Making Gains

A long time client of the personal training side of the gym approached me late in the afternoon one day earlier this week. Our gym is on his walking route and he always stops by for water.

I was pacing the open space of my gym on the phone with my wife (to his credit I was using headphones and the speaker option so it wasn’t readily apparent that I was on the phone.)

He looked at me and pointedly asked, “Are you putting on weight?”

“Yep,” I said.

“On purpose?”

“Yep.”

With a look of absolute incredulity he asked, “WHY?”

Trying to finish my phone call with my wife, I raised my right arm, flexed my bicep and said, “To get stronger.”

Once I was finally off the phone he went on to express his concern for first my appearance and then my health. “But [what about] your heart?” he all but pleaded.

Explaining that I was, in fact, fitter than ever fell on deaf ears and he walked away dazed and confused.

Since last October, I have put on weight, a total of about 13 pounds, going from 255 to my current beefy 268. In that same time I’ve added 25 pounds to my deadlift, last pulling 450 on an axle; 40 pounds to my bench press, finally and legitimately breaking the 300 barrier with a solid 305; and 30 pounds to my squat, getting it up to 315.

I know this won’t be winning me any powerlifting competitions, luckily I don’t train for that. Alongside the aforementioned gains I’ve also been working on my Olympic Weightlifting and while my gains may be more “newbie,” attributable to improvements in technique, I’ve added 30 pounds to the snatch and 20 pounds to my clean and press. Of greater importance to me is that my form has improved tremendously. I’m able to drop into the “hole” more efficiently with heavier weight, reflective of improvements in both hip and shoulder flexibility and strength.

Before Christmas the gym gifted itself with a new Concept 2 rower. I’ve added rowing into my routine, getting in anywhere from five to seven 500 meter sprints a workout. My technique needs work but I’m pleased to report that I’m one of the fastest rowers in the gym.

Concurrent to all of this I continue to work on my mobility and flexibility. At 41 years old, and the heaviest I’ve ever been, I can honestly say I feel better than ever.

Prior to October I had focused on building strength and athleticism all while trying to “look the part” of fitness trainer. I followed a paleo-style diet and practiced intermittent fasting.

I won’t say I felt bad doing this, but I did notice a diminished libido which I found embarrassing enough to start taking a herbal testosterone booster to try and “correct” the problem.

Starting in October I began to pay more attention to Lift Big Eat Big on Facebook. These guys actually celebrate being big and strong and they have a following, both men and women.

It was then that I realized that there was a big disconnect between what I was saying and what I was doing. My message of telling people to relish who they are, to embrace their “perfect imperfection,” so that they can make the most of it is bullshit if at the same time I’m obsessing over my own waistline and trying to meet someone else’s expectations of what I should look like.

So, I’m now more comfortable in a 38 inch waist, I do have a bit of a belly, I still don’t eat as often as I should, but I don’t obsess what over I eat and I allow myself occasional carbs (I mean besides beer.) More importantly, I feel good and once again I can give my wife the attention she deserves. Isn’t that more indicative of good health than six pack abs?

Our culture is so obsessed with the appearance of health, and only one aspect of that appearance, that we’ve sacrificed true health. Marketing and hype have superseded common sense and the vicious cycle of insecurity and trying to please others has become the rule of the day.

Take control of your health. Take control of your life. Set your own standards…and adhere to them. Regain your confidence – for that is where true sexiness lies no matter what you look like.

To your perfect imperfection,

Dave

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