I get a lot of reactions to lifting.
“You sure do lift a lot…”
“Gee, do you even lift, bro?”
“You talk about lifting too much. Talk about something else.”
The first one is negative. The second one is usually just to be funny and quote memes. The third one… well, they instantly regret it when I start talking about something else I’m very knowledgeable about: Marvel Comics. And those are the good responses. I won’t focus on villainization too much here, but some of the bad ones are the classics:
“Well, whatever you do, don’t get too big.”
“Atleast you’re not on steroids.”
“Don’t you want to be able to move your body?”
I’m not even that big, bro. Sorry. I know men and women twice my size. And those men and women I know who are twice my size? They can still move their bodies, hug their kids, and not all of them are on steroids. As for steroids, I really don’t hate them or their usage like most of society does. I simply don’t use them for personal and professional reasons.
But I still get those comments, and some of them are jokes. Some are actual critique disguised as jokes because the ones making the comments are too afraid to directly question myself and others. And that has nothing to do with my muscles. That’s a growing societal problem with being genuinely serious.
The point is, of just the six responses I have listed, five of them have at least an implied negative tone. I’m not reaching for the bad ones here. Those really are just the ones off the top of my head.
So, by this time, all of those questions are circling around in my head when I eventually get either the direct question “why do you lift” or the alternative… I simply talk to people about it, and I immediately see their eyes glaze over. Granted, it is my passion, so I talk about it a lot, and I know that people will tune out sometimes. But then there are the people that give me that “you really shouldn’t be doing this” look. I’ll be talking about fitness and they’ll be excited that I’m about to talk about yoga or running, and I start talking about lifting. They look confused. It’s almost salvaged when they ask “you mean like Crossfit?” When I tell them “powerlifting,” that confused look turns into a scowl. After that, rarely does the topic stay positive unless I’m around someone who also lifts or has lifted. Or unless it’s what’s in at the moment. So by the end of the day, I finally just want to shout:
“I don’t lift for you. I’ll never lift for you. I lift for me.”
When I wanted to make a change for myself and take control of my health in college, I began biking.
When I wanted to join the military, I took up swimming and light weight training.
When I wanted to run a half marathon with my brother the day before I left for Basic Training, I took up running.
And when the military beat me down for the umpteenth time and I was stuck in limbo at a point in my career I did not want to be in… I took up heavy lifting.
Lifting got me through every day. Lifting got me through each week. Lifting got me through each month. Lifting got me through the next 13 months. When I changed posts, lifting was the thread that held my sanity together. I could lift wherever I wanted to, whenever I wanted to. Lifting added years to my life and will continue to do so. Lifting added 20+ pounds of muscle, increased self confidence, an extreme decline in caring about what other people think, and a couple professional competitions under my belt. When I needed away from drama, I could head to the gym and focus the rest out, in case drama tried to follow me there. Lifting gave me friends, gave me direction for my future path, and has taken me on many adventures.
No offense, but unless her life depends on it, I don’t even lift for my wife. I share it with her, but I don’t do it for her. She certainly reaps the benefits though.
In a word, lifting is purpose for me. And if it sounds like I’m being a little creepy or obsessive about lifting, it’s because you, much like myself, have people in your life who are uncomfortable with the idea of purpose. It’s something that requires dedication and doesn’t just take up part of your life, it becomes part of all of your life. It guides how you eat, how you drink, how you move, how you schedule your days, who you keep around you. And for those who don’t have that, they are uncomfortable with that because they haven’t found it yet, and they are scared of the idea of having to give that much of themselves to anything. Fear of commitment doesn’t just apply to relationships. It applies to decisions.
And in case it isn’t clear, that purpose doesn’t have to be lifting. Or even fitness at all. Though, if you’re reading this article, chances are you’re probably headed down that path already.
I have plenty of other things in my life. But lifting is what binds most of them these days. It’s this clarity of purpose that guided many of our parents and grandparents to work the same job for 40 years. Using a skill or gift that they knew as a direction to move in with the work week every week steered their decisions. It provided stability. We live in changing times and the workforce isn’t the same as it was for our parents, but this same idea can guide us.
Art. Sports. Exercise. Reading. Writing. Work. Community Service. Whatever does it for you, find something you can enjoy, follow it down it’s natural conclusion and you just might find your passion. Passion is born of doing something you like over and over and over again. Passion is born of purpose. Passion follows purpose. It doesn’t guide. But passion’s only true master is purpose. If anyone could steer your passion, it would fail daily. So my passion doesn’t follow you. It follows me.
I don’t lift for you. I will never lift for you. I lift for me.
Until Next Time
Jacob Summers (SuperSoldier) is a certified personal trainer, but not a medical expert in the field of nutrition.