I flew into #squatober like a bat out of Hell as I was super stoked about being challenged to participate. Some of the social media darlings I admire most sing the praises of #squatober every year, and I was fired up at the chance to get some of the results they claim. I never once stopped to consider whether I was ready.
I had been looking for something that would get me jazzed about lifting for a while. Weights are really heavy, and I’ve never felt very comfortable with them; as a result, I had developed a disdain for lifting and found myself, more often than not, making excuses to skip the gym.
“#squatober?” I only hesitated for only an instant before thinking, “Perfect. This should make lifting fun!” as I accepted the challenge openly via Instagram Stories. Mind you, this entire month of workouts was based on knowing one’s 1 rep max. Although I had never even attempted to determine my 1RM, I still didn’t catch a clue! Instead, I really felt strong those first few days, and I was lifting more than what I had estimated I could. Day after day I kept surprising myself.
Or so I thought.
Now, #squatober came along just as I had finished an Instagram business-building course and one of the things I realized during that course was that I felt like I was forcing my posts a little bit. I had made a decision to be more mindful about what I was posting and only put material up that would benefit the clientele I aspire to attract. Throwing that commitment out the window, I let myself get caught up in the excitement of my “success” and posted a video to document my “impressive” starting-point. I should have done my homework first.
Others in the challenge began posting and, upon seeing their posts, I had an immediate sense of regret. I noticed my squat looked nothing like the others. Then the comments started coming in. Friends and acquaintances sent me messages confirming my thoughts that this thing I was calling a squat did not qualify as one at all. The helpful advice began to flow my way.
With my tail between my legs, I entered they gym the next week a more humble individual. I followed some advice to try my feet a little wider, but it wasn’t the right stance for me. The next day I tried my feet a little closer; that still wasn’t right. With that closer foot position I pointed my toes forward, saw a little improvement, added a tweak the next day, and that’s the way the rest of the month went. Rather than worrying about how much weight I was putting on the bar, I had to focus on creating the movement, as intended, under the bar. With that focus in mind, depth increased, weight decreased, fun returned, and you know what?
I learned to squat.
One of my favorite teachers, Dana Santas, always says, “I didn’t know what I didn’t know,” and if that’s good enough for her, it’s good enough for me. I could have taken my video down and deleted it in shame, but I didn’t because #squatober taught me some great lessons that I am grateful to have learned. What if I had never tried? What if I had never compared? I would never have learned:
- What a good squat feels like.
- That I still need more ankle dorsiflexion in order to get deeper into the squat position.
- That my glutes and hamstrings need to be a target for my continuing strength program.
- What the body needs to perform a squat in order to help others.
- What my max is with correct form.
- That just because you’re feeling froggy doesn’t mean you shouldn’t think before you jump.
- That people are inherently good and will help you rather than letting you look like a fool.
- That I can honestly say now, “I LOVE LIFTING!”
I am a work-in-progress in so many areas of my life – always have been. I get excited about things and go ALL IN – always will. I want to be the best and don’t like it when I’m not – but I NEVER AM.
In fact, I will never forget complaining to my dad about being average one day as we walked across the A&M campus the day he dropped me off for freshman year.
“What do you mean?” he asked.
With a pout, I replied, “I am always average. I’m 5’5” like everybody else. I weigh 120 pounds (then) like everybody else. I wear a size 7 1/2 shoe like everybody else.” I would have continued except he had had enough! Looking back, it probably broke his heart to have to correct me before leaving me alone that day.
“Girl,” he said with voice ascending. “You better be happy with who you are and what you have. Do you know how many people out there in this world would kill to be in your shoes right now? You are about to take courses at one one the best universities in the country. You get to live in one of the best dorms available. You will be fed three times a day, shower whenever you like, have access to medical care if you need it, etc. DON’T YOU EVER LET ME HEAR YOU COMPLAIN AGAIN ABOUT YOUR SIZE AND SHAPE BEING AVERAGE!”
I’ve never forgotten that conversation, and I thought about it every day of the #squatober challenge. October 26 is the anniversary of my dad’s passing, so October is always a reminder of days gone by. Still today, as then, I tend to compare myself to others and focus on what I don’t have, and what I am not. In remembrance of him, I didn’t allow myself to go that route this time.
My dad had ALOT of funny sayings with some language that would be inappropriate to repeat in this post. Each of my siblings and I remember the ones he directed to us personally. One of mine is, “Don’t let your mockingbird mouth override your hummingbird butt.”
So, I guess my #squatober was reminiscent of the way things have always been. I started out by letting my mockingbird mouth lead the way. Then I tucked my hummingbird butt and started learning how to get that thing down like a good squatter should. Finally, I manned up, owned my mistakes, learned my lessons, and celebrated being average.
What do you think, Dad?