Alyssa Royse is the host and founder of Stronger in Seattle, owner and trainer at Rocket CrossFit and an overall fierce woman who empowers women through sport. Needless to say, she has the bird mentality. Taking a moment to reflect on the power of strength, we won't be surprised if you walk away with a bit more motivation for the day.
"What are you training for?" It's a trick question, really. But I was asked that, years ago, by someone who was watching me workout, and assumed I was training for a race or something. "I'm training to be able to carry my own groceries when I'm 90."
She looked confused, but I meant it. I have one body, and one life. Both of which were almost taken from me in a terrible car accident several years ago. I've always been active, but that accident shook me to my core and made me realize how precious my body is, and how much I want to be able to live my life, in it.
Now, as a trainer, it's a question that I ask the people I train. It's usually in our first conversation, and it leads to some meaty discussion about goals, self-esteem, perseverance and what we value in ourselves.
I have never really trained for a race of any sort. That's just not me. I did used to love doing triathlons, but I would always enter the water last, go straight for the outside so as not to get trampled, and swim as slow as I wanted. I never "raced" per se. I just did it. To gently push myself out of my comfort zone. To strengthen both my body and my resolve.
I don't like to compete. Not because I feel some sort of shame in coming in last, or lifting the least weight, it just doesn't motivate me.
But being able to live independently into my ancient age? That motivates me.
It's a terrible goal, however. A goal that you can't achieve for another 40 years isn't all that motivating today.
As a trainer, I know that people do really well when we work towards and achieve goals. Every incremental step towards achieving a goal is a success. When we have one little success after another, we start to think of ourselves as successful. When we achieve physical goals, we tend to think of ourselves as strong.
Feeling strong and successful helps in life.
As a woman, and a mother, that is the beauty that I see in sport. That's why I've made a life out of not only engaging in sport myself, but also helping others do the same.
But, how do you set goals if you don't care about "winning?" How do you harness the power of sports, and the communities within sports, if being "the best" isn't of interest to you? Or if, although those elite athletes inspire you, you just know you aren't one of them?
I can tell you what I do with the more than 200 people I train.
I have them train for something.
1. Set a BIG goal
Run your first 5k. Squat your body weight. Bike around Lake Washington. Pick something that seems "impossible" to you right now, but that the "you" you'd like to be would do. TELL everyone you know about it, and see if anyone wants to join you. People who are on teams, or train in groups do better than those of us who go it alone. So make a "team" for yourself.
2. Set 6 MINI goals
What are the milestones along the way to your big goal? Before you can run 5 miles, you have to be able to run one mile. Set that goal. For a long time, my big one was to do a pull-up. Now it's to do 20, at a time. My daughter, on the other hand, is extremely competitive in Olympic Weight-Lifting, and has set the goal of making it to Nationals this year. And every time she gets closer to qualifying, we celebrate. It keeps her focused, and keeps her feeling like she's succeeding.
3. Track your progress
When I train people, I have them keep a journal of EVERYTHING that they do. Why? So that on a day when you think it's all pointless and it all sucks and you don't know why your bothering, you can look back and see what you've done, and how much stronger you are now. A journal is a way to have a hit of success every single time you look at it.
Everything I do as a trainer has to do with setting goals to DO something not BE something. In today's world, we are confronted with a never-ending barrage of messages telling us to BE smaller, BE sexier, BE more attractive, BE something that we aren't. BE something for someone else to judge.
The biggest challenge that I face with my clients is getting them to switch from thinking about what their bodies look like, to what their bodies can do. The good news is that once our bodies are doing the things that make us happy, we tend to love them a lot more.
The only person you can and should compare yourself to - unless, like my daughter, you are competing on an elite level - is you. And for me, that often means just beating the voice in my head that says, "not today, I don't feel like it, I'll train tomorrow."
Set goals to do things that you want to do because they make you happy. Surround yourself with people who support your goals and your happiness.
Because if you were lying on your deathbed - and we all will be eventually - I guarantee you that you won't say, "I wish I had gotten down to a size 2 when I was in my 30's." But you sure as hell might be thinking about that time you did a triathlon and your friends were all there cheering you on at the finish line.
After all, the ultimate goal of life is to be happy. And that means DOING things that make you feel good!