Building Strength                                                     Written by: Stephanie Camp

When working out with the goal of gaining muscle, you push your muscles to their breaking point with an increasing amount of weight. You do so with as much weight and as many reps as you can possibly handle. This action actually creates micro-tears in the muscle fibers, which is ideal. Then, in the rest phase, your body and muscles begin repairing themselves, with a little extra protection around it each time. This is how muscles are built. You actually have to break the muscle down to bring it back stronger.

Case in point, one day I was on my route delivering mail when an SUV stalls at a stoplight. I told myself, “Don’t do it. You can’t afford to waste the time.” Regardless of my own warning, I walked over to the vehicle and said to the lady, “Put it in neutral. I’m gonna get you out of the middle of the road.” It’s important to note here that I am 5 foot 2 inches and 175 pounds. I’m far from a physically tough woman! But here I go, by myself, being good ol’ Billy Bad Ass, pushing a 2000-something Jeep Grand Cherokee -- not a small car! Just as we turned the corner into a parking lot, I felt my calf muscle pop! Yep, that’s all she wrote, folks. I had torn my muscle 20 minutes into a 6-hour day full of walking! Instead of calling my boss to say I was done for the day and headed to a doctor, I wrapped it up and kept going. (Probably not my wisest choice! I really should have gone to the doctor. And several people told me to! It was bruised pretty good and swollen. It really deserved some medical attention.) The level of fortitude it took to finish the day was more than I had ever had to muster before. I quickly discovered when I stopped walking, even for just 10 minutes, it was harder to get started again. Through the pain, gritting my teeth, and fighting back the tears, I kept going. After about 4 days, the limp went away and the pain was almost gone. The muscle had repaired itself, stronger and bigger! I’ll admit that's a bit of luck, if I had gone too far this could have turned out poorly! I think that's true with this advice as well in the sense that this is a pretty extreme physical example, but it's what came to mind.

This is my main point though…

The body is designed in such a way that it must first be broken down before it can build strength. When Life gets messy and gets you down, it would be easy to just sit back and feel sorry for yourself. I know what you are going through feels heavy, like you can’t move. But do not stop. Don’t give up! It’s when you stop that the pain really sets in. Just keep putting one foot in front of the other, even if it comes with a limp. Just keep going! The pain you are feeling right now will eventually subside. It may take many different avenues like counseling, working out, meditation or medication. When life is pulling you down, don’t look at it as if you are weak. Look at it as you are building strength. Strength and knowledge to conquer the next big thing; the next thing that tries to pull you down. You’ll get through with a slightly different perspective and a whole lot more muscle.