Have you ever thought about the connection between how strong your body is and the strength of your mind? At SFTL, we think about it a lot. Here are two different points of view on the benefits that fitness can have on your entire life:
It all started in math class when my teacher offered training for cross country over the summer. I had always enjoyed running, but never thought about doing it competitively. From that point on, I decided to dedicate myself to running.
Weight loss was something that came with running. But that was never my goal. My goal was to try something new and just have fun. I started running in the summer, and summers in South Florida are dreadful. Hot, to say the least. The biggest change for me was attitude. I learned patience with each step in the scorching heat. I learned to keep going no matter what. I learned not to give up.
From May till January, I had lost a lot of body fat. My metabolism increased and my body was craving more water than ever before. In the classroom, my mind was focused, especially after running in the morning. I saw my grades increase as I became more motivated in school.
I saw myself grow, not only physically stronger but mentally. I gained a lot of confidence knowing I could keep up in a race with not only girl runners, but guys too. Even if 3.1 miles seemed crazy on a 90 degree day, I knew that my body could achieve it. Today, I run less then I had last year, but the confidence remains with everything I do.
I’ve been giving this a lot of thought over the past few years. After I lost 90 pounds, and spent lots of time at the gym getting in shape, I asked myself whether all that change actually made me a different person. And when I realized that the answer was yes, it inspired me to found She’s Fit to Lead.
My weight loss is a different story for another day, and while yes, it was a huge accomplishment and lots and lots of hard work (as is keeping that weight off), it’s almost not the biggest part of the story. The biggest change for me was feeling fit and strong, and that built my confidence in so many different ways.
I could tell you all the health benefits of weight lifting for women. You’ll build strength and endurance. You will replace body fat with muscle. You’ll strengthen your bones. You could be decreasing your risk of heart disease, diabetes and cancer, and you may even be able to get relief from chronic pain. I know for me, building a stronger core helped me a ton with some back problems that I had.
That’s all great, but the changes that weight lifting can bring to your psyche are worth so much more. For me, getting strong changed the way I think at work. If I have to do something really hard, I often think about how it isn’t any harder than my dead lifts, leg presses or anything else I do in the gym. And if I feel anxious about a meeting or if I sense others are trying to intimidate me, I say to myself, “You’re strong. You can do this.”. My strong body has made me feel more empowered and has given me the confidence to believe in myself in a way I never did before. And that makes every drop of hard work all worth it!!
Ximena Iglesias is a college student, contributing writer and member of the SFTL team. Randi Salko is the CEO of She’s Fit to Lead.