I am not at all the girl today that I was in high school. Nope. I am SO FAR from that girl. In high school I was never the “popular girl”, “no guys liked me” and I was too scared to try anything outside my comfort zone. I was too scared to make new friends or even think for myself really. I had no confidence to trust in my own wants. All that time feeling “less than” led me to view college as finally getting a clean slate, a blank canvas to work with, much like how many of us view a new year. Although I was ready to leave my sheltered life, I was still so scared.
With this clean slate of college in sight, I was determined to change the way people viewed me. I was determined to no longer be the “fat girl”, the “shy girl”, the “sheltered girl”. Now I’m not going to lie to you all, my journey to confidence didn’t start with lifting weights but it was definitely the turning point in my success.
Things started slowly, because for me, I actually LOST the freshman 15 rather than gained it. I was so sedentary in high school and had absolutely no healthy muscle mass, so the simple act of walking through a hilly campus made a big change for me. With the loss of weight, I started noticing some things... like GLANCES. FROM GUYS. Yes, guys started noticing me. I know, I know, I should NOT be saying that the way men look at us is the only reason we should feel worth, but I would be lying if I said it didn’t help me when I was at my lowest and most scared point. It did. Those glances gave me the hope that my work was not futile.
If you’ve read any of the other pages on my site, you already know that appearance is not the primary reason I advise women to workout, but back then, for me, it was. I wanted to finally be the fit girl, the thin girl, the healthy girl. So, those first glances from guys led me to incessant hours of cardio at the gym, the same way most of us start out our fitness journeys. I woke up super early, went to the school gym when the average college kid was still asleep or hungover and I used the elliptical for a brain numbing hour. I would then go to the dining hall and eat the healthiest meal I could, again alone because I didn’t have the confidence to talk to anyone new.
I continued this cardio cycle for a few months until one of my friends took notice and said “hey why don’t you workout with me and my boyfriend at the gym!” My immediate reaction was “UH NO, I am still too fat to touch dumbbells”. She assured me that one day would not hurt, so I begrudgingly joined her fit self and her boyfriend's fit self...
Well, that workout changed my life.
I mean, yes, the insane soreness changed my life, but that day was when I realized that weight training was a skill. It took thought, it could be intellectual, it was therapeutic, and most importantly, it was EMPOWERING. I was hooked. Every waking moment from then on was spent thinking of my next workout, how to pair exercises together, how to get the best bang for my buck in the gym. I was single at the time, so I went four days a week to lift, gathered as much information as I could and spent the rest of my time with the mantra "lift, eat, sleep, repeat." By lifting weights, I was forced to venture out into the “men’s section” of the gym, and although I was received by the bros with even more looks, something had changed inside me. Instead of these looks inciting happiness, they
incited a desire to move past their approval, to only focus on the approval of myself.
When you’re a girl in the weights section, you’re only able to compete with yourself really... all you can do is just be better than you were the day before. That became my mantra eventually. Simply remembering the fact that each day I was closer to my goal than the day before was what kept me going, despite not having anyone to share it with. All I wanted to do was go to the gym, get stronger, hone my skills and keep learning. I remember vividly the day when I was at the grocery and got up from picking something from the bottom shelf. I was able to squat back up with ease. I was finally making change that cardio alone was not doing.
For the first time ever in my life, I was able to walk through a crowded place and hold my head high. I was able to laugh and not care if my face looked weird. I was able to be alone and not feel judged. I was able to love myself for who I was at that exact moment. I was able to focus on the journey to my goal. I didn’t care if others liked me or approved of what I was doing. What mattered was continuing the amazing energy that was growing inside of me.
If my story inspired you, please reach out to me, I would love to hear your story! If you need help achieving the same thing I did, please take a look at my workout cycles or confidence coaching, they will definitely get you on your way towards confidence.
-Always lifting your life, Laura
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My name is Laura and I help overly tired 20something women overhaul their lives, energy and confidence without overwhelm.
Although I am a Certified Personal Trainer through the National Academy of Sports Medicine and write to the best of my knowledge on fitness, nutrition and lifestyle practices, I cannot be made liable to know all information on a particular subject. Knowledge gained through this blog is to be used at your own risk and all lifestyle changes should be discussed with a doctor before starting.
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