Diet culture is all around us. It influences how we speak and exercise, what we eat and wear, and even…
Hop on your newsfeed or do a quick online search, and you’ll see that there’s no shortage of information about fitness, or workouts, or how to get your body stronger.
However, just as we work on developing our physical strength by lifting weights and eating healthfully, it’s equally important that we develop our inner strength. But what exactly is inner strength, and why is it important?
Allow me to explain by sharing with you a story about my life.
When I was in my 20s, I experienced what some would consider a “quarter-life crisis”. In the span of 9 months, I left a 6-year relationship and a well-paying job, moved out of state, started a company, closed a company, and traveled to Asia. In short, my life was a little “all over place.” And my workouts? Well, they were pretty non-existent.
Lying on the couch eating chips and salsa while watching the entire series of the L-Word was far more interesting than throwing some dumbbells around a gym. As you can imagine, my body suffered. My once athletic physique was not so athletic anymore.
During this time, I lost sight of keeping my body strong on the outside because I had not developed a sense of strength on the inside to fuel me when my life took an unexpected turn. As a result of this experience, and the subsequent lessons I learned about taking care of my body, I feel deeply passionate about sharing with you one particular lesson, and that is: physical strength means nothing without inner strength.
Developing inner strength is the equivalent of having a back-up energy and motivation reserve when your main tank is running low.
The only way to make it over the speed bumps and through the plot twists in life is to build that inner strength. This is precisely why it’s important to develop inner strength in conjunction with physical strength. One suffers without the other.
Since there are plenty of well-researched and well-written articles available about how to build your physical strength, I want to talk about three ways you can build your inner strength so that you can continue to take care of yourself when life happens.
One of the most instinctive and primal needs as humans is our need to belong to and feel a connection with a community. It’s one of the first levels on Maslow’s Hierarchy, a psychology theory that organizes our basic needs in our personal development.
As much as we may try, we can’t do it all alone. As humans, we have a built-in need for connection. This is why websites like GGS are so incredibly successful: because of the strong sense of community among its members. You can find community nearly everywhere, whether it’s at your local gym or your yoga classes, with a close group of girlfriends, with family, or at work. And with social media, you can even find communities that share your interests on Facebook and on sites like Meetup.com or Reddit.
Having a community is the equivalent of having a safety net to catch you should you fall. It’s wonderful to have a close-knit community like family and close friends you can trust. It’s equally wonderful to have a fitness community, a group of people you workout with, where you motivate and inspire each other, and provide each other with a source of strength.
We women tend to take on extra commitments and obligations even when we don’t want to. We’re caretakers by nature, and it seems to be programmed into our DNA to want to help others!
However, when we take on responsibilities for which we don’t have time or energy, they drain our tank even further and make it difficult to take care of ourselves.
If we’re using up all the gas in our tank to do things for others or to do things we don’t really want to do, it leaves us with very little to do things we need or want to do for ourselves.
Saying “yes” to lunch with every blog reader that reaches out to you to “pick your brain”, or picking up an acquaintance at the airport when you really don’t have the time, is like purposely poking a hole in your tank and letting your energy to leak out.
Not only does occasionally saying “no” give you some much needed time for yourself, it is also very empowering. It’s an unlikely source of strength.
By saying “no” to the things you really don’t want to do, or things you know you don’t have time for, you create a sense of inner strength while freeing up your time and energy to do the things that are going to serve you best and that allow you take care of your body.
It is often said that our true nature, or our real personality is found in our childhood. Meaning, how we were as kids. Joyful, playful, creative, imaginative, curious. That is our true nature.
Over time, through schooling and conditioning most of us are taught to ignore all that and “grow up.” As adults we can be so boring! How typical is it for our lives to follow this pattern: wake up, go to the office, work out, come home, cook dinner, sleep, wait for the weekend, repeat.
In our race to “grow up” and become adults, we lose that connection to our inner child. We forget how to play, a concept that carries with it an incredibly powerful source of inspiration. Ever notice that you enjoy your workouts more when there is some sort of game or competition involved? I believe that life becomes easier and more enjoyable when we can learn to play again.
We often talk about finding balance in our workouts and in our nutrition programs, and not going from one extreme to the next. Yet, we do exactly that in our personal lives by working too much, worrying too much, and leaving very little room for play.
When we learn to play again, we regain access to that part of ourselves that reminds us that life is fun.
Look back at your childhood and note the things that you enjoyed doing, whether that was playing outside, drawing, dancing, singing, or playing double-dutch. Try to re-create this in your adult life.
You’ll find that when you begin to play again, getting through all the “adult” things in life becomes easier. It may seem a little silly and awkward at first, but the key to becoming the strongest YOU, both inside and out, is found in your inner child.
I believe that anything is possible in life when we are strong in our body, in our mind and in our spirit, and this is why it is just as important to develop our inner strength, as our physical strength. Developing inner strength allows you to continue to take care of your body no matter what is happening in your life, no matter how many times you fall down.
Inner strength is the source that will continue to fuel you through life’s unexpected turns.
Inner strength is a critical part of your overall well-being, and developing physical strength can help with this as well. If you want expert guidance on developing physical strength, let us help.
A message from GGS…
At Girls Gone Strong, we want you to feel confident knowing that what you’re doing to look good, feel good, and feel healthy and strong is not only based on tested, reliable, and safe information from trustworthy sources, but also that it is effective and efficient.
That’s why we developed our flagship training system, The Modern Woman’s Guide To Strength Training.