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From Defeat......Victory!

Saturday, November 02, 2013

So how do you handle defeat? What do you say to yourself when you don't measure up to your own expectations?

I've got a million examples! Hell when I think back on these past few years on SP, I see tons of examples where my eating, my working out, even my job performance didn't measure up to my expectations. And anyone who's never had to handle defeat has missed out.

The key is in how you handle it. If you're not careful, that feeling of failure can spiral into a whirlpool of self-fulfilling thoughts and actions that can be incredibly hard to climb out of. Like any good habit, the ability to pull out of that death spiral gets stronger the more often you practice it.

Which is why I like weight lifting! More than any other kind of exercise I've tried, lifting heavy weights pushes me physically, mentally, and spiritually to my limits.

And sometimes I fail.

It's not just a physical failure, though. If I don't make my goal for the day, it feels like a mental failure as well, a character flaw where I think, "I should have pushed harder" or, "I gave up too early" or "I'll never get this" or, "Man, I suck!"

Here's what happened to me yesterday;

I was on my third week of this weight lifting program called 5/3/1 (it's a great Strength Training program....details are in my old blog

This third week in each cycle requires you to do multiple repetitions at 95% of your maximum lift. My handy iPhone app (Big Lifts) does all the calculations for me, so yesterday it told me I had to squat 275 lbs for 7 reps.....Giddy-up!

After all my warmups, I got my mind straight, called over a young hulk to spot me, told him I was shooting for 7 reps at 275, and proceeded to squat.

I only got 4

What the hell! I looked over at my spotter and said, "Man, that's all I had in me today."

I immediately felt defeated, wondering what I had done wrong, why couldn't I achieve my goal.

I walked around the squat rack a few times, going over and over in my mind what just happened. Did I not sleep well last night, did I give up too easy, I should have pushed harder, maybe I'm getting too old for this stuff.....all those crazy, crazy thoughts that can race through your mind when failure rears its ugly head.

But SWMBO often reminds me, "You don't have any control over the first thought in your head, but you do have control over the second" and so I started to self-talk my way off the ledge. "OK, not so bad....still better than I did only a few months ago" and "Alright, you knew this wasn't going to be a linear progression every single week", "Got it, focus on form, keep at it" and, "Look in the mirror Dude, you still look freaking awesome....remember, 3 weeks ago, you lifted 915 lbs!"

So I resolved internally that this wasn't a failure, just a data point on a lifelong journey to living healthy....I accepted it for what it was, my best effort for today, a reflection of my abilities, not my inabilities.

As I proceeded to take the weights off the bar, something didn't jive in my head. I looked at my iPhone app....sure as hell, it said my goal for today was 7 reps at 275 lbs. That meant, two 45 lb plates and a 25 lb plate on each end.

I had two 45 lb plates and a 35 lb plate on each end....what the hell?!?!!?

I had just lifted 295 lbs.....20 more lbs than I was supposed to do for wonder I only got 4!!!

I crunched the numbers into my iPhone....lo and behold, lifting 295 lbs for 4 reps was actually better than lifting 275 lbs for 7 required more strength.....Wahoo! Somehow I wasn't paying attention when I loaded the bar (or maybe adult-onset dyslexia set in) and I put myself in a tough situation.

Within a matter of minutes, my feelings of failure turned into feelings of elation, pride, and accomplishment....what a roller-coaster!

It seemed as though once I resolved myself to reality, to accepting life on its own terms, a pathway out of despair appeared. When we were kids, our Mom used to tell us, "Be careful what you say and think, the angels are always listening"

The universe reminded me once again that our thoughts are powerful, that HOW we handle and face life is much more important than WHAT actually happens to us, that the real keys to success are about acceptance of ourselves for where we are right now and to keep moving up from there.

Have a great day Spark friends!
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    You continually amaze and inspire me!!
    1578 days ago
    Yeh, and not only Angels, but me, too. emoticon

    You did OK. emoticon

    Oh, and loved the advice from your wife. She's pretty dang smart!
    1578 days ago

    Comment edited on: 11/21/2013 5:22:50 PM
    Wow, that's a real turnaround!
    Would you have lifted that weight, had you known it's more then it supposed to be?
    My fastest run ever was so fast because I had no clue I'm running that fast! :-)
    1586 days ago
  • MILLIE5522
    emoticon "The measure of success is how you deal with disappointment"....this quote is on my SP page & has helped me through the tough times.
    1597 days ago
  • JUNEAU2010
    1597 days ago
    Very heavy...the words of wisdom and the weights both lol

    Feeling defeated and having negative thought is normal, it is what gives us the motivation to continue, and provides some valuable life lessons. I'm nervous around people who say they have never failed, or never doubt...they are either lying to themselves and others or are tempting fate, heading for a major crash and burn.

    1597 days ago
    Nice blog! Enjoyed the points that you make. And congrats on the weight increase.
    1597 days ago
    I'm gonna ask my younger son to read this tonight when he gets home. I think it will totally resonate with him! Excellent blog!

    1597 days ago
    Way to go on the accidental success! Your body is capable of much more than your mind tells you you are. And I agree- it is all a matter of perspective.

    Keep up the hard work!
    1598 days ago
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