Name: Ivonne “Bon Bon” Ward
Location: Seattle, WA
What does being a Girl Gone Strong mean to you?
A Girl Gone Strong is a woman who has not only “gone strong” physically by embracing strength training, she has also developed a strong sense of self, a strong mind, a strong character. This girl creates a life she loves and takes full ownership of it. She is confident. She speaks and acts with intention. She strives to live in alignment with her values. She doesn’t try to “fit in.” The only approval she needs is her own, and she’s got it. She trusts her instincts. She lets her guard down because she knows that opportunities for meaningful connections and personal growth exist in moments of vulnerability. She mostly lives her life as one big “YES!” (to new experiences, adventures, feats of strength), except when she really wants to say “no.” Then she says “no,” and that’s that. Sometimes, this girl is not so strong—and she’s cool with that, too.
How did you get introduced to strength training, and how long have you been training?
After a lifetime of not ever exercising on purpose, in my 20s, I dipped my toe into the fitness waters with a Pilates DVD program from an infomercial. From there, I started reading about fitness and got this crazy idea that what I really needed was to lift weights. So I got down to business.
I got started on my own, with a book, in a small local gym around the corner from my apartment in Miami Beach. I was too embarrassed to talk to anyone or make eye contact, but I was so determined to make some changes that I braved the discomfort of looking like a fool in front of a gym full of “fit, pretty people” where I didn’t quite feel that I belonged.
I’ve been showing up consistently since mid-2003, though my “training” has gone through many phases, interests, shifting goals, and philosophies. Figure competitions (I never got on stage because it just doesn’t align with my values and what’s important to me), obstacle courses, dragon boat racing, 5Ks, 10Ks, a marathon, a ballroom dancing competition, a powerlifting meet… all of these things have motivated me to stay active and fit along the way. I was even a personal trainer for five minutes (nah, just kidding, more like three years), before deciding that fitness was more of a lifestyle choice and personal interest than a career path for me.
That’s the tl;dr version.
The long version goes like this: In my 20s, a person who used to teach and choreograph for a group of us salsa-dancing high school students back in the day saw me at a nightclub with a friend. It was my first time out dancing very soon after the end of a long-term relationship. Instead of saying something polite like, “It’s so nice to see you,” she blurted out, “Wow! You’ve gotten so fat! But you have kids, right?” In the next breath, she complimented my friend, who looked exactly the same as she did when we were 14 and 15 (dainty and petite, like the Latina actress and singer, Thalía, in fact).
If you can believe it, other than really wanting to be able to tan (that’s a whole other story), I had made it through my childhood, teens, and into my 20s having never felt ashamed of my body or bothered by my shape or weight.
Less than a year old, ~2 years old, mid-teens
In fact, that night, I had been feeling pretty good in my maybe-a-little-too-tight jeans and a halter top. Her comment was unexpected, and that moment shattered my self-confidence, which was already fragile after the recent break-up.
I immediately fully identified as “fat,” which just minutes before was a completely foreign identity. Looking back now, I think what I really meant wasn’t “fat,” but “failure.” It wasn’t that I felt she insulted me or that “fatness” was a bad thing. It was her judgmental and negative tone, the way she looked me up and down incredulously, and her quick attempt to find an explanation for my appearance (“but you have kids, right?”). When she followed that up with glowing, positive comments about my friend and how well she had maintained herself, that killed me. She made me feel like I had just been evaluated and did not meet whatever the acceptable qualifications were, whereas my friend did. My reaction had little to do with my physical appearance, though, but I got kicked when I was down, and that one comment is what I fixated on. Her comment changed my life.
Fueled by some pretty negative emotions, I was determined to “not be fat anymore” (read more deeply: “not fail at life anymore”). My first attempt at a consistent fitness habit arrived in small packages at my doorstep, rush-shipped from two late-night infomercials that were popular at the time: Slim In 6 (a resistance band program) and Winsor Pilates.
I also started following the nutrition guide that came with the Pilates DVD set because it had a nice calendar and checklist. If you’ve ever worked with me, you know how much I savor the experience of crossing things off of lists. The guide was nothing more than an outline of meals that consisted of real food in sensible portions. By the way, learning to shop for, cook, and eat real food–and unlearning to eat fast food three times a day–was a bigger challenge than the workouts.
Despite losing pounds, my physical progress didn’t look the way I envisioned: fit and athletic with muscles, which I associated with being strong and confident, unbreakable even. All I accomplished was a smaller and still un-muscular appearance. Up until then I believed that I could look the way I envisioned without lifting weights. Weights were for men. I started reading about fitness on the Internet and one thing was very clear: If I wanted to look “fit and athletic”, I should be lifting weights. Fine. I reluctantly bought my first strength training book (The Body Sculpting Bible for Women by James Villepigue and Hugo Rivera) and joined a small no-name neighborhood gym that seemed to cater mostly to older, old-school body-builder dudes and impossibly petite, fit women with large breasts and perfect hair, whose age was hard to guess. This was in Miami Beach, so, totally normal. All of it. I stood way out next to my new gym friends.
Fast-forward a few years, through 48 sessions with a personal trainer of questionable intentions and qualifications, the development and subsequent resolution of an eating disorder (getting into fitness brought about the onset of major eating and body image issues), the pursuit and subsequent abandonment of my own brief career in personal training, plus years of “inside work” both self-guided and with the help of a counselor, and here we are today—about 14 years after the first time I exercised on purpose. Like I said, that woman’s comment changed my life.
What does a sample workout look like for you?
I’m a morning person, and training early is my favorite way to get the day started. It puts me in a positive frame of mind for the rest of the day and helps me become present. Some people need their morning coffee. Movement is my morning coffee.
I train in three places: at home (kettlebells and bodyweight), at a big box gym, and with my friend Allison Tenney who’s a strength coach, in her awesome garage gym. I’m currently following a full-body strength training program three days a week, which also includes some interval cardio.
Home Sweet Gym
On days when I don’t lift, I do 45 to 60 minutes of some kind of moderate-intensity activity: walking uphill, rowing, stair climber, brisk walking outside if it’s nice enough. I like to watch a lot of shows that typically start when I’m about to go to bed or already sleeping, so I watch some of them in the morning during these moderate-intensity cardio sessions.
There are days when I don’t feel like doing the workout I was “supposed” to do, so I might just go to the gym and do a bunch of sets of heavy squats or deadlifts because that’s what I really feel like doing, and then do a few other things like pull-ups, get-ups and overhead presses, some ground force or animal flow stuff, or just play around, and then call it a day.
Just one? I like lifting all the things! Ok, but seriously…
- Deadlifts in general, and Trap Bar Deadlifts specifically. It’s my strongest lift, and I like feeling strong. I also like the way my body feels with a trap bar better than a barbell.
- Pull-up, though that one isn’t because I’m so great at it, but because it’s challenging and no matter how many reps (one or five) I always feel like a bad-ass.
- Anything with kettlebells—swings, snatches, Turkish getups, presses. Last year I cancelled one of my gym memberships and invested in outfitting a kettlebell and bodyweight gym area in our house.
Like I said, all the things.
Most memorable PR:
Without a doubt, the most memorable PR of all time happened when I was starting out lifting real weights. A few months in I was finally brave enough to try back squats with the “big plates”–135 pounds! I didn’t know I was that strong. Seeing myself in the mirror with the big plates on the bar… wow! What a feeling! I was flying high that day! Honorable mention goes to a PR that happened in 2015: five pull-ups! I’ve eeked out six, seven or even eight reps after that, and my pull-up strength ebbs and flows depending on how much I continue to train that exercise, but five pull-ups was a milestone I won’t soon forget.
Neither of those PRs were caught on film. However, I have a deadlift PR of 204 pounds (which I’ve since surpassed). What’s special about this is that it was at the one and only powerlifting meet I’ve ever done. I had no real goals for it. I just showed up and did the thing. In fact, other than buying a singlet that made me look like a dolphin trainer at SeaWorld, I didn’t even come prepared with long socks, or the right shoes. I thought I could do it barefoot, the way I’d been training.
Top 5 songs on your training playlist:
As much as I love music while I train, I don’t have a playlist of specific songs for training. I usually turn on Pandora on one of three playlists I’ve been curating for a few years:
- Dancy Pantsy—includes anything I like to dance to that isn’t swing or salsa music. It could be Pitbull, Missy Elliott, Pharrell, Bruno Mars, Young MC, Daft Punk, OK Go, Santigold, Jessie J, Beyonce (of course), Mika, Scissor Sisters, and a wide variety of other dancy tunes by random artists across many decades.
- Swing Out—strictly swing/big band jazz music (Bennie Goodman, Count Bassie, Duke Ellington, Glen Miller) with some electroswing (Caravan Palace, Parov Stellar) that sneaks in there once in a while.
- Vamos A Bailar—one great salsa song after another, old school like Celia Cruz, Johnny Pacheco, Gran Combo, Los Van Van, as well as newer stuff like Isaac Delgado and NG2. I’m pretty proud of this station. I’ve been curating this one the longest and it’s nonstop awesome.
I’m often dancing, singing, and acting like a fool between sets when I should be resting.
Top 3 things you must have with you at the gym or in your gym bag:
- Reusable water bottle
- Gymboss timer
- Lip balm
Do you prefer to train alone or with others? Why?
I mostly train alone and sometimes have a workout with a friend, but more for the purpose of spending quality time with that friend than for any other reason. I love my friends. I like training alone for spoiled-brat reasons: I don’t like waiting for other people, and I don’t like listening to other people’s music (unless their music is also my music, in which case, high-five, training buddy! You have excellent taste in music!). Plus, I think my dance breaks between sets get old for everyone except me.
I must admit though, that even though when I train with others it’s mostly for the social aspect, when I have a “witness” to my workout, I tend to get after it with a little more fire than when I train solo. I might go for that extra rep, or try for a little more weight on the bar.
Best compliment you’ve received lately:
I can’t say that this was recently, but I replay it in my head so often that I feel like I’m hearing it every day. Several years ago, I went through a period in which I was second-guessing all my life choices, feeling like I hadn’t really accomplished much in life because I was bouncing around from “thing” to “thing.” I was convinced that I was a huge disappointment to my parents, and a terrible sister, friend, and wife. Then my mom said something to me that immediately quieted all that noise. We were just talking on the phone, like we do almost every day, about mundane things mostly… I was yapping about a dance class or some fun event downtown at which I was volunteering that week. Who knows.
She was quiet for a moment and then said something to the effect of, “You love life. Sometimes I envy how strong and brave and adventurous you are. I worry about you because that’s what moms do, but not because I have a real reason to worry. I hear you talk, and I see you live, and I know I don’t have to worry about you, because wherever you are and whatever you’re doing, I know you will be just fine.” She had no idea how I had been feeling. I swear I hadn’t wanted to tell her and well, worry her. But it’s that Mom instinct maybe. Hearing my mom say those words (someone who I thought was forever disappointed in me, but too kind to ever say it) made me realize a shift in perspective was due.
Most recent compliment you gave someone else:
Last year I met a guy who had come on as a sponsor for an event I help to organize. He and his wife started a business a few years ago. I’ve stayed in touch with him little bit over the past year, and have watched them hustle to grow their business, to connect with their community and customers, and to bring their dream to life. They’ve accomplished so much over this past year. It’s amazing! I’m sitting here on the sidelines just feeling super proud of these people who I don’t even know very well. I love their energy and their story, and also they’re just plain adorable. Anyway, I was messaging with him about sponsorship for this year’s event, and in the middle of this process, it just really hit me how hard they work and how much good stuff has come about from all their hustle, so I said just that: I have mad respect for how hard you both hustle.
Most embarrassing gym moment:
A few years ago, I was getting ready to do some deadlifts during a workout. My husband and two of his clients were also training, and as I bent down over the bar with my mouth open, I drooled like a St. Bernard, resulting in a sizeable puddle on the floor in front of the bar. Almost immediately I heard a chorus of, “Did you just drool? What is that?!” I didn’t know I could make that much drool. I mean, WTF?!
Thin crust, Neapolitan style, margherita pizza. I could eat this kind of pizza every day and never tire of it. I also love a good Cuban dinner of ropa vieja (shredded, stewed beef in a thin tomato sauce with onions and peppers), white rice, black beans and tostones (twice fried green plantains). Oh, and my Italian mother-in-law’s meatballs and sauce. I die. So good.
Favorite way to treat yourself:
I love having pretty hair, but I don’t enjoy the process of blow drying and styling my hair. So once in a while, I splurge on a wash and blow-out at the salon. I loooove having my hair washed. I relax so hard during the blow-out, that I can almost go to sleep in the chair.
A Netflix or OnDemand marathon once in a while. I am always doing stuff, go-go-go, working on multiple things at once. It’s a most delicious treat to wake and decide that it’s going to be a “no-pants, veg-on-the-couch-and-watch-movies/shows” kind of day.
Cook up a full Cuban meal—this is a treat when I’m feeling homesick sometimes and a phone call with my family won’t cut it. I’ll take the whole day to shop, prep, cook, and then sit down and eat the meal. (You want to cook some good Cuban food? Check out this cookbook called The Cuban Table by Ana Sofia Peláez, with photography by Ellen Silverman—gorgeous book and delicious recipes).
“Everything you do makes a difference. You have to decide what kind of difference you want to make.” — Jane Goodall
“Why not me?” — Me.
“Why not me?” fuels me to try new things, from obstacle courses, to powerlifting, to marathon running, to rowing, to dance competitions… and so much more.
I have a book problem. I almost always feel like whatever book I just finished is my new favorite. I love short stories more than long novels, though, and my all-time favorite book continues to be My Life In Heavy Metal, a collection of short stories by Steve Almond (you may know him from the Dear Sugar column and podcast with Cheryl Strayed). Heavy Metal was his first book, which I read when it was first published, and I’ve been a fan ever since.I love his way with words. It’s got some sex, so if you’re not into that, don’t read it. Anyway, whenever I meet someone else who loves his writing, I know we’re meant to be friends. He also wrote a nonfiction book about small US chocolate companies, appropriately titled Candyfreak, and most recently Against Football, a book on his position regarding American football from the point of view of a lifelong fan.
A more recent favorite, on the opposite end of the spectrum, is S by JJ Abrams and Doug Dorst. It’s a novel that tells three stories simultaneously. It’s more than a book. It’s an experience. You can’t read this as an e-book (though it exists in that format). It has to be a book book because it has “handwritten” notes all over the margins, plus all sorts of loose items tucked into it, like post cards, photographs, and documents relevant to the characters and storylines. You need to hold this book and its innards in your hands and immerse yourself in the experience. There’ve been a lot of books before, between, and after these two mentioned that all felt like temporary favorites. But it’s these are two that I want more people to know about.
What inspires and motivates you?
On a whole-life scale, sometimes I’m overcome by a deep sense of hopelessness. There’s so much crappy stuff going on in the world that it can make me feel like I am small and powerless against huge obstacles. But when I take the time to refocus my gaze, I see people doing good and kind things, acting with compassion, lifting each other up, solving problems for a neighbor or a whole community. There is good happening around me every day, and it inspires me to be part of the good in the world. We’re all in this together.
My husband challenges me to think more deeply and keeps me on my toes. He inspires me on a daily basis to flex my critical thinking muscles and not settle for getting (or giving) half-assed answers to any questions (can you tell from the length of this spotlight interview?). He inspires me to always mean what I say and to be thoughtful about my words and actions.
Any talk about inspiration and motivation would not be complete without mentioning just how much I value and look up to Molly Galbraith, Erin Brown, Jen Comas, Neghar Fonooni, and the rest of the women on the GGS Advisory Board, as well as Jen Sinkler and Jessie Kneeland. In moments of self-doubt, or when I don’t know what to do, I might ask myself, “What would she do?” or “How would she advise me?” This community of women not only inspire me to show up authentically and with compassion every day of my life and to applaud and lift other women up, they challenge me to think more deeply about everything from feminism to whether or not I really need to wear pants today.
As for fitness motivation specifically, I don’t really look to anyone for that, at least not on purpose. Though there are certainly strong women and incredible dancers who keep my fire lit! I’m mostly motivated by how good I feel when I’m active and taking care of myself. It feels damn good to be strong, capable, and sharp. It feels good to move my body. I am motivated too, by the desire to remain able-bodied and independent for as long as possible as I get older. (There’s no denying that I’m not as young as I feel!). The delight of conquering a feat of strength or “stupid human trick” (or just the delight of being able to try and see if I can do it) is also a huge motivator.
I just like being silly, and I’m constantly thinking, “I wonder if I can do that?” when I see someone do something cool. So I try it.
What do you do for work?
Everything. Ha! But seriously. I work with Girls Gone Strong, mostly behind the scenes. A little of this, a little of that: website content management, article sourcing, Spotlight interviews (Hey! Like this one!), some editing, graphic design and production, some social media stuff, some newsletter stuff, and generally figuring out things that need to get figured out.
In addition to my work with GGS, I also work with a professional sports team a few months out of the year as the event manager for an annual three-day learning event, handling everything from registration to catering, and many of the details in between.
What else do you do?
A lot! I dance—lindy hop and salsa mostly these days, but I have also explored ballroom dancing, beginner tap, modern dance, lyrical, hula hooping, pole dancing, burlesque, African dance.
I cook regularly and like to take culinary classes once in a while. Currently I’m learning to make chocolates and confections, mostly on my own, though I sign up for any chocolate-specific class that pops up around town.
I am learning to sew because I want to make and fix my own clothes. I’m working with an amazing sewing teacher on my first dress (which I intend to wear this summer when I go on a Lindy Hop cruise in Alaska!).
I’m teaching myself the ukulele with some online videos. Progress has been slow because my fingers hurt! I have incredible respect for guitarists and their perseverance to make it over this phase and become great at their instrument.
I hike (but not seriously enough to actually own any hiking gear). I kayak and do stand-up paddle boarding.
Chocolate and dancing… two things that make my heart sing.
What does a typical day look like for you, from waking up to bedtime?
630ish—Wake up, brush my teeth, make the bed, get dressed, and wait to poop. Seriously, yes. It may be TMI, but it is important. I can’t train until I poop. While I am waiting for that to happen, I’ll check some email, play with and feed our cat, go over my to-do list and prioritize what I’ll be working on that day.
Some time between 730-8ish—Work out for about an hour in my little home gym if it’s kettlebells and bodyweight stuff, or go to the big-box gym down the street if I need a barbell or want to use the rower.
8:45ish—Get home, eat breakfast, shower and get ready to start working.
9/9:30ish to about 6:00ish—Mostly work. I work from home, and that can be a big distraction if I let it, but I am pretty organized and manage my time very efficiently for the most part. Because I like to do a lot of things, I have to be good at time management so that I get my work done and have time for hobbies, social activities, and volunteer commitments. In addition to work, during this chunk of the day, usually while I’m taking a break for a meal, I have my almost-daily phone call with my mom and/or my dad who live on the East coast.
6 to 8:30/9:00—Somewhere in this time frame, a few things could happen. If it’s a low-key, stay-at-home night, then just have dinner with my husband.* We’ll catch up in person, though we have been texting and emailing throughout the day. While he does some reading or studying, I’ll work on some personal projects, practice my ukulele, or watch something on TV. Then we’ll settle in to watch a little bit of Shark Tank, or do some side-by-side reading in bed. Or, you know, spend some …ahem… quality time together. And then it’s lights out. Other nights, I may go to a dance class or a culinary class, or go for dinner or drinks with a girlfriend. Or I might have not trained in the morning so that I could join a friend for a workout, a walk, or a bike ride in the evening instead.
*If my husband gets home from work early, we might go to our favorite coffee/chocolate/wine café, and I’ll finish my workday from there while he reads for a little while, or we’ll have a mid-week movie and dinner date.
Your next training goal:
I currently don’t have—or want—any specific training goals. It would have freaked me out a few years ago to not be constantly working toward something, but goal-free training is what feels good to me right now. I’m lifting simply because I like moving my body and feeling strong. Sure, I want to increase my pull-up total, make my deadlifts and kettlebell swings prettier, and I am closer than ever to getting a (very wobbly but legit) pistol squat, but I’m not proactively/methodically working on any of it.
Overall, I’m just happy that I get to do this stuff and that it’s part of my life. I love playing around with bodyweight movements (I can’t resist some of the “circus tricks” I see on Instagram). It feels good to not be super serious about any of it. In fact, the only thing I’m super serious about is continuing to enjoy training and enjoying being in my body, whether that means lifting something heavy, or dancing, or feeling victorious at the top of the steepest hill in our neighborhood (it is crazy steep).
Oh! Speaking of bodyweight stuff, I registered for the StrongFirst Bodyweight (SFB) User Course led by Karen Smith here in Seattle this summer! I don’t have a professional interest in the certification, but am thrilled to get a whole day of coaching from Karen in person!
What are you most grateful for?
My whole life.
I spent the first half of my life envying other people, undervaluing any of my accomplishments by saying I just got lucky or that I could have done it better, feeling like what I had or did was never enough, thinking that I wasn’t smart enough or successful enough. I was angry all the time. Everywhere I looked I could find a reason to be unhappy.
I’ve spent this second half of my life so far deciding that that story line was bullshit and reframing all of those ideas. The truth is, I have been lucky and I have worked hard, and I’ve created an incredible life. From this new perspective, I am constantly finding moments of awe and gratitude, both in the present and in the past.
I’m also grateful for my relationships – with my brothers and my parents, with my friends, with my husband and with his family. How did I get so lucky to be surrounded by this amount of love and support?
When I think about all that I enjoy in my life, what I feel most grateful for are my parents, for all the sacrifices they have made, day in and day out, since they left Cuba and started a new life in this country. Nothing they’ve ever done to give their kids a better life and more opportunities to grow, prosper and savor that life, has been in vain.
What life accomplishment are you most proud of?
This. Being. Thriving. Creating and living a life I love.
Three words that best describe you:
Curious. Kind. Optimistic.
What’s a risk you’ve taken recently, and how did it turn out?
Does 11 years count as “recently” maybe? Hahaha! To this day, my biggest risk was to pack up my stuff and move to New York because I fell in love with a guy I met on the Internet. He was the only person I knew in NYC. I wasn’t sure I’d even find a job when I got there, though there were some promises made over the phone (thankfully that job panned out, and I started the very next day after my arrival in the Big Apple). I had no friends. No network. No neighborhood. No family. I had lived in Miami for 29 years—my whole life at that point! My family and friends thought I was crazy, but didn’t stop me. I thought I was crazy, but I didn’t stop me either. My instinct said, “GO!” And wouldn’t you know it? It has turned out pretty great!
The other risk I’ve taken recently is putting so much about my life out on the Internet again (here!). I haven’t done that in a long time. I used to have a blog, when blogs were first a “thing.” It definitely became a TMI situation with a lot of over-sharing, because as you can probably tell by now, I love to write and tell stories. I can’t help myself. One day I got tired of so many people being all up in my business (which was my own fault in the first place!), and decided to shut it down and not blog anymore. Now I try to keep details of my life somewhat contained to people I know, and share snippets on social media, but not everything. Not because I have anything to hide, but because I just really prefer that people get to know me (and I, them) the old-fashioned way: over time, by having conversations, spending time together, and growing to care about each other. So, you could say that doing this spotlight is a risk I’m taking, but I genuinely want other women to know how much strength training can add to your life, beyond physical strength and physique changes. You’ll see what I mean below.
What’s the coolest “side effect” you’ve noticed from strength training?
I’ve become fearless. That is, I have become someone who fears less. I love the confidence boost that comes from knowing I can do something that I originally thought was impossible or that was not accessible to me. It’s the coolest and most valuable bonus.
I’ve been working on this one for a long while.
Another bonus has been seeing the incredulous reactions some people have when I have volunteered to move heavy objects (at work, at someone’s house, at Target). It feels good to shut someone up who doubts this little body can do something. Later on it’s all… “Ask Ivonne. She’s really strong!” Damn right, she is.
How has lifting weights changed your life?
Lifting weights has helped me to appreciate my body and what I can do in it and because of it. Through strength training I gained personal empowerment. Being able to overcome the physical (and often mental) challenge of lifting something I thought was too heavy and therefore impossible to lift has helped me to become stronger, more persistent, and intentional in my life outside of the gym. As I mentioned for my coolest side effect, it has made me a person who fears less. My answer to the next question further illustrates what I mean.
What do you want to say to other women who might be nervous to start strength training?
If you are nervous, that means you’re thinking about it, and a part of you wants to give it a shot. So why not? And why not you? Whatever is holding you back is nothing compared to what will move you forward once you start.
Do you want to see how strong you are? Do you want to see if you can even lift this thing up off the ground, or put that thing over your head, for no other reason than because it’s there, and you’re curious about your own strength? Are you the least bit curious about what potential you hold inside? The longer you wait to get started, the longer it will take for you to get to the awesome part. Trust me, you will get to that part and wonder why you ever hesitated in the first place.
That’s the part where you feel powerful, and strong, and capable. And this isn’t restricted to the weight room. This seed of empowerment that a loaded barbell can plant within you will take root and grow into every other area of your life. At times where you may have been nervous to speak your mind, you will stand up and share your ideas and thoughts. At times when you wanted to jam out to that great song but feared people might laugh, you will get up off that uncomfortable chair and boogie like the fate of the planet depends on it. In situations or relationships where you didn’t think you were worthy of love and respect, you will recognize your own worth, and the dynamics will change because you will change. You’re not going to just start lifting heavy and be physically strong. You are going to tap into a kind of strength you may not even realize you already possess. Just get in there and start lifting. Ask questions. Be excited. Be curious. Make mistakes. Hit PRs. Have fun. Learn something. Teach something. Get stronger every day. Above all, appreciate and celebrate yourself, your body, and your strength!
(What? You thought I wasn’t going to include a picture of my cat? Saved the best for last.)