A Change of Perspective | Terry Brown

A Change of Perspective

by Terry Brown | April 02, 2024

A popular 90’s song once lamented “Everybody Hurts Sometimes.”
Unfortunately, this is just a fact of life. Especially if you’re
the kind of person that likes to be just a little reckless every now
and again. You know the type that thinks physical combat with another
person of similar ability is fun (especially if you’re winning).
The type who likes to live a little and try new things.

When I was a younger
and less informed man than I am today. I developed an interest in
physical fitness. I ran, I jumped rope, I did calisthenics, boxed a
little and practiced martial arts. On occasion I would even mess
around with those crappy plastic weights that everyone seemed to have
back then. I worked out every day doing whatever the hell I felt like
at the time.

I followed this
approach until one day after close to 20 years of getting hot,
sweaty, and tired I realized I wasn’t getting much accomplished. I
was tired and I hurt all the time. I was also getting a little older,
a little wiser, and a lot busier as life and work responsibilities
grew. My desire to keep active and somewhat fit remained, but as days
got busier I found the mind was willing but the body was not.

This led me to begin
some research and one day by sheer dumb luck I stumbled across an
article about Starting Strength. Here was a guy telling me that I
didn’t need to train every day, doing every exercise known to man
to make progress. I just needed a handful of exercises and 3 workouts
a week to get stronger and make more progress than I ever thought
possible. To be honest, it all seemed a little too good to be true,
but I decided to give it a test and find out for myself.

My plan was simple: I’d
stick to the program for a month to try it out, and if I wasn’t
happy with the results, I’d just try something else. It wasn’t
like I’d been making stellar progress to date anyway. In my eyes I
had nothing to lose. With just a hint of skepticism, I approached my
self-assigned one-month challenge. My first week looked like this:

Workout A – Monday

  • Squat – 80kg x 5 x 3
  • Bench Press – 70kg x
    5 x 3
  • Deadlift – 90kg x 5

Workout B – Tuesday

  • Squat – 82.5kg x 5 x
  • Overhead Press – 50kg
    x 5 x 3
  • Deadlift – 92.5kg x 5

Workout A – Friday

  • Squat – 85kg x 5 x 3
  • Bench Press – 72.5kg
    x 5 x 3
  • Deadlift – 95kg x 5

I followed this
approach 3 workouts a week alternating between workout A and workout
B for that 1st month, and I was genuinely surprised with what was
happening to my body. Sure, I could see noticeable differences, but I
wasn’t sore anymore; I felt good. Workouts for that first
month also didn’t feel too taxing. I felt like I was stealing
progress in a strange way. I was doing far less than ever before but
also making faster – and more importantly – measurable
progress. I was hooked.

I continued on with
this approach and was able to continuously add weight to the barbell
for months before any real deviation was required. As the weight on
the barbell increased workout to workout, so too did my bodyweight.
When I started out, I was 5 foot 8 inches and around 165 lbs, and
today I am 215 lbs without any noticeable increase in bodyfat.

The knock-on effects of
this program also had a profound impact on other elements of my life.
I am the father of 2 boys, the eldest of which has additional needs.
Daily life can be challenging and unpredictable. What I have noticed
since my strength increase is that life is far easier to take in
stride. I attribute this to the fact that strength is the foundation
of every physical interaction we have with the world around us.
Strength increases our ability to produce force, and that makes daily
tasks a far smaller proportion of our overall force production
capacity. The outcome of a day that consumes less of your physical
resources is more energy to pour into other worthwhile pursuits. Your
relationships with the people around you improve when you have extra
energy and enthusiasm to engage with them in a more meaningful way.

We’ve talked about
the physical benefits above, and I’d like to also mention the
psychological benefits I’ve accumulated also. It shouldn’t be a
surprise that when aiming to add weight to the barbell every workout,
eventually it will get a little intimidating. Through this process
you learn to face intimidation and fear in small doses, and this has
a profound impact on your overall mental resilience and fortitude.

As you progress through
workouts that may have previously been approached with trepidation
you realize that even though this process is difficult at times, you
are more than capable of pushing through. After all, it’s only a
little bit more than you lifted the last time. Your previous training
sessions have prepared you for the ones to come. With this
realization your confidence will grow.

Another interesting
phenomenon I encountered was the way I was perceived by others. There
is an famous quote in the blue book: “Stronger people are harder to
kill and more useful in general.” Now I’m not here to debate this
statement with anyone, but from my own experience there does appear
to be a kernel of truth to this, or at least in the way stronger
people are perceived.

I’m not sure if it’s
the obvious increase in confidence or the improved physical stature,
most likely a combination of both, but I have no doubt doors have
opened for me career-wise. Whether or not stronger people are more
useful is not up to me to decide, but my employers certainly seemed
to think so as promotion was quick to follow my pursuit of strength

To summarize the
message that I’m trying to get across here, I’ll just say this: a
minor change of perspective on how I approached my fitness has made a
profound improvement to all aspects of my life. A one-month excursion
into strength has led me to what I believe will be a lifetime
pursuit. Give it a month and you may just surprise yourself.

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