Have you guys ever had some situation in life, some obstacle, some state of affairs that has always bothered you, but things have been that way for so long that you’ve just come to accept that as the way it is? Have you dealt with issues that have overstayed their welcome for so long, you’ve just come to assume that things will always be that way and it will never change? I’m primarily talking about things you don’t even think about. You’ve probably dealt with these things your entire life and have just absorbed these assumptions into yourself as part of your personality. Lifting weights has taught me that those things can change. I would say that the biggest lesson I’ve learned is that I’m capable of a lot more than I ever thought I was.
It all started when the illusion that I had to be a skinny, scrawny, shrimp shattered. I learned that I can be as strong as the strongest NFL players. It may sound like a small thing to a lot of people. After all, our society values the mind, not muscles; we have machines to do most of our heavy lifting today. But to me, it’s really shaken me up. I don’t think people understand, but I had always been scrawny; I hated it, but what could I do? It’s just the way things were. I was the weak guy. That’s who I was. It was a part of my identity. It was something I just assumed to be true. It was my fate.
It meant the world to me when that illusion shattered. It was just a few years ago, but I decided I was going to change that. I watched a bunch of Youtube training videos, I bought some bodybuilding books, and I just got started lifting. Then it was amazing. I learned that if I ate enough calories and got a lot of protein in my system, if I only went to the gym four or five times a week and did these exercises, I would grow.
One of the Youtube trainers which really inspired me is C.T. Fletcher. I would watch videos like this one, and I’d just listen to C.T.’s words. If you don’t know who he is, he’s a many times over world champion power-lifter. He’s one of the greatest lifters that’s ever been. If you just listen to his words, it’s the total opposite of everything I had thought about my body. He’s yelling out, “You’re stronger than this shit. You can’t quit. It’s not in you to quit. It’s undeniable. You can do this. C’mon now, get it! Pull! Pull! Everything you’ve got! Pull! PULL! Show me what you’re made of! Don’t you quit on me. Don’t you quit! Ain’t no such thing as quitting around here. Do it! Do it! DO IT! You can’t quit! You’re too strong for that! There’s too much in you to quit! You can’t quit, it ain’t in you to quit! Refuse to quit. You’re too much man for this shit!”
When I was the scrawny six foot tall, 130 lbs shrimp coming into the gym, being out-lifted by even small women in the gym, failing to squat even 95 lbs, I kept hearing CT’s words in my head, “You’re too much man for this shit! You’re too strong for this weight. Don’t quit! Get it! Get it!”
Years later, just a few days ago I went into my university’s gym, which I haven’t been to in a while. I went to bench pressing, doing my normal sets. Then this big football player comes over to me and says, “Hey man. You a power-lifter?” I said, “Me? I just like lifting.” He then took me over to a big poster on the wall with all the university’s weight lifting records. He pointed out that I was lifting insane weight, and that with just a little more training I could shatter all of the university records. I was out-lifting all the strongest football players, even the weight-lifters. He said, “You should enter the competition.”
I had always believed I was a little scrawny wimp, but was I really? No. I had the power to change it, but my own beliefs were stopping me, beliefs which had been set in me at such a young age, I didn’t even think of them. It was CT Fletcher yelling at me, saying, “That shit ain’t true! That shit ain’t true! Get it!”
I really like this next video.
We’re taught to avoid pain. We’re taught that if something is painful to avoid it. We’re always hearing about finding our bliss, finding things that stimulate and motivate you, and having fun, but then CT gets right in your face and yells the complete opposite, “Hello pain! I’ve been looking for you! Come right in! Have a seat! Motherfucker I made dinner for ya! Pain is my friend! Come right in and stay a while, because I ain’t leaving.” When you go to do something and hardship sets in, whatever you fear the most, get right up in its face and yell, “I don’t fear you! I ain’t leaving!” Put your arm around it and say, “We might as well become friends, because you’re not stopping me.”
These sorts of lessons go far beyond weight lifting. The first is the realization that where you are now isn’t where you have to always be. The second is to not fear the pain and hardships that are going to come your way while making the transition. There’s a lot more to the weight room than meat heads grunting and lifting heavy weights.
If you’re wanting to lose weight, needing to change your career, if your relationships aren’t what you’d like them to be, you can wallow in despair, think that’s the way it is, make excuses, find podcasts and blogs which will tell you it’s impossible, that it’s not your fault, that you’re just a victim of circumstance, find some expert who will tell you you’ve got a “eating disorder”, you can blame your mom, your dad, your school, whatever it is, or you can confront the issues in your life head-on, get in their face, tell them to move out of the way, and do whatever it takes to change your situation, without quitting, enduring any pain with a crazy grin on your face, screaming, “Bring it on, muthafucka!”, just like CT.