Time to find your inner badass


This is a story of how I found my inner badass. And how I can help you find yours too.

Have you ever watched someone do something that you're completely in awe of? Like, makes your jaw drop? Like, you'd use one of your three genie in a bottle wishes to do that?

That's how it was when I watched people do pull-ups.

They were strong. They could pull themselves out of a burning building if needed. Or a sinking ship. Or a dangerously high rooftop. They almost looked like dolphins - flying through the air, doing tricks for the audience. They were badasses.

But that wasn't me. After years of cycling my legs were strong like trees, but my upper body strength didn't leave much to be desired.

So I trained. Put in the work. Yadda yadda you've heard this story before. I worked hard and one day I finally got my first pull-up.

It was ugly as hell - with one arm obviously stronger than the other, bending more than it should to finally get my chin over the bar. But it was a pull-up none the less - and I was stoked.

Then disaster struck.

Not long after I finally reached the zenith of the pull-up bar, I was sidelined and put back on the bench.

Turns out, unbeknownst to me, I had a herniated disc in my neck and one day it decided it was fed up with me and burst. I guess it didn't like the combination of overhead weight training mixed with a lot of shoveling (thanks Minnesota winters), high stress from graduate school, and some unfortunate genetics (two parents with neck issues of their own).

My left upper arm was completely paralyzed and surgery was unavoidable.

Afterwards, in physical therapy, it was disheartening to re-learn how to even lift my arm, let alone believe that I would ever be able to do a pull-up again - no matter how sloppy it was.

But I wanted my arm back - and my pull-up. So I worked. Physical therapy, acupuncture, massage, mobility training, more physical therapy, rest and repeat. Healing is hard work - don't let anyone even tell you differently.

A year later I decided to go back to the gym. I had full range of motion back in my arm and I was itching to get moving more.

Turns out my body and I didn't see eye to eye. My stint back at the gym was short lived. I wasn't feeling the same happy high of hormones after every workout. In fact, my body was so burnt out from finishing grad school and having surgery, that I always left the gym feeling exhausted and depressed. It wasn't even uncommon for me to break down in tears after a workout for no reason at all.

I was tired, depleted, and deficient. The hot term nowadays is 'adrenal fatigue'. And while people throw that phrase around like it's the cool kid on the block, I know for certain that that's exactly what was going on inside my body.

Funny enough, as acupuncture students, we're taught how to bring the energy of the body back into balance, but nothing throws a person's energy out of whack and depletes their qi (essential life force) like 8 hours in class, 4 hours in the student clinic, and a few hours of studying each night before crashing face first into bed. Acupuncture students are the most qi deficient people I know.

I knew what had to be done. So I rested. I found yoga again. I ate the best food I could find. I meditated. I took Chinese herbs. I supplemented my qi and found my health again. I even built a healthy business in the process.

Fast forward a year and I decided I was ready to get back on that horse. I followed my favorite coach to her new gym and started from scratch. I threw my ego in the trash and picked up the baby weights. I took small steps. Asked the coaches for modifications a lot. Worked with my PT to make sure that everything I did in her office aligned with everything I did at the gym.

And slowly but surely I got stronger. And I worked harder. I got a pull-up bar for my house and practiced the strength building exercises my coaches showed me at home. I practiced. And practiced.

And then one day I pulled myself over the bar. It wasn't sloppy or half-assed. It was strong and beautiful.

And inside I was jumping for joy, high-fiving myself, and doing back-flips. But you know what I did? I Shrugged it off. I didn't even ring the PR (personal record) bell.

"Oh cool. I guess I just did a pull-up. Again. Finally. But it's not a PR or anything..."

Seriously? WTF? I worked hard for that pull-up. And here I was barely acknowledging my accomplishment.

What the hell was my problem? Something had to change.

Enter my new life guide, Shonda Rhimes. A few months ago I read her new book, Year of Yes and it gave me the mindset shift that I so desperately needed. Here's a quote that made me catch my breath:

“Badassery: 1. (noun) the practice of knowing one’s own accomplishments and gifts, accepting one’s own accomplishments and gifts and celebrating one’s own accomplishments and gifts”

Turns out I wasn't being the badass I thought I was. Shrugging off my single pull-up was not badass. Owning up to my accomplishments was.

So I started acting like a badass.

Small steps at first. Instead of brushing off compliments I accepted them with a whole heart and said, "Thank you." I wrote down daily accomplishments in my bullet journal. Gave myself a gold star when I checked something off my to-do list or reached a goal.

Now I'm pushing myself to go a little bigger. Louder. Brighter.

And here we are in the present. Not only can I do a pull-up, but I can do several pull-ups. In a row. Last week I did 35 pull-ups during a workout.

Yep! I'm gonna repeat that because I love how putting it on paper makes it seem even. more. real.

Last week I did 35 unassisted pull-ups.

And while doing those 35 pull-ups definitely made me feel badass, taking a moment right now to shine in the glory of it feels like total badassery.

Turns out I wasn't being the badass I thought I was. Shrugging off my single pull-up was not badass. Owning up to my accomplishments was.

Every day I work with clients to help them see the victories in their day to day work. The days/week/months that go by symptom free. Or their commitment to showing up and doing the work everyday to bring more balance to their health/life.

I help them shed light on their badassery.

A coach can help you find perspective when you’re too close to your work to celebrate the small wins. [Tweet this!]

So, are you a badass in sheep's clothes? What have you accomplished lately that you're brushing under the rug? Where can you stand in the spotlight and be a total badass?

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