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Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Father's Day

Father’s Day

I wrote this for another site and missed my deadline. It's the first deadline I have ever missed!
I figured, why not just post it on Weakness so my family can read it.

I have been lifting a long time, longer than many of the readers have been alive and in that time I was only concerned with two things:

Lifting more than anyone else could

Being huge, at any cost.

I wanted to be the strongest guy in the world when I was a kid and spent a good portion of my life dedicated to that pursuit. I have competed in Strongman, Powerlifting and Grip contests and have had a small amount of success. I never reached my goal of becoming the strongest guy in the world, but at least I was the strongest guy on my street, for a while. 

I also wanted to be HUGE. I got pretty big. Sometimes big and fat, sometimes fatjacked (thanks Harry), and sometimes actually big and lean. At least a little lean. This was awesome and awful at the same time.

 Walking around at 300+ has its benefits and its downside. 
On the plus side, you are strong and people get out of the way when you waddle by.

 On the downside, it really takes its toll on your joints, sitting on an airplane sucks, you cannot buy a suit and walking to the car is like running a marathon.

When my son was born I didn’t change a thing about my training. I was still chasing my dream. I decided to try and comeback to powerlifting and wrote extensively about it in the 44 and Broken series.

If you didn’t read it, I suggest you do, especially if you are a younger lifter or if you are older like me.

During the time I was writing the series and training for the meet a lot of things occurred to me.

In no order they were:
  • Everything hurts
  • Stuff is tearing, a lot (muscles and tendons).
  • I need to wrap my whole body in ice every night.
  • I can’t get on the floor and play with my son
  • I can’t toss him a football or run around with him.
  • What kind of lessons am I teaching him?
  • Will I be able to do anything with him as he gets older?

Every minute I spent away from him I could hear Cats in theCradle playing in my head. As someone who grew up without a father, and a mother who was never around, I vowed when he was born to be different. 

But was I living up to that?

I sat down with myself and did a lot of reflection on this after my piss poor performance at the meet and what to do next.

About my performance:

 I did not do nearly as well as I had hoped. 


I sustained a few pretty serious injuries in the gym. It was not the training. I was dialed in. 

It wasn’t my gear. I was fully supported with the best gear available, Metal.

It wasn’t my mindset. I wanted this. More than almost anything.

I realized that is was almost 30 years of hard lifting and competing that took its toll on my joints as well as 21 years with the Sheriff’s Department. Much of that time spent engaged in activities that routinely smashed me and the parties involved to the floor or ground. This cumulative smashing adds up. It is not good for you orthopedically. It didn’t bother me when I was 25, or even 35. When I got closer to my 40’s I could feel it the next day, and the day after. You get the idea. This career also severely injured my left knee, requiring 3 surgeries to put it back together. It’s still not right and never will be.

I had to re-asses what was important to me. This was a hard road to walk. I realized that what was important to me for my whole life, what caused me to sacrifice friendships, relationships, my shoulder, my hip and much more was not going to take my health away from me any longer.  Doing the meet was the best decision I ever made because it made me truly realize what the most important thing in the world was to me: my family. Yeah, I know that makes me sound like an asshole, but sometimes we all need a smack in the mouth. This was my smack.

I talked it over with my wife and came to the decision that I was done trying to be the strongest guy in the world. No more contests. It was the hardest decision I ever made and I have had to make some hard ones.
I looked at training and what I could do and spent the better part of a year trying to get healthy. I am still trying.

My body is beginning to respond to it. I can’t squat, at all. I can’t bench. I am not strong but things hurt a lot less. This is good because now I can do much more with my boy. He is 9 years old now and he is awesome. I spend every free minute with him and would not trade one second for anything. He’s only going to be a kid for a very short time and I feel like I missed a lot of it. 

My goal now is to be the best father I can be, the best family man I can be, and if he wants, I’ll help my son to be the strongest man in the world. He will benefit from my many mistakes, and I will benefit from spending as much time with him teaching him to love fitness and strength. 

Funny thing, Cats in the Cradle is fading in my head.

I have the picture below tattooed on my arm to remind me of this every day.

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