I can tell what a person’s workout identity is just by watching him or her for a few seconds in the gym. It’s clear who doesn’t have a weight lifting identity… They flop dumbbells up and down in a noncommittal way and try to blend in. It’s not that they don’t know what they’re doing; it’s that they aren’t sure if they should be doing it.
People who do have a weight lifting identity – that is, they view themselves as someone who lifts weights and does it well – are confident in the weight room and their results are evident.
Case in point: I’ve seen the same woman in my gym for quite awhile, but it’s only recently that she clearly owns her weight lifting identity. She walks around the gym assertively and with purpose now. She lifts weights like she means it and like she means business (I might even venture to call her a bad ass!). I saw her using a personal trainer a few months ago and this may have given her the knowledge and confidence to get serious about weights.
Kudos to her for taking action. If this sister is consuming enough calories, I should start seeing some real muscle on her soon.
Over and over I hear people say they are a runner or are trying to become a runner. My friend Alicia has never considered herself “a runner,” but she recently ran longer than she expected, asthma notwithstanding. Afterwards, she said in her blog that she “felt like a true runner” for her own unique reasons. (See another runner’s perspective here.)
Everyone has a picture in their heads of what it means to be a runner, a cyclist, a swimmer, a person who lifts weights. But if you don’t already consider yourself to have a particular identity – and “set your intention, big or small,” as Alicia puts it – chances are you won’t get there.
If your mental picture of someone who lifts weights is a bodybuilder or a male only, and not a small-boned woman, or an older man or woman, or an overweight man or woman, or a runner, then weights will not be something you own as your identity.
And if you don’t own your weight lifting identity, you won’t be seeing results any time soon.
Are you still a “fat girl” even though you’ve lost weight? Are you “academic, not athletic?” Are you “frail,” not “strong?”
Whatever outdated physical identity baggage you’re hoisting around, isn’t it kind of heavy? And not the kickass weight-lifting kind of heavy.
You should know what your workout identity is, because it’s influencing the goals you set and whether you achieve them. When you allow yourself to have a weight-lifting identity, you won’t look timid while you’re lifting weights. You’ll look mean. You’ll look serious. You’ll look bad ass. Why? Because you ARE.