I Deadlifted 275 Pounds by Focusing on the Process, Not the Goal
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Me at Barbell Brigade in August 2016.
In August 2015, I boldly proclaimed that I would become a “deadlifting badass.” In my own world, that meant being able to deadlift 300 pounds. I struggled with 205 pounds at the time, so 300 felt like a dream goal, the kind a 4-year-old might blurt out. Then, last week I finally deadlifted 275 pounds for the first time!
Here’s the Instagram video of my recent milestone:
You must be thinking: “Geez, Steph, you said 300 pounds. You haven’t actually reached your goal yet. Get out of here, clown!”
Oh, but dear reader, that is why I’ve written this article, which isn’t intended to just be me dusting my hands off and declaring that I’m done. I still have much work to do, and the truth is, I’d probably continue even after I hoist 300 pounds (which is so close!). I’ll aim for 315, 325, 375, or maybe 400 if I’m feeling frisky.
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You’ve no doubt heard the maxim “fitness is a journey, not a destination.” And it’s true; just like anything else in life. It took me over one and a half years to reach my current level of deadlift superhero-ism because, as you know, progress is no longer linear after those “newbie gains.” Plus, that’s a decent length of time to be working toward something, which could hurt my motivation. It did, of course, but my boon was that I didn’t let this goal be my singular focus. Because, like you, I have so many other things I want to accomplish.
What I focused on instead was trusting in the process, the training. That is, I did what I had to, consistently, all this time. And if I didn’t have access to a gym (like what happened during my travels), I did bodyweight training to get stronger. “Trust in the process” was hammered into my head by my good friend and coach, JC Deen of JCDFitness.
Trusting in the process allowed me to travel and work remotely around the world, enjoy discovering new, exotic foods, improve my crow pose, read books, and watch the Netflix shows I wanted to, all the while still inch closer to my deadlift goal and get stronger. Philip Zimbardo, a psychologist from Stanford University and author of The Time Paradox, wrote in his book:
When you focus on the process of achieving your goal rather than imagining the end product of your efforts, your chance of success will increase.
The goal is always there, like a good friend is, but I don’t let it consume me. Otherwise, I think I would burn myself out or end up hurting myself from rushing to reach it.
So, what should you do with this information? Well, understand that there will be setbacks and you’ll often wonder if what you’re doing is actually working. But trust in yourself (and you alone) to do the daily work, rather than obsess over the end goal and perhaps quit. Time will pass whether you work toward your goal or not.
After I deadlifted 275 pounds and did my celebratory fist-pump, I texted Deen, who told me I looked like I could’ve lifted more. I asked, “Do you think I should try to do 300 next week?”
He said, “Nah, don’t rush it. Just let it happen.”
In other words, he told me to be patient and trust in the process. So I will. (You can even follow my journey on Instagram, if you want.)
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Contributing writer. Nomad. More musings at http://thefyslife.com.
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