Archive for November 27, 2012

“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