Lessons Learned From A Girl Gone Strong
2013 is the year of my 30th birthday. Part of me thinks “wow, that’s a biggy!” Although, I don’t really feel a day older than when I was in my early 20’s. The only significant difference is the additional growth in my career and the life perspective that I’ve continued to collect through time and personal experiences.
The past 5-7 years have been a dense season for growth between hustle, relationships, death, career choices, training , figure competitions and the journey inward.
As I approach 30 in a few months, I thought I would share “30″ of my personal findings with you – take what you want from the list, after all, they are personal to me. Some may read cliché but I hope a few land with you
1. Train to Feel Good – “To feel good” yes, that’s broad. Feeling good to me includes feeling strong in a handstand, under the barbell or pulling my chin over a pull up bar. Feeling pain free and light in my body because I’m active. Finding an outlet to release emotions or stress through training. Achieving a new PR or building my best physique. Knowing I’m living what I believe and preach also feels good to me. So whatever the reason may be, I choose to train because it makes me feel good.
2. Eat to Feel and Perform Optimally. – Learn what foods work best for your body. What foods make your mood and energy levels feel best. Know that nutrition is incredibly responsible for the body composition and physique you prefer. Make no mistake, being prepared and making responsible eating decisions do require a fair amount of round the clock effort, but your body deserves premium fuel especially if you want it to run like a fancy smancy Aston Martin (read: beauty and power).
3. Habits Die Hard – After competing for 2.5 years and continuing a portion of that lifestyle for another two, I’ve learned that while bad habits die hard, good habits die hard too :) Over time, it began to feel unnatural for me to eat crap, drink too much or skip training. Put in the time and consistency to develop good habits, they become just as hard to break as bad habits.
4. Believe In Yourself – Be You. Do You. “When you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.” – Paulo Coelho <– This is so true. If you don’t believe in yourself, why should anyone else?! If you want to achieve something, believe that you deserve it, believe that you will attain it. You will.
5. Follow Your Heart – This can be a scary. Lead with your heart, but bring your head along. Be true to you, the feeling is both rewarding and priceless. There will be days of challenge and your strength and positive attitude could waiver, but push through those moments. Remember the foundational reasons something is so important to you. Don’t ever give up on your passion and what makes YOU happy. You only get one go-round in this life. YOUR life.
6. Consistency is Key – Whatever you want to be, wherever you want to go, however strong you want to be or lean you want to look, job you want to attain –consistency will get you there. Whether a lot of effort or a little effort each day, apply the appropriate dose and repeated daily.
7. Training Is a Gift – I heard this one from Martin Rooney years back and I tell it to myself and clients all the time – Training is a gift you give to yourself. It is your time, your money and your body. It is also a gift as not all people are physically capable to train. Appreciate your training.
8. Vulnerable is Strong Too – Having a strong body is invaluable. Strength in character and making sure we treat people right is major. Mental and internal strength are important because well, life is tough. Most importantly, and often overlooked however is the strength that shows up in the ability to be vulnerable. It takes a strong, brave and mature person to give and receive vulnerability.
9. Sacrifices – be prepared to make them. To achieve great things, you must do great things. Often, in the pursuit of greatness, there are decisions and tradeoffs involved. Sacrifices are not easy especially when they go against the grain. In fact, it can be quite isolating at times but aim to keep the bigger picture and goal in mind.
10. Eliminate the Negative – Be your own gatekeeper. Get rid of the negative people, places or things from your life as best you can. While we can’t always avoid such people or circumstances, have your antennae up and steer clear when you can. It’ll make the day to day much lighter. Negative people don’t deserve you or your energy.
11. Practice Integrity – Be honest with yourself and others. Act according to the values, beliefs and principles you claim to hold.
12. Drive – the relentless pursuit of the goals and things you want to achieve. Don’t think you have it in you? Just like any other habit, this too can be cultivated.. It’s a daily commitment to hard work and consistency.
13. Hard Work – Often times, the most rewarding things are derived from the biggest struggles. From adversity comes triumph. Be prepared to put in the extra time, energy and grind. To achieve what others do not have, you must do what others are not doing. Most don’t do this, simply because, it is not easy.
14. Injuries – We’ve all had them. Some we can work around, others we must learn to respect and let heal. It can be frustrating to sit out of activity, training or sport in order to let the healing process take place – consider longevity and quality of activity down the road – respect the injury. Injuries also give us an opportunity to learn more about our bodies. And just like the heart needs time to heal, so does the body.
15. Death – Unfortunately, a part of my learning experiences. What I learned from death was that life is precious and sometimes relationships end short. That bad, untimely things can happen to great people. Most importantly, when you love someone, value your moments with them and make to sure always speak how you feel.
16. Life Goes On – All things pass, both the good moments and the difficult, enjoy the good to the fullest and know you’ll arrive at the other side of difficult in time.
17. Everything (and Everyone) Happens For A Reason – Yes, cliché I know. But it’s a beautiful plot that’s unfolding and when we look back at the people we’ve met or the places we’ve landed that have lead us to the next person, place or opportunity, it’s a sweet series of events. So the next time something doesn’t last, smile in the peace that it’s provided you a lesson, freed you up for the next best thing and be excited for more to come.
18. Stand Strong and You Will Grow – Stand up for yourself. Whether it be in a work environment, in a relationship or for something you believe in – it’s empowering to stand up for yourself and you will grow as it makes you stronger from the inside out.
19. Support Systems are Awesome – sharing things with family, friends, colleagues and coaches, helps double the joy and lessen the difficult. Also, it often “takes a village” when aiming for a big goal, so position people into your support system that can help you towards your goals.
20. Networking – is powerful! As we’ve seen in the days of social media, networking builds friendships, support systems, and opportunities. Not to mention when you need a helping hand, no need to reinvent the wheel – seek to network with those who can help guide you.
21. Passion – passion, one of my favorite words – it’s fuel to our soul and inspires our spirit. Passion produces enthusiasm and enthusiasm turns into a positive energy. A positive energy attracts both people and success. Passion is a great navigational tool if you allow yourself to feel it, listen to it and be lead by it.
22. Love – It can turn your world upside down. It’s so powerful. It’s exciting, it’s energizing, it’s comforting and it’s also scary and has big risks of getting hurt. Let love in. We all accumulate some scar tissue over time but having a resilient and open heart allows so many more possibilities. First you must understand to love yourself, know your value and know that you deserve a healthy, reciprocal love.
23. Adversity – It’ll show up in all different shapes and sizes. Plow through — as Winston Churchill says “if you’re going through hell, keep going” – You will hopefully come out of the challenge stronger, more empowered and more experienced to handle the next difficulty. Adversity teaches us great lessons and can also make us more empathetic to others.
24. Failure – Failing hurts. But is it really “failing” when there’s an opportunity to learn, grow and gain perspective from it? Aim not to blame others and not to be too hard on yourself. Rather, recap your strategy, your efforts and move forward with additional experience and a positive perspective.
25. A Positive Attitude – We see what we look for. We live through the attitude and perception we hold. You can focus on the difficulties and annoyances or you can focus on the good and be grateful. Having a positive attitude makes life so much more peaceful. You may not be in control of circumstances, but you are in control of your thoughts and actions / reactions. Sometimes times are tough, but there’s ALWAYS a silver lining and something to feel grateful for.
26. Expectations – Let them go. When you have expectations of something – you set up an idealized version of the thing (or person) and then try to fit the reality into this ideal. Often that’ll leave us disappointed. Instead, try to experience reality as it is, appreciate it for what it is, and be happy for what it is.
27. Become Comfortable with Quiet – If you always have company around you, the TV on or music for background noise, take time each day to be quiet. Take time to hear your heart and your thoughts, or aim to meditate and not think at all. It’s surprisingly peaceful and rejuvenating.
28. Let Go… – Letting go can be hard, really hard. Sometimes, we hold on to memories and the emotions of those memories keep us stuck in the past. Find peace with the past or change and aim to be present in the beauty of what’s in today.
29. Enjoy FLAVOR –Oy it would be boring to always live in black and white or to always say “no” or always stay on your grind…Free from of your structure from time to time. Take days off! You’ll probably be rejuvenated, have more fun and be healthier for it!
30. Find Those That Bring Out Your Silliest – In all the grind and taking things seriously, make sure to laugh and smile a lot, dance, be silly. Keeping life light is just as important as the daily grind.
So, do we really want all the answers to our life? Nah… While we’d like to know the why’s to a lot of things or the when.. the magic often lays in the unknown. Imagine having all the answers, it would severely take the excitement out of the future and worse, squash hope. That’s no fun. What seems to be most important is to live presently. To work hard for the thing you want. To invest your love where you want to invest your life. Capture the lessons that are bestowed upon you, always be honest and kind and make time for fun.
That’s all for now! Thanks!!