Wendy Cohen, 51, is a bodybuilder. Her dedication to her physical appearance led to an incredible boost to her inner-confidence and reversal of negative self-talk. Life hasn’t always been kind or gone the way that Wendy expected. But she’s never wallowed in self-pity, instead she used her experiences to rebuild her life and start living it on her own terms.
Here’s Wendy’s story, in Wendy’s words, on how a little bit of daily discipline is one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself, how even simultaneously getting divorced and watching her house burn down actually allowed her to find self-love and why getting older is only giving her more confidence to do anything she sets her mind to!
Strengthening the “Love” Muscle from the Inside Out
“I feel the most confident when I feel the happiest with myself. I’ve used bodybuilding to strengthen that self-love muscle from the inside. As I was working on my body from the outside, I think through that process of working out and working on myself, I was increasing my own self-confidence in what I’m capable of doing. When you’re met with physical challenges, you realize that it’s really your head telling you when you can and can’t do something. When you start to just succeed, you start to realize, ‘Wow, when I put my mind to something, I can really accomplish anything that I want.’ Then when you start to adopt that mindset, you really start accomplishing things all over the place.”
Taking Her Confidence from Non-Existent to Indestructible
“About eight years ago, I was getting a divorce. My ex-husband was basically cheating on me, and at the time I felt so low in my life. I took on that everything was my fault, and I just really didn’t have self-confidence—I was just really, really down on myself. Also, simultaneously—coincidentally—my house burned down while I was in the process of divorcing him. It was just complete, total and utter chaos. But I started with rebuilding my house, which I completely did on my own. I set up a rental home for me and my children and make everything okay. Then I embarked on rebuilding my actual house—and I did it. As I reached those goals, it reinforced what I was capable of, and my self-love and my own self-happiness started to increase. I said to myself, ‘Okay, now what?’ I was really looking to empower myself, feel good about myself and have self-love. That led me to embark on this journey to create a really fit exterior—I just didn’t realize that journey would lead to a whole internal transformation. Bodybuilding got me there, but I always tell people it could be anything that you set out to do. Just put out that goal and then doing something towards it every day. All those little mini-victories really start to build—like you’re building a muscle and it builds your self-confidence from the inside.”
What It Feels Like to Be A Confidence Superhero…
“Usually I feel my confidence when I’m moving towards a competition. My body gets down to low body fat, and so I’m ripped. It’s not something you see every day, so you know how hard you’re working in order to get into that level of shape. You must get proper sleep, eat really well, be very disciplined, and exercise. As my body starts to reflect all the positive things that I’m doing to it—it feels so incredible. You feel like a superhero, because it’s something that so many people have such a hard time with, and yet here I am, operating on all cylinders and my body’s reflecting it. It’s such a great feeling to feel so great in your body and that it’s working at its optimal level. That’s very rare.”
The Importance of Talking to Yourself with Love…
“My confidence boosting pep talks sound like, ‘You can do this.’ I think about times that were tough in my life that I’ve overcome and ended up better on the other end. Everybody makes mistakes. I’ve learned that if something happened that doesn’t make me feel good, I’m allowed a couple of minutes to dwell on it. And then I’m like, ‘I’m going to move on because I’ve felt it.’ I find myself doing that a lot. Even with parenting, I’m like, ‘Should I have done that?’ You feel bad about something that you might’ve said to your child. You’re thinking about the therapy bills 20 years from now. But then it’s like, ‘I can’t dwell on that. I just have to feel it, feel bad about it and move forward.”
Why Age is Nothing but a Number…
“I always say age is just a number. That’s my little mantra because I do feel that at over 50, physically, I’ve never looked or felt better. It’s really important to not get so bogged down with how old you are, and just do everything in your power to really embrace life, feel good about yourself, and do the things that actually make you feel good. For me it’s exercise. For others it could be a million other things.”
The Power of Removing the Word ‘No’ From Your Vocabulary
“I’m extremely disciplined. When I say I’m going to do something, it’s not like I just say it—I really do it 1,000%. I get really focused and then I’ll accomplish it. Another mantra of mine is ‘There is no ‘No.’’ I don’t believe in no. If I want to accomplish something, I can. That leads to a lot of self-confidence, because even if I think that I can’t—I’m still confident in my abilities.”
On Learning That Vulnerability and Courage Go Hand in Hand…
“By being such a perfectionist, I have a hard time being vulnerable. I have such a tough exterior—though there’s nothing about me that looks tough other than the fact that I do have muscles—but I do have a very feminine side. Yet, I have a hard time. . . when my house burned down or I was going through my divorce, everyone thought, ‘Oh, she’s got this.’ It’s because I wasn’t allowing myself to be vulnerable. Now, I’m trying to teach myself that being vulnerable is actually very courageous. It’s the opposite of how I’ve lived my life before because I never showed any vulnerability. It’s the opposite of what I’ve learned to do. But by being vulnerable, I’m being courageous. I’m trying to let my guard down more—because it’s automatically up—and I don’t think that’s a good thing. I need to let it down more. I’ll share with anybody, but I’m really guarded. My heart is very much guarded.”