There are not a ton of women who lift at my gym. Honestly, like most gyms, there aren’t really a ton of women in general. But also, like most gyms, fewer still in the weight room. Needless to say, when a woman comes in and gets after it, I notice.
The past couple of weeks, I have noticed one woman in particular. She comes in around the same time as I do, late afternoon. She has a written program, like I do. She is doing a pretty serious workout, like I’m doing. But unlike me, she is absolutely crushing legs. And that’s specifically what I notice.
Now, I’ve been around long enough and done quite enough body image work to understand that this woman’s body type is significantly different than mine. She’s bigger, she’s taller, and her legs are bigger and longer too. Obviously, she’s going to have a much easier time building bigger and more muscled legs strictly due to her build and her genetics. And obviously, I’m going to have a much harder time due to the fact that I’m petite with a longer torso, shorter legs, and a bigger, broader upper body.
And yet, here I am, nearly unable to tear my eyes away from this woman’s shapely hamstrings, rounded peach, and Rockette-tapered stems. Damn.
Legs have always been a thing for me, probably because mine have always been a bit on the stumpy side and I’m slightly insecure about it. Though I’m in a much better place with it now (#beefy), it’s always the very first thing I’m drawn to on another woman. I instantly look and try to guess at how she trains, or if she’s an athlete, or if she’s been naturally blessed with the legs of a goddess.
In the gym, it’s easier to tell because I’m literally watching what she’s doing. I can see exactly what exercises she’s doing, and observe her choice of sets, reps, duration, intensity, frequency. But really, I can see just how hard she’s working. I can tell that her lower body is a priority, and she’s crushing it, and it freaking shows.
Meanwhile, guess what my priority is.
I know you don’t really have to guess. It’s arms. And so, I look over for a minute or two and think wow, damn, her legs. And then I look back in the mirror at myself and think, wow, damn, her delts!
I can see exactly what I’m doing, what I’ve been doing for months now. I can see the exercises, the sets, reps, duration, intensity, frequency, of the hard work I’ve been doing on my upper body. I can see I’m crushing it and it shows.
I can also see after a matter of mere seconds that I would haaaaaate this woman’s workout. Like most meatheads, leg day is not my fav, and I have to force myself to do it. I’ve made a lot of progress in the last year, but still, I will always, always prefer to put more focus on upper body. It’s more fun for me, I enjoy it more, and I see the growth and progress that I personally want to see for myself. It’s also clear as day that this woman feels about her intense leg workouts the way I do about my arm workouts. And that makes me smile.
The point is, I can’t sit there and be all envious of this woman’s physique when I’m not willing to prioritize the work I would need to get it for myself.
So, while, a while back, this would have made me nuts and sent me into a spiral of comparison and questioning and probably program-hopping the very next day (it has many times before), now, I can admire both of our unique efforts. I’m clear on my priorities, she’s clear on hers. I can let go of the things that aren’t quite as high on the priority scale, and keep my personal focus right where it needs to be, on the stuff that’s important to me and makes me feel great. That’s a choice.
And it’s completely up to us to choose what we want to do with our bodies and how. Hypertrophy and strength training are really fun and interesting tools in shaping that. But the important point is (as always): we get to choose.
She chooses legs, I choose arms. I also choose to love my own body – all of it – regardless of anyone else’s, and regardless of my old insecurities. I’ve got other priorities to focus on. That’s been a process, but it’s a worthwhile one that has shifted a lot in my life.
The same goes for literally any other thing we notice, or feel the tickling of envy, in others. That job? That car? That family? That travel? That freedom? That business? All of it comes down to priorities. And choices.
Every time, it’s about owning the choices that support and align with our individual priorities, and owning our mindset around it too.
Because if we don’t own that for ourselves? It’ll own us.
If this sounds awesome and/or frustrating because priorities are hard, I can make it a little easier. Click here to download a PDF guide to get your priorities super clear. There’s a 4-day e-course to go along with it too. And I promise, you will get clear. In just a few days, you’ll know where to focus and how not to let anyone or anything own you.