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12.7.18

Imbalance

13 lbs
By Donny Shankle

I first started weight training at the age 13 with a 13lb. dumbbell. I think my father picked it up at a flea market and it eventually found itself at the foot of my bed. The first exercise I probably ever did with weights was a dumbbell overhead press. Soon I was going to the library or hanging out by the magazine racks to learn other exercises I could do to help me build muscle. I didn’t have a bench so I used a Styrofoam ice chest if you can believe it and practiced one-arm bench presses on top of it. Only my upper back and shoulders rested on the bench and I used an old piece of carpet draped across the top to keep me from slipping. I picked up another set of dumbbells within a few weeks as I got stronger and had to replace my bench because I got bigger and it cracked.

The stronger I got the better equipment I either purchased or put together myself. My gym which started with a 13lb. dumbbell and ice chest was soon replaced with a bench I got from Wal-Mart and one of those plastic and sand weight sets. Once I out grew that, I built my own squat rack out of concrete cinder blocks. I stacked the blocks to shoulder height and filled them in with more concrete on top of a concrete slab. At this time I was working at a car wash and saved my money for a quality bar and plates. Here is when my strength really began to improve. My squat rack was outside and I would be out there sometimes till midnight squatting barefooted. Every time I dropped the bar the weights would bury themselves in the soft Louisiana mud and I’d have to dig them out. Looking back I realize as much of a pain in the ass as that was it probably made me that much more stronger. That wasn’t even the dicey bit of it though. I had a lot of dogs growing up and of course they use to love walking right behind me and lay down when I was squatting. Sometimes people tell me I should get a gym dog. Every time I think about getting one though,  I remember back to those days growing up and squatting outside. I’d be praying in the middle of my reps not to all of a sudden have a moment of weakness. Later on I saved up some more money and bought a power rack and squatted, pressed and pulled in the den. Outside is where I would challenge my strength and agility in other ways like carrying tires, throwing the shot put , jumping for height , playing basketball and even wrestling my dogs. Once I watched the Atlanta Olympics, I was hooked to the sport of Weightlifting.

I started practicing on my own in the den how to snatch and clean and jerk. I realized the foundation of the house wasn’t going to hold up so I moved back outside and practiced in the grass again. I laid down some gravel and scrap wood to keep the weights from sinking too far into the dirt and had no idea what I was doing but I was having fun. At the bare minimum, I was developing the flexibility I would need later on for when I found a proper coach 5 years later. All that fun progressive resistance which started with a 13lb. dumbbell transpired into becoming a 5 time Weightlifting National Champion.

My favorite piece of equipment in the gym to this day is the simple dumbbell. I sometimes travel a lot and you can bet if the hotel gym has an exercise room I’ll be by the dumbbell rack. Don’t get me wrong. I like the fancy machines but for some reason I’m comfortable around the dumbbells. Maybe it reminds me of home. The dumbbell can build some strong and well balanced muscle. There is no compensation when using the dumbbell especially for the dumbbell press. Each shoulder has to work on its own and the other shoulder can’t help it out as it would say in a machine or on a bar. I rarely press 2 dumbbells overhead because I like to work each shoulder independently and test my strength overhead using each arm. Once I go back to pressing on a bar I feel my strength is much more well balanced.

Other exercises I do using one dumbbell which I started doing over 20 years ago are bent over dumbbell rows to strengthen the back, suitcase pulls to give me strong abdominals, hammer curls to strengthen my arms, deadlifts, swings and muscle snatches to strengthen the entire posterior chain and an assortment of laterals to build the muscles in my shoulders. Your grip and the muscles in your hands and forearms also become stronger especially if you use a dumbbell with a fatter grip. Strong hands for a weightlifter are very important because its your hands which connect you to the bar. If the connection is weak you will lack the confidence to move the bar fast. Plus a weightlifters wrists and hands take a beating over the years which can lead to some arthritis later in life. Exercising your grip and hands with a dumbbell with a fatter grip really helps keep the hands strong.

Along with the strength and balance you will build throughout your entire body from using a single dumbbell, lifting on a dumbbell is fun. Instead of clean and jerking on a bar your next training session see what you can clean and jerk on a dumbbell for each hand. The change will be good and and you might find your imbalanced enough in one hand that you need to start with 13lbs.

26.6.18

Ya Gotta Eat

Rice
By Donny Shankle

Growing up I ate a lot rice. Louisiana is a rice eating culture and I grew up eating jambalaya, red beans and rice and gumbo. Plus there is a large Vietnamese population in Louisiana which only adds to the culture’s preference for rice. I still eat rice with nearly every meal today. During a given week of heavy training I would easily consume a 10lb. bag of rice. It’s one of my favorite foods because it’s easy to prepare, a great source of carbohydrate, and it’s inexpensive.

I like all types of rice but my favorite is the long grain Jasmine or Basmati. Both have a nutty aroma which I find goes well with meat and gravy dishes. Occasionally, I’ll switch to a sticky rice with rice vinegar or a rice I found in the Philippines called Tarlac. This rice I find goes really well with fried garlic in the morning for breakfast. 

I eat a lot of rice when training because it goes a long way in cheap calories. A 20lb. bag of long grain white rice will typically cost you between $10.00 to $15.00 (other brands like Basmati are much more expensive) and give you 40 cups of uncooked rice. There are approximately 670 calories per cup of raw long grain white rice so a 20lb. bag yields an extra 26,800 calories in your diet by the time you finish it. Rice too is easily measurable. If you are gaining too much weight then cut the amount of rice you are preparing for your meals in half and vice-versa if you are not gaining enough. The simple preparation is another added bonus. If you can boil and simmer water then you can make rice. I suggest getting a large rice cooker (especially if you live with other weightlifters) and always have rice ready to go. Try and get a rice cooker which keeps your rice warm after cooking and has a setting to make congee for an occasional welcomed change. A rice and slow cooker should be on a weightlifters kitchen counter with vegetables, meats and rice ready to go. Lastly, rice goes great with just about everything and it can be seasoned easily with a myriad of ingredients ranging from chili peppers, citrus, saffron, garlic and onion, and even milk and sugar for dessert. My favorite desert actually is sticky rice with condensed milk and mango.

Rice has some nutritional value but calories are what put on the size. Rice has plenty of economical calories to get you not only big but strong. When I take rice out of my diet, I notice my strength levels significantly drop. Any weightlifter who has stayed with me knows the amount of rice I serve in the morning for breakfast would be considered a sumo wrestler’s portion. The energy you will have eating rice with breakfast and lunch especially will help you in the gym chasing those personal records so don’t skimp out on the rice. For the sake of affordability, calorie convenience, and easy preparation rice can’t be beat.

7.5.18

Shadows

Dive Master
By Donny Shankle 

During my trip to Indonesia in and around the Islands of Komodo, Labuanbajo Flores, I did some SCUBA diving and loved every minute of it. I did 11 dives over the course of 4 days. With each dive my breathing became more relaxed and got better control of my buoyancy. SCUBA diving is nowhere near as difficult as weightlifting. On the contrary it’s very easy on the body and quick to learn so long as you’re taught in the beginning by someone with knowledge and experience. Someone who can see through the shadows. Learning from a good dive instructor is essential if you want to catch as much of nature’s wonders on each dive you do.

I’m always fascinated by nature’s wonders and have an affinity for learning about all the different types of flora and fauna. Plus, the immensity of the ocean keeps a man’s ego in check. No matter how big and bad you think you are the oceans teach you quite well there’s always a bigger fish. With that being said, the water for some reason feels like a welcoming home to me. I am to my surprise very comfortable in the ocean and feel very much at ease. The relaxed feeling I get from the weightlessness in the water can’t be found anywhere else except on top of the podium after winning in competition. All of my physical aches and pains disappear. The mobility problems I have in my shoulders and hips go away because the water is supporting me. I can relax in the water and in so doing I open myself up to seeing more of the beautiful coral and creatures around me. However, for as confident as I am in the water, I understand I am a beginner and can’t yet see through the shadows. I can see what the light shows me but not what lies in the enigmatic blue only a little further away. The large animals change the light and cast shadows on the ocean floor. This puts me in danger but with a good dive master next to me I feel safe. His eyes are trained to see not only what the light shines on but also the movement within the shadows.

For example, in the waters of Manta Point there are manta rays anywhere between 3-5 meters long. I even heard there is one down there 8 meters long! On this particular dive, I was instructed to deflate my BCD (buoyancy control device) if I saw one until I touched bottom and hold on to a solid rock to anchor me to the ocean floor. While I was down at only 15 meters I could see far off into the distance manta rays but they were so small and barely visible. I kept looking around to see if I could find one close to me but there were none nearby. Or so I thought. My dive master comes over to me and deflates my BCD all the way and I sink like a rock to the bottom. No more than 20 meters down. I figured he must have seen something which I couldn’t so I held on to the nearest rock I could find and the moment I lifted my head an entire squadron of manta rays swam past me! 9 in total to be exact. They were so close I could have touched the first one which was the largest had I only stretched out my arm. I couldn’t believe I couldn’t see this on my own. Had it not been for the dive master these marvelous creatures would have maybe crashed into me or worse yet I would have never saw them at all. This was the highlight of the trip which brought me close to sea turtles, barracuda, moray eels, white tip sharks, fishes and coral of every color imaginable and even an octopus. As we surfaced my entire dive group gave each other high 5’s and laughed with excitement to see something which was so awesome.

After the dive was over and the boat was heading back home, I thought to myself how similar that experience was to watching the weightlifters in my gym. The dive master could tell the squadron of mantas were coming because he was watching out for the shadows. He wasn’t just concentrated on what the light could show him but he was also focused on any changes in the light. His eyes are accustomed to see the changes not just from in front of him but all around him the same way a good coach or experienced weightlifter can spot the initially unseen errors in the athletes form, timing and approach. As I sipped my tea and felt the waves roll under the boat watching the sunset I smiled. What a heck of an experience. Not only did I see something wonderful but I also learned a lesson and compared it with my own discipline. I love seeing weightlifting in everything. It’s my passion if you couldn’t tell already.

The beginner first learns the principles to later become a champion through excellent instruction and practice. Things like moving your feet or keeping the bar close are the fundamentals which the light easily makes visible. With enough practice and as your body becomes stronger these fundamentals become second nature to you. There are other things however lying below, in the deep recesses of your mind which you must also uncover if you want to win. These are the shadows which only a master’s experienced eye can see and help you mature. Things like attitude, timing your change of direction, your discipline off the platform, rehearsing visualization or improving the strength of your will.

Once you are good at spotting what the light easily shows and you find your secure anchor it’s then time to summon the shadows from within. Perfecting these too until you are your own master. This is a buoyant and weightless feeling. When you compete you will be totally relaxed and highly confident in your ability. It will feel like coming up to the surface for air after seeing something below so beautiful.

16.4.18

Destination

Strong Is Happy
By Donny Shankle

I have this light olive green t-shirt which Eleiko sent me with the phrase “Strong Is Happy” written across the front. It’s definitely one of my favorite shirts for its simple message. It feels good to be strong and in turn it makes you happy. Granted the kind of strength a weightlifter needs to develop to become a champion has a lot of unpleasantness tied to it. However, an unpleasant pursuit doesn’t necessarily bring you to an unpleasant destination. On the contrary some of the most important things in life which bring us great happiness may have its genesis in confusion, struggle and heartache. But what are the other things which bring happiness to man? I cannot completely answer that question. All men find their happiness in different places but there are a few ideas which we do share to be happy.

Happiness is found in freedom. Particularly in political freedom. Men cannot be happy in bondage or pinned under the thumb of cruel dictators. The importance of freedom and it’s connection to happiness is even written in the preamble to our nation’s declaring of independence. This document is a beacon to the world explaining the rights of all men. Man has a right to be free it says and in his freedom to pursue his own happiness. This can be achieved through finding a hobby or participating in a sport such as weightlifting. It can be found in traveling or watching films. It's what you enjoy during your leisure.

Finding happiness in leisure which freedom brings can also be found in simply relaxing on the beach alone and away from everything and everyone. To rest the back of your head against your hands and just feel the sun on your face. It doesn’t matter how this leisure is found as long as you are free to feel happiness while doing it. This freedom to use your leisure as you see fit whether in the gym, library, church or atop Mount Everest cannot be found in a corrupt world where your only purpose is to be a servant till death.

Happiness is found in work. I know what you’re probably thinking. But Donny you just said happiness is found in being free and using your leisure which freedom brings. I did but in order to have leisure you also have to have work. There is nothing more sad than waking up and having nothing to do and nowhere to go. There is nothing so contemptible as to never have a sense of purpose. It’s a feeling of low, low, low existence and not living. There are two reasons why happiness is found in work. The first is work develops friendships. You meet other people who are also working towards the same goal. It’s shared interests endemic only to our species. Weightlifters are strong and happy because we’re around others who are strong and happy. Don’t believe me? Try going into the gym and lifting alone everyday and never getting the chance to show others all the hard work you have put in. Never getting the chance to compete and win.

The second reason man finds happiness in work is because it puts him in action. Work puts man in motion to create. In geniuses, work puts these special men in motion to create unthinkable achievements. Work allows our happiness to be put proudly on display for others to see. When these two are put together, the friendships made and the action which work ignites, you then have the finding of great civilization. No nation on earth was ever great which was idle and lazy. No nation on earth was ever great which couldn’t acquire friendship and allies. The inactive man is a dead man. The still man is a lost soul afraid of his own shadow. The man in motion is constantly on the move to explore, to seek adventure, to fall in love and to acquire knowledge. His desire to know everything is insatiable. It is righteous he should feel this way for he took and ate from the tree of knowledge. The man of action is the good man and the man of idleness is in the wrong. By working together man finally sees the happiness in other men full on as well as his unhappiness. Through work we find we are not so different from one another.

Happiness can be found in God. There is no more lousier a lot on this beautiful green and blue Earth than the lot of men who do not believe in God. I say this with utmost certainty. People who do not believe in God are not only miserable to be around but they are sensitive to criticism and also dangerous. The idea of a God fearing man is lost to them and as a result they do not fear their odious actions. This is atrocious and detrimental to the happiness of you so stay away from them. However, if you have been blessed to speak to others and change their wayward hearts then do so. This is something which only you can discover through prayer and talking with God.

A belief in the Almighty is righteous and proper for all men. His creation is all around us to bring us peace and happiness. God has given us all we need to be happy if only we can be happy through him. Everything from the heavens above in their infinite expanse into the unknown, to the curious mysteries of the deep and all in-between are gifted to all men or this world. What a joyous time to live! Joy is the highest form of achievement man can feel by his own hands. In that sense strong is not really happy but strong is joy, because you worked hard towards being strong. Whatever brings you closer to joy brings the love of God closer to you and your love closer to Him. Once you know His love you can completely and perfectly love others. Including yourself.

I’ve covered a myriad of topics in this chapter all with the intention to better identify and understand strength or the idea of being strong. Such topics included having a strong work ethic, understanding misery, and sharing the stoic lessons I bring to each training session. I have touched upon the psychology of why its important to have a gym persona. I went into detail about the differences between controlled and violent power along with what the difference is between focus and concentration and why it’s important to understand there differences. Of all the chapters in this book it was this chapter which certainly took me the longest to complete. This was because I wanted to talk with other people around the world who are either weightlifters, coach weightlifters or who simply enjoy being strong. Any comment made in passing or discussed till late hours in the night were put to my memory.

We began by saying to be strong was the absence of mediocrity. The absence of mediocrity and topics within that message I have shared with you still has a sublime succinctness to it so perhaps there is no need to go on any further. For weightlifting’s purpose I can definitely say there is no such thing as a mediocre champion. It’s an oxymoron to say otherwise. Then again maybe all this time I’ve put more thought into the meaning of strength than is necessary. Perhaps the concept of strength or being strong can’t be singularly identified because it’s happiness is shared by so many in so many different ways. Essentially, I’m saying to be strong is common to all men in some special way known only to their heart.

Focus on becoming stronger everyday and avoid getting caught up with novelty. It has all been laid out before. Do not seek a revelation which has already been revealed. To be the strongest weightlifter you have to keep lifting everyday with the same passion you had on day one. This leads to mastery and in order to get there you must own every ounce of skill involved in what you are doing. Once you can do this you will approach the task in front of you without fear and have a powerful understanding of not only weightlifting but nearly everything. You will understand the important reasons men need to be free, to find productive work, to love God. You will know what is means to then be strong.

6.4.18

Mobile

Active Rest
By Donny Shankle

Instead of taking an entire day off from the gym it is better to move around and do something. A weightlifters training is typically year round and advanced weightlifters are putting in multiple training sessions a day. With all of this training the body becomes very well adapted to the demand being placed on it and having a complete day off can leave you feeling very stiff and ungainly for your next training session. Getting in the gym and doing some very light lifts or even just bar work will keep this stiffness from happening.

Warming up before training you will notice takes longer for some lifters on Monday mornings than any other day during the week. If you are in this category it is probably because you are not doing enough activity on Sunday. The entire training day can sometimes be affected from too much lounging and rest to the point where performance is poor. To keep this from happening either get in the gym on Sunday or do something else if you prefer to keep your mind out of the gym for at least a day. If you are lifting for a team a great idea for your active rest day is to do something together as a team. A few activities I have always enjoyed are playing basketball at the park, setting up the volleyball net at the beach, or going for a swim at the beach or nearest pool. Each of these activities are great for your footwork, cardiovascular fitness, and can even increase your vertical which transfers well to the platform. If you train alone you can still go for a scenic walk, swim a few laps in the pool, or get out on the track and practice some 10 meter sprints which will keep the idea of moving fast fresh in your mind.

Your active rest day should be fun and if you are going to the gym to put in some light lifts it needs to be quick. I know it is tough for athletes to do this, but save any competitiveness you have for the platform. Your rest day is about training your mind more than anything else, and its important training for when you taper for a competition. The week of competition you should only be putting in two workouts that involve lifting your openers (light morning training does not count). The rest of that time is spent staying away from the gym so the weightlifter can't wait to get back on the bar. You should feel like a fixated dog being held by the collar waiting to be let go. Your active rest days prepare you for this and are the main reason why I believe its essential to have them.

16.3.18

Wild It Right

The Animals
By Donny Shankle

“The love for all living creatures is the most noble attribute of man.” - Charles Darwin

“The earth is the Lord’s, and the fulness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein.” - Psalm 24:1


Did you know that naked mole rats are the longest lived rodents with a life span exceeding 30 years? Scientists are even trying to discover why they’re resistant to cancer. Chameleons to me are one of natures most amazing creatures. These lizards have 360 degree vision which enable them to look in two opposite directions at once. A useful skill when you’re trying to stay alive. There’s also a lizard which lives in Central and South America which is so light and fast he can run on water earning him the name Jesus lizard. Owls are another favorite animal of mine. Did you know their flight is virtually silent? The have special feathers which break up air turbulence making them a stealthy predator. Many other smaller birds are snatched away in the night not knowing what took them before being swallowed whole.

I love watching nature shows and the ones narrated by David Attenborough are my favorite. Just a few weekends ago I was captivated by the new Blue Planet 2 series from the BBC. In that one I learned about sneaky cuttlefish males who disguise themselves as females, to bypass the watchful eyes and tentacles of the larger males, to get the female cuttlefish to mate. The giant Pacific octopus mother will not eat for 6 months as she protects her eggs and literally goes to her death ensuring they have the safest start possible.

The detail cameras are able to capture these days baffles me. And how do these camera men get so close to what their filming? I mean there is no environment they can’t go it seems. From the deep abyss to the skies above. They capture squids fighting it out in the deep and falcons striking down sparrows in mid-flight. Adding to my excitement, I have the surround sound which if you don’t have it already and you like watching nature shows like me then I highly recommend you get it. I watched a wasp eating tadpoles and it felt like it was in the room with me. The vibrations its wings created sent a shiver down my spine.

Animals fascinate me and I’m pretty sure in a former life I must have been a naturalist. During one of my recent travels, I had the amazing opportunity to travel to the Galapagos. There are so many different types of wildlife there like the blue footed booby with feet colored blue (hence the name) for mating purposes. The bluer the feet the better chance you have with the ladies. The giant tortoises are such surreal and beautiful creatures with a rough history. The Galapagos used to be a way station for sailors who collected their meat during circumnavigation. Noisy and smelly sea lions are everywhere. It’s like they think they own the place. I saw one relaxing at the water taxi station taking up the entire bench for himself. Then there is the iguanas, the sally light foot crabs, the penguins and the cute finches. What a great trip it was so see all these animals up close and personal and in actual nature. I’ll never forget my little breakfast buddy. A small common house finch who ate a piece of biscuit straight from the palm of my hand. It took a few attempts at first of him eating from my fingertips but eventually he hopped his way right into the palm of my hand and had breakfast with me. It was my last day on the Islands and of course I couldn’t help but smile from ear to ear.

There are no second chances in the wild. Mother nature is cruel but her ways are necessary. The birds and the fish, the reptiles and the amphibians and the mammals all have to get it right the first time. There is no second chance for the gazelle who is running from the lion. She can either cut left or right and try and trip up her chaser or she can run straight and try to tire the lion enough that it’ll look elsewhere. The desire to live is strong in every creature. The baby penguins who jump into the sea for the first time need to swim with agility and speed from the onset. If not then their lives are short and they become food. That amazes me. The fact that in the wild you have no second chances. You gotta get it right. You have to get it right the first time. You have to get it right every time.

Eat, reproduce and don’t die. That’s the life of the animals and only the fittest survive. Not much different for a weightlifter who wants to be champion right? You gotta eat and you need to reproduce your best efforts in training on a consistent basis as much as your mental and physical capacity can endure. Lastly you need to not quit. Like the great white shark which a friend of mine once said so poetically to me, “You need to keep moving forward to survive.” Keep moving forward simply means be better than yesterday. Along the way you’ll stumble and feel pain but do the animals complain? Are they not taken care of by God if they remain strong and concentrate on always getting it right the first time? Men are no less and no more than all the rest of incredible creation. We too have to get it right if we want to survive. We too have to get it right if we want to keep moving forward. Else we keep making the same mistakes and remain stagnant and idle waiting for the night owl to snatch us away. We too have to show a love for the best in ourselves and a want to be part of the wild and the free.

Keep focusing on getting it right and use your individual strengths like all the rest of creation to live. Our idiosyncrasies in time end up cleverly (like the cuttlefish) adding to our identity and our spirit in the gym with time and energy remains as steadfast as the lion.

2.3.18

Puzzled

Avoidance Of The Hard
By Donny Shankle

When I was a little boy I had this toy made up of two horseshoes connected by a chain with a metal ring around the center. The idea behind it was getting the metal ring separated from the center. I would fiddle with it for hours in the beginning trying to get the ring free but for all my determination I couldn’t figure it out. Out of frustration I asked my father how to do it and he showed me. The problem was he did it so fast that I was still dumbfounded. Even after watching him, I still couldn’t figure it out. One night as I was twisting and turning the chain the ring came free but even then I didn’t know what I did to get it free. I thought I was cool though and showed it to my father and he told me to put the ring back on and do it again. He wanted to judge whether or not I really did learn or got lucky. I was cornered and had to confess I still didn’t know how to get the ring off. Eventually, with enough practice and thinking I could get the ring free with the same speed and understanding my father did. As hard as it was at first, I soon understood the toy’s simplicity.

To say a thing or task is simple is to say it’s simple because you have had the practice to uncover its mystery. In reality the simple is hard. In order to say you understand something requires great study and practice. Is a thing really simple? Even observing someone easily perform the toy's challenge, I still couldn’t see how simple it was to remove the ring. My eyes couldn’t keep up long enough for my brain to understand. It was not going to do me any good to practice with a different or simpler toy. Even if shown slowly how to remove the ring, I may or may not still understand. I do know once my hands figured out how to move the horseshoes in a certain way the ring always came free. It was my practice and single minded persistence which overcame my many failed attempts.

Before you begin to think you’re in waters which are to deep to tread ask yourself whether or not you have put in the practice. Have you trained a thing which is hard to make it look simple? Champions face head on what is hard and unravel its mystery through practice. To say a thing is simple is an immense ordeal especially when that thing will require many years of practice. A sport like weightlifting is approached no differently from how I went about playing with that toy. You can watch and have others show you what to do but will that really work? Will you understand how to snatch and clean and jerk unless you practice for yourself? No you will not and you will certainly never lift enough weight to call yourself a champion.

Do not avoid what is hard. Tackling tasks which are difficult is one way to strengthen your overall capability. Each new hard endeavor you commit yourself to and succeed at accomplishing will make you a stronger and wiser person. It’s OK to fail at the hard so long as you do not remain idle and commit to understanding why you did fail. Don’t avoid the hard. The Earth is full of plenty of destruction but its also full of even more abundance. The weightlifter who works to make what is hard look simple goes through years of abundance and destruction albeit of course on a much smaller scale compared to the planet. One of the great abundant moments for weightlifters is finding a solidarity amongst other weightlifters who are all pushing each other to new personal records and gold medals.

There are people who know how hard a task they set for themselves is going to be and they get on with it and there are those who are afraid of it. Those who are afraid either give up entirely or they distract themselves from even beginning the commitment necessary to doing it. Maybe they give it a try and get a taste of what’s needed and convince themselves they are not good enough. They avoid what is hard maybe because they have no belief in what they can do. Or they overly complicate things in order to find any excuse from facing the test head on. There lies another challenge which is way more important than being a champion weightlifter. The challenge of not being that person who unnecessarily over complicates things.

Perhaps that toy as a boy sparked an interest in accomplishing harder tasks later in life. I like to think so. Don’t be afraid of the difficulty that lies within pushing your body and mind in the gym. Along with the introspection necessary to improve you discover what willpower is and how powerful it can be. Imposing your will in practice is what makes you figure out the frustrating toy or climb the podium to the top in competition. I applaud those who face the hard challenges and it’s one of the reasons I love being around weightlifters. The stress is easy to see. The challenge is not disguised. It’s get up and try to lift the bar again or go find yourself and easier toy.