All my life I believed "passion trumps everything". Not so long ago I had a wake of heart and now believe otherwise. Now I believe that purpose trumps passion. For without a purpose, passion only has the potential to be great. I had learned this when I had finally realized what all it took to reach my dream. I was progressing extremely fast in the gym. Running the "Smolov" base mesocycle for my squat a few times in a row, I went from a 365 squat to doing 425 for 10 sets of 3 repetitions! Not bad right? I had to eat everything I could and trained 3+ hours a day (adding my upper body and accessories in). You could say I was making "noob gains" all over again. It was amazing!!! I used every bit of hatred I had to fuel my fire during my training. You could say I "wasn't thinking clearly", but I would beg to differ at that time. Now I can understand that my actions may have improved my strength, but was slowly rotting me from the inside out.
Before I started getting serious with powerlifting and my training, I spent a few years doing my research about the industry I was wanting to partake in (the fitness industry). I had realized something so great for promoting health was actually corrupted. Many who typically won the biggest "natural" competitions were on drugs. Many who who promote supplements, never take them and only sell them to profit. Many health enthusiasts did not get their physiques from what they claim (drugs, surgeries, and unhealthy practices). I had came to the conclusion that the industry I love is also one that I know runs itself. You must agree to "it's terms" or you won't make it (or so I thought at the time). I had it in my mind, in order to be a champion one day I will need to make a decision when to flip the switch (start injecting anabolics) in order to take it to that next level. Though I never took them, this side of me played a big part in my latter decisions (as you will see later on).
I am by no means an athlete who has spent decades perfecting my craft, but I have spent an ample amount of time chasing my goals. Having had the mindset of "out work your competition", I once trained 7 days a week....twice a day! I wasn't training for anything besides to be the biggest and strongest. I got into powerlifting with the mindset of "winning is everything". I would put myself through injury after injury just to see more and more progress (usually minor enough for me to be able to continue training). I had a lot in my life gone that i felt I could fill with this sense of being "a winner"....but needless to say it didn't. Every personal record, every powerlifting meet, every injury...I never felt complete. I kept going harder thinking it would eventually fill resulting in more injuries, and it never did. Since I graduated high school all I had was a sense of beating myself up into a champion I thought I could be. I wanted to do whatever training it took.....then I had a choice.
As I kept beating myself up, I realized I wasn't recovering well enough. I started ignoring it and continued beating myself up. I would squat 4 times a week high volume, bench 3 times a week high volume, and deadlift 2 times a week high volume (on top of all my accessory work and conditioning). This left little time for recovery. I eventually acquired a pretty severe lower back injury. I had my deadlifting workout planned out, so being the person who is too stubborn and egotistical to think my one workout session is too important to miss or move over one day, I hit my deadlifts the day after my high intensity squat session (Had something to do the day before so had to do my squat session the day after). My first few sets were fine, but what was supposed to be easy speed double repeats (fast and short rest for 6 sets) with 500 turned into horrible grinders (slow, difficult, and straining). I was too stubborn to lower the weight. I still had the mentality of of doing whatever it took to progress, which meant trying to push my limits regardless of how I felt. I pulled my 5th sets and during my second rep I felt something in my lower back snap. I couldn't breathe well and I could feel a stinging sensation from my neck to my hamstrings. As the pathetic fool I was... it wasn't over yet. I set my timer one last time to get ready for my last set. Knowing this wouldn't end well, I shook every last sense of doubt. I turned up my music, chalked up, and got ready to pull. As I tensed up and pulled the slack out of the bar I felt my back start stinging harder, but I was too amped to quit now (or as I thought). I gave an aggressive tug at the bar starting my first repetition, but the weight did not even come off of the floor. I felt another pop and got light headed. Disappointed I quickly took off my belt and fell to my knees. Being so lightheaded I only made it a few steps before I had to catch myself by the closest bench. I felt numb and yet it still hurt to move. It took me over an hour just to struggle racking my 10 plates (and guys lifting under 300lbs can't rack their shit...). Needless to say I learned I'm not invincible, I can't recovery as much as it want to, and I can't be ignorant unless I want to get injured.
A few weeks went by, I could eventually walk and stand without pain. I was so depressed from my injury that I had almost given up on training. My dreams of powerlifting had seemed over. After only 3 competitions outside of highschool, I was injured and racked up years of progress that were just wasted.. (As I spoke of above about anabolics) One day I was waiting for my brother out of class. A random guy came up to me and we started chatting. Surprisingly this guy remembered me from powerlifting in high school so we caught up and started talking about training. Without too much detail (keeping his identity safe) with his situation, he needed better recovery. He openly discussed how he wanted to buy anabolics and HGH (human growth hormone). He was dead set on starting his stack. In the middle of the conversation he asked me if I wanted to get some too. I quickly replied no. We carried on our conversation about training until my brother got out of class and we left to go home. The rest of the day I kept thinking to myself. If I was so dead set on doing what it took, taking what I needed if I had the opportunity, and didn't care about the risks....why did I say no? I kept wondering. Everyone who knows me already assumed I take anabolics so what would it matter? I would make it farther in the industry and farther in powerlifting. After a few weeks I had found my answer.
After awhile I had started making new friends, trying new things, and focusing on my life more than my training (since training made me depressed anyways). I had come to realize that training was only "a part of life" for me, and not "life". Too many it is their life, but to me training was my tool to aid in my ascension. It was was ascension to become a better person. I started writing everyday to help others, started discussing ideas with friends, and started looking at positives rather than negatives. One day I realized that gap I had in my being that I tried to fill with training was filled, I found what I was searching for. I started seeing life in a different way. Instead of wanting to win, I wanted to help others win. Instead of training to win, I trained to become a better person. Don't get me wrong, I still compete regularly. Somehow I'm not as intrigued with competing as I used to be. This feeling of "full" from helping others alongside the relationships I have made with my family, friends, and amazing girlfriend has made me realize that my purpose is a purpose worth living for.
I believe I have found my purpose. I used to think my purpose was to show the world what the human body is naturally capable of, but now...now I believe my purpose is to help others realize their own capabilities. I see fitness and life in a new way. My journey is far from over as I am only 21 years old with 6 years of experience. There is much....MUCH more to come. More obstacles, more accomplishments, and more changes in my life. If you've gotten this far in my post and would like to witness the rest of my journey, I would appreciate if you would subscribe to my blog (thank you in advance)!
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