The actual act of pursuing a lift should be emotionless, allowing that doubting voice to creep into your head will ruin you, yet weightlifting as a whole, as a sport, will have you cry, laugh and scream out of frustration and you should be grateful for every single bad moment.
Pre-comp weight loss mentally breaks me every time, yet each time I come back with a hardened wall. My latest competition involved 12 hour fasts; I would eat 300-400 calories first thing in the morning and 300-400 calories just before bed. Prior to this prep, I was eating 6 meals and around 2,000-2,500+ calories on an average day, so to take such an extreme jump played havoc on my ability to even function at a simple level.
Twelve weeks post-comp, I have adopted a similar routine and I am functioning at a much higher level. I now eat 2 or 3 meals a day and less meat but higher quality meat (because I can afford it now, whereas such an idea was off the table when trying to feed myself 6 times a day), so my bank and body thanks me. The hunger was very difficult to deal with but I came accustomed to it after a few weeks and now enjoy small periods of hunger as it makes food taste better. I lost the mentality of ‘I have to eat often or my gains will go’, and gained a mentality of only feeding my body when it actually needs fuel. It means my body weight is much more stable and I am hoping it means I do not need to cut weight for my next comp!
My first major injury was a back sprain, I foolishly abused weightlifting by attacking the bar like a dog. At the time, I had just broken up with my boyfriend and instead of dealing with my emotions, I shoved them down a very deep hole and narrowed my mind on lifting heavy weights without proper rest. Such avoidance of real life problems came to bite me in the ass when I was in so much pain I could not walk. Laying in bed with physical backache, mental heartache and no escape from either was extremely painful.
I was forced to deal with my emotions and in this time I read Intimate Communion by David Deida. I dissected what happened in my previous relationship, learned to forgive myself and my ex, dissolved all conflict with my father and came out a more stable person. Better monitored emotions means less mental game with the bar. This step away from the gym also made me appreciate the sport on a whole new level and since then, I have not taken my real life problems out on the barbell. Furthermore, I invested in a stand-up desk because this injury highlighted my terrible posture from sitting at my desk for 8 hours a day; my back does not ache on a daily basis and I am more flexible/mobile which of course benefits my lifting posture.
My second major injury was tendonitis in my wrist. I cried, comfort ate and sulked greatly. One day I was in the the gym, hanging around the rig attempting to do some core work but failing terribly because I was sulking and have zero motivation to do accessory work, and one of the CrossFit members asks me what I was doing. She then mentions that she wants to do some accessory work outside of class and suggests we do some core sessions together on a Wednesday. My heart melted when she turned up with a program that she had taken the time out to put together and specialised for me. Fast forward several months, my core has never felt so strong and I adore my friendship with her. She showed me how to enjoy accessory work and how it assists with my weightlifting (I actually do accessory work on my own now, even without injuries). She has an abundance of patience and I only hope I have been able to assist her with her development as well, albeit through different means.
My first nationals was the 2018 Under 23’s. I am aware that weightlifting is not my career, other lifters take the sport a lot more seriously and there are others who are higher skilled than me. As a recreational lifter, I accepted this as being my first and last nationals. I actually, stupidly, accepted this as being my last ever competition because at this time, I thought weightlifting was a barrier to my career. So, of course, I had my eye on podium spot; I wanted to go out on a high. It shattered my heart when I became injured two weeks out and things became gloomy, even the possibility of me competing became slim. I paid over £800 on my participation, travel, accommodation, food and emergency physio. I was desperate to compete.
With the chance of me performing at my optimum out of the window, the circumstances enabled me to have one less thing to worry about. I discarded the idea of podium, relaxed from a competitive mindset and just enjoyed the whole experience as it was. As I was walking on stage for the introduction, I was chatting to one of the other girls about my hand and she said “don’t worry, you’ll be able to max out at your next Nationals”. That was the first moment I had belief I could do another Nationals. It then spread like wildfire and suddenly, there was no chance in hell I was going to quit weightlifting, regardless of whether I go to another Nationals or not. I had given up before even attempting to achieve a goal; I was trying to take the easy route by expecting an easy win. I needed to be broken down before I could find the belief inside of me to be more.
I am grateful things were not in my favour because I could have done my best, not got podium, but have accepted it as my last competition and be sat on the sofa watching some crap TV right now. I paid a lot of money for a competition that really was not worth that much. Yet had I not made that much effort to get there, had I not walked into the room and felt my blood run cold as I saw how big the stage was and had I not felt the excitement of performing in such a magical atmosphere, I would not be stood here with coach’s voice in my head saying “stay over the bar, Katt!”.
If it is not clear yet, every single hiccup has actually enhanced my weightlifting (and other areas of my life). As always, these lessons are applicable to all areas of life. Be grateful for your haters and the people who challenge you, for they are the reason you grow as a person.
Stress means growth.