“It can’t Rain all the Time…”

Posted in Articles on October 31, 2016 by oldcountrystrong

Every year we remember my friends brother Officer Tim Brenton by performing a workout called “Lumpy” in his honor.

Matty Brenton and I have been finding ways the last couple years to make things more difficult each time we do this.

I recently lost my uncle and during the weeks following his loss I did just about every awful training piece I could. This included everything from 40+ minute workouts to Fran. Training has always been a outlet for me so it just made sense. So this morning I decided to start this special day by redoing Fran and getting a 8 second pr dropping my time down to 2:02. The pr itself wasn’t all that important, it was the meaning of the effort.

I figured since I did this as a way to remember and cope with the loss of Tom that I would get myself ready for tonight by doing this again. This kinda behavior may seem off to other people but I find it pretty damn therapeutic personally. And I always talk about the journey in physical culture and if you could take something and feel back in control of your life by making your body do something and reflect on those you care about I say fucking do it.

“It can’t rain all the time,” isn’t a simple quote from a movie to me. Sometimes when it’s actually raining I’ll just stop and tip my head back. I close my eyes and feel it on my face. It’s reminder that the bad times come and they go. But being able to sit there and not allow it to define you is powerful medicine.

Matty you are good man and friend. You Betsy and Derek mean the world to me. I am forever honored to be a part of this day with you. Can’t wait to see you tonight my friend. Once more into the fray, Pals.

Posted by: Z

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“Being in the same room with people and creating something together is a good thing.”

Posted in Articles on October 27, 2016 by oldcountrystrong

Does anyone else every click on those “Blank years ago” tabs on Facebook? Honestly I never really use to until just recently. It’s kinda funny looking back at it all sometimes.

I’ll admit it, I’m horrible with remembering dates. I have my birthday memorized since that ones a given. But I usually mess up the number of years I’ve been coaching when giving my intro at seminars. And don’t ask me to remember anniversaries and other peoples birthdays… I’m the worst. And thats what calendar and post it notes are for. If you’ve ever been in my office its like a scene from Memento, remember this, don’t forget that.

And this is all funny cause I can recall some things at the drop of a hat. Examples being all my athletes pr lifts, I can also tell you exactly how to structure training cycles to a science and know more teaching progressions dealing with physical culture then I care to write down. It’s not that the other stuff doesn’t matter too me, it is, they just seem to be the things that slip my mind.

So yesterday I happen to click on one of those “Blank years ago” tabs and I was surprised what I saw. It had been 4 years since I struck out from the first gym I helped build on my own to start what would eventually be NorthWest Strength and Performance. There was an article that was being reshared that day that I had written on this blog. I reread it as I hadn’t personally revisited that piece in some time. It was a good refresher for me that things were going in the right direction.

When I left that first gym I had no idea what to expect. I just knew I was going to give everything I had to the idea I had written about in that article and give something back to my community. I mean after all one of the biggest reasons I love my job is the connection you get with people.

Well something awesome happened when I made that jump, things took off. The gym grew, I started traveling all over the world teaching courses and it became so very easy to focus on work. I mean work was always my main focus but much like this blog use to be it was something I enjoyed. And no I’m not saying I lost sight of my joy of coaching. But I did become very focused on the business. The goal became the dream and the dream was never just the goal of building my gym. It was about giving something back.

So when I say things came full circle it has nothing to do with the fact that I was able to provide a new facility for the people I train. It didn’t involve being able to outfit that facility with coaches I respect and trust. Those things are great but they aren’t what I’m talking about. No it has to do with something thats very important to me and has been a constant as of late in conversations and posts of mine.

LiveForward

As much as I live my life out in the open I am still very much a private person like many of us are. Being “open” can be vulnerable and thats just uncomfortable for a lot of people. I’ve never been one to shy away from being uncomfortable. I have hard conversations, asks questions when I maybe shouldn’t and have made choices that I wish I hadn’t. Life itself by nature is uncomfortable. But so is training and that is why I identify with my job so much. The struggle to get better, healthier or just plain fitter is a journey for everyone. I love being able to give what guidance I can for folks on that journey. And thats the thing about all this. The journey is yours, it’s yours and no one else can live it for you.

But to think your alone is just the opposite of being strong.

A “lone wolf” is a term people like to toss around. Sometimes someone getting that description is thought of as strong. And yes, yes they are. But to quote the jungle book, (yeah I watched it with my niece and nephew) “The strength of the Pack is the Wolf, and the strength of the Wolf is the Pack.”

A lot of times in life there are things outside of our control. This can be work, family or any other number of things that fall into what some people misleading say are “just life.”

Well I’m here to tell you that just doesn’t have to be true.

LiveForward is a project I have undertaken with a number of people I really admire. They aren’t afraid to be uncomfortable either. And they do it through their honesty. And I guess thats something I need to work on myself. Being strong isn’t being alone or internalizing all the time. It not always tackling issues on your own. It’s not turning a blind eye to something wrong. It’s being able to be unashamed that there are problem that may not be fixed with hard headedness, being stubborn or just buckling down as a workhorse to distract yourself.

No, sometimes being really strong is allowing yourself to actually lean on other people. I’ve spent the better part of my adult life building my gym and my business. I love what I do and wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world. But when I say four years has past and things are coming full circle its because I have finally been able to find another way to give back. And even though it’s uncomfortable for myself to tackle these issues there is just to many people out there with out a support group to lean on.

These people may not be lone wolves. They may just be going through hard times with loved ones, lost them or just have their own personal issue and need support.

And thats the root of LiveForward. I have been lucky enough to find myself connected in a network of people who not only care but want to help. So to put a basic label of LiveForward its a peer support group. But if you find yourself alone or needing someone to to talk to its not that basic.

Your not alone.

We will be holding monthly support groups at our gyms in SODO. If you’ve lost a love one to suicide or a lost someone at all and find yourself weighted by it we’re here. If your feeling alone, we’re here. If you feel that you may be alone in dealing with your own personal mental health or being the support for someone else we’re here.

If this article makes you uncomfortable maybe stop and think if your like me and thought strength was the only answer. Training is an outlet, a healthy one. I tell folks all the time “Build strong habits.” These habits can come from training but don’t be to proud to be the one to see that it may not only end at a barbell or lifting a pair of bells.

Four years ago I set out to build my dream. Along the way I created a gym that I am very proud of. A community I’m proud of and friends that I am proud to stand by. Now four years after closing the door of the first gym I helped build I feel that circle closing and I am able to offer something to anyone who needs it.

There is no shame in needing help. Be Unashamed if your in need of support, your not alone, and LiveFoward will continue to offer it’s support to anyone who needs it.

I’m proud to be a LiveForward supporter. You don’t have to be alone in this, there is support, the first steps the hardest but there are people to take it with you.

Posted by: Z

“Courage is Found in Unlikely Places”

Posted in Uncategorized on October 6, 2016 by oldcountrystrong

Well I had a good talk with a friend of mine last night. Among the regular bullshit friends talk about and plan when having such conversations I received a interesting question.

“Why don’t you write anymore?”

It was a legit question that I had a number of excuses for but nothing that could back why I had stopped. Words have always been a outlet for me. I’ve always found my footing and grounded myself in using my words and vocalizing them. And when a friend told me last night that things I had wrote about didn’t only ground me but other folks that read them too I had to stop and look back at how much words meant to me. And in that conversation I realized how important writing was too me.

“Courage is found in unlikely places…”

Tolkien said that, he is far and away my favorite writer. Everyone has a favorite writer, you can honestly not read that much and still find yourself drawn to someones words, thats the beauty in them. When I was younger I was fearless with my words. Therapy to some people is talking with someone. To me it’s always been words. Written or spoken its how I’ve felt I could be the most authentic and honest with myself.

My brother and I use to write on this blog three times a week. It all started as that place to be honest and authentic. We wrote about about training, movies and hardships in life.

But the more I wrote, the more people started reading. And honestly it became hard for me to be honest. A small blog about life, training and movies was easy when it was a small blog about life, training and movies. And then like that I lost grasp on why I was writing and at certain point it started to feel like a job. And that’s when it became easy to lose focus on what was important and just see the job. That’s when I stopped writing.

I didn’t enjoy it anymore. 

I lost focus on what made me happy and made what I needed to get done my only goal. And to get back to being honest, that isn’t anyway to live life. Your goals need to be your goals and your life needs to be your life. And you need to live it. And if words help you express yourself in that journey then should just fucking use them (good to get back to swearing in my writing too, sorry Ma).

In a era of vapid social media its easy to not want to not write these. But as I was told if three people find what you write to be meaning then you should write it. So I’m going to do it. After years of writing three times a week to taking years off I can finally requote one of my favorite movies.

“Believe me… Nothing is trivial…”

 

Thanks Joe. (No proof reading as you requested, wouldn’t be me if I did)

Posted by: Z

Transfer Complete

Posted in Uncategorized on January 15, 2013 by oldcountrystrong

You can find the NEW home of Old Country Strong by following this link http://morganjunctioncrossfit.com/oldcountrystrong/.

All of our content from over the years has transferred to the New Site.

“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