When I decided I wanted more defined, muscular arms I knew the cute pink 1 pound weights were not going to do the job. Think of those weights like placebos: they might give you the illusion that you’re getting stronger, but you’re not going to see noticeable transformation. When you want visible change you have to do some heavy lifting. You have to be willing swap your pair of 1 pound weights for a pair of 20 pound dumbbells.
If you follow me, you know that yoga and fitness are a huge part of my life. A day without movement for me is like a day without food; it’s not good for me.
When I started lifting heavier weights during my workouts, the rest of my life radically changed simultaneously. Doing the ‘heavy lifting’ in my workout was mirroring the work I was doing emotionally. When I stopped being afraid to pick up heavier weights and really show up for myself during my workouts, that became a metaphor for confronting the other things in my life that needed handling. No more hiding behind what was easy.
Why, one month before my 50th birthday, did I decide to start a mission to become stronger than I’d ever been? The answer is probably obvious: it's one of those birthdays that makes you take stock of what’s behind you and what’s ahead for you. One of my friends has always said “any birthday that ends in a 0 or a 5 makes you take stock”. For me the 5’s weren’t pivotal - but the 0’s? OH BABY, you’re not kidding. I wanted to level-up; I wanted to be seen and heard and be proud of who I saw looking back at me in the mirror.
At 30, I had just decided to end my first marriage and become a single mom to my 2-year old son. That marriage was a bad idea for me from the start, but like so many people, I thought that having a family and a nice home was all I needed to be happy. He was my opposite, in all the wrong ways. We were completely incompatible and both miserable.
At 40, I was in my second marriage. My birthday was great; I celebrated it with a trip to Dubai. Everyone told me “your 40’s are the BEST! You don’t give a fuck what anyone thinks about you, you just live everyday loving your life and being your BEST, every day!”. That was not my experience at all. By birthday #42, my whole world was falling apart and all the promises I had heard about the liberated freedom of my 40’s were complete bullshit.
It was a trifecta of pain: my son had just turned 16 and was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease with the prognosis of an eventual need for a liver transplant. The FBI had raided my husband’s business for an allegation of copyright infringement. And one of my husband’s children became addicted to painkillers after a back injury and needed professional intervention. It was all scary as hell, unbelievably expensive, and not surprisingly, I had to be the emotional rock while depression and anxiety took hold of the rest of my family.
Needless to say, my 40’s weren’t going great. I cried, a lot. I found yoga, the only place I could collect my breath and hide in the dark for an hour to keep me sane.
I liked the idea of going to the gym but I didn’t know what to do in there without a trainer to help me with the weights, and I could’t afford one with the mounting medical and legal bills, so it was just me and my yoga mat working through my shit and keeping me moving. It became such a big part of my life that I quit my job as an interior designer to become a yoga teacher.
I had done tons of classes with those cute 1 or 2 pound weights - heck, I’d even taught them - but what I knew from experience was that I could make my arms tired holding those weights but I wasn’t getting strong. Like a bird who spends all of its energy flapping its wings rather than building the strength to open up their wings wide and really take flight.
When the student is ready the teacher appears, and for me it was in the form of a great fitness teacher. One who saw the potential in me and knew what I needed was the encouragement to tell me “yes you can - go pick up the heavier weight”. He was the best coach I'd ever had, and he became one of my best friends for all of the things I learned about myself through him.
We need friends like these who teach us that our ONLY competition is who we see in the mirror. The only one we need to be ‘better than’ is our former self, every day. I became stronger every day, for me and me only. I didn’t care how I compared to anyone else in those workouts, whether they were half my age or 20 years older; I only wanted to be a better version of ME, every day.
That painful period of my life left me completely drained energetically. I had given everything I had to taking care of my family and holding them together for 8 years, and I was severely in need of someone to take care of me emotionally. I let it go too far without realizing, and I reached a point of no return. When I became stronger physically I also discovered my emotional strength for finally confronting all of this and made the changes I needed for me to feel whole again.
There is no transformation in lifting 1 pound weights; only tired arms from holding them up for a long time. You can get the same result holding your arms up without any dumbbells. If you’ve never been physically active or picked up a set of weights before then maybe that’s where you can start, but if you really want to see change you’ll never see it by staying there. Your emotional strength needs to be treated the same; a 1 pound weight is like a 1% growth factor. If you’re not willing to progress to anything heavier or break a sweat then the reflection you see in the mirror is not going to change. You may not be going backward, but you’re not moving forward enough to observe any change. You can stay the course and maintain 1% growth or you can multiply x20 and really transform.
If you’re ready to go beyond 1% , join the Bliss Life weekly email list using the form below for a major new program announcement coming this month that you won’t want to miss.