failure is success

Wait, what? I know. Just hear me out.

Many of my three faithful readers (that means two if you’re wondering) know that I’ve sort of become a gym rat. Or, maybe I’d prefer to be called a meathead. Or, maybe we can just keep it simple and quote the very famous LMFAO song … ‘I work out.’

Now, I’ve worked out in some capacity for quite a while. I did some running when Connor was just a little guy and man, I hate running. I mean, I have a love/hate with running. Let’s just say I’m certain I won’t ever run 15 1/2 miles again. There, that’s a fair statement. I continued to focus on cardio things and was a straight-up Zumba queen for a while there. I loved Zumba. But then people started making comments about me being too skinny and I got all self-conscious and sad so I stopped doing that.

A few years ago, I started playing around with weights here and there. I started following  – because you didn’t really follow people even five years ago. why are we following people? – several fitness folks and saw how strong they looked. And I wanted that. But I was afraid to lift heavier weights because then I’d look like a man. Or at least my dad. And that’s not attractive on me. (love ya, dave!)

In August-ish of 2017, I came across a post on Instagram sharing Kim Schaper’s story. Now this lady? I could follow. She was stronger than snot, but more than that, her personal journey to health was something that really resonated with me. I did a two-week trial run with one of her programs and was hooked. Kim is the real deal. And she just so happens to have a beautiful tribe of women on Facebook who connected through her fitness programs. I fell in love with those women and their stories and we pushed each other to be just a little better each and every day. And they pushed me into facing my fear of the gym. And lifting heavier.

So fast-forward to July of last year and I was at the gym five-seven days a week. Even there I had to push myself to get out of my comfort zone (the big classroom that’s typically empty in the morning) and into the land of big machines, free weights and cable thing-y’s, oh my. I’ve come to really appreciate the group of men that I hang out with first thing in the morning. It’s true that no one at the gym actually cares about what you’re doing so if that’s one of your fears, I’d just advise you get over it. Ha! Listen to me.

My routine has shifted a ton even in just this last few months. I realized was told that five-seven days a week isn’t doable because, sleep. So, now I go four days a week and push (or pull as it were) as hard as I can and walk out the door knowing I gave it my best.

But I’ve had a few blunders in there, too. Take today, for instance. I was trying something new. I usually stick to the smith machine (that’s where the bar is attached to a pulley system to lessen the likelihood of me injuring myself during a lift), but it looked like it was in use so I nervously walked over to the big guy … the squat rack. I was going to do this box squat thing where you take the weighted bar, squat down onto a box (or bench in my case), pulse a couple times and come back up.

I was on my third set and I was pretty pumped (or maybe I should say jacked here) because I’d gotten through the first two sets with the weight I’d tried without too much trouble so I bumped it up a bit and on my sixth rep, I sat down just a biiiiiiit too far and found myself sitting down on the bench. With the weight on my shoulders. And like that poor women in the old tv spot, I couldn’t get up.

I sat there for a second and thought about how I could will myself to stand back up but surprisingly, trying to come up from a fully-seated position with as much weight as I had on my back is not that easy. So, I looked around to the two guys that were there. And well, they had earbuds in. At this point, I’m wondering how long one can sit in this position without transitioning into hysterical crying.

Then, as if the Lord felt sorry for me (He’s good like that), the strongest man I’ve ever seen walked in the door. I looked his way and said, ‘HALP.’ He turned to the guy he’d come in with uncertain about what was going on and again I said, ‘HALP ME. I’ve sat down and I can’t get up’ (or something like that). He came over and wrapped his giant arms around my waist and helped me stand. Let’s talk about embarrassed. And then I finished my set goshdangit.

He came over and introduced himself and then, a few minutes later, followed me into the classroom where I was trying to hide from everyone doing another exercise that didn’t require large amounts of weight on my back and I reiterated my embarrassment. I said I just sat down too far and I really, really hated failing. I had tried with everything I had to get back up on my own. He said to me, ‘oh please. failure is success. in here? in life? you have to fail to succeed.’

And then he dropped the mic and walked away.

Just kidding. He continued by sharing his own story with me; showing me a collage of photos where he was 70 pounds heavier. At one point, he’d lost over 150 pounds but he’s in ‘eat, eat, eat’ mode for an upcoming power lifting competition. Side note: I say he’s the strongest man I’ve ever seen because I happened to catch videos the gym had posted of him bench pressing 500 (FIVE HUNDRED) pounds and squatting 605 (6-0-5) pounds.

I continued on with my workout where I pushed 410 pounds on the leg press for the first time (and of course I texted my dad to tell him because we’re almost twins at this point. ha!). And I was really excited to have that success. But I also failed today. I failed really hard. Everything in me wanted to run out of that dumb, stupid, no-good gym after ‘the incident.’

But, two things:

  1. In case it wasn’t obvious, sometimes we need a little help. And that’s perfectly fine and ok and even though I’m stubborn, I let that man pick me up (because God only knows otherwise what would have happened). And I honestly wish he would have just bench pressed me right then and there because with my body weight and the weight I was lifting … it still wasn’t 500 pounds. (Seriously, how strong is he?!)
  2. William was right. Failure is success. Don’t be afraid to try. Take risks. Do the things you think you cannot do. If you would have told me last year that I could be in the main room at the gym with the strongest humans in Wayland, I’d tell you you were nuts. And if you’d told me that I could even hang with some of them, I would have laughed until my face hurt. But here I am … pushing to be better, to be stronger, to be braver. If only just a little bit each day

“Would you like me to give you a formula for success? It’s quite simple, really: Double your rate of failure. You are thinking of failure as the enemy of success. But it isn’t at all. You can be discouraged by failure or you can learn from it, so go ahead and make mistakes. Make all you can. Because remember that’s where you will find success.” -Thomas J. Watson

P.S. Thank you, William. You were my answer to prayer today.

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