Translating Past Struggles and Success To A New Context
Through weightlifting, I’ve learned to convince myself of many things.
I learned how to visualize making lifts I was about to take, I learned how to trick myself into believing whatever was on the bar was lighter than what was actually loaded… I learned how to buy into my own success before it had even happened.
I can’t say that I’ve tried such methods in other areas of my life too much… Weightlifting is the world that I invested in most deeply, came to understand the most concretely, and drew lessons from most clearly that could be applied elsewhere. But what if I used it as a guide? Identify the parallels and rather than just note the likeness, I could actually use it!
These days I’m pulled in many directions – prepping for winter, learning about indoor gardening, and getting the wood in on time – but the tasks most personal to me (and the most daunting!) are getting back to my happy body weight (about 15lb down from where I stand) and making my own money again (getting off of unemployment gracefully). I have achieved both of these things in my previous life – living in the city, working as a fitness trainer, and training as a competitive athlete.
However, I have wanted out of that fitness world for some time… There’s a lot of pressure to look a certain way, perform a certain way, and though I had risen to the occasion for a good while, I eventually burned out. My life here in Wallowa County doesn’t inherently have much of a space for it and I’m totally cool with that. But now I am trying to achieve the same kind of success and feeling of security in an entirely new context and find myself wondering how will it translate? I don’t really know that yet. I don’t even know how to fake it, convince myself, or visualize what it will look like….
Like the Patronus charm, Harry Potter conjured with the confidence of having done it, I too have drawn my power from past achievement. How I got there is worth examining further…
I remind myself often that I have a hell of a work ethic, though I recall that all of that time was working jobs in structured businesses and companies that had me on tight schedules and expectations… I grew to thrive in that arena! I worked up my way to Nike HQ, collected my own clientele, and had a great rapport with past clients as well… “I could do it again…” echoes in my mind, but knowing now that I embark on entrepreneurship and that everything now rides on me, I draw a blank when I look back on a time where I might have done that successfully.
Less so when it comes to my weight – I have recruited the same support that I had initially when I successfully reached my goal weight two years ago (nutrition coaching with Working Against Gravity). Then it was to compete at a lower weight class, now it’s for looking awesome in my clothes. I recall the rocky start transitioning into second nature – diligently measuring, tracking, and appreciating the milestones along the way. The data day-to-day was all over the place, but there was a definite upward trend when I zoomed out on my trajectory, having kept at it for two years in hopes of better performances on game days.
But will my motivation now take me as far as it once had? The weight seemed to fall off as a byproduct of what was most important to me then – being an accomplished weightlifter was everything to me! It was all I could think about; it dictated my sleep, my profession, and at times, my love life. I was hungry for achievement and being the very best lifter that I could become. That drive led me to a strong and lean 138lbs and two consecutive state titles.
I still lift, but a fraction of the time and the weight these days. There is no competitive arena in the area (maybe I’ll make one!) and my desire to lift for fun outweighs any desire to compete again. I’m nearly 30 years old and I have a ranch to run, a husband, a cello I want to learn to play, and the hope to someday be a mother… I have seen and know well that many mothers are badasses on the platform, but I have already put in my time training with that kind of intensity. I am determined to see what else I can achieve outside of the weightlifting world and I often forget how ugly even the beginning of that journey was way back then…
Now my physical appearance has taken the front seat from my physical performance – a position I know well from childhood up to my weightlifting days. It was a time that was stewed in shame, embarrassment, and a stuck-ness that had only been shifted by focusing on something other than myself; weightlifting. Taking the sport out of the equation is a terrifying idea, but all the lessons learned from my first time around with WAG are not lost.
When so much time passes and there’s so much to look back on, the feeling of being a beginner can fade and it all begins to look seemingly linear. I know it’s not linear because that’s one of those things I have always told myself to get through hard times…. The pendulum swings back and forth… but the energy is constant. As long as there is consistent effort, it adds up, it all goes somewhere! It might not be to the top of the podium right away, or in my size 28 jeans, or a bestseller, but deciding to do something each day (or maybe just most days) about it will eventually have a cumulative effect! That is a belief I trust.
I don’t have good reasons to give in to my doubts – I haven’t made enough meaningful connections to have an audience, I have genetics that will always work against me – as I am equipped (or know how to become so) with the kind of support that took me to my previous highest heights! A combination of supportive family, guiding coaches, inspiration, and a sense of ownership and belonging will do it.
I shall visualize my life like my lifts… I see myself working with others and getting them excited about their own efforts… I see myself at my journal, my computer, documenting and compiling content that inspires, comforts, and connects to others… I see photos and videos of my hands in the dirt, my hands on a rifle, my hands with a saw, changing and contributing to this incredible piece of land I live on…
I decided that my food as fuel and my exercise as play! Rather than giving in to the mountain-of-a-challenge that it is to cut the compulsion to eat when I’m not hungry, I can approach eating to be a practice of being good to myself. I can cast off my labor of love into the world with a wide net, gaining writing experience, a purpose, and momentum. I can greet the platform as an old friend that has given me so much – giving it sing-a-longs and playful complexes in return…
It doesn’t all have to be taken so seriously… 90 kilograms on the bar can feel like 85 kilograms if I ask it of myself… if I choose to believe it!