I had a great workout this morning. I bench pressed 285 pounds. For most people, that would not be a significant milestone. For me, it was huge.
The last time I bench pressed 285 pounds I was 17 years old. This morning I was so nervous when I put that much weight on the bar. I felt confident, because I knew I had done 275 last week pretty easily and I had two good workouts since then. Yet after putting on that much weight I was unsure. I paced back and forth staring at the bar. I remember the last time I did that much.
I was a senior in high school. I wanted to be the starting center on our football team. I wanted to get a good score on the ACT so I could apply for scholarships. I wanted a certain girl to think of me as more than “just a friend.” I wanted to join the 300-club. I wanted my name written on the board of the weight room in that most exclusive club, but I had to get to 285 first. I lifted 285 that day, but never more. The football season ended. I got a pretty good score on the ACT and won a pretty nice scholarship. That girl and I were never more than friends. I never joined the 300 club.
I’ve always said that I feel sorry for people that think that high school was the best time of their life. I had a great time in high school. I had great friends. I had good grades. I had the respect of teachers and my parents. I achieved a lot, but that was not the peak of my life. I have gone on and achieved more. Yet 285 has always stuck in my head. That was the highest I reached physically. That was the strongest I ever was in my entire life. At 17 I was no where near my emotional, mental, or spiritual peak. But by at least one standard of measure, I peaked at 17 years old.
Today I am 32 years old. I am still grossly overweight, but I have been determined to make sure that I would again be stronger than I was when I was 17.
Today in that gym as I paced back and forth, I was standing in front of more than 285 pounds of iron. I was standing in front of my past. I was standing in front of my youth. As my heart started to race and my adrenaline started to flow I knew that I was standing in front of something heavier than 285 pounds. I was standing in front of my future. I was standing in front of a promise. It was a promise I made to myself. More importantly, it was a promise I made to my daughter. ”17 was not my best,” I thought to myself.
I laid on my back on that bench press and gripped the bar. I asked my spotter for a lift and counted to three. As I held the bar in my hands with my arms extended, about to bring it down to my chest, I thought to myself, “I have this.”
And I did.
As I put the weight back on the rack, I practically leaped off of the bench. I clapped my hands, flexed my arms and let out a little “YEAH.”
I still have a long way to go. As far as overall fitness, 17 might have been my peak. Or maybe it was 14 when I ran two miles under 15 minutes before basketball practice. Or maybe it was 20 when I was a captain of my college lacrosse team. Or maybe it was 28 when I ran a 5 mile race in St. Louis. The fact remains, I weigh 316 pounds. I have a lot of work to do. I need to do a lot more cardio. I need to work a lot more on my legs. I need to make sure I get three workouts a week – not just two. I need to stop eating crap before I go to bed.
Right now though, none of that matters. All I care about right now is 285. It was a barrier that lived for 15 years. Today it is no more.