Saturday, January 31, 2015

An Open Letter On Power, Body Image, And Being Yoda

"How is man to recognize his full self, his full power through the eye’s of an incomplete woman?" - Jada Pinkett - Smith, Speaking on The War on Men by the Degradation of Women

Lately I've been faced with some huge changes to my body that I have little to no control over. It's given me a good chance to step back, hone my skills, and move forward with an evolving, renewed perspective. 

I deal with the idea of body image all day long - both mine and other people's. I spend more than half of my day standing in front of mirrors, in a world where I find it particularly valuable to lead by example. Just like anyone else, I notice every extra inch on my waistline (and enjoy every newly defined curve).

That said, sometimes it's extra challenging to deal with physical changes - and, let's face it, there are lots of changes through life that we have little to no control over. Sure, we can wash our hands and do our level best not to get sick, but it happens from time to time. We will age (despite popular beauty secrets). We all get wrinkles, scars, and some of us go gray (or bald) before others.  As things change, we all have our moments were we feel less-than-stellar about them. For me personally, some days I feel decidedly fluffier around the middle than others. My stomach and hips were the last spots of the body fat to disappear for me, so of course, I'm particularly sensitive to changes in those areas.  And as a woman, those spots can change seemingly overnight.

We all see ourselves through different filters. We're all our own worst critics. Learning to give yourself credit where credit is due seems so hard when criticism comes so easily.

But for me, personally, I realize that allowing those negative thoughts to have any real power over my day isn't helpful. After all, a higher calling than being Trainer Girl is being My Sailor's wife. And the last thing he needs is me freaking out at home about something that is entirely natural in the grand scheme of things. Cool, calm, and collected are part of the job description.

Which is why I am exceptionally grateful to my 'tribe' -  you know, those people who know how to ground us, push us, and build us up at the same time.
A few members of my tribe
As challenging as this week has been, it's also been particularly memorable as well. From lunch with Trainer Guy's Gal to coaching my athlete through Ergomania, to adding a new lifter to the roster and seizing a new oppurtunity to coach Olympic Lifting, it has been an amazing week.  Trainer Guy reminded me that burpees, though part of most workouts now, used to be impossible for me. A new lifter unknowingly reminded me of a time when (my-now-favorite) Overhead Squat was scary. My seasoned lifters hitting PR's in the triple digits reminded me of a time when the bar was heavy.  Running with several clients in a row reminded me what it feels like to test out my body and find out it's capable of more than I might have thought it was.

No matter the current changes, I've come a long way - and I'm not 'done' by any stretch. Trainer Guy's faith in me that I'll eventually make it to Nationals for Olympic Weight Lifting helps bolster that goal, despite the fact that my timeline has required some adjusting.

Through that combination of grounding and building, I've found a stable place to handle change from.

While changes are unavoidable, I'm a big fan of bringing the most powerful, fulfilled, strong (in more than form) person into all my relationships. When I'm feeling good (on many levels), my athletes get a better coach. My clients get a better trainer. My friends get a better friend. My Sailor gets a better wife. There is a strong trickle down effect.

Today, my athlete inspired me. She brought her family to Ergomania. I may have been her coach, but she was the Yoda for her kids (and likely even her proud husband). They witnessed how to handle competition, and understood the meaning of 'winning' beyond medals and awards.  They saw the power of an already powerful woman competing under her own drive. I may be her coach, but when she gets out there, it's just her and the rower. I couldn't do it for her. She won her own personal record today.

So when I read Jada's comment above, it finally dawned on me that, it's through powerful people, that we recognize our own power. And maybe, just maybe, everyone is that powerful person for someone else.


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