Strength vs Aesthetics: Mindset Changes
Why I switched to strength training and I'm more stratified now than EVER before from aesthetics alone.
The other day a very sweet girl (who I see often at the gym) said since she had seen me in the gym, noticed how my figure and shape has changed a lot. My initial reaction was amazed and shocked. When we strive to see physical changes often we do not noticed them ourselves or it takes a really long time to progressively see the changes made. When choosing the passion based around fitness unfortunately this is the nature of the lifestyle, progression takes time. Therefore aesthetic changes can sometimes be less drastic when trying to observes ourselves every day. Whether that be fat loss or muscle gain.
I left the gym that day obviously feeling good about myself. I've never had anyone complement on my physical appearance in a positive way for a long time. Later on that day it hit me. I felt sudden pressure to keep physically looking that way. And for who? To please other people? I mean, you could argue I'm doing it for myself however the satisfaction from looking a certain way only keeps me motivated to a certain extent. Feeling the pressure (and although she was being nice) a slight judgement from others started to make me feel anxious to train. I had even contemplated going to the gym on my day off because I felt the need to keep up the appearance. What was I thinking? I shouldn't feel guilty, pressurised or any negative associations when it comes to the gym because I simply go there to enjoy myself have some time off and really think about..... me.
In a way, I wish she had said 'wow! I saw you lift X kg weight, that's impressive! You've grown so much in strength'. That compliment would have benefited and inspired myself and far more deep and meaningful then a comment on my physical appearance that is only after a while still lives on the surface of how the compliment was intended about. That hypothetical compliment would have made a lasting impression and complementing something as personal as strength I think shows character more than appearance.
The day I changed my mindset from training for aesthetics to strength, power, endurance, speed was when I started to see results. I left the gym feeling far more accomplished after doing an assisted pull up then doing a donkey kick. I actually felt proud. The fact I could start to lift and really push myself to the limit- it was this sense of inner strength that I started to get the buzz for training (sometimes a lot of people in the gym don't achieve) . With social media dictating that having a big bum and a rock hard abs as the only way of having true satisfaction from training does frustrate me, but I understand. It wasn't easy to change the way I planned sessions and I think about training. I don't blame the girl for only noting in my appearance before the progress of the weight and strength from my sessions. Today's society really does see the person on the surface for a few seconds rather than dig deeper and find that embedded meaning are peoples intentions.
From doing more strength training in my sessions I've seen more progression and have made my training more flexible and fun which means I always go to the gym feeling inspired, motivated, and ready to challenge myself and frankly get a real sweat on!
Before, training would consist of either doing 'legs' or 'arms', with little creativity to my session. Now I sprint, push, row, throw, climb, jump- and sweat so much (it's disgusting). I've never challenged myself as much as I have by training for strength. Training aesthetics alone meant me often feeling discouraged when results weren't seen immediately. But what I get out of the gym now, I am far more than someone who does the same weight, exercise to grow the same muscle for years and years and still wonders why they haven't seen progression yet.
Honestly, Ive never been more pumped for the gym, It's almost like rediscovering a new passion again. I won't lie and say changing my mindset was easy, because finding the willpower to want to train for strength (something I think only ourselves can appreciate more than those around us) can be challenging, not the mention....... YOU ARE PUSHING YOURSELF. It's finding that sheer grit and inner power to say 'yes, I will push this massive tyre weight for 10 reps and feel major power endorphins'- YAAAASSS!!! As I said before (and won't ramble on much more) after spending so so many hours in a gym of some sort, the sessions I leave feeling incredible proud and high as a kite is the ones where I have pushed myself and found a moment of myself to see that I CAN do something. That happened with strength. I do not focus on how I look, gaining muscle or losing weight. Those factors may come through as a by-produce of the training I do, but not something I solely focus on. This has made my mind feel more relaxed and less pressure to see the 'gains'.
I hoped you enjoyed my passionate post- something I feel is very true to me at the moment. I am not discouraging anyone that wants to train for aesthetics at all, but ask yourself one question. How long can you be motivated for just to look a certain way? For me, I didn't feel happy if I didn't see results, as that can leave others feeling demotivated. Don't let that happen, find a new way to train, or better still if you can incorporate elements of both styles that is equally just as great.
Happy training, with both inner and outer strength.
Simply Martha x