My contest history has been at the front of my mind the past few weeks. Some of it has to do with health and fitness goals that have changed due to various circumstances. This might be the first year since 2002 that I don’t compete in some kind of a strength competition. I have enjoyed grip competitions the most over the years. Followed by all-round comps hosted by United States All-Round Weightlifting Association (USAWA).
One of the catalysts for my switch to less grip work and more cardio-related training and kettlebell work over the last month is the fact that my father is suffering from multiple organ failure. I won’t get into the details of it right now. Maybe after he passes away it may be helpful to my psyche to get it off my chest. Until then I’ll just say that I am more worried about obesity-related maladies than I have ever been before. Obesity runs in my family. Along with diabetes, high blood pressure, and cancer.
Since the first time I touched a weight I was concerned with getting strong. Anyone who weight trains knows that “strong” is elusive and ever-changing. Now I’m concerned with getting fitter and healthier. Having some blood drawn two weeks from now to check my cholesterol level. Some years back it was very high. I get regular physicals though and my blood pressure is usually pretty decent.
I’m going to focus on getting my weight down to a more appropriate level too. And work on keeping it there year round and not just for a few months so I can compete in a lower weight class in USAWA contests. 200lbs will be a bare minimum goal for the rest of my life. That will allow me to carry a decent amount of muscle still if I want to.
I’m currently 223lbs. I was 198lbs on November 12th, 2011. That’s an unacceptable and frankly embarrassing weight gain for a guy who knows how to train himself and others. Granted, I dropped a bunch of weight to compete in Adam Glass’s Grip Decathlon in the lower weight class. So about 15lbs of that is what I would consider normal gain. But still, gaining 25lbs in 2 months is not smart.
The “problem” I’ll have if I no longer compete is with my self-image. I am known to family, friends, and coworkers as the guy with strong hands. And I earned that through years of training. I don’t want to regress to “normalcy” because I am proud of how strong my hands are. I’ll just have to balance grip training with cardio and general fitness and strength training to reach my new health and fitness goals.
Less time spent training and obsessing over getting stronger hands will be much better spent doing something more immediate – spending time with my wife, possibly changing careers, going to college, more traveling, starting a business, and on and on. I don’t want to be on my deathbed and start recalling how many things I have wanted to do. How many places my wife and I didn’t get to visit because I was selfish and decided to enter a contest and spend a bunch of money to compete. Don’t get the idea that my wife doesn’t support what I enjoy doing. She does! And I love her for that. But I’m publicly stating that, although I have enjoyed and appreciated it, the frivolous spending on contest lifestyle is over. Time to grow up. It’s only taken me 36 years.