Find YOUR Why.
When I first started pursuing strength in the gym years ago, I didn’t have aesthetic goals in mind. I was in school for automotive and swiftly learning that trying to be taken seriously in a male-dominated field when I had to ask for help breaking bolts and lifting tires, was NOT looking promising for me.
It took me at least a month of staring nervously at the door to the weight room from the treadmill I parked myself on each day to get up the nuts to walk in there and pick things up. I had no idea what I was doing in the weight room and I can’t even imagine how awful my ‘program’ at the time was,
…But man was I driven.
I was sick of going on interview after interview and being told that I wasn’t capable of jobs because I was a woman (Yes this really happened, several times!), despite being a straight A student, having rebuilt engines and transmissions and knowing my way around a toolbox. I even went on interviews where I was asked to pick up heavy equipment and carry it around, just to prove I could.
Despite the adversity, I was determined to make it in the field. And to be on a monster truck pit crew someday, but that’s another blog post.
Months of dedicating more time to lifting and a little less to the treadmill, proudly enabled me to turn down offers for assistance at my new job while lifting tires that usually weighed nearly as much as I did, from the ground up to bolt to wheel hubs. I knew I still had a lot more work to do in the strength realm though – especially if I wanted to build monster trucks. (A girl can dream..)
After soaking up every bit of knowledge I could on how to get stronger, I began to realize that when I spent less time self-loathing about where my body fat was and how I could use the treadmill to burn off every calorie I consumed, and more time finding meaning in performance-based goals, treating myself well and eating nutritiously to support my body, my body composition took care of itself, and I felt a heck of a lot better.
When I look back, I think about what’s really driven me to stay consistent with workouts and has kept me going back hungry for more month after month and 5+ years later. Its because my goals are meaningful in the weight room – they’ve had nothing to do with my physical appearance, but rather how my body functions and performs.
Lifting has also yielded me the mental capability to pursue other endeavors and risks that I would have never had the confidence to do otherwise. I mean, it takes a serious deal of mental fortitude to get a under a heavy bar and try to lift it, and there’s nothing more empowering than tearing a heavy deadlift off the floor. That confidence and mental strength inevitably oozes over into life outside the gym. If you can “go hard” in the gym, you can “go hard” at life.
Fast forward to now, after a passionate change of careers and majors, I keep chasing strength and improved fitness so that I can more thoroughly enjoy life – and it’s been my passion to coach other women towards the same. I move my body because it feels good, because muscles are awesome, because it gives me boundless energy and an unmatched physical prowess, NOT because I feel an obligation to look a certain way.
I’ve come to realize that when we are strong in our body and mind, life becomes limitless.
I now have the courage to pursue any physical activity I want – hiking, motocross, snowboarding, off-roading. Things that bring me intense joy and things that would not only scare the shit out of me, but knock me on my ass if I didn’t have a solid base of body control, strength and mental grit.
I am no longer solely motivated by having a certain body type or “being good at lifting weights”. I want to be physically equipped to handle any adventure life can offer. I don’t want to passively and comfortably float through life, avoiding risks, slaving away to fear and never challenging myself. I never (again) want to be that girl constantly trying to “fix” her body.
…Because women do not need fixing. At least not in the way that fashion and fitness magazines have told use we do.
Women need to be encouraged to think about fitness in terms other than their weight or pants size.
Working out to make my body smaller and fit into a certain size was never sustainable motivation (nor has it been for any woman I’ve coached). It sucked. Fighting my body was exhausting. It wasn’t fruitful and I was suffocating my potential and self-esteem. The motivation was there, sure, but it was fleeting and it wasn’t coming from a healthy place.
Purposefully pursuing strength so that I could be more independent and capable in my life outside of the gym, on the other hand..THAT was real motivation. That’s what’s kept me going year after year.
Too many women miss out on this. They miss out on the gratifying sensation of feeling strong as hell and challenging their bodies in ways that are meaningful, positive and invaluable..and a strength that permeates into other areas of their lives and allows them to reach their utmost potential.
But it’s not our fault. We’ve been conditioned that we are defined by our physicality. That being strong, powerful and self-assured are shameful while constantly discrediting, judging and speaking negatively about ourselves and our bodies is normal. We believe this to the point where we purposely weaken ourselves by dieting, using exercise as a punishment and focusing our energy on whether our thighs are touching instead of going out into the world, kicking ass and achieving greater purposes.
Unfortunately, society still views “working out” as something miserable you’re obligated to do because you are unhappy with your waist size.
I’m on a mission to change that.
Let’s use exercise as a vehicle to get us somewhere else – to create the strength and capacity to live more bold, abundant lives and be better human beings.
If I had never explored my strength, I’d probably be sitting at a miserable job right now because I didn’t have the guts to open my own business and create the life I desired. I’d never know the rush of completing a course in an off-road competition in front of thousands of spectators. I wouldn’t have the self-worth to stand up for myself when people treated me less than I deserved, and I’d miss out on views like this:
If you are a woman reading this, I encourage you to find your WHY. Your why is your driving force towards relentlessly turning your body into a well-oiled machine and adopting a different perspective of your body and it’s potential. Your why is what’s going to allow you to continue taking exceptional care of yourself no matter what life throws at you.
Your why is deeper and more gratifying than trying to “fix” your body and match it to fictional, airbrushed standards.
It’s different for everyone. Maybe you want to get strong to support your body through pregnancy, or so you can be a better runner or enter a Spartan Race, be more self-sufficient as you age, or so you don’t throw your back out gardening or because you want to exude an intoxicating confidence.
No matter what your reason, I know first hand how intimidating it can to step into the weight room for the first time or start lifting as well as how overwhelming sifting through all the information out there can be. I only wish I had a coach or someone to show me the ropes and save me on all the progress I missed out on early on. If you need guidance geared for a woman, by a women, please don’t hesitate to reach out >> Erika@HurstStrength.com
My body carries and grounds me and I want to enjoy living in it and take care of it as it takes care of me. Let the ability to enjoy a full life and all the adventure it has to offer drive you to take exceptional care of yourself too and keep your body in exceptional condition inside and out.