Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays. Surrounding yourself with family, friends, and copious amounts of food has a certain healing effect on the body that nothing else rivals. It is also a time to think about the things in your life you are thankful for. As lifters, we often get caught up in constantly chasing more reps, better technique, or heavier weights. We are never satisfied with our current state of training, and are always looking for more. This attitude is beneficial in the sense that it provides us with the drive to keep attacking the weights and earning further success. However, it often robs us of the ability to take pleasure in our accomplishments and see how much we have grown, both mentally and physically. Thanksgiving provides us with an opportunity to look at the things in our lives that we are thankful for. Here are some things that we, as lifters, are thankful to have in our lives.
1)Good Health - Your health is something you don’t really appreciate until it is taken away from you. We have all had our health issues, and up until the past 6 months or so mine had kept me from getting under the bar and training hard for almost 2 years. I still trained, but I couldn't squat and was limited in my lower body training due to surgical complications. I’m still not totally in the clear, but because of these issues every time I touch a bar is one more opportunity I have to get stronger that I wouldn’t have had if I wasn’t healthy. Take care of yourself.
2)Liniment - I want more friends who use liniment. Seriously, every gym I go to people look at me like some kind of weirdo when I explain what the blue lotion I'm rubbing on my calves is. Liniment is your one stop cure for all those aches and pains you wish you could ignore when training. It’s basically icy hot for horses. Traps sore? Squirt some of that fiery goodness on it. Elbow tendinitis got you down? Apply the cream of the gods. Knees achy? Lather a healthy dose of liniment on there and then put on your knee sleeves. You're welcome.
3)Good Relationships - Surround yourself with people who make you better. You can’t pick your family, but you sure as hell can pick who you hang out with and who you curl up next to at night. Training is basically the manipulation of physiological stress in order to spur an adaptation which allows the body to handle more stress. However, the body reacts to physiological and psychological stress in the same manner, and the combination of the two can lead to a stress level that is hard to recover from. Make sure that your relationships are not causing undue stress in your life. Friends that are constantly criticizing your or putting you in stressful situations may not be the best friends after all. Loved ones are a somewhat different story, as any relationship involving a man and a woman is bound to be stressful at some point. Just make sure that this person is worth releasing some cortisol over and you will be fine. I am lucky enough to have some very supportive relationships in my life, and these go a long way towards helping me handle the difficulties that arise in both training and life in general.
1)Training Partners - It has been a couple of years since I have had a training partner who pushes me and helps to build a great atmosphere. There is no doubt my training was struggling in part because of that. But in the last 4 months we have begun building a great weightlifting team with serious people who love to lift weights, and want to get better. I am super thankful to every one of them to hold me accountable for every set and rep I have on my program. It has been a huge factor for why my training sessions have been getting better and better.
2)Soda Stream - Still to this day the greatest purchase I made under $100. I love drinking soda water, but burning through bottles and keeping them in the fridge was always a pain. Now I can make it whenever. Im sure my girlfriend hates it because I leave half-drunk bottles all over the apartment, and at 4:30am when I get up to train I use it and it make a noise similar to the emergency broadcast signal. But the delicious water I get from it is everything I hoped for and more.
3)2015 World Weightlifting Championships - I have been to national meets and seen some really strong people, and I’ve even trained with a few. But nothing will ever compare to world class lifters in that environment. So many incredible athletes, all of whom are completely willing to stop and talk if they aren't training, or take a quick picture. I am thankful I got the opportunity to go and watch in amazement as I witnessed 4 world records being broken, even though I missed 4 being broken by Alex Lee, who is no doubt my favorite american lifter and possibly the best male lifter we have to offer right now.
1)Great friends - I have met a lot of people in my life and not all of them have stuck around. But the ones that I consider to be my closest friends are the ones that will always be around and the ones I am most thankful for. Some may play roles of training partner, co-worker, best friend, or some combination of all of those and more. There is a certain comfort knowing that no matter what is happening in life, there are a few people that I can fall back on for support. To the few of you who know who you are, thank you. I could not have made it where I am without you.
2)Stimulants - We’ve all been there. You haven’t slept well, or you just got out of class, or for some other reason you’re tired as hell and don’t want to go to the gym. Or maybe you are about to lift really heavy and want your eyeballs to explode. Enter the stimulants: caffeine, beta alanine, taurine, guarana, whatever the hell is in C4 (man I miss the original Jack3d!), take your pick. Nothing like taking a few stimulants to get you going, or just to make you feel guilty and not want to waste money by taking preworkout and then not going to the gym.
3)Top notch equipment - I’ve been spoiled my entire weightlifting career with bars and plates from Eleiko, Werk San, Pendlay, and Again Faster. I don’t know what it’s like to snatch on a rusty old powerlifting bar that barely spins with metal plates that I can’t drop at all, and I’m not sure if my shoulders would still be attached if I did. You might even say that I have become a little bit of a snob… No bumper plates... Nothing is in kilos... bars that don’t spin for longer than 3 seconds… What the hell kind of gym is this? And by the way, how are you supposed to do math by colors when all the plates are black?
There you have it, a list of some of the things we are thankful for this holiday season. Make sure to reflect on those things that allow you to train hard and reach your goals while you stuff yourself with food today.
One last thing before we go to eat more food than a bear getting ready for hibernation, there is one last thing we are thankful for, and that is everyone of you who take the time to read each one of these posts. So to all of you we want to wish you a very Happy Thanksgiving!