Afraid of Being Too Strong? American Ninja Warrior's Empowering Experience

People come up to me daily, and are not shy about commenting on how I look. It ranges from an elderly gentleman walking by me in the gym parking lot saying, “What are you going to do with all those muscles?” to a retired teacher saying, “You have such big muscles for such a little girl.” These comments are worked into a quick conversation, and I’m never quite sure what to say.  Sheer embarrassment floods me every time - even if it is meant to be complimentary. I know everyone has felt this way about something.

A beautiful day of trail running along Torrey Pines.

A beautiful day of trail running along Torrey Pines.

In the past, I’ve let what others say affect me: working out less, putting on a few pounds of purposeful weight to hide muscles, staying covered up to feel better because I didn’t want to stand out or feel uncomfortable with people staring at me.  I’m naturally very petite, don’t lift heavy weights, but work out with extreme intensity - not just to have muscles either.  

Working out feels good.  It is a way to push my limits, set personal records, releases stress.  It’s a time of extreme focus and being in the moment.  Being a competitive athlete, who played a variety of sports, it’s so fun bonding with other athletes who have the similar goals.  It’s what makes me happy. 

American Ninja Warrior changed my perspective about feeling too strong.  I am obviously not strong enough.  I have a new focus.  A new push, a new drive to succeed. No more worrying about what people will think of my intensity. I've reframed my thinking, embraced my strengths, and now feel comfortable pushing myself further, not being scared of standing out.  I've only ever worked to improve and challenge myself.  Never competing with anyone but me.

I can hear my carpool friend smiling and saying something like “No one ever comments on my muscles.” or my another friend saying to people, “Why didn’t that person ask me if I work out?” No more worrying about what people might say to me when I walk by them. Whether it is positive, negative, or neutral.  It’s just another perspective that I’m not going to take personally.  I have a new outlook. 1. I am an extreme athlete. 2. I’m a ninja warrior. 

Outside the gym, when that man in his late seventies asked me, What are you going to do with all those muscles?  I told him.  “I’m training to be the next American Ninja Warrior.”  He responded, “I want to be like you when I grow up.  I smiled and laughed.

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Embrace your strengths.  Whatever they are.  Don’t be afraid of being too strong, too smart, too bold, too edgy, too whatever it may be, to ‘most’ people.  Work hard, be honest, show respect and embrace your strengths.  As long as you have good intentions. When have you ever felt too strong?  How did you reframe your thinking?