You Are Lioness Strong
Strength streNG(k)TH/ Noun 1. The quality or state of being strong, in particular. Physical power and energy. Power, muscle, muscularity, fortitude, toughness, spirit, backbone, bravery, grit, courageousness, spunk “her great inner strength.”
What a loaded word…wow. What a loaded topic! The idea of strength is so general, yet so specific at the same time. We think about and use personal strength every single day, usually without even thinking about it. Usually, we associate the concept of “strength” with how we perform in the gym. I’ll admit right now; when I started Miss Strong, the entire idea was to encourage women to lift heavier weights and to “go harder” inside the gym in order to gain physical strength and muscle. It’s wonderful to embrace the idea that “strong is sexy” but it’s easy to only focus on “the sexy.” At the time, I was failing to acknowledge the higher value of that one word. Strength.
See, the thing about strength is that it comes from within, and radiates out into the world and our own lives. We think of strength as something that’s very richly and solely physical…strong is SEXY! We turn on the TV and (c’mon now ladies, don’t deny it) watch big burly warrior men racing on top of horses in Spartan movies because they look strong, attractive, aesthetic, hot, sexy…right? Oh you know I’m right. That’s what people are naturally attracted to. Let’s be real here. We associate strength with how much weight we can lift and how we look in the mirror. Yes, you’re right. Strength is absolutely shown in the weight room, in the gym, on the track or while sprinting up a set of stairs.
However, what many fail to remember is the strength of the mind, the heart and the soul. Without mental strength, you very simply lack physical strength. Your mind is what contributes to your growth, your life challenges, your victories, your personal goals and your successes. Without a strong soul and a strong mind, how are you supposed to look down at a heavy bar of weight and pick it up? Without a strong mind, how are you supposed to get out of bed every single day and take action towards a healthier lifestyle? No one controls you and what you put on your plate or how you treat your body, so your mind and soul must be strong reflections of your performance. You, essentially control you. That strength and control, is mental. Without a strong heart, how can you expect to love yourself, and receive love from others in return? We get the love that we think we deserve. What do you think you deserve?
Why are we so afraid of strength?
Women, for example, tell me that they’re scared to lift weights in the gym because they’re intimidated and don’t “want to get too strong.” If this is you, it’s time to redefine your attitude toward strength. After doing a bodybuilding competition, I’ve recently realized how many girls feel like they aren’t strong. Ladies have complained to me about feeling mentally weak; they want to go binge on boxes of donuts and muffins and don’t know how to control their cravings. I’ve heard girls compare themselves to other women and rip their body image to shreds because it doesn’t match up with the image they’re looking at on Instagram. I’ve walked into the weight room on my college campus and seen girls shyly sneak over to the free weight rack and pick up 5 pound dumbbells for bicep curls, because they look scared to try the 35’s, even though they are capable of lifting heavy. All of these are examples of areas in which mental strength, heart, soul and self-love is lacking.
As a woman, if you want to eat a donut, eat a donut and don’t complain about it.
Wait…you’re wondering how “a donut” relates to being strong. Let’s talk about feeling strong about who you are and what you look like. If you’re going to eat something and feel guilty about it, work on possessing enough mental strength to look at it, put it down, walk away, and move on. Demonstrate control and mental strength before binging on desserts to prevent the situation from happening, or love yourself afterwards, if it does happen. Redefine your mental strength, and what you feel guilty about. Is the fact that you ate a dessert something to hate yourself for? You’re probably laughing now after thinking about that (I am)…that your entire day may have been changed because you ate an extra dessert and have been beating yourself up for it afterwards. I have a question for you. If someone standing next to you was eating a bunch of dessert or indulging in food, would you look over at them and yell, “Hey you, you should feel so guilty for eating that because it’s going to make you fat and ugly and now you need to go run for hours on the treadmill to fix it. You’re ruining all your hard work. Go feel badly.” No. You wouldn’t tell someone that (we would hope.) So why do you say those things to yourself? C’mon now…rise above this “dessert/food crisis” guilt trip. The crisis is not that you ate a dessert, it’s that you feel like you need to go make up for it now by working out hard or eating less. Eat the donut and move on. Your body is still healthy and beautiful. Establish a positive relationship with food. There is nothing to make up for aside from making yourself feel badly.
As a woman, stop comparing yourself to other women.
Our society has set so many standards for the “ideal physique” and the idea of aesthetics. We feel like we need to have tiny waists, big butts, big breasts, thigh gaps…sorry I’m not sorry that no one on this planet is going to look like a Barbie doll, and never should. “I want to look unreal and unhealthy”…said no one ever. When you start loving the body you walk around in everyday and who you are, you start practicing strength and self-love. When you have self-love and truly respect yourself, you don’t feel the need to have a certain type of body or physique. Instead of working out to look good, you begin to train. When you train, you’re working hard for the pure essence and passion of the actual training…not with the end result of “looking hotter.” Your end result should be strength and furtherance. Trust me…when you focus on getting stronger and fall in love with what you’re doing, the body will follow, as a bonus.
As a woman, you can walk into a weight room and pick up a pair of 75 lb. weights and start lifting them, because you’re a woman, and you can.
I don’t know where someone got the idea that girls should be lifting weights as light as their purses, but I beg to differ. Part of being physically strong and being able to lift 75 lbs, for example, is mentally pushing yourself to try challenging new things, and also not caring what the people around you in the weight room think. When you’re lifting, YOU’RE lifting. You do you girl. But actually. If you walk into the weight room and doubt your mental and physical strength…if you think that you should only be lifting a couple pounds “because you’re a girl”….well, ain’t nobody got time for that. Rack up the weight, and put some more plates on. Going to the gym is about growing. Physically, mentally, and personally. So let’s grow.
You are the only woman in this entire world, on this entire planet, out of every other girl and woman and person on this globe (and we know how many people there are) who has what you have. That’s such a crazy thought, right?! You are the only YOU. What works for one person will not necessarily work for you. You are beautiful. You are unique. Be the lioness that you are! Don’t beat yourself up, don’t compare yourself, don’t underestimate yourself. Strength does not plainly refer to how you look and what you can do in the gym. Push yourself in the gym, but also remember that strength is about your state of mind, heart, love and soul. If something doesn’t nourish your soul, get rid of it. Step up in your life, and demand respect from others and yourself everywhere you go. Radiate strength. Because you are a woman. You ARE lioness strong! And well….you can.
“Remember that you are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.” Embrace the beauty of strength. —
Leala Luna McGinnis, 21, is the CEO/Publisher of Miss Strong, an online global fitness community and training company for women, dedicated to empowering women by encouraging the discovery of beauty in strength, and developing strength in all aspects of life through self-love and unity of the mind, body, heart and soul. By bringing “real, raw, and relatable” fitness advice and training philosophies to women, Leala aims to teach women how to feel strong while maintaining sustainable and wholesome living.
“My goal and passion is to change that feeling of failure and disappointment within women, and produce strength, confidence, unity, and unbelievable beauty through simplicity. To speak from the heart from personal experiences, and to share those experiences with a global community of women and girls. Strong hearts. Strong Bodies. Strong Minds.” – Leala (Miss Strong)
I am so honored to be able to share Leala’s words and heart with you. I wholeheartedly agree with her passion and mission. Miss Strong is definitely #CauseFitnessApproved! Thank you, Leala!
Connect with ‘Miss Strong’ on Facebook, Instagram and check out her inspirational interview series on YouTube! (I’m honored to be one of her interviewees!)
YOUR TURN: What is one way you can implement Leala’s philosophies, and that YOU are ‘Lioness Strong’ into your own life? Tell me in the comments below!
INTERESTED IN BECOMING A FEATURED GUEST BLOGGER? – If you’re all about #CauseFitness and would like to be considered, please contact me! – Rachel Elizabeth
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