I’m not really much of a crier. The only time that I was a weepy mess was when I was pregnant. Those were the days when I sobbed because my husband couldn’t find me a slice of cheesecake on a road trip. Or during commercials. Or even while watching a sad episode of Law and Order. Maybe my soul is cold and dead now… nah. Not a crier.
Until the other day. I opened up Gmail to work with my online coaching clients. And this popped up from my client who I’ll just call “T”:
Yeah, I was a bit of a blubbery mess, simply because seeing her write those words about herself stunned and touched me.
You see, T is a friend of mine here at home. I’ve watched her struggle over the years with not only her weight: she felt constantly overwhelmed, anxious, and stressed out. She took care of everyone else except herself. And she rarely talked about herself in a way that made me believe she valued herself.
T came to a few of my classes at different gyms. But nothing really stuck. I could tell she was interested in strength training, but gyms terrified her. She felt like she didn’t belong in any of them. It wasn’t until I hauled her down to our dirty, dank powerlifting gym that I saw the light come into her eyes. Not because of the gym, but because of what people were doing in it.
I’ll confess that I was a little excited to be the one showing a newbie the ropes down there that day. I’m one of the young scrubs on my team full of veteran powerlifters. I expected I’d have some big work to do to help T learn the basic movements.
But then she surprised me.
T squatted with the stability and grace of someone who had been at it for years. What? How? Hmm. Then I took her over to the bench press, where she picked up the basics easily… then proceeded to out-bench me by a large margin without much effort. And deadlifting…. don’t even get me started. She nailed it, of course. Not even baby weights – like an actually sizeable weight: off the damn floor with nearly flawless form.
It was right in front of us: T was born to lift. She seemed almost giggly down there. And I became giggly too, just watching her blossom.
I expect a lot of exciting progress out of T in the next few years. She found a way of moving her body that not only is good for her health: it has made her feel capable, strong inside, and allowed her to look beyond the size of her body as a measure of her worth.
T signed on for a month of coaching with me before starting her powerlifting program. I wanted her to have a jump start on building habits that would keep her from reverting to her former “yo-yo”patterns. T wanted to slowly begin making changes in her body composition as well, so along with working on movement, we worked on nutrition as well and monitored her fat loss progress. I was blown away when I checked her measurements:
Sorry, I get a little sweary when I’m jumping up and down in excitement.
But when I saw T’s progress in how she felt and talked about herself, the inches seemed a lot less important.
This lovely woman used to speak as though she was helpless against the forces of life. Now she speaks as someone who is fully in control of her destiny. When things get rough, she rolls with it. Like a BOSS. She is able to evaluate what she needs to improve and celebrates the things that she does well.
That progress is worth a hell of a lot more than a pants size to someone who has struggled with their self esteem, isn’t it?
They say a picture says a thousand words.
Yes, pictures can be great. It’s okay to want to pursue aesthetic goals. Pictures are also an easy reminder of transformation:
This is one of my clients who asked to remain anonymous because she’s not quite ready to be “internet naked”. Here is her body comp progress after 1 month of coaching. It’s pretty cool to watch change happen in front of your eyes. The picture shows lower body fat, but it doesn’t tell you that she’s begun taking time for herself to move each day even though she has a baby at home.
This is my client, Angie. Her 12 week progress picture helped her realize that sometimes the scale doesn’t show improvement in body composition. And the picture is a wonderful reminder that all her strength training paid off. But the picture doesn’t let you know that Angie was really frustrated after her first year back into teaching threw her routine out the window. The picture can’t tell you that Angie’s work on her fitness put a spring back into her step that had been missing for a while.
This is my own progress pic. My body fat percentage lowered quite a bit and I gained some sweet muscle over 6 months. But it can’t tell you that powerlifting not only gave me bigger muscles: it made me feel unstoppable and more confident about other challenges in my life. It can’t show you that I can run faster, move with less pain, and feel more energy with better nutrients humming through my body.
When you hear the stories that come with no progress picture, you realize that the most important transformations cannot be captured with a before and after shot.
After all, how do we capture the transformation of someone’s heart?
T has a big heart, and instead of pouring every last bit of it into everyone else, she’s learning to save a little bit for herself. Establishing the practice of strength training and developing the mindset required to work at fitness played a huge role in improving her self-image.
And that’s why I cried tears for T.
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