You can’t encounter one without the other; challenge your physical strength, and you’ll find mental strength running up behind it. When you’re an entrepreneur, with little time to spare, exercise has its place; a means to achieve physical acceptance, or at the very least avoid being “fat-shamed.” So you run on the treadmill or do some cardio on the elliptical and deem your mission complete.
For those brave enough to push the poundage past your natural inclination, however, lifting weights provides an unexpected treat. Aside from toned limbs and increased stamina, inner strength you didn’t know you had will surround your efforts.
Girl Meets Weights: A Love Story
I remember the first time I felt it: the sweat dripping from my face, the heavy breathing, my body shaking uncontrollably. I squared off in front of the woman staring back at me and dropped to the ground. With a 150-pound barbell digging into the flesh of my shoulders, I rose against the intense burning of my thighs.
For the first time, I could feel my own power.
Since our first introduction more than 10 years ago, weightlifting has become a trusted mentor on my entrepreneurial journey. Here are three lessons lifting weights teaches you about harnessing your power.
You become better at trusting your gut. After experiencing an injury or two, you quickly learn how to listen to your body. Weightlifting is about instinct. You have to know when to push your body past its comfort zone to gain strength. On the other hand, you must also learn when to scale back your efforts to keep your joints intact.
Whether you’re running your own business or a woman leader in corporate America, your success depends on your ability to hone your instincts, a philosophy often echoed by Shark Tank investor and real estate mogul Barbara Corcoran.
“Learning to actually listen to your instinct is a great form of self-preservation. It’s both incredibly easy and tough at the same time, but worth the effort to master,” said Corcoran.
You develop incessant grit. Confession: There are days when I’d rather sleep in than subject my body to the pounding of weights. What keeps me going? The mental toughness I’ve developed as a result of weight training over the past four years. Every muscle in my body results from determination and committing not to give up on myself.
This same principle applies to business. Being a business owner is one of the hardest things you will do in your life. Rejection is a weekly, if not daily, pill you have to chug back. At times, you might even start to question your sanity. The grit factor ensures you outlast the internal and external naysayers egging you on to give up and go back to a nine-to-five job.
You become at home in your own skin. The first time I tried to do a pull-up, I could only eke out two reps. Now, I can do at least ten. Physical training teaches you to trust the process and not to fret when the results aren’t immediate. Eventually, you get there despite the struggle and amid the inner voices that keep taunting you and demanding you give up.
Every woman encounters those moments when her self-worth is being cross-examined. You start to say things to yourself like: “Can I do this?” and “Do I have what it takes?” Weightlifting helps those voices dissipate as you build your mental capacity.
Weight training isn’t about achieving your ideal body; it’s an ongoing commitment to building yourself from the inside out. Each time you decide to get one last rep or increase your load, a stronger woman emerges — both in the gym and your professional endeavors.