I’m not awesome every day.
No, no — it’s true. Every day I grapple with my own weakness. I wrestle it. We lock arms. I fling that son of a bitch into the turnbuckle and charge into its breadbasket with a lowered shoulder, and while it’s stunned I fucking get it in an arm bar and do it again. I look around at the crowd for approval (yes there’s a crowd), then drag it into the center of the ring and piledrive its head into the mat, flick the sweat off my extravagant chest hair, and pin it to win the intercontinental heavyweight championship of life.
Sometimes it reverses the pin with a small package. The crowd loses its shit. I kick and wriggle, but that weakness has my shoulders pinned down, maybe grabbing a handful of tights for extra leverage, a totally illegal move by the way — COME ON REF GET IN THERE — and in three seconds it’s over. I’m beaten. And that dirty motherfucker slinks out under the ropes before the ref even raises his arm because he knows he cheated and hobbles back to the dressing room while I’m standing there in the middle of the ring, stunned, still fresh, beaten. Crowd boos and throws stuff. Because they know it’s bullshit. But those are the rules.
That was yesterday.
Things have been going well for me in general. I like my job, I love my family more than I can adequately describe, I’m doing some big work (for me) in the gym, I got a sweet-ass side gig writing health and fitness articles for my CrossFit box, and I seem to be gaining some muscle because I’m filling out medium T-shirts a little more than I was in the shoulder, pec, and arm areas. I’m very happy.
Then came Tuesday. I woke up exhausted. I have seasonal allergies that flare up this time of year. Croaky voice, creaky brain. I tripped over a bunch of shit. Dropped a bunch of shit. Didn’t fit in any coffee before Nik and Malley and I carted off to CrossFit early in the morning and spent 45 minutes making a 20-minute drive thanks to heavy traffic. When we got to the gym, Malley didn’t want to eat her breakfast. Didn’t want to play or try walking. She wanted to sulk and fidget and whine constantly in an ever-higher frequency and then eventually bawl and a short time later scream so loud I had to carry her outside and point her face away from the building. When I handed her off to Nik, she smiled at me like nothing had just happened like 5 seconds earlier. The day’s workout included 5 x 5 overhead squats at 65 percent of my 1-rep max. I don’t have a 1-rep max for overhead squats, because I can’t do overhead squats almost at all. Nik asked me what weight I would be lifting. I said, “I don’t know. Anything more than the training bar and I fall over.” I put on my weightlifting shoes and tried overhead squats with the training bar. It was all right but I barely finished 5 reps. I tried putting 10-pound plates on either end of the bar and overhead-squatting that. I failed and had to bail out — only 35 pounds. I tried again and failed again. So I took the plates off and just used the training bar. All 15 measly pounds of it. You literally can’t get a lighter weight. The bar weighs less than my eight-month-old daughter. It was still difficult. A guy next to me was overhead squatting I don’t know how much, but I saw 45-pound plates on the full bar, plus extra. My coach took me aside and said he was putting me on “intensive squat therapy,” 10 wall squats and 10 pole squats before class every day to improve my flexibility — me, who has been working out there for a year and a half, and some guy who’s been there a few weeks. The WOD right after this was 12 minutes of 800-meter runs, box jumps, burpees, and hang power cleans. I don’t like 800-meter runs. Especially in a 12-minute WOD, because that means the majority of the workout will involve me running 800s and not much else. The first run was good, but the second run was shit and ate up most of my time. I checked the schedule, and found that on Friday, the next day I’m going to CrossFit, we’re supposed to be doing snatches. The snatch is the only lift I hate as much as overhead squats. I am equally as bad at snatches. I went home feeling soft and mushy around the middle. I weighed in at 166 pounds. It’s several pounds up from where I’ve been, but should be a good thing because (a) it’s probably mostly water, (b) anyway I’ve purposely been trying to put on a few pounds so I can gain muscle, and am trying to ignore the scale’s numbers in favor of body fat percentage and measurements, and (c) what isn’t water probably is at least some muscle because I’ve noticed some growth in that department. But still. It’s a hard transition and I’m imperfect at dealing with it.
So my point being that this was one of those days where I rediscovered I’m weak. I was not awesome.
Here’s what I’m going to do about it:
Same old shit, basically. Nothing crazy.
We start by sucking it up.
I’m going to deal with my sniffly nose with more Allegra, as I’ve been doing already. It also doesn’t last forever.
Malley is probably going to cry a lot because she’s a baby, so I’ll handle it like a grown-ass man. A little crying is nothing compared to the shitstorms and clinginess and drastic life changes Nik has to deal with when she’s doing the overwhelming share of the baby duty.
I’m going to foam-roll and stretch to improve my flexibility. I had a rest day planned today. A shitty day in the gym might make me want to run back in there still sore and try to kick ass again, but I’m not going to. That’s a recipe for a shit sandwich. I’m going to take the rest day, because rest is as important as exercise. Then tomorrow I’m going to go back into the gym and work out according to what I’ve scheduled: deadlifts and bench presses. I’m so excited it’s like Christmas. You have to wait for Christmas to come around instead of celebrating it whenever you want, because that’s how it works when you’re a grown-ass man. I’m going to do those snatches on Friday, and will probably be fucking garbage at those, because I’m still learning. I need the practice, though. It’s good. Training is different for me now. When I was a runner, I used to say “I have to run today.” And I’d try to psych myself up for it. People used to have to tell me to go run. I have no such lack of motivation anymore. I say, “I get to lift weights today.” Like I’m allowed to.
I’ll do wall squats and snatches and overhead squats and other things I suck at, because the only way to get better at things you suck at is to do them until you don’t suck at them anymore.
I’m going to remind myself that when I purposely drink whole milk with protein powder every day for the express purpose of gaining mass, and then I gain mass, then I have by definition succeeded in my goal and don’t have to worry. I should be paying attention to body composition and not even weight anyway. But I’m probably not going to ditch the scale just yet because I don’t want to ignore it entirely on principle until I’ve learned every day how to make it my bitch. Then I’ll stick its fucking ass in the closet and make it live there.
If for some reason I want to get rid of the weight, I’ll do things that make that happen. I did it before. I can do it again.
In a nutshell: I’ll do more of the stuff that I did before to get from a place of less awesomeness to more awesomeness. Train, say my prayers, and eat my vitamins.
In this way I will regain the title of champion. ∗