What I Did On My Summer Vacation.
At the beginning of every school year, I remember teachers instructing us to take out our newly sharpened #2 wooden pencils, open up to a blank page in our black and white marbled composition book, and write on that prompt.
Did you go to the pool everyday? Tell me about that.
Did you go on a trip to Disneyland? Tell me about that.
Did you play video games from morning to night? Tell me about that.
Well, what I did on my summer vacation was none of the above, but is definitely an event worth writing about on this blog.
I competed in a supertotal meet.
The two words, “super” and “total”, already feel larger-than-thou, grand, and just plain intimidating. A total of what? What’s so super about it?
For those that don’t know, I like to lift weights. Not just randomly going to the gym, hopping on some machines and calling it a day, but I love picking up a barbell from the floor and pulling it straight overhead or placing it on my back and squatting down so that my hamstrings touch my calves. I like to lift weights. I initially started learning how to snatch and clean and jerk (aka the Olympic lifts that you see done remarkably well by Europeans and the Chinese at the actual Olympics), and then dabbled in powerlifting for a few months (squatting, benching, and deadlifting). I eventually shifted my focus back to weightlifting at the start of this year and became more serious about it when I bought my own barbell. Anyhow, most meets will be either only Olympic lifts (2 total) OR powerlifting lifts (3 total). A supertotal has all 5 lifts. In a day. Three attempts per lift. The athlete hefts around a loaded barbell 15 times in a span of 6 hours to see how much weight she can lift.
Dang, it’s exhausting.
But that is what I did yesterday. And while the experience was certainly memorable, there are a few golden nuggets I am taking away from this experience.
- I love food. Like, really, really love food. I struggled with anorexia for a good part of my young adulthood, and now at 38 years young, I can say with assurance, I love food and it loves me. I cut to the 97# weight class for this meet, and while I walk around between 101-103#, losing that much water weight and having to be stringent on the amount of salt, liquid, etc. I was taking in prior to the meet made me, well, pretty irritable. I wanted to just eat ice cream because it was SO DARN HOT. I wanted to eat my kid’s pizza but needed to watch my fat intake. When I mentioned to a friend that I was cutting, a look of concern broached her face. “Are you sure you’re going to be ok? Even if the weigh-in is only for that day…do you feel tempted? To, you know, be that weight?” I love that she asked me that. Why? Because it showed she cared. But also, because it was a sign, a landmark of sorts, because my response was instantaneous: NO. NO WAY AM I TEMPTED. I FEEL TOO SMALL. I CAN’T IMAGINE WALKING AROUND AT THIS WEIGHT FOREVER. IT IS MADNESS. And let me tell you, that first meal after weigh-ins was magical. I ate without guilt. Sushi? Sure! Frozen yogurt with chocolate toppings? Yes, please! Some cookies my husband bought? Bring it! This meet solidified that my worth is no longer tied to a number on the scale. Emotions like guilt and fear are not linked to whether or not I had a bite of mac and cheese. I love food. And I have already started my journey to massing up to lift in the 49kg (107.8#) weight class.
- Be smart. On the final lift of the day, the deadlift, I had the opportunity to break an American record. I had already set a squat and bench record, and now, the deadlift. Do I try? Do I do it? Do I go for it? Surprisingly (as competitive of a person as I am), I didn’t. I pulled three deadlifts that were pretty conservative (my nice way of saying “easy”). Why? Why not go for the gold? There were multiple reasons. I was already pretty exhausted and I knew my form would be less than stellar. I was already at a low body weight so my physiology was further compromised. I hadn’t trained conventional deadlifts much, let alone pulling the weight that would have had me setting the record. I am a weightlifter, not a powerlifter, and I am starting a new weightlifting training cycle on Monday. Why compromise myself, injure myself, just for one lift? Is hitting that arbitrary deadlift number really that important to me in the long run? Uh, no, it’s not that important. So I listened to my body and completed the meet uninjured. That’s a win in my book, no matter what the weight was on the bar.
- Just have fun with it. I met a new friend too. It was her first meet. She had just picked up weightlifting two months ago. She arrived alone (her family, boyfriend and coach eventually came to the event), and while we waited to warm-up, we started talking. And you know what? She made the meet fun. I loved sharing stories about work, lifting, and sports with her, but more importantly, seeing her take that step of faith to “just do it” (I know, corny corny corny) and jump into a competition was inspiring. Meets are stressful, anxiety producing experiences, and yet, she did it all with a smile on her face. This new lifting friend reminded me that while hitting certain numbers is a grand goal to have, ultimately the joy of the sport is not contingent on the amount of medals won. It comes from that feeling of euphoria one gets when pulling a weight from the ground she didn’t think was possible. It comes from the rush of adrenaline flowing through a person’s veins right before stepping up to the barbell. It’s that energy, the excitement, of pushing oneself past just being comfortable and trying something new and challenging.
So that, THAT supertotal meet, is what I did on my summer vacation. Who knew I could learn so much from spending a day with a barbell?