I had an epiphany today.
Midway through my fourth set of snatch grip deadlifts it hit me, like a right hook from the Hulk.
I finished my set, staggered backwards and collapsed, panting, onto a bench. “How could this be?” I wondered to myself.
For ninety seconds I sat there, staring myself right in the eye, and tried to come to grips with my latest realisation.
My alarm beeped; I shook off my amazement, added more weight and banged out another set.
I couldn’t deny it anymore, I had officially become a ‘Meathead’.
I religiously bow before the Iron God’s four times a week. Open my pantry and you’ll be faced with more supplements and powders than Lindsay Lohan uses on a Saturday night. Every conversation with me seems to eventually devolve into a discussion about lifting protocols, dieting regiments or useless health tidbits. Hell, I took my protein powder, fish oil, multi-vitamin and ZMA with me on school camp this year. At one stage I considered leaning down, bulking up and actually entering a bodybuilding competition; this thought is still rummaging around in the back of my head somewhere as well. My wife and I went to a coffee shop on a sunny Monday afternoon- she took marking, I took the latest Strength & Conditioning Journal from Bret Contreras.
No denying it- I’m a ‘Meathead’.
Well actually, an ‘Educated Meathead’. More like Batman, using brains AND brawn in a never ending quest to get stronger.
I’m motivated by an unquenchable desire to be bigger, stronger, faster, leaner and more powerful than the person in the mirror; it’s a tireless quest that always has me trying to level up.
My ‘Meathead Motivation’ is extrinsic, looking good in the mirror and filling out my shirts, and intrinsic, the release of endorphins. Both types of motivation are essential to exercising, yet studies have proven that intrinsic motivation is more powerful over a longer term.
When I was seventeen, my Father was driving me to a basketball game. I was already regularly pumping iron, trying to get stronger for basketball, but when he pulled me close and said…
“J, never let yourself go”
… something may have begun to gestate within me; my inner ‘Meathead’ was birthed.
Over the years, I’d seen people I love fight vehemently over health issues. I’d heard enough ‘fat’ snarls, discontentment whispers and scolds of ‘pig’, to think that if I didn’t let myself go, maybe I could steer clear of this type of disappointment and conflict in my life.
Not too long after my Father confided in me, he contracted adult onset Type Two Diabetes due to his poor lifestyle and eating habits. When I heard the news, his words, “never let yourself go,” reverberated through my head- is this what “letting yourself go” led to? A worried and concerned family, new stresses, more conflicts and fights with your loved ones and a lifetime of unnecessary suffering?
Only a few years ago, a loved one was told some horrible news; their doctor was concerned, their kidneys were failing. Time became inconsequentially long as we waited for the tests. If positive, it would mean a lifetime of dialysis, medication and pain. Once again, I was made to think, “is this where letting yourself go leads to? Is this what happens if you choose McDonalds over broccoli? The couch over exercise? The Big Bang Theory over sleep?”
Right now, I’m a ‘Meathead’ because it saves me from the alternative. It saves my family from worrying about my health, it gives me energy to look after my loved ones, motivation when I get to work, energy to live, and, as a good mate said in a speech about me, big arms when I cross them over my chest. After all, my motivation can’t only be intrinsic.
In the future, I want to be able to climb trees with my son and intimidate my daughter’s boyfriends. When my children look at me, I want them to see a superhero; someone they can run to for help and lean on for support. When my children look at me, I want them to see strength, both physical and mental. My wife will never have to worry about my health. In hard times, I’ll be the pillar of strength that she can lean against. In the good times, I’ll have the energy to enjoy them, and be both mentally and spiritually present.
I’m a ‘Meathead’ and I
enjoy crave the feeling of a heavy weight in my hands. When I stare at a loaded barbell, thinking to myself, “Why am I doing this? Can’t I just go cry in the corner instead?” I remind myself of my future children needing me, my wife loving me and drawing strength and inspiration from my actions.
Everybody needs to find their ‘Meathead’ motivation, whether it’s intrinsic or extrinsic, to exercise and live healthy. Whether it’s fitting into your new bikini, squeezing into an old pair of jeans, a desire to feel better, or being able to kick the footy with your friends or children, a life lived without exercise is a life where you are subjugating your loved ones to worry and doubts.
Most people associate ‘Meatheads’ with negative connotations, especially females, but it shouldn’t be that way. Unleashing your inner ‘Meathead’ leads to a more motivated, healthy and, dare I say it, passionate life. The first step though, is writing down what motivates you- that way, when your crying before a weight, or complaining that it’s too cold, you simply need to remind yourself why you do it.
For me, I learnt, long ago, that I never want anybody to worry about me or my health and that’s what motivates me to embrace my inner ‘Meathead’- and I’ve never looked back.