WHY EVEN BOTHER GETTING STRONGER?

If you’ve been reading my blog frequently you know that I am a fan of strength training as a facilitator of change and I’m a big fan of choosing action, no matter what.  This is still a blog about strength and this is still a blog about action.  This is also a blog about love.  And a blog about change.

Right now our country is going through a ton of changes.  A lot of fear can be generated because of that but I am choosing excitement and anticipation.  I am excited to have the opportunity to stand up against things like racism, sexism, homophobia and anti-immigrant rhetoric that have gained volume lately.  I am anticipating massive positive change over the next few years because I am seeing so many other people rejecting the atmosphere of hate and alienation that is currently being cultivated.  I am aware that there are real reasons to be afraid, I also know that focusing on action can help us combat not only the fear but the things that we are in danger of.

After spending time in meditation and prayer, connecting with my community and friends, I am lifting my voice to join those who choose inclusion and love as ways to move all of us forward.  I am gravitating to others who are choosing to act and to fight for all.  It’s been awhile since you’ve seen a regular entry from me.  I’m back and I have things I want to tell you:

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“Everything I need to know, I learned in the gym.”  I say this all the time, and I’m not sure if anyone understands how truly serious I am when I say it.  Another way for me to explain it is to say:  “thisis what I train for.”

I lift weights for a reason.  I am training.  That means I am preparing for something, I am getting ready.  The way adaptation works in your body is like this:  you do something hard, and then you rest and do it again later and it will be a little bit easier, because your body has adapted.  This is the heart of progressive overload, which is what all successful lifters and coaches use.  I don’t lift weights just to lift weights.  I lift weights so that hard things become easier.

And how do I know if I am successful at this?  I test my strength.

I train (prepare), which allows me to get stronger (adapt) and then I test my strength by exposing myself to a challenge and allowing my body to respond.

We are living in challenging times.  It is a challenge to turn away from fear.  It is a challenge to let go of anger, frustration, blame and hate.  It is a challenge to choose action over despair or feelings of powerlessness.  To say it is a “challenge” is to admit that it is damn hard.

It is damn hard to make the decision to show up, day after day, to a world that seems to be against you.  It is damn hard to show up as 100% yourself and give your gifts to a world that may not ever say “thank you.”  It is damn hard to choose to love your neighbor, to pick empathy over disbelief, to open up your heart again and again knowing that this hurts really fucking bad a lot of the time.

But just because something is hard does not meant it is not worth it.

It also doesn’t mean it won’t get easier.  Choose love whenever you are able.  Pick the high road as often as possible.  Extend yourself to others.  Give even if you’re afraid there isn’t enough for you.  Love and welcome those different from you.  Stand up for those who need help.  Choose to act rather than complain.  Expect and assume the best in people.  Do it again and again and again.  This is true strength training.

So when challenging times come, you will be ready.  You will be prepared.  This is what you train for.

You will never know how strong you are until that strength is tested.  You live in challenging times, which is to say, you live in a time of great opportunity.  How much can you love, how fiercely can you be yourself, how much can you give, how well can you lift others up?

This is what you train for.

Elias Gross