A few months ago I was having dinner with a friend of mine and we were talking about working out and getting back in shape. I’ve been like a bad debtor, putting in the work (paying my debt) then stopping and hiding out for weeks and months, and then starting up again.
My consistent pursuit at getting and staying in a healthy zone at a healthy weight, has been something I’ve struggled with for years. It used to be my lifestyle to work out 6-7 days per week. Now those efforts are emotionally-driven, determined by what’s going on in my life. That is a roller coaster ride that won’t have a positive ending if I don’t get out of my head and get back to the basics of taking care of this temple, this gift that I can’t replace or exchange, so I should do everything positive to keep it going strong and looking its best.
As my friend and I looked at images of muscular men and women I oohed and ahhed over the ones I thought had awesome bodies. My friend asked me what woman or body type (physique) did I want to physically look like.
I was stumped.
I couldn’t point to any particular body type, shape, build, or even a woman who looked the way I want to look.
My Fitness Role Models Growing Up
Growing up I aspired to be an amazing athlete that possessed a similar physique, strength, speed, and physical power of my two sheroes Florence Griffith-Joyner aka “Flo-Jo”, and Lenda Murray.
Flo-Jo is a track and field legend, a sprinter, whose workouts I used to struggle to follow from junior high and high school. She endured grueling workout programs including long-distance runs (*eeww*) to build her strength, speed, endurance, and that amazing body.
The sports bra that she’s wearing in this picture is neon green and black. Guess who begged her parents to buy her the same one in neon pink and black? Yep. Me!
I wanted to look, train, and run like Flo-Jo. I mean jeesh, by the time I reached junior high we were the same height (5’7) and same weight (125-130 pounds). I had a vision of something and someone to aspire to be more like.
Even after she passed away I continued to reference her training programs so that I could be a better athlete and one day have a body that looked something like Flo-Jo’s.
So now, decades later, I’ve more than slacked off on running and sprinting (although I think about them often), and there’s a part of me that says, “dude really? Do you think if Flo-Jo was still living she would be kicking back on the sofa? Heck no. She would get up and get to the gym or to the track. Get your butt up lazy girl!”
Sometimes I get up and go workout. Sometimes I head for the fridge.
Just keeping it real with you!
Lenda Murray was and will always be one of my favorite bodybuilders, male and female. Hands down this woman reigns as queen of bodybuilding in my book. I followed Ms. Murray’s career since the 1980s.
I was impressed that a woman two inches shorter than me (she’s 5’5) could build a body of that impressive size and with striations that look like they were chiseled by a sculptor.
During the season Ms. Murray would weigh an impressive 150 pounds. During off-season she would average 160-165 pounds.
That’s all muscle folks.
We’re not talking flab, muffin tops, and keg belly. She’s chiseled and in my opinion, absolutely gorgeous from head to toe!
Ms. Murray possesses a level of strength and power that leaves me speechless. She retired in 2004 and still puts most of us to shame. Oh the intensity of her workouts boggled my mind and still do. But I never stopped aspiring to be like the legendary Lenda Murray.
Why These Two Women?
For me these two women were the fitness role models that I aspired to be more like.
I ran track since elementary school and gradually took up lifting weights in high school (even though I was curling dumbbells at home since junior high). By college my fitness levels were at a level where I craved my workouts. I couldn’t wait to achieve a goal I had set.
Flo-Jo and Lenda also showed me and the world what a woman can do when given the opportunity. They showed me what a strong woman can do and can be when she sets her mind to it. People said only men could run certain times, Flo-Jo proved otherwise. People said only men could lift certain weights and define certain muscles, Lenda proved otherwise.
I also saw more when I looked closely at them.
I saw me in them.
They both had big legs like me. Thunder thighs of power and strength. I used to be ashamed of my big legs. I equated them to being fat. You can look at both my high school and college track pictures and see that I wasn’t.
But when you compare yourself to others you begin to see yourself as different, and sometimes that difference isn’t seen as positive—especially when other people tease you about that difference.
I was insecure about my body.
When I saw Flo-Jo and Lenda I soon began to learn that there was strength, power, and great potential in these legs of mine. I just needed to put in the work. But I won’t lie, even with my efforts and great results, I’m just not disciplined enough to reach their level. I love junk food too much 😂 Sad but true.
So here’s what I would say to my friend today if the topic ever came back up…
I don’t aspire to look like Flo-Jo, Lenda, or anyone else. I want to look and feel like ME—when I’m at my healthiest—physically, mentally, and spiritually.
I found some pictures that capture the essence of me when I’m feeling and looking healthy; when my mind, spirit, and body isn’t plagued and beat down by life’s toxins. They aren’t from 20 to 25 years ago. They were taken between November 2007 and the spring of 2014. Not that long ago.
Here’s a collage of those photos:
Yes in these photos I was thinner and more muscular than I am now, but what else do you see? When you look at these pictures do you see the energy, zest for life, the spunk and pizzazz?
My friend Tracey Wright told me this time last year (and I’m paraphrasing), “I want old Tasha back…the energetic, wild, fun to be around, bold Tasha…”
I do too Tracey.
What I see in these pictures, what you may also see in these pictures, that’s what I want to reclaim, recapture, and then hold on to and thrive from.
That is my focus. Those are my goals.
I’m grateful for Flo-Jo and Lenda Murray and their journey. I’ve admired them for over 32 years. They have taught me to be my best me, to persevere, to love the skin I’m in, and to not abuse this temple for it is a gift. They have taught me to never ever ever give up and to stop being concerned about the person next to me, ahead of me, or behind me. Run my race, lift my weight, do my own thing!
I hope that by sharing my story it will help someone else.
Warmest wishes and love,