This Is Going To Suck

This Is Going To Suck

Jan 14, 2014

This is going to suck.



By Josh Hunt





Dear God, it’s January 2014 and it seems as if 2013 has melted away like butter in a hot frying pan.  I am still confounded with how quickly the time passed by, yes I realize I sound like an old woman in the check out line of a grocery store paying with a check because I still haven’t mastered the art of using a debt card.  But, seriously it is true, and the older I get the faster it goes, which is what my parents told me when I was a kid wishing away the week so that I could sit on my ass and watch Teenaged Mutant Ninja Turtles and eat Cinnamon Life cereal.  This is a weird time of year for me, and I would guess that it is a strange time of year of any athlete.  The holiday hangover has set in and there is a desire to go out and hit it hard, but there is something or some things that keep holding one back for whatever reason.



Case in point is myself.  I trained pretty hard last year.  I competed in five competitions, dropped a weight class (264lbs to 231lbs), cleaned up my diet immensely, got into yoga and became more flexible, and honestly was in the best shape physically and mentally I’ve been in, in at least five years.  My numbers stayed respectable (well respectable for me that is) and I made a lot of progress in general both in the gym and in my life as a whole.  However, the day after the North America Powerlifting (NAPF) bench-press competition in November, the wheels kind of fell off. My plan was to take a month off from heavy training and give myself a little leeway on my diet.  Well I over estimated my will power and during the month of December I kind of ate whatever I wanted and trained…….. Well, I went to the gym from time to time.  What has compounded the problem are the holidays, you know; time off, travel, booze, eggnog, rich chocolaty brownies, weather, random naps, etc.  Don’t get me wrong I love to party and I love time off, but from Thanksgiving to about a week after New Years is a bitch.  Right now the concept of a 40-hour workweek is mind-boggling.  Between holidays, Christmas parties, inclement weather, and time off I don’t think I have worked a solid westernized workweek since well before the NAPF Meet.  Which means my patients is down, my work capacity in general is low, I feel overall physically crappy, and I have been spoiled by all the “good things and times” in life. Basically, I had a great time, but I am going to have to do a lot of work to achieve the goals I have set for myself in 2014.  Let me rephrase that, I am going to have to put in a crap-load of work in order to overcome what I allowed my hedonistic lazy holiday ass to do to myself.



Now, before you call me a hypocrite (which I will accept because I can be hypocritical, ask any of my friends or family members) because in the past I spoke about taking time off from training and now I am complaining about being out of shape because of the time I took off, I want to say a few things.  Time off is a good thing, especially if it is used to recover the nervous system, heal the body, get one’s mind set for the next training cycle, improve areas of your life such as mobility and flexibility, and enjoy things in life that might be hard to because of the constraints that training can put on an athlete.  This works conceptually, because I can’t tell you how many times I’ve said I am going to take a little time off, lean up and then hit it hard, only to sit on my ass eat way too many chicken wings, drink too much beer, and let my muscle atrophy as I figure out what type of character I want to develop for Skyrim (if you don’t know this game you need a lesson in nerdism, dear lord is it addictive).  This off time that I have recently taken did not unfurl the way I intended it to.  When I devised it in the training cycle leading up to my last competition, I was supposed to be lazy for one week and one week only. But, that went out the window pretty quickly.  But, I digress, there is nothing I can do about time that has past, hopefully the next time I take time off I have a better fleshed out plan for what I want to accomplish. Or maybe I shouldn’t be so damn hard on myself, because I am more “upset” about what I did for the past several weeks because getting back to the gym is hard.  Regardless time off is good, but too much time off can be bad physically, mentally, and to a degree emotionally.  Just like everything else one has to take these things in moderation and have a plan of attack if something is to be gleaned from the events.



Now I have found myself in a situation like many other Americans have at this time of year.  And, that is a person that is trying to become better within the upcoming 365 days.  Yes, I understand I have complained about the new years resolutionist in the past, and now I am in a similar situation.  But, I have always been a fan of setting goals and timelines for those goals, and what better timeline than that of a calendar year?  It’s like hitting a magic reset button that says: okay it’s the first of January, last year is over, what can I do this year?  This is where things start to suck.  For all intents and purposes, I am out of shape, overweight, feel weak, have a reduced work capacity, and find the idea of watching another episode of Justified more enticing than working on my mobility.  Essentially, I am starting at level zero for the year of 2014.  To be honest this is a bit depressing.



Because of all of this and the desire to be better I have to overcome these shortfalls, pull my head out of my ass, and figure out what I want and need to do to not only be a better powerlifter, but to be a better person.  This is where a great deal of work comes in.  First thing is first, a person in my situation needs to get their head right.  I am spending this wintery snowy weekend thinking about what I want to accomplish, what will help me along my path this year, what will inhibit my progress, and what is actually feasible.  I have been taking some quiet time to myself to think about all these things and get my mind wrapped around the tasks at hand.  This is not really a fun thing to do, but some meditation on the subject is necessary in order to have clear goals and the ability to change direction at a seconds notice.



Next is doing the research.  To be honest I have really been lazy about this in the past.  I have relied heavily on my training partners, competitors, and my own poor observations.  In order for me to get better I need to know what it is I am doing.   Because of this I am diving back in to the Reactive Training Systems (RTS) handbook and really trying to soak up as much knowledge as I can.  I am also taking a few minutes a day to seek out strength building advice from pretty much any source that I can because even bad advice can be beneficial because it can serve as a learning experience or a bad example.  I am also doing a lot of research on nutrition, which is something I need to really focus on if I am to try to get back to into my weight class.  In the past I have just gone with the idea that the cleaner I eat the better, which is not the best course of action.  There are numerous foods that I react to better than others, and there are ideas I need to try like; working on developing a clean gut (worth googling) or revisiting intermittent fasting (another cool concept to check out).  But, I am still in that situation where I find myself hitting up the Jack in the Box for a delicious Ultimate Bacon Cheeseburger instead of getting some good quality meat and veggies and cooking them at home.  Still another idea I am trying to delve into is stress management, with how much stress we can put on ourselves in the weight room, boardroom, at home, with friends and family, and multiple other sources, it’s something I feel I need to work on and get better at.  And, let’s face it we all love to study and research things instead of sitting on our asses and enjoying down time.




Then there is the actual execution of the plan and implementing the research that we have done.  Putting things into motion and continuing the effort is hard.  The idea of hitting the gym to lift four times a week is something that I know I can do, but the first couple weeks are going to be terrible. On top of that I have been known to do cardio several hours a week and go to a yoga class or two. I know I am going to be sore, not lift as much as I had when I was peaking, and my enjoyment will be less than usually because I am not as good as I used to was.  It is hard to put my ego in check and just lift. I use Rate of Perceived Excretion (RPE) to gage my effort and it is very difficult not to bullshit myself, particularly after a long period off.  Often, especially when I start a new training cycle, it is easy to say the weight moves faster and with more ease than it actually did. I hate to admit that the 315 pounds on the bench is a heavy lift; it kicks my ego square in the nuts.  Aside from that it takes a toll on the mind and body to keep going to the gym, getting stronger, building up a work capacity, and doing things smartly.  I feel like I am at the bottom of the Matterhorn just looking at the peak, the place where I want to be, hidden by clouds.   This is going to be a long journey these next 365 days and I need to start taking steps.



When it comes down to it, I believe we as humans have a need to set goals.  This is the easy part; working to attain those goals is very difficult.  It is not easy to do things correctly, put in the effort, the research, the commitment, and the focus but to move forward these are the sacrificial offerings.  It’s cold, snowy, and gloomy out here in the Midwest, but this is the best time to take a few minutes and think about the way forward.  It is also a great time to sequester yourself in a nice warm gym because most of the time there is only a dark, cold, wasteland on the other side of the door.  I have spent a decent amount of time reflecting about last year.  I have written down the things that I have accomplished and thought about the things that I was proud of, additionally I broke down some of my shortcomings and tried to learn form them.  Really any time is a good time to start work on oneself, however there is something about a fresh new year that still inspires me, no matter how hokey that sounds.  I realize there are a lot of things I need and want to do this year and not all of them are in the gym.  I can spout off dozens of things such as: read more, write more, focus on nutrition, travel more, and get stronger.  All of these goals that I have in mind take effort, and even though it’ll probably be a fun trip, getting started is always a bear for me.  So here it goes, I am off to the races and this is going to suck….at least at first.




Send me your armies

There’s no man or machine

Who can stop me,

and you’ll soon see.

I come for vengeance

for the first Son of Light, and I’m ready,

and I’m willing, and I’m prepared to… – The Protomen


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