That first group strength session in the gym went about how I thought it would. Four women barely able to hang from the bar, asked to try our best to do a chin-up. Needless to say there was very little movement in an upwards direction. It was at this time that I had thoughts of never being able to do a chin-up. I’d seen strong women in the gym who could do them, and the mindset that crept in was, “those women have always been fit/talented/strong, I’m a naturally skinny girl, I’ll never be able to do that”. I’m happy to report that I can now do a chin-up. How did I get there? A little thing called consistency.
Consistency is a boring word. I’d much rather read an article that tells me “the 7 steps to doing your first chin-up in just 4 weeks!” but that just isn’t realistic. The truth is, to get to my first chin-up it took 6 months of regular training, with tiny progressions along the way. Weeks spent practicing just hanging from the bar, then using resistance bands to slowly drop down from the chin-up position, to doing chin-ups with resistance bands, to eventually being able to do a full body-weight chin-up (trust me, this was an exciting day)!
“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” — Will Durant
It’s been said time and time again — you are what you do every day. I’ve seen variations on this idea across the web and it is constantly advocated by self-help gurus, and for good reason — it works. There is no way that I would have been able to complete my first ever chin-up if I didn’t practice every week. I would lose strength in my upper body, and in my grip strength to hold onto the bar, and would find my progress regressing.
The truly exciting thing about this consistency revelation, is that it can be applied to all areas of your life. Just thinking about my old mindset of, “I will never be a strong woman”, and then totally smashing that goal, is so exciting. What things have you never thought yourself capable of doing? If you’re anything like me, feelings constantly pervade your mind of not being good or naturally talented enough (to try that new style of clothing, career, team sport, online course), or being just too scared to try something different and fail. But having the consistency trick up your sleeve, you already know you have what it takes to achieve your goals. Believing that you are already capable of doing what you set out to achieve holds tremendous power, and if you consistently work towards your goals you are already doing better than most.
Next time I feel scared of trying something new, I know I will remember those strong women I saw in the gym who could do chin-ups, who I thought had never been in my shoes. Now I am one of those strong women. And I will not stop at that.
Note: Shoutout to the fantastic @DavetheTrainer, without which my fitness journey wouldn’t have been possible!