Healthy-ish Addiction

Healthy-ish Addiction

May 29, 2014

IMG_0409If you read the Doldrums I made reference to a very negative article. I have been debating on whether I should put it out on Iron Authority for folks to read, but it is difficult. This is a very personal look at some of the things in my life that bother me. It’s showing off scars that I have that ache from time to time. But, I also feel that most of us have been in this mindset in one way or another and if at least one person gets something out of this, it was worth me putting myself out there. This is Healithy-ish Addiction, which I wrote a few days after I got back from Korea. I was tired, sick, and frustrated with pretty much everything. Here it is in all of its shitty glory.




Healthy-ish Addiction



By Josh Hunt



I recently went out of the country for work. I spent two weeks in Korea working 12-13 hours a day. I tired to get in as much culture as I could when I wasn’t working or sleeping. And, even though I had a lot on my plate, the desire to explore, the itch was still there. Well I don’t know if itch is the right term, maybe unrelenting, guilt-ridden, emotional vortex that impelled me to train would be a better term. Powerlifitng, like any competitive sports is addicting. To be honest I have a very strange relationship with it, which is hard to explain. I sometimes feel like a heroine addict, wherein the first hit creates a high that cannot be attained again, and then the habit is something that allows the junky to function daily. I know this is a weird analogy, but sometimes I don’t get enjoyment out of training or competing. Sure there are things that I love about it, such as the camaraderie of my fellow lifers, the ”high” of setting a new personal record, and the eventual post-meet binge of chicken wings and beer. Then there is the other side of the coin: that last set of heavy squats on a hot summer day when you back is screaming and you are still dizzy from the previous set. Or, that killer bench workout that you have to do after a ball busting day at the office on three hours of sleep. There are so many other examples of these “I don’t want to be here moments” in the world of competition, but for some reason they really don’t keep me or other athletes out of the gym. Sometimes, hell most of the time, training is just simply something I need to do. I really don’t have a choice.



As mentioned earlier I was out of the country for a few weeks, and I was really busy during this time. At the end of a long day that started at around 5:30 am to get some mobility work in and ended at around 7:30 when I walked in the door of the hotel, I would wearily put on my gym clothes and head down to the health club to try to get in a workout. No matter how much I didn’t want to put on those shorts, I somehow found the motivation to do what I felt like I needed to do. Because I know that if I would have flaked out I wouldn’t have the opportunity to work out some of the stress that I took on that day. But, more importantly I wouldn’t have to deal with the guilt from skipping a workout, which is a really terrible feeling for me. So I found myself in a Korean health club squatting and benching the best I could with the equipment that I had. In fairness, any time there are free weights at a hotel, especially a few hundred pounds of them, a lifter should consider themselves in luck. But, because I was tired and miserable I found some things to bitch about, like the fact that the health club bought nice Ivanko plates but had chincy ass bars, or there was no place for me to deadliftbecause the floor was a beautiful hardwood one. There is always something to complain about when you don’t want to train: from cold weather, to running out of supplements, to eating too much for lunch. The only time when I amreally pumped up to lift is when I have had a great day and a lot of rest, which is not all that often.



Training was bad, I didn’t want to do it, but I kept finding myself in the gym trying to do what I felt I needed to do. This is not an isolated incident. There are so many examples of me finding myself in some sort of workout feeling like shit, but still trying to do what I can. A few years ago, I found myself in the Belleville Weight Lifting Club (BWC) on a day when I felt too sick to go to work. In between sets I would cough so hard that from time to time I would vomit. Which meant, I would hit a set, slam some water, then stand over a garbage can hoping I wouldn’t cough up my liver. Yet another time, I had to be convinced by my fellow lifters that I should go home because my head hurt so much. I still remember the conversation wherein I would speak to the guys trying to convince them and myself that I shouldn’t be lifting, while simultaneously trying to convince myself and them that I shouldn’t be such a pansy and get under the bar. After about fifteen minutes of this my training partners got fed up with me, yelled at me to go home, and I was left dealing with a big ball of negative emotions in my gut because I wasn’t working out. Even at the time I knew this really wasn’t a healthy decision for me. On both occasions I would have been better off if I just called it before I even went to the gym. But, this sport can be addicting and addicts don’t make the best decisions.



Maybe I am going out on a limb here, but I honestly feel that most competitive athletes, especially adult non-profession athletes, have pathologies that drive them to do what they do. I am sure there are people out there that actually enjoy training and competing all of the time, and most of these people I would call masochists. I can say that my pathologies are set up in a manner that I am compelled to achieve in some form or fashion. Without getting into too much detail, I grew up in a manner that I was rewarded for doing well, especially in sports. This isn’t uncommon, especially in the USA where we live in a “win at all cost” society. What was uncommon, at least in my case, was that I was a shy introverted kid that felt I only got the attention I wanted/needed when I was performing. As I grew these feelings of insecurity became more and more entrenched in my psyche. I had to do well, I just had to, otherwise I was a failure. These feelings manifested themselves in a number of ways that I really didn’t know how to deal with. For example after a football game I wouldn’t speak for hours, sometimes days, due to a loss. This was the case even if I did everything I could have and had a great game personally. There were cases when I would nearly pass out in the shower at home because I put so much into the game, but if we didn’t win I would feel like shit. Then I would dread going into watch film where my coaches would belittle me for missing a block or not being fast enough off the line. I hated a lot of things about football, the heat, the fact that as a lineman I had to run through more grueling drills than a wide receiver, the repetitive plays that “practice heroes” would mess up so they looked good for the coaches, and so much more. But, I couldn’t have and can’t imagine my high school life without the sport. To distill a very complex thing down into a phrase: I had to compete because it made me feel worthwhile.



Yeah, I know this is kind of a heavy concept. But, I think it something that needs to be put out there. Self-esteem and self-value are things that many people have issues with. Growing up, and to this day, I have dealt with these ideas by achieving whether it be in sports, in the office, or any other place where I can show my value. It is easy to assess a value on weight lifting; you can measure it in pounds or kilos. Professional achievements can be measured in accolades and salary. However, these are only facets of self-worth and self-value. This is an important part of me as a whole and an important part of me as a lifter. There is a good chance that I got into the sport of powerlifting under contexts that aren’t the healthiest. There are negative things that keep me in the gym and keep me motivated to lift more. Such as the crippling guilt that I feel if I decide to slack off or take a day off when I “shouldn’t.”   On the contrary there are positive things that keep me doing what I do. Such as the fact that: I simply love to lift heavy and the concept of being strong (there is a difference between lifting heavy and executing long workouts that are physically and mentally draining). Powerlifing and sports in general are positive things, however negative mindsets can make them into unhealthy things. I think many of us have been in a situation that we know we should call it or take a day off but didn’t. Because our template said we had to do one more set or we needed to hit a certain weight.



I don’t want to give the impression that I hate what I do, quiet to the contrary: I really enjoy being a powerlifter. There just happen to be complexities that exist in the addictive nature of an athlete, which go far beyond the scope of this article. I for some reason have felt the need to expound a bit on the subject. I just find myself in situations that aren’t always in my best interest. There is a fine line between taking a well-deserved day off and being lazy. It can be hard to get motivated to hit the gym, sometimes because the couch seems like a better place to be. We as athletes are all trying to prove something to others and ourselves. Whether that something is taking first at a body building show, being awarded best lifter at a meet, or increasing our total. The desire to improve oneself oft times has to do with insecurities. If it didn’t, why would we have to compete in order to show off our strength, speed, form, or intellect? A truly secure person wouldn’t need any forum to show off or prove themselves. I hope this doesn’t seem insulting because it is not meant to be. Insecurity is part of the human condition, and without it, man would be missing a huge catalyst for self-improvement. I feel it necessary for me to analyze myself and look at my rational as to why I do what I do. I am working on separating the unhealthy aspects from the healthy. But, until then I will have mixed emotions about certain things. I will be more excited about a bench day than a squat day and I will try to keep lifting a healthy activity and not a self-abusive addiction.



The addictive nature of sports is something that only athletes will understand. Only other powerlfiters really understand why someone would pay over two hundred dollarsfor a nylon shirt that chews up yourskin and creates a “blood line” on one’s chest in order to lift a greater amount of weight. Only athletes understand getting out of bed before dawn on a cold, rain day to get a workout in because there is no other time to do it. A normal person can’t wrap their head around snorting sniffing salts as a psyching agent or depriving themselves of food and water to make weight. Athletes do weird things that make sense to us. We are a conglomerate of positive and negative pathologies and thoughts. We deal with complex feelings and desires like hating every minute of a workout but feeling great because it went well.   This is why I could be dog tired in a foreign country, having every reason not to work out, but findingmyself in a health club trying my damnedest to lift what I could. A competitive athlete lives a lifestyle that is riddled with complexities, catch 22’s, contradictions, and difficulties. But, many of us wouldn’t have it any other way. For most of us we can say what we do is a healthy(ish) addiction, but we have to be careful not to allow it to shift into something that steals time from loved ones and responsibilities, fortifies negative thoughts (such as: your too fat, not strong enough, too lazy, etc), and increases the chance for injury (one more set guys). I know I have meandered all over in this article, and maybe in the future I will expand on this subject some more; however, I would like to ask my readers two things. Why do you do what you do? My answer is a strange network of insecurities, a desire measurably be better, and a love of lifting heavy. Does what you do have addictive qualities? I know I am impelled to do certain things, I go through withdraw when I don’t get my fix, and sometimes training is the thing I need to get me through the day, even if I don’t want to do it. I ask because I whole-heartily believe in the words of the oracle of Delphi and one should “know thyself.” Because the only way to improve is to know why you do what you do.


-Drooling red from my eyes to meet the bitter sun that shines past into light. Setting fire to curtain in hope that you’re dreaming. Destroying the tomb of memories form your life. – Deafheaven


Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Please follow and like us:

© 2012-2018 IronAuthority All Rights Reserved

Enjoy this blog? Please spread the word :)

Follow by Email