It all started in 2013. I was turning 30 that year and felt that if I was ever going to make a documented stride in fitness, that would be the year to do it. So, I signed up for a ½ marathon in Denver and I trained for 5 ½ months for that thing! (By the way, that’s an over the top amount of training time for 13.1 miles, but I was mentally and physically behind the curve, having literally never pushed myself to be consistently physically active before that point.) I ran it! And by ran it, I mean, I steadied a 12 minute mile… Ok, fine, a 13.5 minute mile. It took me forever, but out of 11,000 participants, I beat 100! Maybe the elderly and moms pushing strollers were passing me the entire time, but whatever, I finished. I was proud of myself for actually finishing it, and I don’t take myself so seriously that I cannot appropriately make fun of my pace and inability to lap the elderly.
That painfully slow ½ marathon taught me two things about myself:
- I will never run a ½ marathon again.
- I can accomplish more than I think I can.
Up until then, I had been 100% just fine with mediocre achievements, feats, and experiences. But the experience of training for that race and completing it flipped a switch inside. I’m not a runner though. As cool as it is to be a runner, I accepted my fate of… no. Then in 2015, after the unexpected separation from my husband of ten years, I was filled with the most negative, nervous, anxious energy I had ever experienced. That’s when I found my forever love: weights.
I had very limited experience with Les Mills’ BodyPump prior to this, but after my separation I dove into the free weight world full throttle. My sister-in-law was my trainer/workout partner and I did everything she instructed during our workouts even when my self-talk said, “Ummm, so you can’t do that. You’ve never done it. You’re weak. You’re clumsy. This is going to be an embarrassing disaster for you.” I ignored those thoughts. I was too broken and frazzled to fight them with something positive at the beginning, so I just did what my sis told me to do and left it at that. I lifted light for a million reps or I lifted heavy for a few. I ran, squatted, lunged, pumped, pressed, pushed, pulled, and I fought a battle in my mind every day for weeks.
One day we were deadlifting more than I had ever handled before, and as I walked up to the bar, I noticed a new voice within. She said, “Remember how he told you that you would never be strong enough? Remember that?… show him he was wrong.” I grabbed that bar and annihilated that set! The POWER I felt surged through my body from my head all the way down to the souls of my feet! That was the day my thoughts began to change. I am strong. I can do this. Tell me I can’t, and I’ll show you I can. Try to knock me down and I’ll get up stronger.
This experience was the beginning of me finding my strength again after enduring a devastating and abusive marriage. I almost lost myself in it. It almost swallowed me up. But I found a spark and I poured some gasoline on it. It’s been almost three years now and while I have faced more than I ever imagined I would since then, one of my greatest areas of support is when I handle some weights. It is my outlet, my therapy, my release, and the place where my failure means success.
Seeing my body transform is just an added perk for the real reason I train. Whenever I doubt my own ability in work, parenting, or just in life… I get to the gym and prove to myself again and again that I can succeed at something I spent a lifetime thinking I was too fragile to even attempt.
I hope you find your strength too…
PS. If you want to read a little more about my journey to finding strength again, read here.