Written by Fitness Professional and Move More Fitness Expert, Kasey Shuler
At first, that area in the back of the weight room with the platforms, benches, and men who grunt loudly used to scare me. Sure, I would love to be able to lift like Wonderwoman, but I didn’t even know how to put plates on the bar.
It wasn’t just my knowledge deficiency that kept me from lifting, but my self-conscious attitude around my protruding belly button. I wasn’t sure if my separated core from diastasis recti would be able to handle that kind of weight, so I shrank back and stuck to what I was comfortable with. But comfort rarely creates change.
One day, a trainer in my gym challenged me to enter his strong man contest. I shrugged and said, “Yeah, why not?" but didn’t officially sign up until the week before to make sure I could do the lifts and didn't make a fool of myself. I started training with others who knew what they were doing, looked up techniques on YouTube, and practiced consistently.
Pump You Up
Pretty soon, I not only walked into that weight room with confidence about my abilities, but in how I looked. And truth be told, I didn’t look much different. Maybe I had a little more muscle definition, but I still had that same belly.
This newfound confidence is not a singular occurrence. The Centers for Disease Prevention and Control confirms that along with the usual physiological benefits of exercise such as reduced effects of arthritis, diabetes, heart disease, osteoporosis, and back pain, strength training reduces depression and boosts self-esteem, improving an overall sense of well-being.
As this ACE article demonstrates, confidence from strength training can be a combination of factors:
While it’s nice to feel a sense of mastery over a corner of a weight room, the most important place to feel secure is in your own skin.
Writing this article at the beach is a true test of confidence. Walking around in a swimsuit, I could either focus on how I look by comparing myself to others, or walk with a selfless confidence so I can focus on others. One practical tip is dressing appropriately. If I wear a bathing suit that allows me to move freely, I feel more confident in chasing a toddler into the water. Similarly, strength training shifts our perspective of how we look to how we can move, not only in the weight room but for holding our kids or performing in our jobs.
The other day in the gym, a guy came over to help me put plates on the bar. Was my struggle that obvious? I laughed it off, thanked him, and went to work on my next set, right beside a woman doing overhead presses. I thought she looked like Wonderwoman.