Tag Archives: courage

The Importance of Mindset To Do Scary Things

Still working on developing a consistently positive, growth mindset about when I compete again next summer.  Now that it’s a little less than a year out, nerves switched on this week. If that seems like an odd problem for a competitive bodybuilder to have, check out this blog because in it I briefly describe what happened the last time I was on stage.  The discovery path I was set on because of that experience has changed my teaching practice and my life, I guess.  For that, I’m grateful.  Still, my “fight or flight” response gets a bit stuck in “flight” when I think about another sticky spray tan, posing suit, and stage experience.  I told my coach this week that I’ve developed a little learned helplessness about what I’m going to be able to accomplish in this sport.  I call it that because I recognize in myself what I see in my students when they come into my classroom to take a geometry exam.  “I’m going to fail”, they tell me. What do I tell myself?  “I’ve been placed dead last three times.”  “My pelvis is too wide.”  “My shoulders are too narrow.”  “I’m too old.”  All of these are my version of “I’m going to fail, so why bother?  Who am I kidding?”   And nothing anyone says is going to change ‘reality’, right?  You know how this goes.  It’s uncomfortable to admit, but we all do it at some time about something.  That is a sign of a fixed mindset about one’s ability to do a particular thing.  Working towards a  growth mindset allows for the “I’m not ready, but I can improve” attitude.  Once I recognize it, I can deal with it.  Trick is to catch it before I end up ruminating on it.  I’ve been going back and forth on this one for almost a year now.

Thank you, readers, for hanging with me while I work through these things.  I don’t expect this to be resolved until after I’m on stage again.  Oh and, I kid you not – as I type this, I’m watching a baby bird through the blinds of my window.  She will be ready to fly soon and is tentatively exploring the opening and perch of her birdhouse.  And…she goes back in.  Not ready yet.  Hope she doesn’t decide there is no point…

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Way back in 2010 when I first set my mind on bodybuilding as the “big, scary goal”, I wasn’t a person who had any business making a goal like that.  Almost EVERYTHING had to be changed – how I ate, had to make time to train, and I had to retool all my routines about teaching because I no longer had time to bring work home.  I’m still married to the same wonderful man, but he was forced to make some adjustments because his wife just up and decided that she was going to be a bodybuilder now.  What was I thinking?  How would I do this thing?  The mental game was so hard then!  Looking at what I’ve done, it seems really silly to still be fighting dragons, but I’ve obviously developed a habit over the years of falling back into negative self-talk when I’m insecure and doubtful.   Back then, I put a small bulletin board up in my bathroom and filled it with motivational quotes that meant something to me.  Basically, I left myself reminders where I would see them to counter negative thoughts with positive ones.  I think I will do that again.  And I just happen to have a bigger bulletin board!

Something else occurred to me this morning while I was at the gym.  It would be useful for me to mentally redefine what is real for me about being on stage and then rehearse those thoughts.  I’ve competed three times.  I know how warm it is under the lights.  I know what it smells like – a mixture of spray tan and hairspray.  I know what the stage feels like under my feet.  I know I can’t see much past the first two rows in the audience without my glasses (which is a blessing).  I can completely visualize it now, which is a plus.  My thoughts up there are loud.  I can create a new set of thoughts to put with that visualization.  When I got home from the gym, I wrote this out.  I don’t think this is final form.  At some point, I’ll print it, laminate it, and put it up on that bathroom bulletin board.

I’m here to celebrate.

I celebrate the joy and gratitude that I finally get to do this.

I celebrate the useful, purposeful pain that forced growth and renewal.

I celebrate the courage I found minutes ago to walk out and stand here.

I celebrate the discipline to push myself to do things I could not do when I was a younger person.

What you see is the PHYSICAL MANIFESTATION of my MINDSET.

I’ve overcome obstacles to be here.

I’ve slayed dragons.  I got back up when dragons slayed me.

See those people there?  The judges?  They have a task to do for the promoter of this show.  I am not here for them and what they do is not my concern.  I’m here, on this stage, on this day, for my own reasons.

I’m here for the people who love me, who inspired me, who helped me, who believe in me, and who need me to be here.

I’m here for my mom.

I’m here for the pictures that will document the inner strength the struggle built.

I’m here to show others how to slay dragons, too.

I’m here to celebrate.

 

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Filed under Competing, Life, Motivation

Introvert Eats Ego

I know.  I know.  I KNOW!  But sometimes, I can’t help it.

Despite appearances – blog, a Facebook page, competing, I am an introvert.  I don’t interact with many people online or in person.  When I do explore and see what others are doing, like I did this morning, I never get jealous about appearances, but I do get jealous about lifting.  My initial response is “Yay you!!”  And then sometimes, it turns inward in an unhelpful way.  It’s inspiring if they are advanced lifters, but when I see women doing things I should be able to do – like squat anything over 130 pounds, I get bummed.  I have a few things I do pretty well, but cable pulldowns aren’t really all that sexy in the lifting world.   I get a little attention because of my age and that I didn’t quit.  And neither of those things impress me much.  I still have only been lifting for a few years and I am currently in an extended “improvement season”, which means I’m just putting in work.  Nothing truly exciting is going on.  I have a brand new Inzer lever belt I haven’t used because I don’t have heavy leg work in my program because I couldn’t do it.  So I’m putting in work to get to be able to do it in the future.  And it pisses me off when I see that belt just laying there in my car.  Waiting.  Heck – for a few weeks, I left it in the box it came in.  Just got it put together last week.  Now it’s riding around in my car.

I see people doing things I wish I could do and it’s a reminder that I’m really just average.  And getting older.  I haven’t been the new and shiny for a long time.   Feeling average and old – not reality, just feelings.  And then I see someone doing something I should be able to do, I look at what I’m posting, and my ego gets served up.  Ego on a plate.  Nom. Nom. Nom.  And that’s OK.  I’m an intermediate lifter now, I’m told.  Things will happen slower.  Things will be less dramatic.

I can’t lie – everyday I have to recommit to staying public because I think what I’m doing is a little boring and I’d like to just do the work and not be distracted.  I like to keep to myself – which is why blogging is better for me than Facebook.  But I am an average blogger – I’m not a funny blogger , I don’t have time to research so I’m not an informational blogger.  I’m not really doing anything here except documenting my journey.  The Facebook page is harder to keep up and maintain.  Trolls abound.  So much more negativity to deal with over there.  The videos are a little work to do, but the hardest part is putting those visuals up and hoping people don’t think I’m overly impressed with myself – which I definitely am not.  I think about the energy and the time I would save if I just stopped being public.

And then I remember why I don’t want to stop posting.

I remember what it felt like to walk into that gym when I believed I did not belong there.  I remember what it felt like to be embarrassed to have let myself get into that condition.  I remember how it felt to have to pay strangers to help me and trust that they knew what they were doing and weren’t just taking my money and going through the motions. (And that is why I get ENRAGED when I see bad training and bad coaching.  These women are trusting you, assholes, and you’re not even bothering to correct bad form and then dismiss science.  Just keep them emotionally dependent, usually injured,  eating almost nothing, doing hours of cardio, and guilt them when their metabolisms adapt and they stop losing weight – anything to keep them hooked into your ‘old school approach’.  I even saw a coach berate clients on his Facebook page for not following his ‘old school’ program.  Jerk.)  I remember how hard it was to change my daily life.  I remember the guilt I had because the people around me were basically forced to adjust their routines because of my decision.  It took a lot of courage and faith to do those things when body-image and self-confidence weren’t great.

Every time I get ready to quit being public, I hear from someone who borrowed some courage from me.

I don’t really care if I’m “inspirational”.  I don’t care how many people are following.  To be honest, it’s a lot of pressure to keep posting when I’m feeling very – average.  But there is something about what I’m doing that seems to be helpful, so unless something comes up that prevents me from keeping up the public part of my program, I’ll continue.  I guess I felt like I needed to say out loud that whenever my ego gets a little too inflated, there is a pin right there to pop it.  I still need a bit of courage to do what I do.

But if you need to borrow some, help yourself.  I don’t think it runs out.

 

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Filed under Life, My Lifting Log, Opinions, Venting, Ranting

The Most Frustrating, Inspiring Part of Bodybuilding is…

TAMMY vs. ____

It feels like I’m constantly battling against some obstacle.  It’s usually a cranky hip.  Sometimes, the pissy back jumps in to help out her cranky buddy. Did I really just say that my back has my hip’s back?  That’s silly.

Sometimes, it’s just my f’d-up geometry.  (Scoliosis, flat feet, bunions)

Sometimes, it’s my job.  Had to put in academic warnings today.  Third quarter academic warnings are always tough.  Makes me question why I bother.  Should get a job in an office somewhere.  At a nice, quiet desk job.

But sometimes, my opponent is more – formidable.

TAMMY VS. TAMMY

I had progress pics and got a DXA bodyfat analysis done.  I sent all the data off for a second opinion.  I’m not going to share specifics just yet.  I’m still in shock.  And I’m probably overreacting.  But the inner voice I’m battling tonight is repeating “You just wasted the last three months.”  And then it goes to the really scary place – “You’re too old for this.  You’re not an athlete.  What were you thinking?”

And after a certain amount of time to process that, a very quiet and calm voice slowly begins the pep-talk.  She reminds me that setbacks are normal and they are necessary.  She reminds me that I do this because I love the activity of doing it.  I do it to overcome fear.  I do it to repeatedly fall and get up.  Every setback is a lesson that needs to be learned.

So the most frustrating and inspiring part of bodybuilding is the continual opportunity to grow psychologically stronger as my ego repeatedly is handed to me on a platter.  I want to quit.  I want to hide.  I want to crawl out of public view.  But what I think of as a major setback is really nothing in the big picture.  This is anything but a life and death situation.  This isn’t important.  It’s just a setback.  It’s just an ego check.

I’m learning.  I’m listening.

Yeah, I have my battles.  Because I know I want to hide when things are tough, hide and feel sorry for myself with nachos and ice cream – that’s why I started this blog and the Facebook page sometime later.  I need to keep pushing myself out of the comfortable place and out in the open.  I never wanted to be ‘inspirational’.  I want to be held accountable.  I wanted more support.

I’m trying to build as much muscle as possible.  I’m trying to get bigger and stronger.  Ultimately, I’m putting myself through a challenge every day.  My body just isn’t cooperating right now.  The psychological part of this is so much harder than the physical.  That’s the challenge, I guess.

The news I got today isn’t the issue – it’s just data.  What I’m writing about is the real obstacle – the mental game.  The mental gymnastics, the uncertainty, the questioning…that’s the rub.

Sometimes, all that’s required is faith, patience, and courage.

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Filed under Faith, Life, Motivation, Teaching