All tagged strength

Back to School Season and the Return of Routine

I work with a lot of moms (and quite a few teachers), in my coaching adventures. As a result, even though I only have four-legged children at the moment, this time of year is fraught with, "back to school," the hustle and bustle of getting everything ready for the change of seasons.

Even if you aren't getting little ones ready for the bus (or writing lessons in your not-really-spare time), I'm sure you can feel the shift in the air, yes? September is a mini-new year, in many ways; fall is one of my favorite times to take stock of where we've been, where we're going, and what we need to let go in order to get there. It's a time of evaluation, of harvest, of moving to prepare for cooler weather and more time inside learning new things (at any age, in any context). You might be looking forward to fresh-picked apples, for example, or you might be finding it easier to make time to get movement that makes you feel like yourself again, now that your kids are on a more reliable schedule.

(Or maybe you're not, because as soon as one routine gets set, it seems like things get shifted yet again, and we're standing there re-learning how to fit ourselves into our own lives. It happens.)

Either way, we're standing on the edge of a season asking us to come home, get grounded, and build a foundation that will sustain us into our next season.

Patterns: Why Are You the Way that You Are?

If you're here, it's likely you've tried quite a few diets and exercise plans throughout your life, very few of which have made the lasting changes you were hoping.

You've tried the 21-day-"fixes," the grapefruit diets, the plans in Self magazine (I'm not picking on them, really; that was one of the first places I ever saw any sort of structured workout myself!), and they've all yielded lackluster results.

It's also highly likely that you've realized this is a pattern, and one you'd like to break.

As more of us in fitness decide we want to let go of harmful patterns (e.g., the binge/restrict cycle, over-exercising/burnout cycle), are we helping ourselves understand what to do next?

How Do You Feel Powerful?

POWER: what does it mean to you? Where is it found?

Does it hide from you, running to the dingy corner as soon as you enter the room and turn on the light? Or does it display itself proudly, waving its flag in your life as you march like General Sherman on his way to the sea, asserting your presence and leaving flames in your wake?

As womxn in a patriarchal world, there is no shortage of places we're told we can't be. There is no dearth of reminders of our status, supposedly submissive. In the board room, in the bedroom, in the gym, in the damn left-hand lane—we're underrepresented, told we don't belong, deemed, "too emotional," to handle it.

POWER: it isn't something supposedly meant for us.

Which is why I'd like to ask you where you find it for yourself.

How to Handle Toxic People

Do you know any toxic people? (lol, it’s the holidays; if yours are anything like mine, for at least one day between November and February, you’d rather rip each individual hair strand out of your head and reattach it than spend one more minute in someone’s presence).

I used to wonder what the common thread was relating all these "toxic" people. What was the common thing I was "falling for" every time?

How Do You Care for Yourself?

Loving yourself looks different for everyone, and it's important you find what it looks like for you.

For some, it's strength training. It can be meditating. It can be yoga. It can be cooking. It can be your favorite show on Netflix. It can be a manicure and a bubble bath and a glass of wine.

Those wonderfully-Instagrammable acts of self-care are important parts of loving yourself, for sure, but this picture is not complete. The ultimate act of loving yourself, imo — the one ring to rule them all, if you will — is to protect your energy.

Can I Share a Personal Story with You? (+ work with me!)

I grew up in an emotionally abusive household, and I received a message from a young age that I wasn't good enough. For millions of reasons, but the point on which it all converged was my body.

My body became a physical manifestation of everything I wasn't: I wasn't tall, or thin, or unconventionally beautiful like my mother, or quiet, or succinct, or self-controlled.

I was too much, constantly spilling over the edges of my container, and my body was alleged to have reflected that.

It's effortless to pick on our bodies; the "flaws" there are visible, after all, so they're very easy to pinpoint.

Fitness Doesn't Have to be a Punishment.

Fitness doesn’t have to be a punishment.

It’s not the Visa for food binges. No debt collectors will come calling.

You’re allowed to move in a way that makes you feel good, simply because it makes you feel good.

You can discover your desires, your fears, your passion, and your power in the gym, all without changing a damn thing about your body if you don’t want to. And you can change and sculpt your body without the current iteration being “bad,” “wrong,” or, “gross,” if you so choose.

Strength is Not Just the Iron.

We tend to think of strength in one context: how much can you lift? But strength is so much more than a number on a bar.

Strength is more than an ego boost; around these parts, we spend a lot of time discussing being more than a number, and this is no exception (a sometimes difficult shift, as we realize that "not defining ourselves by a number" means ANY number, even ones that prop us up. We're more than our abilities. We have inherent worth begotten simply by birth.).

Fitness Can Be About More Than Getting Smaller

Toning, sculpting (coolsculpting?), shaping, firming: they're all the same.

They're words used to indicate physical transformation. I can get on board with that: you're powerful beyond measure, and you have the power to show up in your body (and in your life) exactly as you see fit.

The issue I take, though, is that those are almost exclusively used to give us all the same goal: getting smaller.

Fitness is about SO much more than that.

I Tried Something New Recently.

I did a new thing recently.

Due to injuries, stress, and poor-quality sleep, I've been moving my body in new ways. It's been a process of relearning how to tune in — something that is relatively easy for me under some heavy weight, but, I've noticed, is not so natural (at least not without a steady stream of judgment) in other mediums of movement.

I've been doing some #mediocreyoga for about 6 months (which you've seen intermittently in my Instagram stories, if you're playing along!), and earlier this week, a new class was advertised that was beginner-friendly. I'm also in a new area, so, I figured, why not?

And just like that, I took my mediocre yoga out into the world.

How to Get Started (You've Been Thinking About it for a While Now).

"But HOW?"

I get asked this question a lot, and it's a fair one.

HOW do you start strength training if you've never felt like you belong in the gym before?

HOW do you eat just a few bites of "bad" foods?

HOW do you wake up in the morning and not hate on your stomach?

HOW do you dance when you're a clumsy dancer, or write when you're an unclear writer, or love when you're an insecure lover?

There aren't always easy answers, and, "just start," while true, isn't very helpful in the swirling overwhelm.

"Steph, Can We Try That?"

Rigidity in our programs keeps us uninformed: it keeps us enslaved to a program or a personality dictating our goals to us and promising that their methods are best. We don't give ourselves the opportunity to be our own best teachers—to explore, to experiment, or to say, "that's not my jam."

Allowing my body the space to not be perfect showed me that I actually don't have to be perfect anywhere. I know what's best for me, and I can change course at any time.