After I’m gone, ’till after I’m gone.
Lifting and how it has changed me as a person.
When I first started “lifting” I was a much different person than I am now. I picked up the weights in the primitive set that remains in my basement with dreams of big biceps and pecs to impress girls and get them to want to make out with me. I persisted with this bullshit for over a year until I decided to do a more strength based program to put size and weight on, eventually moving towards Starting Strength. It started off pretty easy, but it quickly got hard, and as the numbers grew, so did I, not only physically, but as a person.
My goals changed. Originally the ‘strength training’ was a stepping stone to looking more like Arnold or Frank Zane, just a temporary thing for a couple months, but as I dove further into it it became apparent that dedicating hours a week into nothing more than looking (what you perceive as good) is painfully immature and narcissistic. Of course devoting those same hours just to being able to say that you’re stronger than other people is, as well, but pushing myself as hard as I can, as a way of finding my limits, is not. Figuring out what I want out of training, though, is just the tip of the ice berg that is the total impact Benching, Pressing, and especially Squatting and Pulling has had on my life.
I’ve learned the value of putting in effort. Not just trying kinda hard at something, I mean really putting effort into something, have you ever struggled as hard as you fucking could to accomplish something and succeeded? There aren’t many feelings as good, as knowing that every bit of your ability went into something and it was barely enough. You feel, for a brief amount of time, that you achieved perfection. Perfection for a mere moment, but perfection, none the less. You removed the human factor. Your experiment is taking place in ideal conditions. Your work material is unobtanium. There is really no feeling like it, and people who don’t do something that they love will never understand it.
I’ve learned about patience and that what you put into something determines what you get out of it. More simply, dedication and determination. If you want to do accomplish something you need to accept that it will take time and that level of effort I just talked about. There are gonna be days where you would rather stay home. I don’t have many, a couple a year at most, but they’re there. It’s a matter of not giving myself the option. I don’t take into account whether or not I feel like training. It’s a matter of do it. You do have to
want need it. Unless you you start treating lifting as something you do, and establish it as something you are you won’t be committed enough to succeed. This type of devotion, to anything, drives me, if I treat failure at lifting as failure of myself, it ensures I do whatever I can to succeed.
The biggest thing it’s taught me though, is what I want out of life. Now that I’ve poured a substantial amount of time into this, it’s shown me a lot about myself, about my goals outside of lifting. When you reap the benefits of something that you put a lot of time into it becomes apparent that the temporary things in life aren’t important. I’m not concerned with getting high on drugs or piss drunk (I’ve tried getting piss drunk a few times, it’s not nearly as fun as having a couple of drinks with your friends and maintaining your composure.) That sort of shit won’t make me someone that I like, it’s temporary feelings, it’s worthless. Same thing with casual sex (Not that it’s something I’d be any good at pursuing if I wanted to) It’s meaningless, it’s just giving your body away to someone who doesn’t actually mean anything to you. I don’t care for extravagant material possessions, if your house it big enough that you can’t maintain it yourself, you don’t need it. I’d be far happier with a small house and a healthy happy family in it than I would with a mansion that had butlers, maids, grounds keepers cleaning up my mess. All these things are, when it comes down to it, worthless. If at the end of the day you can’t look yourself in the mirror, stare into your eyes and be proud of yourself, why would you continue down the path that you’re on. Lifting has taught me the importance of my opinion of myself, and it goes back to this post here. Lifting is something I do that affects my opinion of myself, sure I get people saying ‘dude you’re jacked/strong as fuck”, which is nice, or the occasional dickhead telling me I should be leaner, but at the end of the day, they don’t understand what I do, so I don’t care. Just like when people say I should smoke some weed or get more drunk than I am at a party ‘Nah, I’m good’ because I don’t care what state you think I should be in, and when I’m older and people are shitty fathers and husbands, but brag about their house being bigger, I just won’t care. I’ve learned from lifting that I don’t want to be someone who does things to impress others, I want to do things for myself and the few who’s opinions do matter. I don’t care about owning stuff or doing things to impress other people, it isn’t important, what’s important in lifting is pushing myself as far as I can go, and what’s important in life is being as good a man, (and hopefully) husband and father as I can be.
I once read something along the lines of ‘Athletes don’t stick with their sport because they love it, they do it because they couldn’t imagine their lives without it.’