I’m coming at you LIVE with your daily dose of intense motivation where it seems like I’m all up in your face and yelling at you even though you’re sitting in your room alone looking at a computer screen!!!!!!! (I think it’s the exclamation points that allows for that effect!)
When I started lifting weights, I was a 120-pound scrawny ass kid. I didn’t really know what I was doing but I signed up for my High School’s Weight Training class. High School’s already weird as fuck with the mix of pre-pubescent Freshman who look like 12-year olds and the ADULT MALE Seniors with full grown beards and criminal records. Add in a shit ton of Testosterone and get these two groups of kids in the same tiny ass room lifting heavy objects and you got yourselves quite the show.
I didn’t feel too good about myself as I could barely fill out my XS Dry-Fit T-shirt and I was in this class staring at 200-lb men in noodle tanks who spent the entire period staring at themselves in the mirror. Luckily, I had my group of scrawny Freshmen to hang out with and maybe if all 4 of us huddled together we would seem like the same size as one of these behemoths. Or one of their tree trunk like legs.
I remember thinking how proud I was of myself that I had chosen weight training as my PE elective instead of net sports or basketball, thinking it would finally help me get the muscles I always dreamed of, and of course the girls that come with it. But for some reason, just signing up for the class didn’t give you muscles or girls. You actually had to do the work too?? Well that’s a problem.
When I looked over to the rack next to me and saw Muscle-T McGee benching 225, and I could barely bench the 45-pound bar, I didn’t exactly have the confidence I needed to actually lift weights. So, I spent the time in the back room with my friends talking, playing on our phones and doing the occasional core workout to further define the skinny boy abs we already had. None of us wanted to embarrass ourselves in front of these seniors that we looked up to. We didn’t want to seem weak or any less of a “man” because we couldn’t lift as much weight as them. “They’re so strong,” we thought, “it’s probably all genetics and steroids, we’ll never be like them.”
Then Junior year came around. Puberty had given me the slight boost in size that was just enough to spark some confidence to where I began actually lifting weights in class. It still wasn’t much though, and the little lifting that I did do was based on what I thought would make me look attractive. So, as you may be able to guess, I did nothing but benching and bicep curls, with the occasional plank to give me a 6-pack.
I remember the moment my mindset changed; I was on my High School’s Varsity Baseball team (slight flex). I was up at bat, trying to get in the zone, tuning everyone out so I could focus on the pitcher and the pitcher only. Then piercing the silence, clear as day, I hear one of the dads yell “come on Nick-the-stick, you got this.” Now, I assume he didn’t mean it in an offensive way, and he was probably just referring to my bat or had just come up with a rhyme that sounded good. Either way, I was at a point in my life where I cared way too much about what other people thought of me and I was extremely self-conscious of my body, so obviously I took it the wrong way and I couldn’t get it out of my head. “Nick-the-stick, Nick-the-stick, Nick-the-Stick” kept repeating over and over again in my head. Needless to say, I struck out.
That’s when I decided that what I had been doing was not enough to escape my stick-like figure. I got serious. I did hours and hours of research and planning to figure out how I should workout. Then after reading about lifting for a couple days, I found out that you also have to eat food! So, I did hours and hours of more research into diet and nutrition. I got a gym membership to Planet Fitness with a friend of mine. I started meal prepping with my mom every Sunday night, spending hours making grilled chicken, ground beef, broccoli, quinoa and rice. And surprise surprise, I actually got big. Once I started taking everything seriously, I gained about 15 pounds in weight and got some serious definition in my chest, arms, and legs. I even started filling out Medium sized shirts! And, guess what? I still got made fun of.
“Hey quinoa boy, what do you have for lunch today.” “Wow, you work out at Planet Fitness, is that cause you’re afraid of lunks?” “What the fuck Nick, why are you so big now, stop taking steroids, loser.” They made fun of how I looked, what I ate, and even how I was working out. That’s when I realized the most important life lesson thus far in my short life;
NOBODY GIVES A FUCK ABOUT YOU. You might be thinking, “how did you come to that conclusion, when these kids were obviously making fun of you?” These kids weren’t making fun of me because they didn’t like what I ate or how I looked, they made fun of me because they were only thinking about themselves. They didn’t have the discipline to work out, they didn’t have the confidence to bring quinoa to school, they didn’t have the drive to better themselves. They realized this and then they also quickly realized that they had to level the playing field. They had to bring me down by making fun of me so that they could feel better than me again. They would make fun of me no matter what I did, because they only cared about the boost in their self-confidence that they got by putting me down.
Next, I slowly came to the realization that at the gym, like the rest of the world outside of your immediate family and friends, nobody gives a fuck about you. Everyone is so self-conscious about how they look and how much they’re lifting and what others think about them, that they don’t have a spare second to think about you.
That is what I wish I could have told Freshman me. “Those Seniors don’t care about how big your biceps are or about how much you can bench, they only care about how big their biceps are and how much they can bench. So, get under that bar and start lifting because the only person who cares about you, is YOU. The only person you are competing with every single day is YOU. The only person who sees if you take an extra cheat meal or skip another leg day is YOU.”
Lifting weights, and working out in general, is simply about improving yourself. Your health and your well-being. So to those of you who are still too scared to go to the gym, or maybe you can go to the gym but you wouldn’t be caught dead in the weight lifting room, I leave you with these lasting words; nobody cares about you, except you. Be selfish for once and take what you want. Leave the haters behind, don’t let them drag you down with them. So, lift the “light” weights that you can handle and one day, if you keep at it, you’ll be that huge guy benching 225 that all the Freshmen look up to.