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Up and down.

It only took about 24 seconds for me to feel unstoppable. Just 24 seconds of me in the loud, grimy gym near my house on a Monday morning for me to see what a ferocious little monster I can be. A little encouragement, a lot of focus. That was it.

Leading up to those 24 seconds, I was not feeling invincible. I was feeling empty. My recent promotion at work was freaking me out. Each day in my new role, I was seized around the throat by that feeling that I was in way over my head. I was up all night reviewing all the ways I thought I screwed up and possible new ways for me to screw up in the future. I questioned my judgement. I questioned my assertiveness. I cried. I shut down. I ate three bowls of Coco Puffs in a row.

I told myself that I was going to be OK. I told myself I was just going to take this opportunity to learn and grown. I’m not going to grind away my sanity and well-being. “Be gentle to yourself,” is what I kept repeating in my head. I made sure I didn’t skip morning work outs and made it to judo practice. My non-work time was filled with nice things and nice people. I was going to be OK. I was going to do this. No drowning.

At the end of last week, I told myself I was relaxed and in control. That was a fib though. Deep down, I was still freaking out. Monday came, and I was so relieved that a few months ago, I scheduled the day off. My boyfriend, Frank, was with me and we had plans to go deadlift. I am novice level at deadlifting. I started lifting once a week in January and made my way up slowly from 115# to 145#. Frank trains in jiu jitsu and also took a period where he focused on power lifting. He’s smart and wants to do things to right way, not the bro way, so he’s a good gym buddy and training partner.

Frank was insistent that I could deadlift way more than 145#. I did not believe him. He said I could pull 200#. I did not believe him. I just started. I’m not that diesel. We put 135# on the bar and Frank studied me doing five reps. He told me, “I’m going to fix, like, two things and your deadlifts are going to go up 100# pounds today.” I raised an eyebrow. He showed me the adjustments. Then we kept adding weight gradually. We got up to 175#. I was in happy disbelief. How about 190#? Sure, why not. Then Frank asked, “Think you could try 200?” Sure. I got my breathing together. I gripped up. I pulled. I got the bar maybe and inch or two off the ground and then put it back down. I got scared. “It’s too heavy. It’s a lot of weight,” I said with furrowed brow. “Yeah, it is a lot of wait,” Frank acknowledged, empathetically.  I paused. I breathed. I said goodbye to my fear. I could do it. “I want to try again. I think I can do it.” I got my mind ready. I approached the bar again. Frank stood a few feet away, coaching and cheering me through. I did it. I pulled 200#.

I know 200# is not that amazing for serious powerlifters, but it’s amazing to me. I really didn’t think I could do it. At least not yet. I didn’t let myself see that I had that in me. But I do. It’s awesome.

When I got to work on Tuesday,  I was amped. I didn’t care about any crises, any drama, any tension. None of that scared me. I just deadlifted 200#. I know it sounds dumb, but that’s how I felt. Anything that came up, I was just, like, so what? This hard, but it’s not that hard. It all can get done. I felt calm even when a situation came up where I didn’t know the immediate solution. I was sure of myself. I was excited. I mean, I can pull 200#.

Twenty four seconds was all it took.




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