Why I Lift
Lifting is a lot of things for a lot of people. We all have our reasons why we lift – whether those reasons are health-related or aesthetic-related or involve something entirely different. And why you continue to lift, after several years, may be different from why you started lifting. Or, at least for me, my reasons are different. For me, when I began, my reasons were pretty simple. I wanted to be healthy and I hate dieting and cardio. I also wanted to be stronger because my illness had left me very weak. But my reasons for lifting have changed in the past few years. Even approaching the end of my first year of lifting, I found myself thinking about lifting differently. Lifting has morphed to become a different entity for me based on what I needed in my life. I have had bouts where I focused on competing and I have had times where I focused on looking ripped. However, even though my main focus for lifting weights has morphed and changed, lifting has always provided several important functions for me. The barbell never lets me down. It always tells me what I need to hear – as long as I am willing to listen.
Lifting Raises Me Up When I Am Down
Because I am human, I have the occasional bad day. You know those days – you may have messed up at work, did poorly on a test, had an argument with a loved one, or you may be having a bad body image day. These are the days where it feels as though you have a rain cloud over your head and you believe that you just can’t do anything right. I have had my fair share of these days and it is lifting that gets me through them.
When I am feeling down, lifting raises me up. It gives me the confidence and peace of mind to get through the rest of the day with my head held high. It shows me, that even though I make mistakes, I am capable, strong, and hardworking. On days where I am down on my body because of the way it looks or because it is not functioning like it should, lifting shows me that my body is, indeed, a good body; the barbell reminds me of where I have come from in terms of strength and ability because when I started, I couldn’t even squat the bar. Lifting allows me to see the light at the end of the bad day.
Lifting Grounds Me When I Am Too High
And there are other times when I feel like I am on top of the world. There are the days where I feel like I am supermodel/work rock star/brilliant genius/social butterfly (wait – that last one never happens); these are the days where it feels as though I can do no wrong. And, on these days, the barbell knocks me down a few pegs. It is on these days that lifting teaches me that I have a lot of work to do. Lifting shows me that I am, in fact, imperfect and that is okay. Hard work is good for me. Lifting sobers me up when I get too high on life.
Lifting Teaches Me About Myself
I don’t know about you, but occasionally I feel as if I am being shoved into a box or that I am being perceived as only a caricature of who I am. Take my last place of employment, for example. During my going away party, my colleagues were asked to write nice things about me on some big sheets of paper. These people had two years to get to know me and you know what I got written on that paper over and over? “Smart.” “Good with Excel.” “Powerlifter.” My entire life has been this way – people telling me how they see me. “The quiet kid.” “The smart one.” “The serious girl.” And after a while, it begins to wear on you. And you start to see yourself as only these things.
Well, lifting changes that for me. When I am working, I feel a power deep inside of me. A type of power that cannot be defined and held within only a caricature of a person – a shell of a human. No, this power requires a multifaceted person to contain it. This power means that the keeper must be smart and wise and hardworking and witty and strong and focused and crafty and kind and gentle and understanding. The barbell shows me again and again that I am much more than the hollow opinions of others. The weights show me again and again that all the things that others and I believe about myself only begin to scratch the surface of who I am. I am a force to be reckoned with and you can’t define me with a few words. Lifting teaches about who I am as a person.
Lifting Focuses Me
You ever feel completely scattered? I mean, it’s hard not to in this day in age. We all are so busy with all our commitments – work, school, family, friends, health, and then all of the things we must do to stay alive – cook, clean, shop, etc. We are stretched in a million different directions, which means our minds are going in a million different directions. And, in all actuality, it can feel like we are made up of a million different people.
Well, for me, lifting takes those million different people and coalesces them into a single person again – me. When I am lifting, I have one focus, one goal : lift the weight. When I am lifting, I can channel all of my everything for that goal and in that time, I become focused once again.
Lifting Teaches Me to Persevere
When times get tough, I go lift. And sometimes, lifting sucks. Everything hurts. I am feeling weak. I can’t hit my reps. And that is when the barbell whispers, “Keep going.” Okay, maybe the barbell doesn’t actually say anything to me, but it sure feels like it does. When things get difficult during a session, I feel the need to keep going. I can’t just leave it. I can’t let the weight win. Just like how I can’t let the world win. When life gets tough, I keep going. And the weight has taught me how: Straighten up, take a deep breath, and just fucking do it. Whining won’t help you. Crying gets you no where. Anger just wastes energy. And you will never succeed if you give up. Just do it.
Lifting Teaches Me to Just Be As I Am
When I am lifting, there could be a million people around me and I wouldn’t notice. It’s just me and the weight. Everything else fades away. And it is in those moments I am just me. In those moments, I am nothing more and I am nothing less. In those moments, I am neither wanting more or less. In those moments, people’s wishes and demands for me go unheard. And, it is in those moments that I feel completely satisfied with being just me; I am completely satisfied to be me in my body in my life in this hour of this year. It is in those moments that lifting teaches me to be just as I am.
And that’s a good place to be.