The Search For Stong

Somewhere towards the tail end of 2014 I found myself reflecting on how far I had come academically and professionally, I had my first "real" job with benefits, I'd completed a master's degree, and was living in San Francisco with a group of good friends, but in spite of all of that, I felt like crap.... both mentally and physically. I had put in a tremendous amount of work while in grad school, and despite studying public health I really didn't take care of my own health. I rarely got to the gym , I ate sporadically and not very well (think wine and popcorn for dinner), and I didn't take care of my mental health. I was working in homicide and violent crime research, and when I felt overwhelmed I opted to watch an episode of Big Bang Theory, rather than actually address the problem. After 2.5 years of this I was left with bad habits, and all of the knowledge I needed to overcome them.

 So I set to work. I was fortunate in that years of studying health had armed me with the information I needed to change my habits and make better decisions. I started with shifting to a new "diet" I gathered aspects of the Paleo Diet, the Mediterranean Diet, and the Plant Based Diet to put together a new way of eating that worked for me. (I'll write a new post about how to do this on your own, soon I promise!) I'm now lucky to have a partner who is supportive of me and enjoys eating well, which makes a huge difference in my ability to succeed.

Additionally I hired a personal trainer, and over the course of a year he kicked by booty into shape. I've since modified some of the exercises to add on fewer reps with heavier weights and I'm loving the progress I'm making now because I feel so strong. And that's what this blog is all about! I'm a daily work in progress, but every time I reflect back I see myself as stronger both mentally and physically than where I was before.  

Keep in mind, strength takes training, it's an action not a goal. Here are some tips to get you started on your path to being a strong woman in every aspect of the word. 

  1. Forgive yourself for slipping, but hold yourself accountable. It's ok to have an off day, but make an effort to do better. Treat yourself with the same respect and discipline you have for other people who you love, and keep on moving forward.
  2.  Practice using your body every day. Go for a run, lift some weights, prove to yourself how strong you really are!
  3. Treat your body like it's your only one. Our bodies are resilient, but not unbreakable, if you want to love your body treat it like you love it and give it what it needs! This means a healthy diet, lots of water, and stay away from processed "food."
  4. Practice mental health. This doesn't mean you have to be a Yogi, or go see your therapist, but feed your brain; read a book about something you enjoy, watch a documentary, or go to a museum. New ideas, meditation, and reflection are all healthy ways to keep yourself feeling inspired. 

If all else fails scour the internet for some good quotes. I love this one by Melissa Stockwell:

“Getting back into competitive shape after having my baby wasn’t easy, and I’m happy with the progress I’ve made. My post-baby body makes me feel both beautiful and strong. Sometimes I’m out running with my dog and my son in the jogging stroller, and I get double and triple takes as I run by with my prosthetic leg. Once someone yelled out the window that I was a ‘badass mom,’ and it stuck with me. The biggest compliment is when someone says I look like an athlete and that I look strong. To me, strong is beautiful.”Shape, August 2016

What do you do to stay strong? Was there one thing that made it more doable for you? Share your feedback in the comments section below!