Life at the Bar: The Little Gray Box

I have been weightlifting twice a week since last February, something I never believed I would mentally entertain, let alone physically consider at 53 years old. But 10 months in and now 54, I have progressed in strength beyond my expectations. I have learned how to deadlift, front squat, back squat, and overhead squat. I started with a 15# training bar and am now using a deadlift35# bar with added plates! Depending on my lift, those plates get pretty weighty ;). When I reached a deadlift weight of 175# and front and back squat weights of 100+, I finally allowed myself to consider that to be what I call “Big Girl” weight!

My trainer, Heather, is the absolute BOMB! She has been patiently training me for over 2 1/2 years now. She pushes me to limits beyond what I would ever push myself. There are days where I will beg for a bone, and she refuses to toss me one ;). There are days where she is generous and throws me a bone without me asking. I am always grateful! barbell_overhead_squat

I really do love lifting, even though my face and eye rolls may not always reflect that love during my workout. Lifting has been a catalyst for pushing other boundaries and limits. I am now rock climbing too, pushing away my fear of heights.

My favorite lifts are front squats, back squats, deadlifts, and overhead squats, although the overhead squat is still rather challenging for me. The goal in squats is to get the glutes at least parallel to the floor, better yet, below parallel, as in “glutes to boots” as the saying goes ;). barbell-front-squat-proper-form

In our gym, there are several large red vinyl boxes of varying heights used for box jumps, among other punishments. Heather would have me squat down onto the 12″ box to assist me in improving my depth, sometimes even pausing on the box before standing up – now that is a gripe and a grind!

In addition to the boxes used for box jumps, there is a little homemade box (thanks, Russ!) covered in gray duct tape that is only 10″ high. Now 2″ inches doesn’t seem like a big difference, but when wp-1481043797694.jpgyou have a 35# bar with an additional 45#+ worth of plates on it, either in a front squat position or a back squat position, that extra 2″ feels like a mile! I have had several “come to Jesus” meetings with that little gray box and one did not end well ;).

I was back squatting about 6 months ago onto that little gray box and completely lost my form, and crumbled. Heather had to remove the bar from my back. I was utterly defeated, mentally and physically. That vile gray box became a symbol of failure. When talk turns to pulling it out, I automatically go to that place in my head of failure. Stupid, right?barbell_squat_women_2

I can squat to below parallel without that little gray box, but the minute it comes out I lose all confidence. I either cheat my depth or my form completely falls apart. What the hell is that all about? It is definitely a mental thing, I know. For Pete’s sake, it’s only an inanimate 10″ gray box, but you’d think it was the devil by the look on my face, and the conversation it evokes within my mind.

Even now, half way into my Russian Squat Challenge, where I am currently front squatting 80# in 6 sets of 5 and 6 reps with a depth squat-progressionlower than parallel, I am still afraid of that little wicked 10″ gray box! Just the other day, Heather was talking about bringing it out, and I was like “No Way!” “Why?” “Is my depth not good enough?” I’m surprised I don’t have nightmares about that box! 😉

That little 10″ gray box that sits so quietly tucked aginst the wall, dwarfed by the bench, innocent and unassuming, easy to ignore, until it is moved under the rack where I am lifting, then it becomes this demon so looming, so scary, so wp-1481043776118.jpgdownright threatening and defeating. I don’t want to fear that little 10″ gray box, but I do. And now that I have admitted to fearing it, I have no excuse not to push past it.

I have a decision to make. Am I going to allow that little gray 10″ box to rule over me, or am I proactively going to conquer it, over and over again until I no longer fear it? Am I going to overcome it once and for all so that I can look at it sitting along the wall and mentally chuckle at it instead of seeing it as the beast of defeat and fear?  This new me has committed to pushing limits and fears, so I guess I already have my answer.

Monday morning I faced a Russian Squat Challenge of 6 sets of 6 reps at 80#, after 6 sets of 2 reps at 80# as “warm up” ;). That in and of itself, along with the other punishment, was sufficient for a Monday, even though I finished a whopping 6 minutes early! However, Wednesday may be the day where that little 10″ gray box and I have another “Come to Jesus” meeting to work out our differences, abolish fears, misunderstandings, negativity, and accept each other for who we really are as individuals and learn to work together in harmony :).

Aaaah yeah,  Life at the Bar with the Little Gray Box!

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