When you hear this phrase, what comes to mind? Do you think of a shredded, weightlifter? Do you think of a cancer survivor? Do you think of a single parent who is showing up for his/her children, pursuing a career, and also fulfilling personal commitments? What about the parent who lost a child and finds a way to heal? Do you think about them?
I sure do. I think about all of them. In each of these scenarios, strength is a factor. Strength encompasses areas in our overall well-being. It describes physical, emotional, spiritual, and mental attributes.
For this example, consider me. Upon first glance, you’d say I’m strong because I am active, muscular, and embody a healthy lifestyle. You would be correct. I am strong physically.
If you dove a little deeper and had a conversation with me, you would learn I own my own business, intentionally choose healthy daily habits, and am in fearless pursuit of a mission to grow individuals into the best version of themselves. With these facts, you would say I have a strong mindset and you would be correct. I am strong mentally.
If we got to know each other on a deeper level, experienced a significant amount of time together, or empathized about a similar fire we each walked through, I’m sure you would agree that despite lofty barriers, I am a survivor. You would say I am emotionally strong and you would be correct again. I am strong emotionally.
Knowing these truths would help you to see that I am a strong spiritual believer. My faith and relationship with my Heavenly Father are the driving forces in all I do. My purpose to provide health and hope is the backbone of who I am.
You see, strength is such a multifaceted word. It’s a word often reduced to physical strength but it is more than that. Strength is an inner grit and discipline to do the hard and heart work to break through barriers and embrace obstacles. It means identifying areas of weakness and pursuing the tools, people, or programs necessary to improve. Strength is the ability to move forward after a setback.
We grow stronger by showing up every day and keeping the promises we make to ourselves.
Strong people have weak moments.
Just because I am strong doesn’t mean I am perfect. In fact, sometimes, I feel weak…and that is quite alright. You can be both strong and experience weak moments.
I feel weak when I experience something new or when I’m in a situation where I feel unqualified. When I’m not practicing positive self-talk (which requires a great deal of strength), I am quick to stop myself or give myself a bailout plan before I even try. I know I have the strength to do hard things and yet, the reality that I could fail cripples me from starting. Ever been there?
I feel weak on days at the gym when I can’t lift as much weight as I would like or even on the days when getting to the gym seems impossible. I am not always in control of my food choices and slip into old, bad habits. I experience times where meeting the expectations of others leads me into areas that are not good for me. I feel incredibly weak when I do not keep the promises I made to myself.
One area that I know feels weak at the moment but requires a great deal of strength is vulnerability. It is challenging to show the world my imperfections and insecurities. However, I know it is in our vulnerability that we connect with others and prove our authenticity. With vulnerability comes true connection and with true connection, growth is possible.
Strength is grown and it is grown on a lifelong journey.
How do I grow stronger?
Make a commitment to yourself to move your body and elevate your heart rate for at least 30 minutes, every single day. You don’t need to run a marathon or climb a mountain every day, but you do need to move. Your body was designed for healthy movement.
Set yourself up with a workout plan that will help you achieve your goals. This could mean seeking support from someone to design a lifting plan for you, downloading an app, or purchasing a gym membership, or fitness equipment for home use.
Plan a schedule and block out the appointments in your calendar for when you will exercise. Set a realistic commitment for yourself and show up for your appointments. You wouldn’t cancel on a good friend – don’t cancel on yourself.
Eat food that nourishes your body with key vitamins and minerals. Remember, food is fuel for you – it’s gas in the tank. You wouldn’t put cheap, inefficient gasoline in your vehicle so choose to replenish your body with rich nutrients that bless your body.
Mentally, Emotionally & Spiritually
Spend time with people who are good for your soul. We greatly underestimate the weight of which our surroundings play into our emotional and mental well-being. You need to find people that want to climb the mountain with you!
This might mean using the Unfollow button on social media, stopping outings with a crowd of people that leaves you feeling run down or unhealthy, or connecting with positive groups both in-person and online that share common interests. Establish these connections to occur regularly in your routine. Showing up for these events is just as important for your growth as showing up to the gym.
Learn from encouraging, growth-minded mentors. There are countless influencers providing information about how they achieved what you’re dying to do. Utilize podcasts, YouTube videos, books, and other resources like this to lead yourself in the direction of your goals. By empowering yourself, you give yourself the necessary tools to be successful. As your confidence in these areas grows, your mind and emotional endurance will grow stronger.
Remember this: You are strong. You are stronger than you realize and you have everything in you that you need to be successful. Embrace the journey and you will grow stronger every day.
Erin Bahrenfuss, Owner STRIVE Health + Wellness & Independent Certified OPTAVIA Coach