This is my second blog title inspired by a number. The first was the complete shock and awe I was hit with when I saw the big part of the scale get pushed all the way over to the right during a recent doctor visit. This one however, is good news.
If any readers are frequent weight lifters, you might recognize the number 225 as a significant milestone. Let me explain: when doing the bench press, which is the most basic of all upper body lifts, and the general gauge for strength, the bar weighs forty five pounds (aActually, it weighs forty five pounds regardless of what you are doing). Free weights come in the following sizes: 2.5, 5, 10, 25, 35 and 45 pounds. When you put one big one on each end, you have 135 pounds. When you put on two of the big ones on each end, you have 225 pounds. This is a real-man’s weight. This is the weight when you are first taken seriously. “Two plates,” is the standard test for most football players testing their strength. A top draft pick going into the NFL can do 30 or so in one set.
When I began my lifting a couple of weeks ago I put 135 on the bar and was unable to do 3 sets of 10. On Monday I was able to do three sets of 10 with relative ease. On Wednesday I did a standard pyramid, adding 10 pounds and deducting 2 reps each set, and finished with 2 reps of 185. So today I decided to test my metal, and do a good ol’ max. So I decided to go with two of the big ones on each side – Two plates – my first try in over three years at a real-man’s weight: 225.
I stood there looking at the weight, remembering a time when that was not a daunting task. It was mocking me, daring me to lift it. Telling me I was too old, too fat, and much, much too weak. With Metallica playing in my headphones, I started to get that old feeling – that feeling I loved so much when I played football – that heart-racing sense of fear and excitement, knowing that the moment of truth was an instant away. I was confident. I knew I was going to win, but I got a spotter anyway because I’m not stupid. I sat down on the bench, looked up at the bar mocking me one more time and said, “Fuck you,” and lifted it not once, but twice.
For the last couple of days I have done something completely new during my workout. Instead of counting my reps off to ten, I spell a word. With each rep, instead of exhaling “one, two, three…” I breath the letters of my daugter’s name. It is a constant reminder of why I am there. It motivates me to know that I am struggling for her. I get done with a set, and picture her at a high school graduation, in a wedding dress, holding her own daughter. Tired, out of breath, unable to lift my arms, I smile and push back a tear.
Today I realized that I what I am doing is working. I haven’t gotten on a scale in awhile because I’m not really interested in my weight. I am interested in being around to see my daughter grow up, and maybe get lucky enough to know her children too.
I gotta go, she just woke up from her nap.