The end of a year is usually a time for reflection, and I had a bit of an epiphany the other day. I’m having a lot of fun training and just being at the gym. That may seem like an odd thing for someone to suddenly realize, but it’s true, and it’s kind of a big deal for me.

Weightlifting is a tough sport. Not just physically, but mentally as well. There’s been more than a few times that I’ve wanted to quit, walk away, and to never touch a barbell ever again. I’ve had that inner conversation with myself many times just staring at the bar, asking myself, “why am I doing this?” I’ve had crushing defeats that brought me, as an adult, to tears. My second year of competing, my goal was to qualify for Nationals. I was on track to do it at Provincials, but I had a rough day on the platform, went 2/6, and failed to qualify. I had the qualifying weight racked in the clean, only to fall backwards. The next year I qualified for Nationals at Provincials in March, but that victory was short lived when I combined my first Nationals with my first bomb out, a weightlifter’s worst nightmare.

I’ve gone through periods where I had to train alone, uncoached, and it is a constant fight with yourself to keep going, especially when you’re lifting poorly. That`s when the stressful thoughts from other parts of life would creep into your head when attempting a lift. I’m probably not the only lifter that has gone through a complete existential crisis while training. That usually doesn’t go very well. Anytime you’re trying to throw heavy weight over your head, that should be the only thing your mind is focused on!

Throwing heavy weight overhead requires the ability to clear your mind and focus only on the task at hand

Other times I think the sheer frustration was with how a few of us trained very early on. It didn’t seem like weights were progressing, or technique was improving, even though I was putting in the time and effort. You’re certainly not going to feel 100% all the time, that`s just how training goes, but we were really beating ourselves up. I’ve learned a lot since those early days, and I’ve managed to find a much better balance and I’m still making progress. Back then it seemed like I was destroying myself in the gym for what seemed like no return, which is incredibly frustrating.

Lately though, I’ve been having a lot of fun and just enjoying the process. At JustLift, I’m now surrounded by a bunch of great people that I truly enjoy coaching and training with. Even those bad days, when my body hurts, when the movements feel completely foreign again, and the weight feels heavy, I`m surrounded by people that make me smile, that make me laugh, that push me, and that inspire me. I have teammates to share my victories, and to console me in my defeats. I didn’t always have that. Bad days were really bad. Like go back to my apartment, stare at the ceiling and cry sort of bad. When I really think about it, it’s hard to really remember when I last had a bad day at the gym like that.

Every now and then I have this idea that when I move into a house, I`ll have a garage gym and how great it will be because I’d be able to train anytime I wanted to, I wouldn’t have to waste time going to and from the gym, and I can set it up exactly how I want it. Then I think about how incredibly lonely it would be. I may not necessarily need a coach at this point in my lifting career, but I think I will always need a team. That`s what I have now at JustLift, and our family is growing. We’re not just growing in size, but we’re growing closer. Our lifting lives and our social lives are more intertwined.

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The JustLift Team at the 2014 Ontario Scholastics

Community, a support network, and a feeling of purpose are often cited as important aspects of health and longevity, not just “diet and exercise”. I came from a small town (like really small, like total population 1600 people small) and moving to a “big city” like Ottawa was really intimidating for a while. At first I didn’t really feel like I belonged here. It`s kind of a strange feeling, feeling alone in a city of almost a million people. I spent a lot of time living in the past, thinking about how much I missed how things used to be. When I show up at JustLift and see all those familiar, smiling faces, I don’t feel like that anymore. I have that sense of belonging. I have that sense of purpose when I`m training or coaching. I no longer feel alone. I’m enjoying the process, having fun, and living in the moment.

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