Snapshot in Time.

March 17, 2015

This picture represents a snapshot in time; not just for me, but for the entire USAW.  Observe.

I purchased this shirt at the Collegiate Nationals in 2007 (I think).  I promptly cut it into the "nips exposed" trap-cut.

I purchased this shirt at the Collegiate Nationals in 2007. I promptly cut it into the “nips exposed” trap-cut.

A lot has changed since 2007.  I no longer expose my nips in the gym setting (if I do, it’s because I am not wearing a shirt).  Weightlifting shirts have changed as well.  First of all, they’re more stylish.  But more importantly, we no longer have to spend our time telling people what weightlifting is.  The masses are informed enough that they can now at least identify a snatch and a clean and jerk if they see one.  For years, I refused to do any upper body whatsoever (aside from bodyweight stuff) because weightlifting coaches told me that “we don’t do that” and doing curls would “mess with my pull.”  Well, as it turns out, if you have a shitty pull, it’s because you have a shitty pull.  I also spent a great amount of effort telling people what weightlifting isn’t.  Nowadays, I don’t waste the time or just avoid the subject of fitness altogether.

Here’s a litte anecdote for you.  In 2005, I found out that Sac State had a weightlifting team.  When I got there, it was just me.  I was now the president and the only long-term member.  I want you to try and imagine me sitting behind a fold up desk in the school quad trying to get people to sign up for the club.  Depressing, isn’t it?

Thanks to Crossfit (and on a larger scale, the internet) I no longer have to sell weightlifting.  Shirts are better.  The talent pool is larger.  And I can now bench press if I choose to

I rarely do.  Old habits die hard.

I’m sure I’ve mentioned this a few times before, but one of my favorite parts about weightlifting and strength culture in general is the the idea of storytelling. Literally all of the people that influenced me throughout my weightlifting journey have also been adept storytellers. Whether or not you want to look at the relationship between weightlifting experience and a greater ability to tell stories is up to you, but I will say that personally one of the main reasons that I continue to compete and develop my skill is for the richness of the experience that goes along with personal development. You simply cannot have one without the other. That 3AM drive from Shreveport to the Dallas airport . . . in thunderstorms, where you stop at a haunted gas station Scooby Do style is a direct result of my quest for personal development. That time at The 2011 American Open when I had to drop a bunch of bodyweight and Donny Shankle talked trash to me at weigh ins (it was hilarious. Seriously) happened because a major part of me growing up was wanting to get really good at the snatch and clean and jerk. The same goes for this Vegas story. Though not directly related to weightlifting, it IS the story of a weightlifter hanging out with his friends in Vegas.

This must’ve happened at least 6 years ago at this point. My buddy had just turned 21 and wanted to go with all of his bros to Sin City. I was already in too deep at this point. I didn’t travel ANYWHERE unless it was for a weightlifting trip. The rest of the time was spent saving up money so I could go to the next one. The mere idea of spending money in Vegas for a non-competition trip seemed like a ridiculous idea to me at the time (seriously, I was committed. And broke.) So we were all hanging out one night and he turns to me and says one thing,

“bro . . .”

With that “bro” I could see into the depths of his soul and I could see his vision of him partying with all his other newly 21 year old friends and with that “bro” my own dedicated, competitive (and broke) soul softened. “I’m in.”

I saved up. I went to Nordstrom Rack and bought myself a “nice” pair of shoes and a “nice” shirt; you know, the same vertical striped button down and snug denim ensemble that all of the other 21 year old YOLO’s (oh wait, that wasn’t a thing at the time) wear to “da club.” To this day, I still avoid wearing a button down shirt because it hangs on me like I’m a giant walking table and dinner set or a giant shoebox.

“Hey, who let that covered wagon into the club? Oh wait, that’s a dude.”

We exit the plane; four YOLOs and a dad who came along with us for “supervision.” Admittedly, when we drove through the strip the first time I was amazed. Unfortunately for me, (and this is where the story get’s interesting) the first place we drove to is a buffet. Generally, when you hear stories about the first time a young man visits Vegas, you’d expect to hear a bunch about debauchery and binge drinking. This is not one of those stories. It’s not that we didn’t drink or party; because we did. But my main vice, one that will probably follow me until the day I die, is food.

I don’t know what it is about buffets, but there is a very good reason that I avoid them like the plague nowadays. Remember my aforementioned competitive (and broke) spirit that I told you about earlier? For some reason when I pass though the doors of a buffet, the combination of me being consistently broke and competitive gets turned inward and I engage in the most self destructive binge eating behavior you have ever been lucky enough to not witness. I’m a 6 plate man: 3 filled up with multiple combinations of mains and sides to get a taste for everything, 2 “fetish plates” where I gorge on one or two items that just really “did it for me” and 1 dessert plate to settle my stomach and combat all of the sodium I just ingested.

Let me point out that not one of my friends that went on this trip could tip 175lbs if they were soaking wet wearing concrete boots so it’s fair to say they don’t think about buffets like I do. At the time I was a trim 225 but I was still coaching wrestling at that point so I could eat however I wanted and still look reasonably jacked. My buddy’s dad paid for our entry and I went to work like locusts to wheat. My stomach was like Noah’s ark; I made it a point to eat two of every animal. My friends had never seen me like this. I think at one point Kevin tried to reason with me. I’m not a man of reason . . . at least while in a buffet line. 6 plates later, I lean back in my chair, take a sip of Diet Pepsi and am already thinking about how nice of a sleep I’m going to get even if it’s right next to one of my buddies. Sure, it’s only 8:00pm in Vegas but my friends are just as tired and full as I am, right? Wrong.

“Walk. Walk?”

“Yeah, my dad is just going to drop us off at the strip.”

We walked. Well, they walked. I was about 20 paces behind and losing speed. After two minutes I was already sweating. I can remember it being hard to walk in a straight line. Had I done the impossible? Was I ACTUALLY drunk off of food? I try and distract them with gambling, that way I can can just stand behind them and sip on water waiting for my wits to come about me. No luck. Four broke 21 year olds in Vegas can only mean one thing. “We’ll just walk back to the hotel. We can see it from here.” Oh, hell no. “YOU CAN SEE EVERYTHING FROM HERE” I pleaded. I had to make a decision: pay for a cab or go for the longest walk of my life. I think we all know what my broke ass did.

I’ll let you fill in the details from here. To give you a frame of reference, we stayed at The Palms which is a relatively nice hotel located OFF THE STRIP. The walk may have only been a few miles at most, but that walk will remain in my memory as the longest walk of my entire life.

And that’s the story of a 105kg lifter in Vegas.