There’s a story I’ve been wanting to share. It combines two of my favorite
1. Lifting (shocker, right?)
2. Women supporting other women whom we don’t know.
Notice I didn’t just leave number two at “supporting other women”. Because, lets face it, ladies, we are all absolutely fabulous at supporting our carefully crafted and selected girl posses. But when it comes to supporting other women, in general, most of us are lacking.
I have had a long history of being very UNtrusting of women. In my youth, through college, and as an adult, I have dealt with more than my share of outright bullying. As an adult, I’ve also experienced the more subtle, underhanded slights, dismissive gestures, and “clever digs” from other women. No matter how old we are, it hurts.
Over the years, with every blow, I built up a really tall, really secure wall, all around me. I was proud of my ability to protect myelf.
But you know what? It’s hard to grow and build new relationships when you are always on your guard. It’s draining to use your energy to protect yourself rather than to serve others.
And when it comes down to it, ladies, we have ALL built our own secured fortresses for the same reasons. And that’s such a waste of women power because we are pretty damn spectacular.
Ladies, tear down that wall!
I have made it a goal of mine to gradually tear down this wall that does not serve me.
I’m working every day to embrace other women regardless of what my pre conceived notions may be. I am fighting against my worn out, protective mechanisms and making a conscientous effort to extend an olive branch, to communicate, and support ANY woman who accepts my gesture.
We can accomplish greatness in every moment of every day if we make a deliberate choice to love, understand, connect, and TRY. When we see what can come of our good intentions, we cannot help but want to continue on a new path.
Today, I am sharing the story of the day when Leah Wissow and I first met. (She is featured in the photos) It was on a lovely October day in Brooklyn. We were both entering our first powerlifting meet, and (unbeknownst to one another) mutually nervous as hell. We could have easily stayed in our own protective bubbles that day, and later as well. But through effort on both our parts, we built a special connection that offered each of us strength.
This is written by Leah, in her own words:
“Coming into my first powerlifting meet, I was fairly intimidated. I had done a lot of research ahead of time and my training had been going well, but I was so nervous about being around other powerlifters for the first time and worrying about whether I’d fit in.
Before everything got started, I mostly hung out with my boyfriend and friend who had come to watch me lift, but struck up a conversation with the woman next to me who said it was her first meet, too. That was Jeannine, and at that moment I had no idea how important she’d become to my competition experience.
Prior to this meet, I’d been a fairly casual lifter and coached myself with some help from my boyfriend who hadn’t competed but who had been lifting in the gym for a long time. I had been working on hitting depth on squats, but without a trained eye to watch and help me, I wasn’t consistent about it, and this showed when I got on the platform.
My first squat was way too high, a consequence of me being over-excited and rushing. Three red lights, but I shook it off. It felt easy enough so I upped the weight for my second attempt. I got to the platform again and I thought I
sank it, but again red lights.
(Jeannine: I just want to pause Leah’s story, to explain that at this point, Leah had only one attempt left to complete a successful squat. If the judges did not give her passing white lights on her third attempt, she would be eliminated from the rest of the meet and not able to complete the competition. Talk about stressful. Now, back to Leah’s story.)
My boyfriend and friend were in the spectator area, so while heading back to the warm up room to wait for my third attempt I felt completely alone and overwhelmed. I started to panic, feeling the pressure of everything coming down to this one lift so early on in the meet.
I started to well up and felt embarrassed that I might break down in tears in front of a bunch of strangers whom I found so impressive.
It was at that point that Jeannine found me and gave me perhaps one of the best pep talks I have ever received. She told me that now wasn’t the time to cry. I could cry later if I needed to and that was okay, but now was the time to get angry and go out and show the judges that I knew what I was doing.
I pulled myself together, and took my place in the lineup of lifters, ready to attempt my third, and final squat.
Sure enough, I did know what I was doing and proved myself to the judges, getting three white lights for my last attempt and going on to place second in my weight class in my first powerlifting meet.
While hitting a deadlift PR and placing second in my weight class were definitely highlights of my first Powerlifting meet experience, looking back, it was that moment with Jeannine when I was on the verge of bombing out that solidified my love of powerlifting and the women who compete in it.
It was Jeannine’s first meet, too, and she had plenty to be nervous about herself, but she saw me in crisis and reached out, even though she’d just met me earlier that day.
Since then, I’ve met so many women like her because this sport is about pushing yourself to be your best and supporting the same in others.
When it comes down to it, we’re competing against ourselves, so why not help when you can?”
I competed in another lifting meet with Leah later that spring, and it was then that Leah told me how much my support had meant to her. I was really moved. And Leah didn’t need to reach out and tell me what she did. It was her way of giving back.
You know, when I saw Leah at our first meet, trying to hold back the tears, something protective just kicked in. Maybe it’s because I coach other women and it’s what I would’ve said to “one of my own posse”. Maybe it’s because I saw myself in Leah.
What if we women could see ourselves in each other all the time?
I think Leah said it best. “When it comes down to it, we’re competing against ourseleves, so why not help when you can?”
Ladies, who can you lift up today?
(If you’d like to follow Leah’s lifting journey, you can find her on Instagram at @bananalunch. She’s really strong!)
Jeannine Trimboli, CEO, real [FIT] life
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