For almost a year now "compete in a Strongman Competition" has been on my bucket list. About 8 weeks ago I finally took the plunge and signed up for a competition, with the support of my friend and fellow strong (wo)man competitor, Brooke. Of course, I could go into the struggles and successes of the six weeks of training leading up to the event, but if you've ever trained for an event or worked tirelessly to reach a specific goal, you already know the highs and lows you face along the journey. There's good, there's bad, and there's everything in between. Instead, I'm going to focus on the emotional side of this physical competition.
The morning of the competition I walked into the gym to find it packed with people. The energy level was high, as competitors were already warming up and practicing several events. The sidelines were over-crowded with chairs, belonging to friends and family who had come to spectate. My nerves were on edge, but easily settled when I discovered how friendly and welcoming everyone was. Throughout each and every event, direct competitors cheered and encouraged one another. Never before have I experienced such camaraderie between strangers.
But what stuck out the most to me? These incredible women I had the pleasure of being surrounded by were just so happy. They were all ages and sizes, not one of them with the "perfect body," as defined by today's twisted society, yet every single one of them radiated confidence and strength. And to me, this made them some of the most beautiful women I have ever met. Being around them was inspiring on so many levels. For once, I was able to push my insecurities to the side. It didn't matter what I looked like - yes, my roots needed to be done, my face may be begging for a facial and no, my legs weren't freshly shaven. It didn't matter what number was on the scale. No one cared about that. All day, it was about having fun and lifting weights. And that's exactly how it should be.
The last event came and went and the competition was over. I had just completed my first Strongman Competition and no matter my results, I was flying high. As I was packing up to leave, my mom asked me the simple question "why did you compete?" My first instinct was to respond with a typical "because it's fun" or "I like a challenge". But I took a second and thought to myself, 'damn, it is so much more than that.' It is so much more than being able to pick up heavy things. It's so much more than not having to ask a man to carry or lift something for me - although consequently, I do feel like a total bad ass. Being strong means I finally have the ability to respect my body in a way that I've never been able to do before. When I look in a mirror, I see dedication and discipline that I have learned and practiced over the last several years. I'm one of the few chicks who are happy when I have to go up a size in jeans. Why? This means my thighs and ass are growing - exactly what I've been training them to do. I don't think my arms are "big" anymore, but instead they are strong, muscular and capable of pulling my bodyweight over the bar 5 reps in a row. Thanks to this, I now have confidence in other areas of my life. Hey, if I can deadlift 280 pounds why can't I ask for the promotion I deserve or hit on that hot guy on the other side of the bar? I can! And now I do. The adrenaline rush that comes after breaking old PR's or starting a morning with a great lifting session is unlike any other and makes me feel like I can take on anything that comes my way for the rest of the day.
So what I'm saying is this - if you are debating signing up for a Strongman competition, do it. If you are debating picking up a weight for the first time in your life (and it's never too late), do it. I guarantee you it will change your life. It sure as hell changed mine.