This morning was a beautiful one. As you may know, I love early mornings and for me, they are the best times of the day. The time between 6 and 8 am is when I would stop the clock, if I could.
Today I trained a client and went for a walk right after that, carrying the equipment we used, more than 40 lbs worth of kettlebells and other things, in my backpack. But that's part of the adventure and part of getting stronger, right?
I live in El Cerrito, the city with some really impressive hills. Whenever I have the chance, I walk up the them to enjoy the awesome views to the Bay and San Francisco.
Today the walk was particularly needed. I had had a great conversation with my client who has become much more than just a client for me.
She is truly inspiring, smart, intelligent and STRONG woman with lots and lots of life experience. This walk was needed to think a little more about what she said and how it made me feel.
The Different Meanings of STRENGTH
Right now, one of our goals is to improve her push ups. She wants to be stronger. She is ready to put in the hard work, but she can get a little impatient, which is very human.
So, in order to improve the upper body strength, we did some bottom-to-top push up work today.
To do that, lie on your belly, hands on the chest line in a push up position, and push yourself off from the ground. The focus is on working on the lowest part of the push up, which matters the most when improving the depth of the push up.
At the same time, the rest of your body should remain in a nice plank position, without the butt rising higher than the rest of the body.
And that's where you would need some serious strength. She could do a couple of bottom-up push ups, but struggled quite a bit. Being disappointed with her performance, she told me,
“You must be able to bust out many of them in a row, right? Because you are strong.”
Yes, I can do them, and yes, that's one way of measuring the strength. But there are other ways too.
That's what she admired about me: My ability to do several bottom up push ups.
But here's what I admire about her: In addition to the physical strength that she has gained in the past tree months, she is incredibly strong also mentally.
There are things that she learns from me. And I am getting so much back from her, from a very STRONG woman.
Walking the Hills and Valleys
As we were talking today, I asked her if she has ever felt really, extremely lost in her life.
Her response was a really quick “yes”.
She has seen a lot in her life, experienced ups and downs, or, as she aptly put it, walked up many hills and down many valleys. And even now, when she has built a great career while being a great wife and amazing mother for her four children, she still keeps walking up and down the hills and valleys.
It has taken a lot of work to become a strong, confident woman who she is today. But here's what she assured me:
“I wouldn't be where I am today in my work, in my personal life and all the other areas in my life if it wasn't for these very lost moments that I have had to overcome in my life.”
Building the life that you love as well as building up your mental strength is actually not that much different from building muscle strength.
Both take tons and tons of practice, dedication and getting back on track after slipping and losing the way. Because we all stumble and fall and get hurt, but getting up and keep working is what separates the ones who get stronger from the ones who give up.
Always Keep Moving
When asked her how she has built her mental strength, she gave me lots of thoughts.
Maybe you will find them useful, too.
No matter how bad your current situation is, no matter how lost or hopeless it seems, you are where you are for a reason. What the reason was, probably becomes clear later. It may seem uncomfortable and even unfair right now, but it's part of the journey and it will pay off later.
You may just sit back and keep complaining how all the bad things happen to you. You may wait for the things to change, but the change doesn't happen before you start taking action. It's all your responsibility.
And listen: Only few of us take the right kind of action right from the beginning. Most of us take the wrong way, and that's fine. Because again, that's part of the journey and part of the growth.
Sure, people who know where they are going and are able to figure out the best way to get there right in the beginning, probably get what they want faster. But there are not too many of us like that.
Most of us will end up taking several wrong paths along the way. We screw up. We make a mess. But even then, things will work out, if you keep working. A lot of times it may happen later than you expected, but later is better than never.
Make positive thinking a habit. It takes a lot of effort, but if you want to get mentally strong, you need to think positively and push back the thoughts that are not supporting your goals.
Your brain is stubborn and it's hard to change the ways it acts. It always looks for the easiest way. That's why it's so hard to make changes and create habits, whether it means thinking positively instead of being negative, or going to work out instead of planting your butt on a couch.
The way your brain acts is not that different from what your muscles do. If you don't challenge your brain, it won't change. Just like with your push ups. If you don't work on them, even just a little bit every day, they won't get better.
As you see, there are so many similarities in building the body and strengthening your mind. It's all about practice, replacing the old, bad habits with better ones and keeping yourself in action. Doing it over and over again.
If you let someone (or even yourself) to tell you that you can't find a better job, quit drinking or break out from a bad relationship, then you won't. You have to start taking action toward those things and eventually, you will get there.
The same is true with your push ups. Keep working, little by little, and believe that you will get there. Nothing is impossible.
What to Take Away from This
It may sound like a lot of ranting today. But when you think about it and let it soak a bit, it all makes sense. Besides, these thoughts are coming from someone who talks from her experience and who I truly believe and respect, I know there is a reason to believe in them.
Keep pushing through, wherever you are. Taking action keeps you moving. Even if it's the wrong way at first, you will figure it out later. If you don't take action, you will never find out what the right way was, and you never get strong – physically or mentally.