I figured it would be a good way to gain some social status and, of course, some attention from the opposite sex.
That’s why I started, but it’s damn sure not what kept me going.
Before long, I started realizing the progress I saw was its own reward. I started feeling confident and proud of myself for the work I put in, and for the first time in my life, I started to honestly like myself. In hindsight, it couldn’t have come at a better time.
See, it’s important to understand that I spent most of my life battling anxiety and depression. I struggled with having a mind that was racing a million miles a minute, ready to break into full blown panic on a moment’s notice.
Of course, I don’t have to tell you that anxiety doesn’t go away just because you hit a new PR. Panic attacks don’t give a fuck how much you can bench. But when I discovered training, I finally found the only thing that seemed to help.
Whenever I was lifting, I had no choice but to focus on the here and now. There's no room for distractions or anxieties. You're just counting reps. The simplicity of this is beautiful to me in a way, and it attracted me like nothing else. My mind was finally calm.
I thought I’d lose it forever once I left high school and didn’t have a sport to train for anymore. Luckily, that’s when I found powerlifting.
I didn’t realize it, but I’d developed the perfect powerlifting mentality by falling in love with training for training’s sake early on. I guess it’s no surprise then that as I moved through college, powerlifting became my new rock.
No matter how hard I studied for a test, I’d fail it. No matter how many hours I worked at my crappy minimum wage job, I’d still be too broke to go out with my friends.
But powerlifting was different. I’d put in work, and I’d get stronger.
Quickly, powerlifting proved to be even better for my mental health than just generic weight training. Instead of striving towards something abstract, like “maybe if I work out for 6 months, I’ll look a little better,” powerlifting opened the door to countless consistent, short-term victories. Every week, I’d be a little bit stronger, a little bit better, and a little bit happier than the week before.
The joy from powerlifting was consistent, and at a time defined by constant upheaval and change, that consistency kept me sane. I am not exaggerating when I say it was the only thing I could rely on, and by God, I did.
I think the best way to sum it up is a quote I once saw that went a little like this:
“No matter what's going on in your life, 45 lbs will always weigh 45 lbs."
I don’t know for sure, but I’d bet money there’s not a powerlifter alive who can say that quote doesn’t resonate with them.
So if my story reminds you at all of yourself, just remember you’ve got family here. It’s like one of our coaches Sebastian said: “nobody puts 400 pounds on their back for fun because they had it easy.”
I don’t think you can say it any better than that.
It's one thing to read it; it's another to do it. And when you're training without a coach, you need to make sure you know what you're doing.