I did my meet. Here’s the summary: I didn’t make weight, which wasn’t a suprise. I went 6/9 and set no PRs. In fact, I missed weights I’ve hit more than once in the gym. As my last lift of the day, I missed a 380lb deadlift and then I had to go sit in the car and cry for a few minutes alone. And as much as I know that a big deadlift can leave me with a feeling of exploding happiness, missing that lift on Saturday left me with an extreme emotion at the opposite end of the spectrum. I was supposed to walk out of this meet, feeling prepared to tackle provincial championships in 6 weeks and instead, I walked out feeling so let down that I might never do a meet again.
There is a part of me that feels like a spoiled brat: the friend who lifted with me kept saying, “But you won GOLD in your weight class. You were at the bottom of your weight class and dominated. You even dominated the weight class above.” But I don’t even think that medal registered on my radar. Winning wasn’t my goal. My goal was to step off the platform, knowing that I put up the best numbers I am capable of, and I don’t feel like I came anywhere close to accomplishing that. I am way overdue for a deadlift PR. I haven’t set a deadlift PR since February 2013. February 2013. I was 23 the last time I set a deadlift PR, for crying out loud!
But before I went to the meet, I resolved to do my post meet analysis with an attitude of gratitude. This is actually an outlook of Thanksliving that I am trying to cultivate in general, after one of my yoga instructors said something that really resonated with me: People who practice gratitude are happier; they understand how to fill up their lives with what they have, instead of seeking to fill the holes with something external that might not even exist.
This outlook was like a revelation for me.There are all of these holes in my life that constantly leave me feeling inadequate: I am never strong enough or skinny enough or smart enough or confident enough or sociable enough or brave enough or rich enough or fashionable enough. And I’ve spent so much time feeling lost and unsatisfied and trying to find something that will make me stronger, skinnier, smarter, more confident, more brave, richer and more fashionable. And yet, a solution remains elusive: I am still me.
Lifting is definitely one of the areas where I struggle to feel satisfied: I can never enjoy how strong I am without wanting to be stronger and skinnier.So what if I made a deliberate attempt to accept that even if I’ve had better lifting days in the gym, today’s meet was good enough, just as it happened? And I do have lots of reasons to be grateful:
- The powerlifting community is incredibly supportive. It’s a miracle that I made it on to the platform at all, given that I didn’t even own a proper-fitting singlet a week before the meet. After learning of my singlet debacle, my friend Tannis sent me two of her own singlets via XpressPost. I am incredibly grateful to her for being so helpful, as I would not have been allowed to lift without the appropriate attire – and she even let me keep the singlet that fits me the best, so I will have something to wear in the future.
- I did a meet. I haven’t done a meet in two years, despite the fact that I’ve signed up and paid in full on at least 3 separate occasions. I have this MO of signing up and then withdrawing six weeks out because I don’t feel strong enough or consistent enough in my training. So by stepping on that platform, I was accepting that whatever I had done up to that point was good enough for now, perfect or imperfect as it may have been.
- Accepting that I didn’t have to make weight was such a relief. I thought I would be really bummed out by having to compete at 84kg, when historically I’ve competed at 72kg. In reality, not having to worry about waterloading removed so much stress from my life and I actually felt pretty good about my weigh-in. I know that when I was a young, 23-year-old powerlifter who knew it all and felt indestructible, I thought the waterload was no big deal.Well, I was mistaken. The energy I could have invested in worrying about my salt, carb and water intake for a week was much better invested in making healthy choices consistently in the 12 weeks leading up to my meet.
- I didn’t binge eat my way into a Powerlifting Meet Day pile of sickness. Historically, I have adopted what seems to be a prevailing attitude at powerlifting meets: 9 near-max lifts somehow justify eating loads and loads of processed crap and refined sugar. I really hate this mentality. I don’t feel good about it day-to-day and the day of a meet is not an exception. That’s just not the type of relationship I want to have with my diet, especially since that meet day is sometimes only the first step in a prolonged junk food bender that leaves every part of my body feeling abused. Instead, I was able to break the chain in this pattern of behaviour by skipping the waterload and focusing on a consistent diet leading up to the meet. I even planned meet-day food that didn’t leave me feeling gross or guilty afterwards.
- I improved my total and my wilks score. Even if I know that I’ve had better days in the gym, my meet numbers have improved despite all of the bullshit and distraction and life that has happened in the past few years. I opened my deadlift with my third attempt from my last meet. I opened both my squat and bench higher than my third attempts from that same meet. While the cynical and ungrateful part of me feels like this accomplishment is undermined by the fact that I’ve gained a few pounds, my wilks score improved by 16 points. Even if I didn’t have a 380lb deadlift in me today, I am undeniably getting stronger.
- I squatted through one of the longest, grindiest lifts of my life. I was a bit freaked out after I missed my second squat attempt. 303lbs just felt unbearably heavy and despite having hit 305lbs several times with confidence in the gym, I really felt like I was going to settle for a 275lb squat. Instead, I got under the bar again and pushed through. This puts a 300lb squat on the books, and even if it wasn’t a weight PR for me, this was definitely an endurance event in itself. I felt amazing after this lift, having spent such an unbelievable amount of time under tension. Moral of the story: if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again and stick with it.
- I had a less-than perfect meet. They do happen but until now, they hadn’t happened to me. I’ve only done a couple of meets, after which someone commented that it was good that I had gotten some successful meets under my belt. I didn’t fully understand his words at the time, but now I do. If I had gone into my first-ever meet and put up this performance, I don’t think I would be interested in competing again. But, I know that I can have a meet where I go 9/9 and PR every lift because I’ve done it before, And just like it’s good to have the experience of a successful meet, I’m hoping that it’s good to have a less than stellar meet and learn that it’s not worth dwelling on.
My plan was to come out of this meet and start preparing for provincials in six weeks. As much as dinner after the meet felt like a gaping pit of despair where I would never do another competition again, a glass of wine has helped me to put things into perspective and be more grateful. The plan is still to stick with consistent eating and lifting, with provincials in view. Moral of the story: if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again and stick with it.