I might have a tendency to.. maybe.. over-analyze some things and by things I mean things that I say to other people. This has become a more relevant matter for me to deal with now that I’m more active on social media. I try to be mindful of what I say, because I feel like I have a responsibility in a way, knowing that a lot of people are reading and listening. It often makes me question a lot of my statements and sometimes also leads to me avoiding saying certain things, because I don’t want to be misinterpreted.
I don’t believe there are any perfect one-liners when it comes to the human body and mind or high level performance of any kind. I don’t want to deliver any catch-phrases. You wanna know what I think the answer is, I say it depends…
But some statements I stand by.
I had a really fabulous conversation the other day with a good friend of mine. We’ve trained together for some years and she’s been one of those people I always talk about, who’s supported me unfailingly since day one. And she’s insanely strong I tell you, with a bull’s mindset (that also reminds me a little bit of my own). Don’t know what I did to deserve being surrounded with people like that, who provides me with opportunities to deepen my understanding of why we do what we do, but it sure adds a tremendous amount of value to my life. This time, our talk made me think that perhaps a blog post about some of the main issues and core values I train by, would be in order. This is of course a pretty broad subject, I guess I just need to get started somewhere and we’ll build upon it over time.
I came up with this:
Training is a process. Training needs to be joyful and training needs to be something you do for the sake of yourself. Because you are a unique snowflake.
Easier said than done, living by this, of course. But if I’m gonna write here and tell a bunch of people about how I train, I want that message to be clear, before anything else.
POWERLIFTING (sometimes) = MINDFULNESS
I’ve always thought of my analytical side as an asset, until about half a lifetime of values and internal expectations accumulated into some sort of existential crisis in the year 2015. The ignition of the crisis was The classic World Championships in Salo, Finland. That meet represented a sort of re-match, I think. The score was Me vs. Life, 0-1. To be honest, it was a pretty difficult time, still I find that it’s hard to describe what the main issue was.
Training for the meet wasn’t the real problem, but it opened up for a lot of unanswered questions I had about myself. Looking back now, I can see that I was, in fact, provided with the perfect tool – a challenge.
Rewinding the tape.. Why do I even lift?
Well.. I’d just gotten the hang of powerlifting and I had finally found something that felt really right. Like opening a door you’ve been looking for, for years and years. When I started lifting heavy weights, it very much changed me. It changed how I walk, how I keep my hands, how I see myself and how I see life. I might dig deeper into the Bella-before and the Bella-after powerlifting some other day. The point that I wanted to make today, was that when I started, it very quickly became an expression for both my body and mind – it was an in-the-moment-experience, that was very new and very precious to me. Something that I wanted to do only for myself, because I loved the action of lifting in itself, more than I loved the reward I got from it afterwards. A sort of mindfulness, so to speak.
The challenge of the meets.
So, I had never competed before, before powerlifting, although it had become increasingly clear that I had a competitive mindset. When a whole lotta people suddenly started talking about which meet I was going to attend to, and what my results might be, it was a new world that presented itself and it made me anxious. (Not holding this against anyone, it’s just common human behaviour, but when it comes to performance in sports, some people, including yourself to yourself, will always want to tell you what expectations they have on you. They usually mean well, like “Make sure you get that medal now!”, but I’ve found that it makes me very uncomfortable.)
Just to be clear: I’ve competed exactly eleven times. That’s not a lot, if you think about it. I know that a lot of the anxiety I have revolving meets comes from lack of experience and routine. My feelings towards this will most likely change very much over the years.
What I know is, that while some folks seem to fall in love with the competitions, longing for the next one as soon as they’re done with the first, I feel apprehension. Maybe this stems from a little piece of my personality, that a) I don’t like being told what to do (I’m the youngest child out of seven, perhaps that’s got somewhat to do with it) and b) I’m an idealist in that way, that in everything I set my mind to, I want to live up to my true potential and sometimes this ideal is just paralyzing.
GOT GOALS? FIGURE OUT WHAT MAKES YOU ENJOY THE PROCESS REACHING THEM.
And so I struggled with it, wanting prove myself and show the world what I was made of, versus wanting to just lift, like I would lift even if there were no other humans on the planet but me. I’m still struggling with this, I guess. I want to prove myself, as the best lifter/human I can be, but more importantly I want the present moment to be the most important thing of all:
I never want to feel like actions of the future have a higher value than the actions of the present moment that I’m currently in.
This conclusion opened another sort of door for me. My training changed. I relaxed. I became better. Stronger. My approach to big parts of my life and my view of myself changed, when not letting my identity completely revolve around future results. I’ll take pride in my accomplishments, for sure, but my focus is always going to be on what I did today.
Get it? I didn’t. I’m still trying to wrap my head around it. I didn’t get it all, until a little more than a year after that first world championship in Finland. It took me a least six months to even grasp the magnitude of the results I actually did there (it went very, very well). Months later, I would sit on the bus and it would hit me: “Goddamn, did I actually do all that?”. (This strikes me as a reaction from someone who might have a hard time taking it all in.)
Present moment vs. future goals – It absolutely doesn’t have to be about one thing or the other. Setting goals can be awesome for you. But don’t lose sight. Nothing is going to be more important than what you did today and that same principle is going to be valid tomorrow as well.
Set a goal – stay in the moment – go through the process – look back and evaluate.
And maybe the dilemma of a challenge is that sometimes you won’t know exactly how capable you are of something until you’ve actually done it. So try to keep calm and enjoy the process.