Fighting Fear. Finding Power.
My Dad is one of the smartest men I know with a quiet strength I always admired. As his little girl, I would covet the time I spent with him – hanging out at the rink, swimming, serving as the ‘bat girl’ for his softball team or in my teens pocketing extra cash as the timekeeper for his hockey nights. But it was the games of catch we used to play that would later teach me an invaluable lesson.
I was never really athletically inclined but he would patiently show me how to throw a ball. Not just an underhand ball, oh no, the knuckleball, with its erratic, unpredictable motion. I would struggle with it and when it came time to catch a return I would look away, afraid it would hit me. “You have to face the ball if you’re going to catch it,” he would shout out. “ It might hit you, but you’ll get back up.”
The game of life can throw a mean knuckleball and sometimes it smacks you in the head. It’s during those times when subtle weapons can quickly change the power equation. It was during my transformation when it finally dawned on me what my father was trying to teach me years ago. It was never about baseball. It was about facing fear and finding my own weapon to beat it.
When anyone experiences a radical change like I did it’s a shock to your system. My body transformed before my mind had a chance to catch up with it. There were pieces of the journey that turned my life upside down and required adjustment. I’m not going to deny that it was at times terrifying and as much as I embraced it, I feared it.
The Iron Bar
In the spring of 2009 I had lost 70 pounds, had yet to lift a weight and was starting to worry about toning up loose skin. I decided to hire a personal trainer. In the beginning I would cringe when our session had to take place in the heavy free weight area where a daunting iron bar with racks of plates would glare at me. I still remember the shock and queasiness upon suggestion I would ever put the bar on my back.
But it was the squat rack, one iron bar racked with steel plates that I initially feared which became my safe haven; my suit of armor I could return to several times a week. It became my grounding – the only place where I could load up 95 lbs and put it on my back as a reminder of my starting point and how far I had come.
That piece of iron is my weapon of strength and not just in the physical sense. I believe strength is knowing the things that speak for you. It’s about having two hearts, one that beats louder than the other slowing down from exhaustion or self-defeat.
Each rep on that rack built me back up physically and mentally. I had found a place of tranquility, fearlessness and freedom all wrapped up in one.
The squat rack still holds that special connection. Earlier this week I broke my personal record weight. The number doesn’t really matter, it’s what it still represents – a badge of courage in how I conquered my own fears.
There’s a lesson in this – it’s through the very things that cause you shame where you can find your greatest source of energy and stamina to stick with it. Finding your own place of inner strength will move you closer to what you desire.
Ask yourself when you are on the verge of a breakthrough – maybe it’s the first ten pounds, in the home stretch of a personal goal or getting your nutrition on track – what is holding you back?
Nelson Mandela said: “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.”
Follow your fear, find your weapon and you will conquer any enemy that can kill your dreams.