Confidence

Confidence

Confidence is basically a muscle.

If you know anything about muscles, the more you use them and provide them with the fuel they need, the bigger they grow and the stronger they get.

For many women, confidence seems like this intangible object that can never fully be grasped. It feels like something that is felt only as it slips between our fingers and is gone before we realize it was even present. It feels like no matter how hard we try, we can never seem to get a good grasp on it.

The reason we feel this way is largely due to the way we view confidence. We think confidence is something that is given to us, won, or innate, rather than something that requires diligent practice and cultivation. Take it from someone who spent years confusing the words “cultivate” and “win”.

Instead of taking responsibility to cultivate confidence, I spent a large portion of my life chasing success or perfection. I placed my self-worth and confidence level on my accomplishments- getting A’s on my exams, winning championships in sports, earning medals in gymnastics meets, etc. This chase for perfection was an unhealthy cycle of myself trying to prove that I was worthy. A constant chase for confidence.

Every time I succeeded in something, I used it as fuel for my confidence level. The thing is, the confidence I would feel after these successes was not really confidence. It was some phony, fragile version of confidence that I used as a foundation for my self-worth. I didn’t always get the A, win the game, or receive an award. And, in fact, when I lost, it hurt, bad. Instead of my confidence taking a small hit, it was shattered. Of course it was. It wasn’t really confidence, it was a weak, fragile phony.

True confidence can withstand and will even appreciate failure. In fact, true confidence thrives and requires failures, using them as learning experiences to become more resilient. It has taken me years to figure this out.

What confidence really is, is a skill. It is energy that we create for ourselves by purposefully and continuously pushing the limits of comfort zones. Each time we do something vulnerable or outside our comfort zones with no expectations or self-worth strings attached, we are essentially flexing our confidence muscles.

The best part about true confidence?

It gets stronger regardless of the outcome! You either succeed or you learn. WIN-WIN.

The hardest part about true confidence?

Being uncomfortable. Confidence is not built in your comfort zone. Doing things that are uncomfortable or vulnerable is a non-negotiable when it comes to increasing your confidence level.

You don’t win confidence (believe me, I tried for years, unsuccessfully). The uncomfortable or vulnerable thing that you wish you had more confidence for is the EXACT thing you need to do in order to cultivate confidence!

30Confidence, like muscles, will not just show up. You have to earn it. You must put the effort forth to do the work and cultivate the shit out of it, for months. You have to trust that the work you are doing is worth it before the results will ever show up. And most importantly, it is a continuous process. If you stop working on it, your confidence muscle will atrophy. You must always be challenging yourself. Celebrate your wins, assess the learning experiences, and then move forward. On to the next challenge.

So whatever it is that you have been wanting to try or do, get to it! If you have been wanting to start weight lifting but feel intimidated and don’t have the confidence yet, I urge you to just pick one exercise with weights and start, ASAP. Stop waiting for a burst of confidence to provide you with the comfort you think you need. It will never come to you, you must create it.

Confidence, like muscles, is built, intentionally, purposefuly, and with continued perseverance.

How I Rocked My 2017 Resolution

How I Rocked My 2017 Resolution

With the New Year upon us, it is not uncommon to feel compelled to make some changes.

I get it. A new year means a new opportunity for reflection, introspection, and the chance to become better versions of ourselves. While regular reflection throughout the year is optimal, a new year brings an opportunity for performing this skill at a greater magnitude. I love this time of year for that reason!

When making resolutions and setting goals, we often get caught up in the results, the ultimate end-goal. We get so focused that we forget the steps it takes to get there. We become consumed by the results, ignoring the small wins, like simply just taking action. This is one of the reasons many people fail to reach their goals.

Once the motivation of chasing the goal or results runs out, most people give up. We completely forget to celebrate small wins and taking action, unless that has directly led to the results we want.

When 2017 rolled around, I wanted to tackle this issue, so I tried something different with my goal-setting. Instead of falling for the typical resolutions surrounding weight loss, I dug a little deeper. I reflected on what change could have the greatest impact on my life and what goal would help hold me accountable, even when I’m wasn’t motivated. This was going to be the key for sticking with it.

At the time, I was at the tail end of physical therapy school. Thanks to the my erratic school schedule, sleepless nights, and countless other factors that physical therapy school entails, I was not consistent with my training. And it was showing up in my overall health. I wasn’t myself. I wasn’t sleeping well. I wasn’t feeling confident. I had low energy. But I was ready to get my life back.

HOWEVER instead of jumping to the conclusion that losing weight would take care of it, I took an entirely different route. I reflected on how I was feeling vs. how I wanted to feel. I realized that most of my issues would resolve or improve with exercise. I was training at the time, just not consistently and not enough. So I made a goal of consistency, and it was the best thing I could have done for myself. It has even become my most recommended theme for goal-setting.

The goal: “I will get 3 training sessions in per week, for the next 3 months.”

Why consistency?

1.) Because consistency was my biggest weakness when it came to training.

When setting goals, it’s important to choose the factor that will give you the best ROI (Return On Investment) for your time and effort. Upon reflection, I realized my biggest issue that would provide the best ROI was consistency.

For most people, consistency is one of the biggest barriers for seeing results. When we’re first starting out with exercise, just about anything will work. As long as you’re consistent and you give it enough time.

At this time last year, I was sometimes making it to the gym 4 times/week and some weeks not at all.

I knew this lack of consistency was the root problem. You just can’t expect to reap the benefits of training without actually training consistently. 

As I mentioned, anything will work at first. IF we are consistent AND give it enough time. Both of those factors are important. You must be CONSISTENT and PATIENT. This is why my initial goal was for 3 months. Short enough that it wasn’t a marathon, but long enough to actually see and feel the benefits of training.

2.) Because I was tired of feeling like my body needed to be changed.

I was tired of thinking my body was flawed. I was tired of spending energy picking apart things on my body that I hated. I was tired of telling myself I would be happier if I could just lose the weight.  I was tired of using training as a tool to change things I didn’t like about myself. It made me resent training. It wasn’t productive thinking, and it wasn’t helping me achieve anything.

I had been at war with my body for 24+ years, and it had worn me out. I had enough

I hoped that by making a goal based on consistency and taking the focus off my body would help relieve me of the pressure I felt to look a particular way. I was ready to train for something other than trying to change how my body looks. I decided that 2017 was the year that I was going to train to change how I felt. I wanted to feel strong, have more confidence, improve my mood, and get my energy back. I made a pact to reclaim all the energy I usually spent trying to morph myself into some idea of a perfect body that I thought existed and put it into something productive.

THE RESULTS WERE MAGICAL.

For the first time ever, I stuck to my goal the entire year! Training for consistency meant getting my training sessions in no matter what. This forced me to plan more and get creative at times. I did sessions on the beach during vacation, on the deck of our rental home, in the kitchen at my parent’s lakehouse, in the middle of my living room, and even outside or at the dog park. It didn’t matter where I was or what equipment I had access to, I just made sure to get something in at least 3 times every single week. 

I began the process of actually mending my relationship with my body. Instead of resenting it, I made peace with it. I stopped comparing it to everyone else’s. I wore what I wanted, without regard to how my body looked. 

For the first time in 25 years, I actually appreciated the body I had.

It was magical, unexpected, and refreshing.

I learned how to celebrate what my body could DO instead of what it LOOKS LIKE. I got stronger. I gained confidence. I did things I never thought were possible, and it felt AMAZING:

I deadlifted 285 lbs!

I did a weighted pull-up!

I did a Turkish Getup with a 70# kettlebell!

Finally, as the year progressed and I kept meeting my goals for consistency, my body started changing. I was putting on muscle and dropping fat. I was no longer putting my energy and focus into this, it was just a side effect of consistency. I actually loved seeing my muscles show up. In fact, I loved it so much that I started focusing my training more towards building muscle. And it was fun! I even dabbled in some BFR (blood flow restriction training)- something completely outside my original comfort zone.

At the start of last year (bottom right photo on both), I weighed 145 lbs. Currently (top left photo on both), I weigh 132 lbs. I did not change my eating habits (I already had been eating pretty healthy). I drank wine most nights of the week. I didn’t count calories. I didn’t weigh myself consistently (try hardly ever actually because I didn’t care and it wasn’t my goal). I just trained consistently and gave my body a break. I stopped picking apart my body. I used my newfound energy to start helping people. I even started this blog and online business! 

So as you are goal-setting or creating resolutions for 2018, consider approaching it from a new angle. Dig deep and think about what you really want to improve in your life. New Year’s resolutions don’t need to be centered around changing your body, getting a 6-pack, or getting fit. 

Also, consider including a goal centered around consistency. Whether you want better health, to drop some weight, to get strong, to improve your confidence, or any other benefit that occurs from training, you must be consistent. You will not reach any goal without consistency. Getting into the gym, cooking your meals at home consistently, performing an act of self-care every single day, or anything between will all require some degree of putting in effort regularly. 

So this year, think about making consistency your goal, your focus. And watch the magic happen. 

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

5 Life Lessons from Lifting

5 Life Lessons from Lifting

I began my strength training journey in high school around 9 years ago. In the past 9 years, I have changed, grown, and learned more than ever, both inside and outside of the gym.

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.

2. The magic happens outside your comfort zone.

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.

You don’t get stronger by lifting the weight that’s easy in the same way that you don’t improve any other aspects of your life without change and challenge. You grow by doing the uncomfortable. And you grow even more when you embrace the uncomfortable instead of fight it.

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.

>