If there’s one area that I tend to cause puzzlement in my friends, family and co-workers, it’s the way I approach my training, exercise and diet regime. It’s not that they are necessarily amazed at my being into health and fitness (since lots of people are), it’s really the specifics of my philosophy and approach that give them pause or cause them to cock their heads, look at my askew and remark (after an extended sigh) “Seriously… why???”
It can actually be a little odd to explain to someone outside of the worldwide family of lifters and physical culture devotees who make this kind of strenuous exertion the best part of their days.
I have talked to or exchanged ideas with on forms a lot of people who are as into training (I almost never call it “working out”, FYI) or even more so into training than I am. There seems to be a fairly common thread that ties all of us together into one big, borderline irrational family:
The power of transformation.
With training, you will truly get back from it what you give to it. If you learn a bit and then work hard at what you learned, the results will come. They just will as sure as day follows night. They will come faster for some and slower for others, but they do come when you give yourself over to the training.
Can you see the appeal? Think of how many areas in life where despite your best efforts and all your smarts and all your talents and all the sweat of your brow… you get diddly-squat back in return. Zip. Zilch. Nada. It’s ridiculously frustrating.
A few years back I went to a doctor for my lower back. He was a pretty good physician, but very, very old school. He took a look at my x-rays, showed me how one disc was a bit narrower than the others and simply said, “You need to stop all exercising that loads your vertical spine.” I gave him a look of “Umm… you gotta be kidding me, dude.” He went on to say, “I don’t know what it is with you weightlifters and why you can’t seem to stop. There are so many other wonderful kind of exercise out there.” You can tell I really didn’t listen to him and I am trying my best to be a lot smarter about how I train… but I ain’t quitting.
I think this is why when I had someone very special and very close to me going through leukemia for several agonizing years, the weight training I did was utter salvation to me. I could not fix her horrid illness which ravaged away at her for those 5 long years. It was excruciating to feel so powerless to do much except to be an unyielding form of support the whole way.
But during that time while I was training? I could effect change. It was at least something I could control and for at least a little while, use to chisel away some of the hurt in the process. It was also something that taught me a lot about myself and how to push through the challenging parts of life… and then I would use all of that to better support her day after day after day. The two things began to feed each other and without that constant of my training, I’m not sure what all of those 5 years would have been like.
So the fact I hit a new personal record on my deadlifts (427.5 lbs for 5 reps, in case you were wondering… and I just know you were) tonight just makes me feel like a little bit more is right with the world… that things can make a little more sense… and that when it comes to my training, I will get back what I give.
All of which raises one question for me: If you don’t feel the same about your own exercise program… why not?
You might view me as nuts for what I do… I see it as a lone sane act in a sometimes completely insane world.