I first entered the fitness industry because I wanted to help people change their lives, the same reason most Personal Trainers decide to pursue the career. I quickly got very heavily involved in the kettlebell training world where perfecting technique is everything. And to be fair, technique is of the utmost importance in both preventing injury and improving your fitness, whether you lift, run, or play a certain sport.
But where I got lost was thinking that physical strength is everything. I got caught up in this belief for many years and believed that focusing on strength was the pinnacle of it all, even judging others who had alternative goals. Until I got injured.
In January 2014 at a kettlebell certification I tore my L4/L5 disc for the first time.
It caused pain over the next 14 months, but the pain was up and down and mostly manageable. Then I tore the disc deeper around March of 2015. Months of pain (almost unable to walk or sit at times), dozens of physical therapy sessions, and nearly three years of nursing my injury later, I’m much improved but still not what I was. And three years later, I’ve come to accept that I likely won’t ever be the same.
It’s this new perspective that caused me tremendous shame when I found this tank top in my closet the other day:
I bought this probably about 4 years ago, when the sentiment of strength above all else still resonated with me. After reflecting on my own injury and after having time to sit back and reflect on my experience of helping hundreds of women lose weight, I no longer agree with this sentiment. This fitspiration tank top is degrading rather than inspiring. It insinuates that the person wearing it is superior because of her choices.
You see, no one chooses to be weak.
No one wakes up in the morning and thinks to themselves, “Hmmmmm…how can I get weaker today?” Is making the decision not to exercise and do what’s right for your body a choice? Absolutely. But it’s not about choosing weakness.
And what is strength anyway? I believe it’s as much mental and emotional as it is physical. And developing strength on any level is a process that often takes time, and sometimes it’s not as easy as just making a choice. We all come with injuries, baggage, damaged confidence, and negative belief systems. We don’t all start on an even playing field, and that’s exactly what I despise about the words on this tank top.
Since my injury, my goals have changed a lot. I still want to be strong and I work towards it consistently with lifts that don’t cause pain, but what’s more important to me now is staying fit AND pain-free. Maintaining my weight and enjoying my workouts, whether or not I’m setting personal records, is what I’m about.
Getting to this point wasn’t easy. I had to learn not to push the injury. I had to detach my ego from my identity because that identity was of the strong girl. It’s a process, but it certainly doesn’t mean that I’ve “chosen” weakness.
I’ve chosen self-care, self-love, and self-compassion above all else, knowing that I’m doing my best with what I’ve got. I encourage you to do the same. Let’s extinguish fitspirations together.
I’ve shared what I choose…so what do you choose? I’d love for you to comment and share with me!
PS: I have a FREE 5 Day Nutrition Reset starting on Monday, January 2nd that I’d love to have you join! I’ve already got about 50 women registered, and we are building some great momentum. In fact, I just had two women report back from my last one that they lost 6+lbs each in only 5 days! I’m teaching you how and what to eat, how to set goals, and how to exercise in a way that produces results while giving you awesome motivation and accountability! Just click here to register and share with friends! 🙂