Lori Harder: Turn Your Struggles Into Strengths at TEDxUCIrvine (Transcript)

Here is the full transcript of fitness model (@LoriHarder) Lori Harder’s TEDx Talk: Turn Your Struggles Into Strengths at TEDxUCIrvine conference. This event took place on May 27, 2017 at Irvine, California. To learn more about the speaker, read the full bio here.

 

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Lori Harder – Entrepreneur, fitness model

Hello! How are you?

I’m so excited to be here tonight. My name is Lori Harder and I am a fitness and lifestyle entrepreneur and an author. And today I’m going to talk to you about resistance training.

But before we do that, I want to take you guys all on a little journey. So can you do me a little favor tonight? Yes? OK, awesome.

All right. I’m going to need all of us in here to stop adulting for one minute. So maybe uncross your legs, and you’re going to turn to your neighbors on both sides right now and make the most ridiculous funny face that you possibly can. Yes, you are.

Okay, ready and go right now. Most ridiculous funny face!

I love it. You’re still doing it. OK, amazing. How’d that feel? Good? Oh my God, that feels good.

OK, so what was your favorite flavor of self-expression? I want to talk to that unapologetic kid — that kid that wasn’t afraid to be themselves, who would bust a move whenever their favorite song came on, who would literally beg anyone around, including strangers for a quarter to play that one last videogame, or that kid who convinced all of their friends that it was a good idea to go garbage bag parachuting off of your front porch. Thank God, my porch was low.

So what was it that you loved to do? Did you love to sing? Did you love to dance? Or did you love to draw? And try to sell your crappy drawings to your neighbors for a dollar? Like my sister and I did.

And yes, that is my drawing. And yes, I did draw Burger King’s; I don’t know why.

So what happened to that awesome kid? Where did they go? What events caused so much pain and resistance that you actually started to consciously abstain from being yourself?

So the unapologetic kid version of me wanted to be a performer. I would pretty much do anything for the spotlight. And I lived to make people laugh. So you can imagine my excitement, when at 11 years old, I got invited to a pool party with diving boards. This was my opportunity to show off some of my incredible. So I thought acrobatic skills.

So the day of the pool party arrives and I’m climbing the ladder. And as I’m climbing in my brand new swimsuit, the list is going through my head: Am I going to do the splits? Am I going to do a front flip? Or am I going to do good old reliable cannonball? You know, you did it.

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So my audience has assembled below. It’s five friends. Included among them is the boy who in my daydreams plays my future husband. So I hear them cheering. This is exciting, right? I hear them cheering. And I tune in closer and I realize that they’re not cheering. They’re yelling, well, well, well, and just as I’m about to jump in, the boy that I have been crushing on so hard yells: “Don’t jump; there won’t be any water left in the pool.”

And so I’m standing on the diving board and I’m devastated. And any thought of doing a trick vanishes, I suddenly feel so foolish for thinking I was any good at doing any tricks, I felt ashamed of my body and I jumped into the water as quickly as I could to hide and to cry. And the second I got under the water I let out the biggest sob and I can still hear it in my ears to this day. And I remember the feeling of the bubbles rushing past my face as I was crying under the water, because these people were supposed to be my friends. And I sunk deeper and deeper and I never wanted to come up again.

So this was the first moment that I can remember allowing someone else’s opinion of me make me feel ashamed of who I was. And this was the first time that I can remember looking at the other girls’ long thin bodies and comparing them to mine, thinking I must need to look different to fit in.

But right before I came up from the water, I also remember thinking: just wait, I’m going to get so fit that they are never going to make fun of me again.

So this single shift in my perception, that single thought later turned into a formula that I started using in order to reach all of my goals. So I want to introduce this formula to you today. And that formula is resistance plus time under tension equals strength.

Resistance + Time under tension = Strength

So first, let me tell you that in the fitness world, resistance training means any force that you use, any external force or resistance that you use to exercise to build muscles or to build endurance or to build physical strength. And time under tension is the amount of time that your muscles stay under resistance. So both of these concepts are used in order to gain physical strength, gain muscles, gain endurance. But today I want to show you how these concepts literally run parallel to getting stronger internally.

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So I like to explain it using these four points.

So number one: The heavier the resistance, the stronger the muscle you can build. So just like in life, the bigger the challenge, the bigger the opportunity, right?

Number two: You must keep that muscle under tension until failure or close to it. So what this does is it tears the muscle fibers down and it allows them to repair themselves and they come back stronger after failure. So just like in life, when we decide to come back from failure, what happens? We come back just a little bit stronger, right? Just a little bit wiser.

So number three: You have to be consistent, because if you don’t use it, you lose it. We all know that. So just like in life, every single day is offering us resistance. We probably had some this morning, right? Getting here maybe in traffic. So — and what does that provide? The opportunity to be a little more patient, to be a little more loving, right? To be a little more brave, maybe be a little more assertive and meet your neighbors tonight.

So number four: As you get stronger, you must take on more challenging forms of resistance. I know that’s a tough one. And just like in life, if we don’t keep seeking uncomfortable situations, we’re not going to grow, because the only place we grow is outside of our comfort zone, right?

OK, so by the time I was 13, I was already exercising this without really realizing it. So I was doing my older sister’s workout videos. I was buying fitness magazines and reading them cover to cover. And I was cutting out all the images of these strong fit women and I was plastering them all over my closet doors, dreaming that I too one day could have that strong fit body and all of the confidence and success that must go with it.

And what was happening when I was reading these magazines is that it was teaching me that even though everything that I had heard from my family about us having bad genetics and that I would struggle my whole life with my weight just like all of the other women, it was telling me differently in these articles. It was saying that there was, in fact, a different way of being, thinking, moving, eating, that we were not yet doing. And this made me start to think that I might have a say in this outcome.

So by 16, I sat glued to fitness competitions on television and the second I could drive I got a gym membership, so I could really start resistance training with weights.