I was looking around for an old photo of myself...
...but I think I was so chubs that I deleted or refused to take any picture of myself shirtless. I wanted to be able to compare the before and after because according to the spreadsheet I use to track my progress, it's been exactly one year since I first starting weightlifting. It all began with my little puppy, Luna. As a means to give her some exercise and hopefully encourage her to sleep while I was at work, I started running with her every morning -- just a mile. Soon after that, I began lifting at the Apple gym. It was my way to escape from work and became a sanctuary for me. Once the numbers start growing, they became my motivation to continue. But, as you all have probably heard numerous times, it's more than just the work put in -- there's also the what you put in your body.
In February, I started to cut in preparation for summer. I know. It wasn't even Spring yet, but I wanted to start carving away the fat because I knew there was a lot of work ahead. I started at approximately 150 pounds and about 19% body fat. In June, with the power of counting calories and macros, I dropped down to 135 +/- 1 pounds and 8.7% body fat -- all still seeing slowed but growing strength. Now, I'm back to a lean bulk and pumped up on creatine. The numbers just keep going up.
Around the half-year mark or so, I set up some goals for myself based on my current progress and with respect to my bodyweight. At the one year mark, I wanted to be able to one-rep max 1.5X my bodyweight for bench, 2.0X for squat, and 2.5X for deadlift. The idea here would be that this would put be at an advantageous position to join the 1000 pound club in my second or third year of lifting by aiming to up it all to 2.0X for bench, 2.5X for squat, and 3.0X for deadlift. At that point, I would hope to start competing in powerlifting locally.
As much as I like poking at my abs and playing Google Maps with the veins in my forearms, the benefits extend far beyond the visual gains. Some of the most beneficial have been mentally. Yes, I feel better -- both directly and about myself. But, I'm not talking about that. After all this weightlifting and especially the cutting, it's empowered me to understand how much control I have over my own body as long as I have the mental discipline to do it. Weight management is simply the first law of thermodynamics: energy in and energy out. If your resting metabolic rate is X and your daily exercise is Y, then X + Y is how many calories you need to maintain your current weight. Eat less and you'll lose weight or eat more and you'll gain weight. There's no magic around it. The process isn't easy by any means but always possible.
On top it all, the biggest accomplishment for me in this regard isn't the numbers. It's the simple fact that I'm doing something where failing is part of the process. Throughout my entire life, I've always avoided things that I wasn't good at. If I wasn't one of the best right from the start, then I would move on and do something else. Yeah. This is a pretty shitty approach to life. Weightlifting is the first time I've taken on something that inherently takes time and failure. Unless you're popping anabolic steroids, it's impossible to get strong overnight. It takes months and years to get where you want and progress across weeks is incremental. So, in many ways, weightlifting has taught me a lot.
Failing only means you're getting stronger to try again.