Some smart ladies have been telling me the same thing lately: it's coming from multiple places,.... that it's not events that make up your story, but rather it's the narrative that you make of those events. And that is the story of YOU... that makes you who you are.
It's a powerful notion. And I have been practicing. Jessica recently said when we were having our ritual Pho...."It's interesting that you would frame your story that way".... and it was a punch in the gut. She was right. I was undermining an accomplishment by the way I framed it. It took some thinking to figure out why I would do that, but the greater win for me was that now when I tell a story, at least sometimes, I hear Jessica's voice.... "interesting way to frame it", and then I consider whether the story I write serves me. And while being TRUE is the most important, there are ways to be truthful that still lack honour. Everyone has blurted out something ... out of a feeling, perhaps. And for that millisecond it was true, but.... it was not really TRUE. But you've said it... it can't be unsaid. I am practicing writing my story in consideration of this reality. Practicing that requires that I check my initial story to make sure that I am honouring the deeper truth. The text message with Jerimiah, above, is an early example of my new practice.
My life. My story. My choice.
I had a Personal Trainer for over a year. And then I had a coach. It was an easy transition because it’s the same guy. Let’s call him Jerimiah… (Because that’s his name….)
In March 2016 , spurred on by a growing love of powerlifting and Jerimiahs recent place (the TOP) at Nationals…. I decided to participate in a summer Powerlifting meet. The London Open, to be specific. Initially, I only asked him to help get me ready. But when I eventually (reluctantly) asked if he’d be there to support me, he was surprised I had considered that there’d be any other option. And at that moment, it started feeling just a bit different.
In the past, when he said “we”, I often laughed. “We can do this”, he’d say. And I’d think “We? I don’t see you picking up the other end of the barbell! Is that some training-speak to encourage me?” But not long after we started prepping for the meet; it really felt like WE! And now, the value I put into this relationship is kind of shocking. Personally, in some ways he remains nearly a stranger. But I trust him with a lot. I rely on his guidance, support and feedback. So how did it become “we”, exactly? Well, here is what I see now:
So has his approach changed? Actually, I have to sheepishly admit that it probably hasn’t. Those things actually didn’t start when I committed to the meet: they were there before. It was my perspective that changed. Yes, I did specifically ask for him to ‘have my back’ and got his commitment. But the only real change in approach was mine. So I had a coach all along, but didn’t know it. My bad.
And now I look around at people giving me feedback in my personal life or at work, and think: Maybe they are my coaches too? The push to own something. Or the encouragement to give it up. The dialogue to help me sort out how I feel, and what’s on my mind. Suggestions to consider modifying my approach. A pat on the back for a little win...... Sound familiar? It’s the SAME things I listed above that I value in my relationship with Jerimiah. I don’t always take the feedback from others as easily as I do with Jerimiah. Maybe its because it does not feel like “personal coaching” because of their approach. But maybe it’s also because of my perspective. And that, I can change.
Icon made http://www.flaticon.com/authors/nikita-golubev
I've been a bit frustrated this week with my weight. Here is the ramble of stuff in my brain.
So....why is my weight relevant? Because -I made it so. And here's how.
I don't think about weight so much anymore. A scan of this blog shows one of the truths of my heart. I love this sport.
But when sharing with most people ....it's often a story about how much weight I have lost. Everyone gets that. They can see it. And the rest of the journey....while so much more valuable to me .... hasn't made it into my vocabulary beyond the closest friends and this blog. It seemed personal ...a bit un-graspable.... irrelevant to others.
And the competition added the weight-on-the-scale to my radar. And it became my focus. And that little continuous ping reinforced the weight story. And if that's the story...the real story , then NOT losing weight when I head to a meet where I made it some sort of brass ring...well then that's failure, isn't it?
But neither story (despite the fact that I wrote them) ...is autobiographical. Unless I MAKE THEM the story. And I actually do get to choose.
So I write this blog to sort out my head and my heart. And I'm going to start telling people that the weight loss is nifty but that if veils and deeper and more relevant truth. And I am going to eat healthy, and compete at whatever weight I am at when I get there. And I'll lift more than I did a year ago.
And I'll have another story that's true, that I wrote and that I chose.
I got really irritated this morning at the gym when a stranger said "no no no for god sake don't hurt yourself " and handed me 10 pound weights in place of my 17. 5s. I don't think he would've done it if I was a dude. But I also think he was genuinely trying to help. Is there a "right" way to correct a strangers form at the gym?
In an article on Linkedin, I talked about some lessons from powerlifting. What I have learned from powerlifting is a topic that often gains my attention, as it’s really changed my perspective on growth, community and a number of other important aspects of both my work and personal life. And today….. I put another one on Linkedin for the “books” (even if this is digital….). And it made sense to put it here as well, even if this platform is uusally reserved for 'fitness' and is introspective, while this one ends with a question.
A stickler will say that I should be using the word decrement to describe what follows. And while grammatically correct, it just does not convey what’s on my mind.
There is a lot of noise lately about innovation in general. And it is important. It’s exciting. It’s often FUN! But it does not replace improvement. I have made some major changes to my gear (not technically innovation, but from the perspective of me as the lifter) that have given me measurable boosts in a short period of time (I really love my SBD knee sleeves), but MOST of the gains have been incremental based on constant small improvements to mobility, strength, and technique. Even looking at a quarterly progress (chart above)…. There are no momentous moments here. Just incremental improvement. But it remains real material progress of which I am proud.
Here is the rub. I won’t get to stay here unless I keep it up. In fact, in order to consistently do what my current best is, I need to get better still. And if I take too long of a break from testing my strength by using it…. By requiring ALL OF IT it to complete the activity I’ve chosen to do…. I’ll actually fall back. Staying right exactly where is I am - stasis - is not likely. People don’t stay exactly the same; we change. So the odds are very high that I will either take an incremental step BACK, or get STRONGER. I am grateful that I have the choice. I am not going to waste that on incremental decline.
Enough about Bench Press. The same can be said about many areas of personal and professional development. My job is to take what powerlifting has taught me, and bring it into all that I practice.
How about you? In what areas do you continue to improve, and where have you gotten stale…. Even maybe started to increment in the wrong direction?
Deadlifts and I struggle to get along. Always.
I did have a 13# PR in July...at 198#...and was overjoyed. Hugs were even squished out to Jerimiah. But it was months before I got even close again. Partly it was just the way the programming block was built. But then even at the end...it was still basically the ceiling. Squeezing out 200# 5 months later gave me mixed feelings. Yeah, it was more. But the smallest amount. And that was really all I had in me. Was it that going to be it? And if it was, then what!?
And then at the beginning of February I threw my back out...doing deadlifts, of course. We were doing reps (and reps, and reps) and the fatigue was building and I lost form. It was pretty bad. Tears. Doctor. Meds. Physio.
So I didn't train for a bit, and then did but ensured NO stress to back. I missed squats but didn't miss deadlifts one bit. I felt like they had met me down. Or I had let me down.
Well, we started up again, and I screwed up my optimism and told myself to just do the work and trust the process. It was hard. It was a few sessions of back to basics and changing things up. I was all awkward AND had low numbers and didn't have the excuse that I was a #newb. But I kept at it ....with a slightly wavering faith that it would build up to...something different.
And it did. A 5# PR at 205#....With maybe a bit left in the tank. Evidence! Finally a little translation into the actual lift.
Let's be honest: even at twice the increase in the previous 5 months, its a tiny increase. But it's the encouragement I needed to remind me that trusting the process is not about blind faith, but rather about relying on what you know and who you trust ...and sticking it out.
I'm elated about the result, but even more so by this little gift of the encouraging reminder that progress comes ....as long as you keep at it.
We just wrapped on a vacation to COUPLES .... and it was such an amazing rest. We are not really much for "adventure vacations" per se. We already really enjoy our life/lives and aren't looking to a vacation to fill it up with parties, thrills or physical exertion. A real vacation for us is a rest. Not just the lack of daily obligations, but almost a mandate to just "chill out already". Garth already has that down pat, but I struggle. It would be easy for me to find stuff to fill the time. And for some, that might be just what the doctor ordered, but for me; a good vacation is a serious reboot; complete with some time just being....being. Still. Quiet. Sometimes listening to music, or reading. Or a walk. But mostly just a nice slow crawl, a slower pace in the brain, and a release of "need to be doing" for my heart.
And I sit here on our patio for the last 1/2 hour before leaving, feeling grateful for this opportunity, and equally thankful for the life we return to. There is not even a hint of wistfulness about leaving.
All of this leaves me feeling immensely blessed and grateful.
We ease back in tomorrow. Laundry. I'll go to the gym and train. Then back to work on Thursday; full steam ahead.
My meet is around 14 weeks out. I have a whole cycle to work through, and hypertrophy starts tomorrow. I am eager for the work, for the inevitable progress, for the opportunity to practice. For the endorphins. :)
And work is really humming. I love the product and it's shaping up to be a fun and challenging 2017.
I have quoted Seth Godin (his blog, more specifically) hundreds of times, but none more than this:
I've probably already referenced it in my blog. Sometimes, I am quoting it to try to encourage others to MOVE ALREADY! And sometimes, I have to speak it inwardly to do the same.
This time it's a bit different... it's the convergence of two things.
ONE is this. Last year I set some goals, and posted them here.
Suffice it to say... it's the end of Q1 soon, and I didn't get there. But I did get a lot closer, and while I have this lingering disappointment, I can also remember when setting these targets that they were do-able, but very hard. And yet here I sit, pretty darn close to being able to pull off the squat and bench numbers.
TWO: is this:
I registered for my next meet.
So I haven't reached my goals for Q1, but I registered for a meet anyway.
Well, frankly... I'm perfect. Perfectly ready. Perfect enough. Not enough to win. Not enough to qualify for anything. But that's not why I went last time, and I LOVED IT.
And while there is a little part of me that cries at the thought of being at the bottom, I'm not going to let that stop me from taking hold of the experience. And if I won't let anyone else steal the joy and magic of this discipline from me, I certainly won't do it to myself.
Therefore, no matter what my numbers are; I am perfectly ready.
I watched a new buddy hit PRs at the gym today. Well, I watched the video. Nowadays I think that's nearly the same, right?
Anyway, it's pretty amazing. It's a bunch of stuff. It's all of the work and commitment it takes to get the groove. It's the headspace you have to find to even try those big numbers....
And yet despite the obstacles ....the numbers are there for the record. Not an opinion, or a "like" or a pat on the back. Which I am sure will also be offered in spades. But something even better. Even if there weren't the video evidence, this moment is another reminder....proof, even, the body is an amazing machine and it can accomplish magic when given a chance.