Do you listen to podcasts? I’ve had to work hard at being able to say I do, and all the ones I subscribe to are fitness-oriented. But right now, I’m binge-listening to Thick Thighs Save Lives, from episode 1 to date.
Firstly, as a gal who has battled “strong thighs” since maybe before I could walk, how could I not subscribe to that one?! I used to blame – yes, BLAME – my athletic legs on my father putting me on a horse before I could walk. Really, it’s genetic, and I’m going to point to my paternal side because all the women on Mom’s side have longer, leaner legs than I EVER could. I don’t know where these densely muscled legs came from, but I love them.
This is also a find your tribe and love them hard shout-out. There are so many strong women, and a few men, who are my tribe or have been pivotal in my fitness journey over the years. But CVG – Constantly Varied Gear – does community like no one else. They have expertise, candor and a business plan that should be the envy of all. I came for the leggings – they really are the best out there – and am digging in deeper because of their Facebook Group, but this reluctant podcast listener is hooked.
I have an amazing tribe and I’ve been blessed with very talented coaches, but good grief I wish I could go back in time and have had these women and their empowered candor years – YEARS! – ago. I knew 20+ years ago when the first doctor told me even yoga was too dangerous for me that not moving wasn’t going to help me recover from my nerve damage and back injuries, but no one else was giving me movement advice. For YEARS, I’ve plodded along, trying to find someone who didn’t seem to be giving me bad advice in the name of medical expertise. I’m supremely grateful for the gym and coaches who got me back into fitness as a way of life, who eased me into lifting again, but over a year ago, I knew they weren’t the forever answer for me.
I kept hearing buzz words that made sense, but couldn’t quite find the right TRULY functional fitness programming for me. That’s another story for another day, but in the past week, I’ve realized that despite my generally good disposition and my life-long experience in sports/fitness, I’ve never addressed or trained the biggest part of the process – my mind.
All the way back to ice skating, I’ve excused any compliments and brushed off all success with some variation of “yeah, but…”
Let’s avoid the time machine and just look at the one, shining, beautiful, huge gold medal from my first powerlifting meet. Last I knew, I am still a state record holder, and yet, I wave off any and all recognition of my performance that day with “Yeah, but I was the only one in my age/weight class!” True, but the fact that one or two of those records stood for a couple of years means it wasn’t all the good fortune of being the only one in that class that day. And you know what?! Even if that was the ONLY reason I won, it doesn’t diminish my efforts or results.
I think a lot of us, especially as women, were taught – directly or not – that pride is all bad and that humility is all good. There’s a meme one of my friends and I share with each other every time we see it… because it’s so very true. There are countless studies and references that illustrate that certain traits are admired in male leaders/bosses and condemned in women in the same roles. That’s also a topic for another day, but what I do want to address is the power – as in empowered – that comes from success in athletics or anywhere.
When we feel strong – physically, mentally, spiritually, etc. – we carry ourselves differently, but it’s bigger than that. “Yeah, but…” is part of an old regime I no longer want to embrace. It diminishes the compliment someone is trying to give me. It dismisses my own accomplishments. It may discourage someone observing the whole mess, who thought “If she could do it, maybe I could too?” but after I make excuses for why it isn’t a big deal, why would she feel inspired?! We never really know who is watching, who is listening, who is reading.
It’s more than okay to be admired, to be an inspiration. Each and every one of us does more than one thing well enough that we can show someone else how to do it, and we owe it to the world to share our strengths. Everyone can smile, a real smile that lights up her eyes. Sometimes it really is that simple.