I think most women are way stronger than they give themselves credit for.
I think we are taught from a very young age, intentionally or unintentionally, to be very humble, to be almost shy or even ashamed of our strength and abilities. We are almost taught to keep our strength to ourselves.
Far too often I hear females brush off compliments and downplay their abilities (sometimes they even completely deny them).
But we need to embrace our strength – we need to acknowledge our awesomeness!
It’s funny, but I really started thinking about all of this when one of my male clients said to me, “You are freaking awesome!” after we were discussing some sort of feat of strength.
Instead of blushing and denying it, I said, “I know, right!?!” (I was partially joking, but at the same time, I was PROUD of what I had accomplished).
And guess what? He didn’t roll his eyes or think I was cocky or conceited. He actually laughed and start to say to the client next to him, “Notice how she didn’t….”
I then interrupted him and said, “Didn’t deny it?”
He laughed again and said, “Yea!”
And I said, “Well I’m proud!”
And he said, “You should be!”
YOU SHOULD BE!
Ok…I’m not suggesting that we walk around saying, “I know!” when someone gives us a compliment. I’m just saying that we should start believing in ourselves and in our abilities.
We should start being proud of our STRENGTH.
Because, guess what!?! IT IS OK TO BE PROUD AND STRONG!
And right now you may be thinking, “Well I’m strong and I don’t have to go around bragging about it to be proud of it.”
Uhm well for one, I’m not suggesting your brag. And two, are you really proud of it if you can’t accept a compliment?
Are you really proud if you have to downplay your abilities?
Are you really proud if you are apologizing and excusing your strength?
Personally, I don’t think so.
Because how much can you truly BELIEVE in yourself if you keep telling yourself and other people you really aren’t that wonderful and strong?
We do start to believe what we tell ourselves and others. Our minds do hear the words coming out of our mouths. And our mind can be tricked into believing the lies….
I’ve seen a change over the years as I’ve gone from excusing and downplaying my strength, my abilities, to embracing them and maybe even, in some people’s eyes, bragging about them.
Heck, if saying “Yes. I am indeed strong” is bragging….GUILTY AS CHARGED….And very proud of it.
My point is that when I stopped denying and downplaying, I started to become even stronger because my mind wasn’t ever hearing that I wasn’t strong enough.
So take a second right now and think about it.
Are you truly proud of your strength?
How often do you recognize and appreciate your abilities when someone gives you a compliment? Or do you generally downplay what you’ve accomplished?
P.S. This post is dedicated to all of you wonderful women that inspire me every day with your strength inside and out of the gym!
So I think I’ve been going through a little bit of a working out/healthy living identity crisis the last few months.
Actually I know I have. And I’m sorry if this post is ramble-y, but I felt I just needed to talk…er….write…through my existential crisis.
I’m not really sure what to do with myself. I don’t have anything specific that I really really want to train for right now.
I had thought about doing another kettlebell competition, but honestly, I don’t have a passion for it.
I just don’t enjoy the training process.
With working out, I don’t want to spend time doing something that I don’t enjoy….just so I can compete. I like to LOVE what I do.
So I’ve been racking my brain with what to do NEXT.
Recently, I’ve been experimenting and lifting heavy, which has been fun, but I don’t like not having direction.
So I’ve been trying to list out what I love…what inspires me…what drives me…what fascinates me and seems like a challenge.
It’s funny, but my list doesn’t keep going back to a sport or competition…
It keeps going back to the words…STRENGTH…EMPOWERMENT…
They have become my obsession.
But you can find strength and empowerment in so many different ways.
I mean…What really is STRENGTH?
We, women, are now told so many different things.
We are told that “strong is the new skinny.”
We are told that real girls lift heavy.
And at the same time we are even told we shouldn’t be strong. That lifting heavy makes us bulky and unfeminine. We are told to do cardio and use Barbie weights.
We have so many conflicting expectations put on us that it is honestly impossible sometimes to know what do to.
There are so many definitions of what being female and strong should mean. But what does it really mean to YOU?
Does it mean lifting a ton of weight and showing the boys how it is done? Does “strong is the new skinny” speak to you?
What does STRENGTH mean?
For the longest time, I defined it by how many matches I could win. Then it was how much I could lift. Then it was whether or not I could complete the Versa Climber, Power Ropes and Kettlebell challenges.
I defined it by my accomplishments. When I proved I could DO something, that made me feel stronger.
But then I just wanted more. Yet…I didn’t have a desire necessarily to go any further with the challenges I had already taken on.
I love powerlifting…And yes would I love to be able to lift more?
Yet I don’t love it enough to want to work my butt off day in and day out to be the best powerlifter I could be.
And I don’t like doing anything half way!
So instead I do it whole-heartedly for a bit, compete, and then move on so that I can experiment and try something new!
And I guess I figured that eventually I’d find something that I’d want to commit to for the long haul. I mean…that is what I’m used to. I played tennis for the first 20 some years of my life!
And on top of that…II see all the “strong” women around me in the fitness field completely and utterly committed to one thing. They are all lifting heavy trying to hit the top numbers they can. And they keep going after it…day in and day out.
But as I’ve struggled this last month to figure out what I want next, I’ve realized that maybe what I’m after is something way less solid than winning a competition or hitting a new PR in lifting.
Maybe what I’m after is TRUE STRENGTH.
Because when I asked myself the same question I asked you above, “What is strength?”, I didn’t answer lifting 300lbs.
I answered, “I want to FEEL stronger.”
What a vague answer…GREAT.
At first I didn’t think it solved anything and it frustrated me even more that I couldn’t even describe strength to myself.
But then I realized that I had.
Strength wasn’t necessarily a lifting PR. It wasn’t running faster or jumping higher or proving I could win a competition.
It was a FEELING.
Strength was something I FELT because I’d overcome something. Because I’d challenged myself with something and had spent time working hard to accomplish it.
True strength to me was confidence.
It was my ability to believe more in myself.
To believe that I could do anything I set my mind to.
To me strength is the ability to put myself outside of my comfort zone and accomplish something beyond what I originally believed possible.
I’ve been so worried for the longest time about being the best at something…About lifting more or being physically stronger in one specific way.
But I realize that it wasn’t being physically stronger that really made me feel strong. It was the empowerment I felt when I could DO something.
When I could lift that weight I wasn’t necessarily supposed to be able to lift. When I could do something that I couldn’t do before.
So while I LOVE lifting heavy, strength isn’t measured by how much you lift.
Strength is measured by how much you challenge yourself and push yourself to do something outside your comfort zone.
To me strength has meant so many different things in terms of the physical, but only one thing when it comes to the mental.
Strength is how much you believe in yourself, not the actual acts that you do.
Strength can be gotten through so many different workout avenues…you just have to push yourself to go beyond what you thought possible.
So now I ask you one more time, “What does strength mean to you?”
So I got this great comment from Steph the other day:
hi, i love this blog and find such great feelings of accomplishment from lifting heavy and seeing myself grow stronger, and enjoy reading your insight.
In the next few weeks can you post something about the BENEFITS of being a woman? I feel like in the last few posts you have (understandably) been ranting about the struggle to be taken seriously as a strong and knowledgeable woman. but I think it has taken on a slant of “trying to be one of the boys” and trying to prove yourself as not just some girl. while i understand your frustration at the Ikea Girl and the frustration of seeing some women taking on the role of helpless weakling, I feel like in some areas you are thinking as yourself as having to catch up to your male counterparts- as if maleness were the norm, and being a girl is “other”
i am very interested on your thoughts on this, as i have had similar struggles as a bike mechanic- customers looking over my head to have “one of the guys” look at their bike, or asking one of my co-workers the exact same question to double check my answer… this left me feeling inferior and caused me to be frustrated with my femaleness, constantly falling short of my attempt to be a guy. It took some work to see that I had so many strengths that my co-workers did not that I think customers appreciated – such as taking the time to explain the problems with their bike, etc. I am still struggling with this- especially as i have become more interested in body building. I get so mad at myself that my boyfriend- (who does not work out) can still lift heavier things and beats me everyday on out bike ride to work
would love to hear what you think!!
And her comment got me to thinking because my intention was never to sound like I wanted to be “one of the guys.”
The intention of my last couple of posts is to show that I’m proud to be a female and that a female can be STRONG and still be FEMININE. Strength IS feminine.
I’m frustrated because people still define things like strength, competitiveness and command as MASCULINE qualities.
Which they aren’t.
I’m a woman of strength, power, competitiveness. I’m not afraid to command a room. I’m not timid. But I consider myself to be feminine. I’m not frustrated by my femaleness.
I’m frustrated by others’ view of femaleness.
But the only way to change that is to continue to be strong and spread the word.
To embrace all of the qualities that society deems to be “masculine” as feminine qualities. To be a powerlifting, dress wearing, bad at putting on makeup female. To help other women find strength in the weight room and empowerment through working out.
To embrace who I am and help others do the same.
I try to see the situations I’ve encountered over the last week as opportunities for change – not as blows to myself as a woman. I share the stories to make others aware and to hopefully lead to some change!
So Steph, be proud of your strength. Be proud of your knowledge. They define YOUR femaleness! 🙂
P.S. I also get mad when guys who workout less and are “less fit” than me can lift more than me. I also get frustrated when girls who are taller can naturally lift more than me. AKA I just hate in general when anyone can lift more than me!
Sometimes it is hard for me to want to do things that I know I’m bad at.
I don’t like failing.
But if I don’t make myself vulnerable to failure, if I don’t attempt the things I’m bad at, I will never grow stronger.
It sucks, but it is the hard truth.
And I want to be strong. AND you are only as strong as your weakest point.
So I work on my weak points. Sometimes I want to cry or puke. Sometimes I just want to give up.
But every time I push through, I get stronger.
Not only do I get stronger physically, but I also get stronger mentally. I become more empowered every time I make myself vulnerable and overcome an obstacle.
I actually think sometimes we focus too much on the physical obstacle without realizing how much pushing ourselves to do something will make us grow and become empowered as a person.
And honestly, isn’t growing stronger as a person really the most important part? I mean who really cares if you lift 45lbs or 300lbs?
The point is to OVERCOME something CHALLENGING to you. The numbers don’t matter. The exercise doesn’t matter.
All the matters is that you take on the challenge and make yourself vulnerable.
That in and of itself is success.
And sometimes that success is very hard-won and comes about in a form in which you didn’t necessarily intend. But that success is strength.
You made yourself vulnerable.
You took the risk.
You got stronger.