Archive for November, 2012

“Stand Fast…”

Posted in Articles on November 29, 2012 by oldcountrystrong

Four brave individuals have decided to stand on the line with those that came before them this week.

If you aren’t moved by the stories of triumph this week I have no idea what motivates you. People finding power, love and belief in themselves through strength. This is our small way of giving back to something that has given to us. Roo has written for the Message twice. She was the first one to say she wanted to draw the line in the sand.

I’m not going to lie it was a bit nerve racking at the time. The night I posted Roo’s original article I sat up late just looking at it. This isn’t something new for me. I’m a night owl and posts go up late. But this one was different. Roo was ready to make her statement but was I ready to let her make it?

How were people gonna respond to what we had to say? Were we gonna lose our jobs posting about what we were gonna post? Did the conviction of our friends that knew what we were gonna speak for help us feel we we’re doing the right thing?

It did. The support of our friends meant everything to us.

Every time I read an article about the things you hear people go through but never expect to have happen to your friends I’m taken back. I’m taken back by peoples honesty and the fact that they will not let what they went through be swept under the table.

Our last writer has been with us since we first wrote for Strong is Beautiful. In fact she was one of the main reasons we decided that a line was needed.

Her name is Julie Liu. And her story is one of the reasons I’m proud I walked onto that line.

– Z

Consider this my own self therapy: to undo my distorted relationship with food, culture, and body image. When Zach and Roo asked me to be a featured writer for “Strong is Beautiful”, I immediately said, “yes” I felt so honored, yet, terrified at the same time. So here it goes.

 I can’t share my story without starting with my parents’ upbringing. Mom grew up in Vietnam and Dad grew up in Laos, both of which lived through different wars as adolescents and young adults. To say my parents and my family grew up poor is an understatement. They lived on very little income with many mouths to feed amongst one another, so being frugal was not just a way of life: it was the only way to survive. When you wake up each day not knowing whether you will live because bombs are firing off in your town, or whether your next meal might be little-to-nothing, it’s no wonder my family decided to flee from their war-torn countries in search of the American Dream.

As a first-generation American born Chinese; I struggled a lot with my own identity. My parents had their ways of raising us in a Chinese household. They demanded that we would never waste and would always finish our food.  At the same time, we were expected to never be overweight; and if you were, expect to be told daily that you are. To be overweight was just unacceptable and I didn’t fall into the mold of the typical skinny Asian girls I was used to seeing. I was never overweight in American standards growing up, but I couldn’t accept my larger-than-average butt and thighs.

I was raised with many contradictions, which led to very distorted body image ideals: from dieting at a young age to making myself sick, which led to Bulimia. I was as young as twelve years old when I first made myself throw up. I would binge eat until I made myself so uncomfortably full, then just stick my finger in my mouth over a toilet, after each meal. This continued on and off until I was about twenty years old. Nevertheless, I was that same girl who would continue to have an obsession about her body image and would do whatever it took to achieve the skinny figure.

Fast forward to April 12, 2010, for my first day at the gym; which, up to that point, I was doing Bikram yoga five to six days a week. The thought of giving myself more rest days in a week was unfathomable, all I knew to do was to workout all the time. I was getting stagnant with my yoga practice, so that’s when I decided I wanted to add Crossfit into the mix. Who knew that the day I walked into the gym would change my life forever. I remember that day as if it were just yesterday, when I asked Zach three different times whether “I’d bulk up”…yes I was that girl. Months passed and I began incorporating paleo style of eating, Crossfit, and full time Bikram classes. It was around June 2010 that I realized my body was the leanest it had ever been, and I enjoyed every bit of what it had become. But then a few months later, I started noticing how my clothes were fitting differently around my shoulders and that my traps were significantly bigger, so I began to panic.

It was a constant battle within myself, out loud to my closest friends, and my sister that I wanted to quit the gym and stick to just yoga, because of how the gym was changing my body–all I wanted was a non-muscular body type.

I recall approximately two years ago having a phone conversation with John Winters, where he was trying to talk me off the ledge about quitting the gym and not being comfortable with how my body was changing. Shortly after that conversation, I received an email from JW on November 9, 2010 where he shared with me his personal battles of weight and body image. His candidness in sharing his own story and struggles really allowed me to open my eyes and accept the woman I was becoming. These words guided me towards a different attitude of what “Strong is Beautiful” was all about.

A few weeks later, the very first installation of “Strong is Beautiful” Week kicked off, and each story that was told spoke to me, and the email from JW (that I turned a corner with) helped gain self acceptance and confidence in who I was becoming–and embracing the strength I had. To be honest, I don’t even know who that girl was, who walked into the gym that day and asked Zach about bulking up, or the one who contemplated quitting the gym altogether because of the fear of gaining muscles from lifting. She is a stranger to me.

Embracing lifting heavy weights in my life has led me towards a healthier relationship with food, my body, and most importantly, who I am within. Whether it is reaching my goals of doing a strict pull up, squatting more than 200 pounds, my first handstand push up, or just purely lasting ten minutes for my long cycle event in Detroit, my life with this gym has pushed me beyond limits I never thought I could ever reach and will continue to.

It was in March of 2012 that I decided to get a tattoo that translates as “Strong and Beautiful” in Laotian text on my left shoulder blade that my dad designed for me. There was no better way for me to exemplify the importance of beauty and strength in women other than having it permanently scribed on my body. I am forever grateful for this community for changing my life and continuing to always support this very important message.

Posted by: Julie

In Closing By: Z

It takes courage to say the things people have said this week. 

It takes Strength.

Strength isn’t in your size. It’s not in your muscles. It’s not in someone telling you that you have to be “lean and Strong” or your not as good as someone else. True Strength comes from a place inside your self. It comes from standing for something you believe in something you know can make a difference.

The pressures of body image on friends, family and children now a days is heavier then any weight anyone will ever lift. It’s force can crush someone worst then any Bell or Bar ever could. But the power of Strength can change a life or even save it, 5 brave writers decided once more this year they had enough. They needed to let others know something that changed their lives for the better.

It’s just a simple line without anyone standing on it. Please do not let others stand alone, have a voice.

Strong is Beautiful.

“Me? Really? Strong?”

Posted in Articles on November 28, 2012 by oldcountrystrong

Today’s writer is a special guest that I met in a special place.

I still remember when I met her, I thought she hated me.

I was in Russia, I had just met the group I’d be training with for a kettlebell sport camp. I had a huge beard and was looking to get a beer. Today’s writer was having a coke and didnt find my small talk charming, this was odd because I’m told I’m extremely charming. Yup she hated me.

It was around this point when I started to feel quite out of place. I of course went to grab the can of chew out of my pocket. Yes, this is the first time I’m openly admitting I use to chew (sorry Ma). I at that point realized I had left my chew back in the States and then was made aware I was shit out of luck trying to find chewing tobacco in Russia. This was gonna be the longest week of my life.

“Oh hun, do you need a cigarette?”

And thats how I’d come to know Juliet Lederle, Coke-Cola and Smokes.

She was nice to me for the most part the rest of the trip and when you get to know Juliet “for the most part” is a huge win. She’s snarky, funny, sarcastic and someone I actually consider a very good friend. She lives in San Francisco and I dont get to see her that often unless its at a lifting competition. But honestly that’s my favorite times to see her.

Juliet is a Beautiful lifter. I mean it’s really something to see. And I’m not the usually golf fan at Kettlebell meets, I’m loud and some may say obnoxious but I can’t help but cheer my ass off when she’s lifting. The time she told me it actually meant a lot to her I finally knew she didnt hate me….

All joking aside Juliet is my friend. I ask her for advice from time to time and she always there to give it. Even if its in her own caring sarcastic way. She gave me a hug this year at Nationals when I told her I quit chewing and said she was proud of me for that. She’s also never judged me, which could be easy sometimes but she never has.

There was one thing I did know about Juliet from the first time I met her when I of course was saying the group should go for drinks our first night in Russia, Coca-Cola and smokes. I knew Juliet had something to say and while she’s unassuming when you meet her she has a inner fire that is unmatched by most of the people I’ve met in my life. And you know what? Its that fire that still makes me happy every single time I get to see her lift.

– Z

When Zach asked me to write this for him, I was all “No fucking way, I’m no athlete, I’m just a vain woman who needs to workout in order to eat and not kill people…”

The truth is, I am an athlete. I am totally addicted to kettlebell sport. I train bells four days a week, I coach oodles of other athletes how to lift bells for competition.  I went to Russia to learn from the best. I compete all over the country, and this October, I earned my Master of Sport in biathlon (one arm jerk and snatch with a 20k bell) making me one of five women in the US to rank MS in biathlon. It is the hardest and most rewarding thing I have ever done, except raise my 13 year old boy.

I was never an athlete when I was young. I spent my early years reading books to get out of my head. I spent my twenties and thirties buried in heroin addiction on the streets of San Francisco. When I was 34, after many fits and starts, I cleaned up my act. It was then I realized that I needed to workout in order to still my overactive mind and calm my rage-really I needed something to take the place of drugs. I started running, slowly, with old ladies passing me by. I persisted until I was able to run 6-9 miles at a time.

I knew I had some damage from my addiction; I had asymptomatic Hepatitis C from needles. When I was 38 I had to go through a year of a debilitating treatment protocol (similar to chemotherapy) for the Hep C. Although running was difficult/impossible during the year, I persisted. I ran, barely, I swam and even took spin classes. I swore when I finished the treatment, I would get in the best shape of my life.

I started out at a crossfit-based gym. I almost threw up in the warm up. I instantly thought “Wow!!! This is made for me!!!” I loved it so much; I started working for them. Turns out I have an aptitude for coaching. I think of it more being a dominatrix without the sex…well, kinda.

Within three years, I quit my corporate job and opened my own gym: Juno fitness in Berkeley. I had vaguely heard about kettlebell sport, but instantly dismissed it as ridiculous; I mean, why do a bazillion reps of one movement? Seems redundant, probably bad for joints and oy, lower back pain! Then I met John Wild Buckley of the Orange Kettlebell Club.  John taught me how to lift and how to love lifting. And, to my great joy, I had an aptitude for it. The beauty of the bells hooked me. I love the fact I just get stronger and stronger, and that it never gets easy. I’m always tweaking my technique and form. And that lower back pain I was so worried about? A thousand times better because of kettlebells.

It’s been three years since I started lifting kettlebells and I have never been stronger.  I love the fact that at 46 (or, a lady of a “certain age” as I like to say) I can lift a 53lb weight multiple times overhead. I have many students who are women my age who are amazing, strong lifters. My passion for helping others increases on a daily basis, along with the knowledge that if I can do it? So can you.

Posted by: Juliet 

“A Beautiful woman should break her Mirror early…”

Posted in Articles on November 27, 2012 by oldcountrystrong

Every year four brave women decide that they’ve have had enough and that they have a voice.

But they’re not alone. Every year we have one male writer.

Our first year one of my best friends asked to write. It was a bit shocking as he’s usually not the type. His names John Winters and he is the strongest person I know but he had a story. And it was one that moved everyone who read it, “There is Magic in Fighting Battles beyond Endurance…”

The trend was something that would stick. The next year I would ask another friend Chris Schaalo to write. My thought process was that Chris was a trainer and knew what strength could do for someone. The story he told was about his friend and past Crossfit Games competitor Alicia Connors. The story that Chris shared was one of the defining moments of last year’s articles. There were other people that were sick and tired of what mass media and sterotypes were doing to people and there was a cautionary tale to tell with an ending that made you proud to stand on the line, “The Flower that Blooms in Adversity is the most Rare and Beautiful of All…”

When I sat down THREE month before Strong is Beautiful to start planning the writers I knew I wanted to have another male be part of the group. My choice this year was a new one. It wasn’t some mega strong man or a person I shared a profession with. No, it was a father.

His name is Eric Linxweiler.

Eric shares something with our past two writers, he’s my friend. He’s actually one of the best guys I know. He sees the best in people. Even when it drives me crazy he always sees the best in people. Sometimes I can be a real dick, and Eric still sees what’s good in me. Eric knows what a community united can stand for. Eric has a daughter and today he wants us to know what this message means to a father.

– Z

 “Congratulations, you’re going to have a girl”. The seven most intimidating words I’ve ever heard.  But in 2005, it was exactly what I was told after an ultrasound confirmed that our second child was on her way to being a healthy girl.  Lauren arrived in early 2006, and I had a lot to learn, but little did I know just how much.

Overwhelmed, and pretty frightened – I had no idea about what it takes to actually raise a daughter.  Growing up with three sisters, I sort of got the basics – you want them to grow up being strong, confident, capable and most of all happy.   They need to believe in themselves, as well as have plenty of others believe in them too.  And essential for me, I realized the incredible weight a girl puts into her relationship with her father.

Regrettably, somewhere along the way a girl’s journey often gets derailed with some pretty ugly and unhealthy expectations.  We’ve all seen far too many instances of “beauty” being girls’ primary focus, and being defined in rather grotesque ways (and unfortunately several stories like Alicia’s, but with much less happy outcomes). There are several billion dollar industries just waiting for them to grow up.  They want to point out their perceived “flaws” in her in hopes that she’ll spend money trying to improve herself with their products or services.   From a parent’s point of view, it is pretty awful to think that your daughter will ever think she’s less than perfect, especially when it is based on what someone else tells her.

This made me think – maybe all of this can be prevented in the first place.  Perhaps, with a little change in the way we communicate expectations and define “success” and “beauty”, we can lay a foundation where kids won’t know what it means to not be “perfect”.  We can sow the seeds of strength that come from the belief in one’s convictions, one’s capabilities, and one’s dreams.   We can teach the value of strength for those times one really needs it.  As a father, strength also comes from words I use.

Recently I asked Lauren what “beautiful” and “pretty” were.  In true Lauren fashion, she replied “pink”.  I asked her if she knew what heavy was.  She said my kettlebell (after trying to lift it).  When I ask her for the highest thing around, she points to Mt. Rainier and asks when she can climb it with me.  I asked her about fast – and she took off running.  See, Lauren doesn’t need a mirror or a scale to measure herself against.  She needs to never forget what she already knows.

This is exceedingly important for all of today’s children, who are shaping these thoughts as they battle forces most of us could never imagine.   According to the Centers for Disease Control, a third of our nation’s children are overweight, with an astonishing 18% being obese.  That’s tripled since I was Lauren’s age.  While much of the conversation is on the physical impact of this epidemic, the oft understated mental and psychological tolls can be much worse.  Learning lessons of exercise, nutrition, and attitude are critical to kids of all ages.    Somewhere along the way, I realized that this is about much more than raising my daughter (or her two brothers) – it’s about giving every child a chance to experience what it means to be mentally and physically strong.

Lauren, now almost seven, comes along with me to CrossFit often, as well as to various competitions to watch countless people work hard, sweat (even cry) and accomplish their goals. She’s witnessed high school students, moms and dads; even grandparents demonstrate what it means to be strong.  I couldn’t find a better way to teach her what it means to be beautiful than what lessons these folks present.

She recently joined me on a Saturday morning workout, wearing her favorite dress up clothes (an Iron Man suit, keeping true to Old Country Strong tradition).  When we were done with our morning fun, she asked me if she could use a rower.    Sitting on this machine for the first time was a bit daunting for her, however I was able to just step back and watch something truly amazing unfold.  Instead of me being a dad and teaching her how to row, several women came up behind her and helped coach her through.  “Legs, arms!  Legs, arms!”  “Keep going, Lauren!”  “You are doing awesome!”  She kept rowing, until she finished  500 meters, and was able to put her name on the gym’s board of fastest times.  The women that helped her that day probably didn’t realize it, but they are perfect role models for not only Lauren, but for every girl that needs to know that strength and beauty are inextricably linked.  Each of these motivating women are strong, fit, and beautiful in their own unique ways.  That morning, they encouraged Lauren for much more than a few minutes on a rower – they inspired her to want to do more.

Eventually Lauren will lose the innocent yet flawless belief that there’s nothing at all wrong with her.  And that will be a heartbreakingly sad day for me.  But I hope that what she is learning now – from me, and from you, will allow her to understand that she doesn’t need a mirror at all.  It will help her realize that what she can do, and what she can accomplish, is a measure far greater than any scale or any dress size.  On those days where she needs strength – of mind, of body, of spirit – I hope she’ll know exactly where to go find it.  She’ll look inside and reveal it…

Lauren will one day thank many of you herself for the lessons she’s learning – of what it means to be strong, of what it means to have goals, of what hard work yields.  She’ll continue improving on her 500m row times, keep running and climbing, and perhaps she’ll learn to squat better than her daddy.  Someday she’s going to pass along these lessons to others, and near the top of that list will most certainly be that being Strong is Beautiful.

Post by: Eric Linxweiler

“It Don’t Matter…whatever makes you feel bad, leave it. Whatever makes you smile, keep it..”

Posted in Articles on November 26, 2012 by oldcountrystrong

Every year when I pick the writers for Strong is Beautiful they surprise me.

No, not in their willingness to share their stories, but in the way they choose to share them. Our following writer could probably have her own series on overcoming obstacles through strength. She’s been through a lot. She has proven a lot more than most people I know and I feel she still feels like she has something to prove sometimes.

But to tell you the truth she doesn’t.

Her name is Amina Saleh and I don’t know if anyone tells her this enough but I’m going to. Amina I’m proud of you.

I’m proud of you and hope you know everyone else is too.  If you don’t know Amina’s story to become the first woman to make it through the Seattle Fire Academy in 5 years you can recap it here. “If you can Beat that last bit out of them… They ain’t Fighters at all…”

You think someone that had accomplished a goal like that would talk about it. How they had worked their whole life to earn it (Click Here), then they worked tirelessly physically to achieve their goal. You think that someone who spent their free time coaching kids and helping out at Camps for young girls that want to be firefighters would maybe talk about that as well.

No not Amina. She’s Amina. She simply marches to the beat of her own drum and I’m so proud of her for that. When I received her article I didnt know what to expect. But what I got was Beautiful, its was Amina telling me and everyone else why She thought Strong was Beautiful. And to tell you the truth, of all the things I’ve know and seen her do this piece was one of my proudest moments for a Beautiful girl that simply refuse to ever fit anyones mold.

– Z

Setting up for a heavy back squat, sweat dripping down my face, a belt pinching my sides as I drive that weight up. The barbell doesn’t care.

I ate a cookie today. No, I ate three cookies today. The barbell doesn’t judge.

I am covered in chalk. I am covered in bruises. My hands are cracked and torn. I am scarred, but I am not ashamed.

The barbell doesn’t care that I grew up on Aurora, the street of broken dreams. It doesn’t care that I have made mistakes. Those challenges I have had to face to get to today, no they don’t matter.

Sometimes the barbell scares me. The large bumper plates stacked side by side intimidate me. They send those voices in my head that say “you can’t do this”, “it’ll crush you”. Sometimes they win. But sometimes, I win. 

I will never be perfect. I will never be the best. But I will stay strong because I am flawed and I am beautiful. 

I am not beautiful because the barbell has made me skinny or pretty. It has not given me better hair days. Sometimes I can’t even lift it, as it slips from my hands, I fight to control it before it falls heavy to the ground. When I can pick it up, I feel power as I surprise myself and others of what my body and mind are capable of.

I fail. I succeed. I dream big because impossible doesn’t mean anything to me. Impossible doesn’t matter.

I am part of something that gives me strength. The strength to help others. The strength to find a reason to smile when there are a thousand other reasons to be sad. The strength to cheer on my friends they put their fears aside and define the odds that push against them.

I am lucky to be a part of something big. Something life changing. I smile because it don’t matter.

Posted by: Amina

“Nothing but the Rain…”

Posted in Articles on November 25, 2012 by oldcountrystrong

I’ve been away from my writing for so long I don’t know where to really start. To some people taking a month or so off from something may not be a huge issue, but  it is to me. Writing is how I express myself, it’s how I choose to get out everything that I’d lose saying out loud. I’m a passionate person, it’s the way I was raise and with that sometimes I’ll speak to quickly or not at all. But not on Old Country.

This blog for what it’s worth has always been my safe place. 

I’m a trainer by trade, some would say I’m a Coach. Some people would simply say I work in a gym. Either sides right really. My job is that of training people and yes this does take place in a gym. But what I’ve found in my career in the fitness industry is that it’s really more then that. The jobs more then that and your involvement in peoples life carries more weight then you’ll ever realize.

A friend of mine sent me the following video phrased with this.

“My wife thought of me when she saw this. I thought of you Zach.”

The video left me speechless really. I love my job. I love my job and the people it’s brought into my life.  But a large part of my job and how I approach my work has to do with a person and a message.

That message is one we spend a week truly trying to spread once a year.

Strong is Beautiful…

I’m sure you’ve heard the catch phrase. I’m sure you’ve heard it and seen it and reheard it again. Two years ago we we decide to try do our part for the message. And that’s what this weeks about. It’s about the Beautiful change that strength can have on someones life. That it can TRULY save a life. This week you’ll hear from 5 writers, 5 writers that are finding courage inside them selves and inside a community that supports them to stand on a line. If you’ve ever taken a stand in your life and stood on a line it can be horrifying. But you do it cause you believe in it. You believe in why that line was drawn and what it means. You know that doing this puts the eyes on you but you dont care.

You believe in somethings and to quote one of my favorite movies, “Idea’s are BulletProof.”

Strong is Beautiful is part of who I am and I’m honored to do this small part every year for the message. But I said there was a Message and a person. And that person is our writer today.

Her name is Marissa Luchau.

You all may know her as Roo. You may know her as the badass Crossfit athlete that moves like a machine through workouts. You may know her as the Master of Sport in Kettlebelling or a World Record holder of the same discipline. You may know her as a coach, friend, sister, daughter or as the person that originally drew the line in the sand that she had had enough. That she wasn’t going to let anyone hurt those she cared about anymore. You may know her as one or all of these things like I do.

If you do have the privilege to know her, you know she is the suffer in silence type. This is the girl after all that went a whole year with a jaw infection and was only able to chew on one side of her mouth and never complained. To say Roo is tough is an understatement, to say she’s got the grit is an understatement. Then to see her cry while writing today’s article reminded just how much this means to her. This message is one that needs to be talked about. No matter how ugly or uncomfortable it may make you feel the empowerment behind it is something you cannot turn a blind eye too.

Roo wrote the original Strong is Beautiful article she was the first one to say no more and she stood on the line and asked others to stand with her and she inspires me everyday because of that. Five writers are going to tell their stories this week and I’m proud to be part of it.

– Z

A little over two years ago I overheard something that was being spread around the gym I worked at, little did I know at the time how big of an impact some peoples’ words would have on my life. I hadn’t been an “employee” for all that long at the gym, but I had been a part of it for well over a year, 6 months of which I had spent as an intern when this all came about. Being in the gym industry I guess one should get used to stereotypes “I don’t want to get too muscular” and “I just want long, lean muscles”, but this one was different and to be honest it has forever changed my life and made me VERY passionate about what I do. It was simple statement that was being made to those I trained that took my breath away when I was told about it.

“You shouldn’t lift heavy, you’ll get big and bulky.” 

Unfortunately, this is a pretty stereotypical misconception, but this one was different… Why was this different? Because the people that were saying it should have known better. They were people who had a great influence on others and they should have known better and I just couldn’t stand by and let it happen. I had to draw the line that Zach always talks about. I can’t truly even explain how I felt when I heard this was going on in a place that went to to feel safe. But those feeling are what spurred all of this, that is what started Strong is Beautiful week on Old Country two years ago. After several conversations with Z about how much this whole thing upset me we decided to publicly stand on the line. No longer was I going to stand there and let a stereotype take root in a community that meant the world to me. I wasn’t gonna let people say what we were doing or how we were training was making people into an undesirable thing. I believed in what we were doing, not because of the “shape” it would get people in, not because of the increase in max weights”, no it has nothing to do with numbers, nothing to do with shape, nothing to do with the way someone looks, nothing to do with how much someone weighs, nothing to do with how much someone can lift… but it was the empowerment I knew that could be found in what we do.

We live in a society full of stereotypes, a society where you must fit a certain mold to be in. If you wear a size 8 you’re too big, if you have” abs” you are too muscular, if you have wear a size 0 you’re too skinny, if you look athletic you are too big and bulky, if you look this way it’s not ok, if you look that way that’s not ok either. To be honest as a woman in my twenties I can attest to how easy it is to let all of these thoughts affect the way you think about yourself. It’s pretty easy to look in the mirror and doubt your beauty, doubt your capabilities, doubt who you are… and why? Because it seems no matter what you do in someone’s eyes your aren’t right, you’re not pretty enough, you’re not skinny enough, you’re not big enough, you’re not strong enough, you’re too tall, you’re too small, you’re too thick, you’re too skinny, you’re too strong, you’re too weak… you can’t win no matter what you do you can’t win, you can’t please people and no matter what you do you can’t win in the public’s eye. Too often we All turn a blind eye to what we don’t like to believe is real or what we don’t like to believe effects those around us or even moreso those close to us. But I was tired then and I am tired Now of this. I’m tired of people making people feel less because they don’t fit a certain mold, I’m tired of people looking down on people because they don’t look a certain way, because they don’t like a certain thing, some people have NO Idea the impact they have on people’s lives and you know what? Once again I’m going to take a stand on this, once again we are drawing a line in the sand. No More.

 The fear in a woman’s eyes you see when she asks you if she’s going to get “bulky” is indescribable. The fear you see when she thinks she will look a certain way that some people may see as undesirable is heartbreaking. Who are we to say who is beautiful? Honestly, I find myself questioning all of the time, “what is beautiful?” Some people have no idea the power that they have over people. I have witnessed friends of mine, people I cared about and hold dearly to my side, try to end their precious life because they didn’t feel desirable, because they didn’t feel pretty, beautiful and wanted and I’d be lying if I said I never questioned my existence because of the same feelings. But you know what? There is more to life than trying to fit some certain mold, trying to fit what someone see’s as beautiful, trying to fit what someone else see’s as perfect. 

I’m not going to spend this time trying to debunk myths about how if you lift you will be big and bulky or if you lift you will look a certain way, I’ve already tried to do that in my first article “Is this your fighter… This is my Fighter…” No, what I am going to do is share with the world what I have personally found to help myself believe in myself and what I have found as a professional in the gym industry that helps women (and men for that matter) finally believe in themselves as well.

I once came across the quote, “beauty is a state of being content and strong, strong in mind, body and soul.” What makes a person beautiful? Beauty is immeasurable, but what I believe true beauty is, is the belief in ones’ self, belief that you are the person you were meant to be, belief that no matter what other people say you believe you are enough, whether it be strong enough, pretty enough, skinny enough, tall enough, it doesn’t matter… as long as you believe in yourself. And to be honest, I didn’t have that until I found that strength through the Iron. I found a strength I had never had when I started lifting, and no it wasn’t a physical strength although that came along with it too, it was an inner strength. It was belief that I was enough, that I was the person I was capable of being. The strength I found through the Iron wasn’t about #s; it didn’t matter if I could squat 255# it didn’t matter if I could clean 185#, no it was the belief I had had in myself for the first time in a long time. I finally started to believe in myself, believe that I didn’t need some man’s approval, that I didn’t need to fit a certain stereotype, that I didn’t need to look a certain way. I AM ENOUGH for myself, I AM pretty, I AM strong, I don’t need to fit a certain mold as long as I believe in myself I AM beautiful. And what gave that to me? Iron. Lifting, it’s indescribable. It’s just you and the weight and no matter what the outside world has to say it’s just the two of you. You are going to lift it or your not, it’s humbling and empowering all at the same time. If you don’t believe you can you won’t, if you believe you can you will and that’s the power lifting has given me. No matter what, the Iron is always there, when it seems like no one else is, it is always there, it never lies and it will always be there for you the power it can give one is immeasurable. The power it has given me and the power I have seen it give others is indescribable;

 As a coach I have seen women put on shorts that expose their legs for the first time in 10 years and walk around like they were on top of the world because they finally felt like they were enough and to be honest it didn’t matter what other people thought, they may be too skinny, too fat, too tall, too short, too muscular, to big, too small in some people’s eyes, but to them they finally have that Belief in Themselves other’s perceptions no longer mattered, because they were just that, perceptions. I’ve seen women finally squat the bar below parallel and light up like they just squatted 200# and that meant more than anything, for that moment it was just them and the bar and that was all that mattered, all of the worries of the world melted away, all of the stress of everyday life didn’t exist, it was just them and the bar and for that moment they were on top of the world, no one could bring them down, other peoples’ ideals, other people’s perceptions didn’t matter, it was just them and the Iron and it was empowering.

And that is what breaks my heart. People spreading the stereotype that lifting will make you super “muscular” or “big and bulky” whether its from lack of knowledge or to target women’s fears and insecurities to benefit their pocket book breaks my heart because they have no idea what they are doing. They have no idea that they are feeding into women’s fears and feeding these negative thoughts that push women to doubt themselves, that push women to look in the mirror and hate how they look, that push women to even doubt their own existence because of what the outside world thinks. It angers me, because the power of belief in oneself in immeasurable and could save someone’s life and that is what can be found through strength, that is the power that the iron has, I can personally attest to the power of belief in myself that strength has given me and I can attest to the power it has given people in my life as well. I see it on a day to day basis and I am tired of people turning people away from what has changed my life so drastically because of myths and stereotypes, because of a fear that one may look one way or another, when in all reality that’s not what it should be about at all. Lifting and strength training is a way to build belief of oneself and that is what should matter it shouldn’t be about looks, money, stereotypes, etc… it is about the belief and confidence.

“Strong is Beautiful… finding strength through building belief in yourself” is what I like to live by and what I would like to share. It shouldn’t be about the way one looks, how much weight one can lift or can’t lift… it shouldn’t matter, but it should be about the way one feels about themselves and that is what society is missing… we need to continue to build the belief in ourselves and others, belief that we are enough and it shouldn’t matter what other people believe is Pretty or Beautiful or Strong or Weak. Believing in yourself can save your life, I found that belief through strength.

Posted By: R00

“Here we Go…”

Posted in Articles on November 1, 2012 by oldcountrystrong

The New Home of the I/C Training Log Program can be found by clicking on the following Link:

Old Country will be going though a similar face lift here before to long as well.

I told you it was a Good time to be Red.

Posted by: Z