Cognitive Dissonance

It’s a mere 88 degrees outside right now but with this Southern humidity it feels closer to 95. I’m taking a break from cutting the grass at my house using this opportunity to talk to you and rehydrate with copious amounts of watermelon. And yes, I am that guy that thump tests his watermelon before he buys them and hence i currently am eating a wondrously sweet and tasty one.

I am not, however, writing to tell you about my yummy watermelon. I’m writing because while mowing I was reminded of a conversation I had with a fellow lifter at the gym yesterday.

My friend is a met con enthusiast and has the body to prove it. He’s lean, muscular and I’m often asked if I think he’s the fittest guy in the gym. (Depending on your definition of fitness that could be a “yes” but rest assured, he looks good.)

He tells me that his wife had noticed that he was putting on weight. He said that he explained to her he was training for strength and thus consuming more calories than normal to help bulk up and achieve his goals. To which she said, “Why? Why do you need to be stronger?”

It was here that the pressure in my brain got critically high and I had to sit down for a minute.

This, my friends, is a serious problem and one that cannot go un-addressed.

To answer this question I suggest turning it on it’s head. No, don’t shake it by the ankles and wait for loose change to fall out, that’s part of the problem. Instead take the question and look at it’s inverse. “Why would you want to remain weak?”

Our culture tends to view things in stark contrasts and we seem ever drawn to the negative light. ‘Why would you want to become stronger?” Implies that the only use of strength is to lord it over others and to use it to your advantage over those weaker than you.

I think the more accurate question for that is, ‘Why do you want to be an asshole?” But that’s just me.

This is in fact a complete misunderstanding of strength. Those who would use their strength to the disadvantage of others are, in fact, weak.

To achieve true strength requires much effort and sacrifice. True strength is measured not in how many pounds you can lift but in the effort you’re willing to expend in order to lift as much as you can. The weight then is a tool to attain strength not a measure of how much you have.

The reason we strive to lift more and more is because we strive to become better knowing that the journey never ends. The real test of a lifter is if he or she continues to train even after their prime has left them. It’s one thing to be in the gym everyday as a twenty year old watching the numbers climb. It’s another thing entirely to be 50 or 60 and know as you go on your abilities will fade.

Who is stronger? The twenty year old riding her ego, her hormones and her youth? Or the older athlete training with his wits, his dedication and his discipline.

‘Why do you want to become stronger?”

Because if I’m stronger I’m better. If I’m better I can do more, for myself and those around me.

To our perfect imperfection,

Dave

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