Reflection

Reflection

Apr 11, 2013

Reflection

By Josh Hunt

A few weeks ago I competed in the Missouri State/ Ozarks powerlifitng meet. I like to benchpress, but at least once a year I like to do a full raw powerlifting meet. And this meet was the one where I decided to do just that. Things went well and I actually set three new personal records. I squatted 534.5 pounds which was a 16.5 pound increase. I ended up deadlifting 562 pounds which was an 11 pound increase. But, most importantly I finally broke a 1,400-pound total, which has been my goal for a while. I was so happy when I added up the weight and the number ended up being 1443.5 pounds. This meant that I was able to increase my meet total by nearly sixty pounds. Now, I realize that these aren’t the greatest numbers in the world and I am in no way an “elite” athlete like Dale Earnhardt Jr. or Greg “Fossil-Man” Raymer (wait, I actually do something not just play cards or drive a racecar; just because doing something is difficult does not make it a sport. If that were the case, fighter pilots and day laborers would be considered amazing athletes). All that aside, I was super amped that I did well and what made things sweeter was that my training partners: Brady Stewart, Shane “Yabab” Hopkins, Mike Lawson, and Duane “The Stone” Winkler all had great meets to boot. When things wrapped up I was tired and happy, and the Waffle House overdose that I sent my body into after we left the meet was warming and transcendent. All in all, it was a good day to compete and a good day for me personally because I had established new marks for myself that I now need to surpass.

In my mind most people would be happy with this, have a good weekend and enjoy their accomplishments. This ain’t me. That isn’t to say that I didn’t love lying around eating foods that I normally won’t allow in the house i.e.; strawberry sugar wafers, Cheez-It’s, tapioca pudding, generic Nella wafers, a Jack in the Box Ultimate Bacon Cheese Burger combo with a Dr. Pepper and chocolate shake (Jesus, did I really eat all this crap? If I added 80 pounds of butter this would look like Paula Dean’s secret shopping list) and catching up on The Walking Dead and Sons of Anarchy on the Sabbath, because I did. However, I didn’t take the time to relish and take pleasure in what I had done. For the love of wiener dogs; I set three new personal records! One of the problems (which I am rife with) is that I have a very difficult time in taking any satisfaction in my accomplishments. Hell, sometimes I find no contentment in things that I have done, even though they might be huge milestones in my life. Oft times as soon as I have achieved something, it is already in my rear view mirror and my sights are set on my next goal (which in the context of powerlifting is breaking a 1,500 pound total). Now, I am not saying that establishing an objective is unhealthy, I think this is one of the most important things someone can do for themselves within sport or their own life. But, there is a danger in always looking for the next challenge. Hunger for personal betterment and unhappiness with how certain aspects of your life, or with yourself as a whole, are turning out live very close to each other. If they were neighbors they would be able to hand a pie from house to house by just opening the windows. Or in the case of drive and dissatisfaction it would more like dissatisfaction would call the cops on drive for making too much noise from doing pushups in the morning. My point is this, and I really should be paying attention to my own words; it is extremely important in living your life fully to take pride in accomplishments and reflect upon what they mean and the work that has gone into achieving them.

In June of 2011 I received a Master’s of Science from a University in Colorado. I busted my ass to get this degree. During the better part of the two-year program I was a full time employee, a full time student, and a competitive powerlifer. I had issues with funding for my graduate program, stress ate until I was pushing 300 pounds, had unhealthy cholesterol levels, high blood pressure, and was a stressed out mess. During my studies I was still traveling for work, dealing with an unhealthy relationship (which ended six months before I graduated), and coping with personal and family issues. I remember sequestering myself in my office every weekend just to catch up on reading and knock out papers that I didn’t have time for during the week due to work, training, and other adult obligations. I seldom remember sleeping in during this period of my life and being tired all the time. My bitching list can go on and on, but hopefully I have painted the picture that this was a very difficult summit for me to climb, and I fell a few times. But, in the end I made it to the top of the mountain with a diploma; however, I didn’t take even a few minutes to look around. I didn’t take in the splendor of the things and people who surrounded me. I failed to look back at the steep path that I had ascended in order to stand on the peak of this educational mountain. I basically took a deep breath, went out drinking with my friends, and then walked down the mountain. When I woke up the next day with a killer hang over I wasn’t content with lying in bed and patting myself on the back because I had done something that I had wanted to do for a long time. I was thinking about other master’s programs, I was contemplating taking on a doctoral program, I considered the options that I could take on in regards to professional training, and my mind was focused on what I could do next. I missed out on an opportunity to be “in the moment”; I allowed a chance to celebrate and be happy slip through my fingers. I was already stressing myself out with the self-imposed need to immediately move on to the possibility of future education, enlightenment, and how to become a better Josh.

When I got back from the graduation ceremony in Colorado, I was set on finding the next thing that I wanted to defeat. I was ready to throw myself into the gym and go balls out. I wanted to start burning through all the books that have been collecting dust on my bookshelf. I was determined to be a more focused employee now that I didn’t have the distraction of graduate school. But, I half-assedly forced myself into taking a week “off”. The idea was to allow myself to train a bit, come home have a drink or two and catch up on my overflowing DVR and recover. And, I can honestly say I really didn’t do any of these things. I ended up cleaning the house and doing yard work that I had been putting off. I kept myself artificially busy with crap that I really didn’t need or want to do, because I felt the need to be engaged and be accomplishing something (and I still battle with these feeling even today). Really, the only thing I did was allow myself to recover just enough that I pushed back my eventual burn out. For those of you who have not experienced one of these consider yourself lucky and you might want to prepare for the inevitable (unless you have the stress of an obese house cat) because one is probably coming. A few months down the road I hit a training wall, I was lethargic and needed a break, I was fried. I could have prevented this by taking a few days or weeks off after graduate school to recover. But of course the overachiever in me found the logical and rational side of me, drugged, gagged and hog tied him, and shoved him into a secluded broom closet for months; only to be found when I was in a weakened state of being due to the frustration and stress that I put on myself.

One would think that I would have learned from my past mistakes, but that would mean that I was smart enough to do so. This condition of pushing myself up against burnout is a perpetual state of existence for me. Case in point; after my gluttony and “Walking Dead” Sunday I decided to keep myself busy. I was taking a break from lifting, but going all out on things that I had been meaning to do, aside from my normal routine of work, running errands, and doing my OCD choirs around the house (I can get really bad about some of this stuff, my work shirts in my closet are organized Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo, Violet, you know how colors appear in a prism or rainbow). Monday, I grabbed dinner with a friend who has been trying to have me over for months. Tuesday, I recorded a few Berserker Strength Radio Podcasts with Brady. Wednesday, I went out to a college alumni event (which I am chapter president of). Thursdays, I cooked a meal for a friend. Friday, I decided to “relax” with a massage and ended up having a blah rubdown that cost way too much. Then tried to soak in a tub and realized that a 258 pound man should probably get an extra large bathtub in order not to get stuck like William Howard Taft. Saturday, I hit yoga with the gals (I do yoga in a pretty much all women class, and no it’s not one of those hot pseudo-porn fantasy type of things, it’s hardcore women that are several years older than me), then went to a diaper party for a friend, followed by an extended family member’s party. Sunday, I had Easter dinner with some of my best friends, and by then I was spent. I had taken a week off from training and done little to nothing to get my head straight or focus on recovery for my next mesocycle. Recently, I have been dragging ass and had little motivation because I simply didn’t take time to recover. Nor, did I take any real time to think about my past meet. I am not saying that I am strong by any means, but most average people (hell people that spend hours in the gym everyday) can’t squat, bench, and deadlift what I can (to be clear I am referring to non-powerlifters, and I realize that many of these folks can out run me, play a better game of golf, are simply better tennis players, etc). Basically, I hung up my Ozarks meet medal on my ‘wall of Josh’s powerlifting greatness’ and I starting thinking about benchpress nationals. I didn’t step back and think about what this sport means to me, how my friends inside (and outside) the sport have encouraged me, or that I had done something to be proud of. I didn’t really feel that I gleaned something or emoted in a positive way.

As I am writing this article I am thinking about a lot of things, some very personal, others are more about training or work. But, I still can’t wrap my head around the pride that I should carry for busting my hump and my successful competition in a drug free federation. I am really trying to make myself detach and ponder what I have done. I am making myself do this because again I feel by the nature of who I am; I am missing an opportunity to be content for a minute. I know this goes against my article entitled desire, but the old adage is true “you have to stop and smell the roses.” We aren’t machines; we are people who have emotions. Every once in a while these need to be checked up on to make sure we are balanced correctly and have our priorities straight. I am not saying we should live in these moments like pathetic former high school football players that bring up their big game every thirty minutes. What I am saying is pride in our accomplishments is as important as the drive that got us there. And, taking some time to reflect and recover is something that I think many of us need to do, especially myself. My plan for this weekend is to try to be cognizant that I am doing something positive and something I should be proud of. I am planning on taking some time and think about how I have progressively gotten better in the sport and talk to my friends to see if they think I have been changing for the better. At the end of the day when someone asks how much I lift, I want to say it with a smile and not do my normal ‘well these other guys are way stronger than me’ caveat. I am really doing my best to reflect on who I am, what I have accomplished, and who and where I want to be as a person. But, this isn’t easy for me, it’s like trying to speak a language you used to speak but have now forgotten. Guess it’s time to put my money where my mouth is and find a quiet spot to ponder.

Until next time,

Josh.

– Can you help me every step of the way?
We can bury that battle and bury the cause
There is nothing that I can say
Because I was wrong this time……………………………….Norma Jean

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2 comments

  1. I am guilty of the same thing. I look at what everyone else is doing and I always shoot my accomplishments down because I know that its not good enough. I need to take your advice and no matter what happens at the next 2 meets I need to really think about how far I’ve come. Great article! It couldn’t have been posted at a better time.

    • Josh is right. So many times we forget that it is all about the journey, not the destination. We MUST enjoy what we do to feel more fulfilled. I’ve done a lot better about exercising good mental health over the past few years namely because of Josh and his philosophies. This guy is really smart and very deep. Instead of coming home after training and obsessing over training, programming, strength research, etc, I’ve really started enjoying the little things in life. I’ve been able to come home and turn it off. However, I can do this because I already have good habits in place and don’t feel the need to obsess over my next training session or previous sessions. I can focus more on relationships, business, work, marriage, fun, and really just life in general.

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