Monday, March 27, 2017

On not being allowed to fail


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Many of you know (all too well, I'm sorry, well, actually I'm not, it's amazing) about my transformation over the last nine months. You know about Chris at Reform Strength and Conditioning, and you know that if you don't think you have the money for it, you really do, you're just spending it on things that make you fatter. 

I've bumped my workouts to four a week, and I'm making huge strides in the gym right now. I have never in my life been stronger than I am now, even in high school. Weight loss has plateaued, if only because I still have struggles with food addictions that I'm doing my best to break (I will NOT eat candy before bed, I will NOT eat chips before bed, I will NOT eat an entire double quarter pounder and three Filet 'O Fishes before bed). 

I got my first four week plan from Chris the other day, and I started in on it after asking him a bajillion questions he promptly answered even after he'd already provided video instructions (love you). 

The first week, I felt good after I finished my decline dumbbell presses, but I didn't feel like I challenged myself. I decided to challenge myself the second week, and I felt even better, even though I didn't complete four sets with the same weight. 

So I set a goal. Use the 45s for all four sets. 

I GET A BREAK ON WEEK FOUR THANK YOU BABY JESUS

When I looked at the app today, I saw what I wrote last week, grabbed the 45s from the rack and leaned back on the bench. I put the weight up twelve times, felt a wobble at the end, but dropped them with a sense of satisfaction. Round two went much the same. 

Before I started round three, a buddy of mine walked in with his mom. I like this guy, as far as that goes. He's one of those guys that would give you the shirt off his back and smile while he was doing it. He sat down, asked me how I was, told me he was through with his workout, and started looking at his phone. 

I threw the weight up. Once, twice, three...ten times. The tenth one got me, I'm not going to lie to you folks. Serious wobble, and a dip at the top that almost resulted in a 45-pound weight coming down to rearrange my overall gorgeous facial construction. 



I saw a blur out of the corner of my eye, and then a face above me. 

"How many more?"

"Two." 

"Do it." 

I lowered the weights, then got them halfway back up. A slap against my elbows and the weights were at the top. Lowered, another slap, at the top. Set three was in the books. 

"Thanks," I said. 

"No problem." 

A couple minutes later I was ready to start round four. Having needed a spot the last set, and not wanting to bother anyone this set, I walked over to the rack and I picked up two 40-pound dumbbells. 

I got to my bench, got ready to sit down, and I looked up. He was looking at me. 

"You've got 45s in you." 

I opened my mouth.

"Travis. You've got 45s in you." 

I set down the 40s and picked up the 45s. I knew I didn't have them in me, heck, I would wind up having them inside my brain by six reps. 

I laid down on the bench, opened my eyes, and this guy was there. 

He let me get through eight reps on my own. I couldn't believe I got that many, to be honest. The ninth rep though, wasn't happening. 

A slap. Nine happened. 

A push. Ten happened. 

"Squeeze it at the top." 

Another slap, another push. Eleven happened. 

"C'mon. One more. Do it." 

His hands never left my elbows, and I think it was more him than me, but twelve happened. I threw the weights across the room (dropped them pathetically), and opened my eyes. He was gone, sitting back down, going through his phone. 

It didn't hit me until the drive home. 

I wasn't allowed to do less than I was capable of, and I wasn't allowed to fail.

I'll add this. I had tuna for lunch. I spit when I exhale. When my head is lower than my feet, my face turns a sort of odd purplish-red color, kind of like a grape about to go bad. 

I was not easy to help. It didn't matter. I wasn't allowed to fail. 

As a teacher, I come across all sorts of kids. Some kids don't want to try, some want to try but don't have the means, and some are completely capable with school work, but are socially awkward. 

What if I didn't allow my kids to fail? 

Some of them aren't pretty. Some of them might have had tuna for lunch, and some might not have showered for a week. Some might spit when they talk, and some might not talk at all. 

Some are not easy to help. It doesn't matter. They shouldn't be allowed to fail. 

What if, as educators, we began to look through the lens of this guy at the gym? What if we took the too cool to try kids, the socially inept, the nose pickers, and we didn't let them fail? What if we carried this attitude through an entire school day. An entire month, a year? 

"Hey kid, put the 40s down. You've got 45s in you. Yes you do. Two more. One more. Finish this." 

It might be unrealistic. Some don't want the help yet, some don't want it at all. However, we owe it to them to try. We live in a world that encourages trophies for participation, results that happen overnight, and exerting as little effort as is required to reach the goal. 

Hand 'em the 45s. Push them. Don't let them fail. 

And Zac, thank you. You did more than just help me lift weight in the air. You didn't let me fail.