BodyLogos Blog

Do You Want to be Tough or Strong?

Chase the Carrot or Eat the Carrot

The choice between being tough or strong is a conversation about what you want running your life, tension or strength.

I’ve come to realize that tough is protective gear masquerading as strength. So, when training folks, I work to keep it honest. Challenge their strength’s potential AND learn its limitations.

When a client was failing in his workout due to exhaustion, not muscle failure, he averted his gaze.

“What’s up?” I asked.

“You’ll be mad if I tell you,” he replied.

He was in the middle of a digital fitness challenge where he had to have his heart rate elevated for a certain number of minutes within a month’s time. He was over-training. Rejuvenation time was shelved until the challenge was over.

It was clear he was disheartened. His tension pooled in his chest muscles; broadening the protective shield of his back.

Looking at the floor he mumbled, “I’ll be fine. I’ll just walk everywhere today instead of my peloton run.”

Can you see yourself in this?

Use minutes to meditate was my advice. Use the time for active restoration versus active progression. But the digital minute-counter shutoff when his heart rate stabilized.

Penalized for self-care. Hmmm?!

  • We look away when we know in our body that we’re hurting ourselves, but in our mind, we have an insatiable need to progress.
  • We look away when we believe that we would lose our strength––be traumatized––if we didn’t triumph over a challenge.
  • We look away, when we know, deep down, that some nonsensical belief has triggered our tension into the driver’s seat.

What is our tension chasing?

Survival––Survival of the fittest! (richest, skinniest, smartest…)
We’re chasing a carrot on a string. That carrot is the belief that we’re not the fittest.

Here’s the truth of it. Chasing will never change the belief. In fact, the tension that keeps the belief running is getting stronger by the act of chasing it.

Stop being strung along and eat the carrot!

We feel most balanced when we can look life straight in the eye. Balance asks us to look in both directions. What if we stopped chasing? What if we just dropped into our bone’s stillness and reevaluated our habitual chase to prove ourselves?

What is in our body’s stillness?

Neutral Attention––Neutral to life’s flow. (truth, unfolding, evolution…)
When we eat the carrot, we reassess what we want to align with. An outside expectation or an inside truth. A distorted judgment or good sense. A past trauma or your present realness.

“Trauma is a fact of life, but it doesn’t have to be a life sentence.”
Peter Levine, PhD & author, Waking the Tiger

Trauma is a physical experience. Any level of trauma––disappointment, judgment, expectation––lives in the body as tension until it’s resolved.

The mind forms beliefs to make sense out of the body’s sudden invasion of tension. Very often, self-damning beliefs that are mis-taken.

The body’s tension template and the mind’s twisted beliefs are locked in with each other, until the body’s tension can surrender its grip.

When we bump into this chase, we feel like a wimp and feel we need to toughen up!

But what if I were to say, when we bump into this chase, we need to feel into its vulnerability––experience our inner-wimp––until we are introduced to our strength.

  • Experience your body as a wimp. Don’t focus on your mind’s judgments or your emotional reactions. Feel for your bone’s perspective. What is under your judgment and reactivity?
  • What are your bones hungry for? What does your inner-wimp need, to feel cared for?
  • Be that care-giver.

This is self-care not self-indulgence. You know this because you’re not perpetuating Self-denial (with a capital “S”), nor are you ignoring the chase. You are reassessing who you are, and what you need, to feel aligned with your deepest, richest, wisest Self.

When we chase the carrot on a string, we lose our selves. When we eat the carrot, we find ourselves. This is strength.

Please share this with anyone you feel could use its message. Thank you.

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Redefining Strength

I want to change our perception of strength. Strength is the ability to meet resistance and influence an outcome without compromising ourselves. And we already have it.

Strength is not an attribute; it’s a state of being. Gladiators, bodybuilders, and football players demonstrate strength through brute force, sheer willpower, muscle mass, and relentless pursuit. But we’re also quick to identify dancers and martial artists as strong. Their medium taps into a sense of vulnerability, balance, alignment, controlled power, and grace—but no one can deny their strength. Strength may look different on each of us, but it is an inherent part of who we are.

You are not weak by nature; you are stronger than you think. Your strength is not something you need to kill yourself to gain—it is already within you, waiting to be excavated. The key is to stop chasing something you already have and tap into it, so you can manifest that strength in your everyday life.

Because we don’t think we’re strong, we approach resistance with the idea that we’re not enough. We throw everything we have at it and push past our physical, mental, and emotional limitations. We see strength as domination, but it’s not.

When you learn to listen to your body’s divine wisdom, you cultivate a sense of where your body is developing tension instead of standing in its strength. You end the vicious cycle of unrealistic expectations, injury, and self-criticism and learn how to consciously embrace responsible growth. You stop compartmentalizing your strength into emotional, physical, and mental pieces and operate from the strength of your being at all times.

You learn how to align yourself with gravity—instead of working against it—so you can channel your strength to meet life’s resistance. As you meet resistance with equal parts power and alignment, you transform tension into strength

As in the sword dance above, the power lies in bringing just the right amount of force—not too little and not too much. By meeting the sword’s weight, I meet gravity. I am tapped into a larger source of energy, free of tension, and discover a strength that is wholly and uniquely mine.

About Tammy Wise

Tammy Wise is a widely respected mind-body fitness expert based out of New York City, owner of BodyLogos, Inc. author of The Art of Strength: Sculpt the Body ~ Train the Mind. A former Broadway dancer turned Tao minister, Tammy was voted the Best of Fitness by Time Out New York and has appeared in Martha Stewart’s Whole Living magazine, New York Magazine, Natural Health, Shape, and Thrive Global. She’s a Transformational Authors Contest Winner and regular contributor to Honeysuckle magazine and Medium. Visit her at bodylogos.com.