people aren’t necessarily the ones with the most talent or some magical key for success. They just consistently showed up, persisting through every obstacle. There will be times when the initial excitement of a new goal or pursuit will wear off. Success happens when you continue to show up regardless of your level of motivation.
In training, it is understood that the body adapts to the specific loads placed upon it. This means that if you continually lift the same weight at the same intensity, your body will reach a plateau in strength. You must continually progress your training to get adaptations required to reach your goal.
Outside the gym, life works in a similar way. If you continually do the same things, you cannot expect any changes or growth.
Yes, it can be scary, but the best part about comfort zones is that the more you push the limits, the bigger they grow. Each time you try something new and embrace the fear and feelings of vulnerability, you gain a new sense of confidence. And by default, your comfort zone will grow. That is the magic.
3. Strength is the answer.
No matter the problem or question, strength will help. Strength carries over to every aspect of life.
Going through a difficult time? Cultivate strength. Want to get your first pull-up? Strength. Want the ability to open your own jars? Get strong. Want to hold on to your independence for life? You guessed it, STRENGTH.
I can’t begin to express how much carry-over strength has in daily life. For example, carrying groceries is much easier thanks to the strength I have built training deadlifts and loaded kettlebell carries. And let’s not forget the mental aptitude built from struggling through a difficult training session. Finishing what you start, regardless of the difficulty of the lift or session.
The stronger you get, the more your confidence will soar. And boom, there grows your comfort zone again. Magical, right? 😉
4. Lifting redefines what it means to be a woman.
Lifting allows a woman to pursue and celebrate what her body is capable of rather than what it looks like. It allows women to use their bodies for something functional rather than as an object to be criticized.
Women, you are allowed to lift heavy sh*t. You can be proud of lifting heavy sh*t and growing muscles in response to that hard work. You can (and probably will) flex those muscles proudly. Because they are a symbol of everything you have been told you “shouldn’t” be.
You are allowed to be strong. And you do not need to be quiet about it. You are allowed to grow muscles and take up more space. You do not need to shrink to any “standards.”
Most importantly, you are allowed to celebrate your accomplishments. You can (and should!) be proud of your hard work. And you can celebrate your accomplishments while still wanting to pursue more!
5. Failing to plan is planning to fail.
If you don’t have some sort of a plan or goals, what are you doing every day? Inside the gym: you aren’t seeing results (because you never defined what those are to you), you have no direction. Outside the gym: you aren’t feeling accomplished, you also have no direction. Everyone needs goals. Without them, how do you make decisions? What are you taking action for? Are you really pursuing anything?
No goals means you can’t fail. I get it. But that also means you can’t succeed either. I would rather pursue success and fail a thousand times than to never pursue anything at all. Because failing means you are doing something. And so long as you are using those failures as learning moments, you aren’t really failing at all. They are just simply stepping stones towards your goals.