My continuing education goal this year is to be more involved in a company called Original Strength. The company teaches professionals like me how to help people move better and feel better, how to reboot a system that might have gotten stuck. They do not believe getting older leads to bodies falling apart . Aches and pains may very well crop up (as I know many of you have felt or are feeling first-hand) but that should not be accepted as the norm.
SO I’m reading one of the founders’ books, Pressing Reset, Original Strength Reloaded and this passage came up in the very first chapter. I must have read it 20 times:
“Just to be clear, when we are referring to ‘strength’, we are talking about the ability to live life the way that you want to live it; to be able to move, think, work, play, love and laugh throughout your entire life, regardless of your age.”
As a trainer, I feel all sorts of expectations to be very “fit-looking” and “strong”. A big part of me lives in a culture where strength is the ability to pick heavy things up and put them down; where strength is measured directly by how much you can lift today vs what you could lift yesterday. And those are both totally legitimate definitions. But as a trainer who also considers herself to be very much part of the general population, these definitions sometimes make me feel inadequate. Because there are days when I feel TIRED and can’t bring myself to pick heavy things up and put them down. There are days when deadlifting feels bad because my plantar fasciitis is particularly icky so I can’t lift nearly as much weight as I used to. There are days I choose to prioritize doing work or hanging out with friends over training (OMG, did I just write that out loud!). So where does this leave me with my aforementioned expectations? That I’m not meeting them and that has me feeling pretty bad.
So what if I let go of my very narrow definitions of strength and traded them in for the Original Strength definition? Or what if I came up with my own definition? What does “strength” really mean to me? And how does feel to BE strong? What do I have to do in my life to get there?
This got me thinking: How do my clients define strength? What will it feel and look like to “be stronger”? How can I help them work toward that? Might this change the way I program their sessions? Yeah, possibly! And that's great!
So this begs the question: How do YOU define strength in your physical life? What does being strong mean to you?
Have some thoughts to share? Comment below!
It's hard for me to write an intro for Caroline because she is many things: She's mega smart and studying to be a health documentation specialist; she's an incredible baker who makes the most intricately-decorated cakes (and kick-ass chocolate chip cookies you could never tell are gluten-free); she has helped me become a major Harry Potter fan (and if a Harry Potter class is ever offered in college, she should teach it); and she was a force to be reckoned with in high school when she played volleyball.
Life since volleyball got incredibly complicated when a surgery went awry at 19. I won't go into details -- it's not my story to tell -- but what I will say is that the grace with which Caroline exudes day to day given what she's had to go through is awe-inspiring. I've learned a lot from her in the last year I've had the honor to coach her and can't wait to see what 2017 brings to her (other than an adorable puppy!). So, without further ado: Meet Caroline!
What were your initial goals when you started training?
My initial goals were to lose weight and get stronger/healthier overall. This helps me deal with my chronic pain condition CRPS. The winters are the most difficult for me, and the healthier I am when the pain hits the better I can get through it.
How do you think your sessions have helped you out?
My sessions have not only made me stronger but also made me a lot prouder of my body and
what it is capable of. I think a lot less, “There’s no way I can do that!” but rather, “How can I do
that?” even if it’s not perfect and I need to adjust the exercise to work for me. It has helped me feel connected to my body which is sometimes hard for me to do with the pain and surgeries I have had.
What do you enjoy most about training?
I love the work honestly; I love getting sweaty and tired. Even the soreness after I love because
it reminds me how hard I worked.
Is there anything surprising that you've discovered with strength training?
I think what has surprised me most is how quickly my body can adjust to training. I was afraid I
would be stuck in the same place for a long time and that hasn’t been the case. If I put in the
work I get more out of it than I thought was possible.
Do you have any fitness goals for this year?
My fitness goals for this year I have purposely made less concrete because I can get caught up in
numbers alone instead of progress. My goals are to overall become stronger and more
How would you describe your philosophy on working out and nutrition?
My philosophy with nutrition is to eat as healthy as possible 5-6 days a week. I give myself one
or two meals on the weekend to enjoy take out and time off from cooking. I love cooking but
doing it every meal three times a day gets exhausting. For me working out is a double edged
sword, if I work out too much I’ll hurt myself, but at the same time if I don’t work out enough my
pain gets worse. The biggest thing for me is pacing myself and not pushing myself too hard.
Some weeks that means I can work out 5 times a week sometimes it’s nothing. Being okay with
both of those possibilities is the most important thing for me.
What advice would you have for anyone just starting out?
I think the biggest thing for me, with weight loss being one of my goals, is that I paid less attention
to the numbers on the scale and focused more on the changes I could see and feel. My other
advice would be to be patient with yourself at the beginning, it is hard and at times frustrating but
gets better and incredibly rewarding.
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