I finally know what the term means.
I've heard personal trainers talk about 'lighting up your butt' and I've thought to myself... "what a funny thing to say!"
Until today... when I finally experienced what they mean. And it really does feel like a fire turns on! Who knew!
The thing is, I've only recently discovered that the muscles in my body fire in the wrong order. When I walk, the front of my body switches on first, followed by my back, then the hamstrings and last of all, the wonderful gluteus maximus. No wonder I had ITB and hip flexor injuries when I was doing lots of running!
As a result, I've developed a wonderful array of strategies to walk, coping mechanisms that became so ingrained over a lifetime that they felt completely natural to me.
This back-to-front (or in my case front-to-back) way of operating is something I see in my clients all the time. Except we're not talking about their gluteus maximus here, we're talking about their confidence and sense of self.
Just like my quads fire when I take a step, so too does their ego when someone says "well done," when they hit "send" on yet another email. That hit of dopamine conditioned since they were praised for being a "good girl" at some point in their childhood. Their sense of worth is based on how much they do, what they can achieve, produce more than others... and so just like my hamstrings, they keep on going, keep doing more, because it's the way they've been taught to feel good!
This might work for a time, especially pre-kids, because they don't have as many years of conditioning. But once the kids come along, the complexity increases, so too do the coping strategies. This is when things like perfectionism creeps in, sprinkled with some procrastination, and the mean girl in their head starts to get nasty, much like my hip flexors!
The trick is, to be willing to put your hand (or glute) up and decide that you don't want outside-in confidence, which this is all symptomatic of.
Instead, you want inside-out confidence. You want to be enough based on who you are, not what you do. You want to be your inner cheerleader, to ditch all the exhausting coping strategies and feel lighter on the inside.
If my gait and stride are anything to go by, I now feel like I'm floating! Muscles that used to hurt (ie were overcompensating) now are working as they should. The muscles that were designed to move my entire lower body are building strength and everything feels easier.
Believe it or not, even though it feels impossible, once you get over that awkward retraining phase, the transformation is very quick. Our bodies and minds know how it's meant to be, so as soon as you put in the new mindset, program the brain and support it with the right strategies, everything shifts!
I'm now starting to dream about new fitness goals because I know my body has the stamina (not just grit) to effortlessly reach new heights. The same is true of the women I work with - whether it's promotions, pay rises or feeling good enough - becoming unstoppable is a very common side effect of shifting how you show up in the world.
If you have realised that you need to retrain your brain away from outputs, lists and achievements, then reach out and book a discovery session. I can't speak for your hip flexors, but I know a thing or two about how you're likely to show up in the world and what has to shift to change it for you quickly.
Don't spend years trying to retrain yourself. Books and podcasts mean well but they're not the answer. Just as you can't see your hamstrings, you can't see your coping mechanisms! Speak to an expert who can give you a quick diagnoses and help you dream about what's possible on the other side.
Your life (and glutes) will thank you for it!
P.S. I love a good jest, but I'm completely serious when I say making this switch will change everything. Detach your self-worth from the to-do list. Stop overthinking. Be your best self. Talk to me about how you can make that happen - it's more simple than you think.