A Japanese term meaning to use the words of doubters as a fuel for success.
Part 1: The Struggle Bus
2016 was a wild year for me in weightlifting.
To start, I won the -69kg class at the Canadian Championships. I did not see that coming. At first, I didn't believe it. Some girls moved out of my weight class, some didn't compete... The stars aligned that day. After going 5/6 and winning, I still felt unsatisfied, like I should have lifted more to really deserve it. Deep down, I didn't give myself the win.
That night my mom gave me a good talking to about what it means to win and celebrate. This was the analogy:
In the Stanley Cup Finals, if one team loses their top player to injury and the underdog wins, will the winning team still celebrate and consider that win to be theirs?
Uh... DUH! Of course they would! Weightlifting is no different. If an opportunity presents itself - take it! Take it and own it! I didn't let myself own this win, it didn't seem like I struggled enough
to earn it. What a shitty mentality. That was a hard lesson to learn and it took months to let it sink in. (Side note: moms are awesome).
The next competition was the Ogopogo (August 2016). I PR'd my Snatch by 1kg after a year of training. I was in a state of euphoria with tears of happiness. Then I bombed my clean and jerk. And I was in tears again...... This time for a much different reason. What a fuckin' rollercoaster. Ultimate high and ultimate low in less than an hour.
Leading into the Ogopogo I was struggling with mysterious shoulder pain and chronic neck injuries. The pain combined with the bomb-out performance detonated in my head and threw shrapnel of self doubt, fear, and anxiety in every direction. I thought I was losing my technique, my motivation, and my physical ability to fill out my potential as a weightlifter. The fact that I earned 1kg in the snatch and 2kg in the CJ after a whole year of training finally sunk into my head and ate away at my mind.
I took 5 days off after that meet to head to Whistler and do nothing but hike, canoe, and swim. I purposely tried to avoid the topic of weightlifting in my thoughts and conversation. One morning I yawned too aggressively and flared up an my neck (no joke, I've done this twice by yawning). The time I was supposed to use for recovery was instead used to drown myself in negativity about injuries and performance.
Coming back to training after that was easy because deep down I love weightlifting. I started training for the Provincial Championships (December 2016). It ended up being another lopsided performance. I snatched well and was satisfied with my performance in that lift. During the CJ warm up I injured my back and managed to lift 103kg in the competition. I could hardly move afterwards and had to sleep sitting up in bed for a week. It plagued me for 6 weeks after with flare ups every time I lifted over 60kg.
Then I got the flu 3 times in January and February. My shoulder, back, and neck were in constant pain. It seemed like my body was falling apart. I was losing hope and all motivation. I thought about quitting more than once.
As Ilya Bryzgalov so aptly said, I felt lost in the woods. I felt like I lost all my strength and all my technique. I had no motivation. I was afraid of the bar. I no longer attacked it, instead I let it beat me. I saw all my goals and sense of purpose wash away.
Why was I lifting? Why was I competing? What did I want and what was my goal? I couldn't answer any of these questions, and it left me feeling hollow and hopeless.
Part 2: Change It Up
I still don't know what exactly it was that turned me around.
I spoke with my coach and he told me I needed to compete more. I listened to a few podcasts. I thought about what I want and what my goals really are. I spoke to friends, family, my physiotherapist. Eventually I had to find something that came from inside me.
(Side note: I'm stubborn as hell and unless I come up with something myself. I don't own things unless I feel like they're mine..... Huh... Maybe that's why I wouldn't let myself celebrate the Canadians win? Because I felt like the winning circumstances came from the universe and not me... ? This paragraph is a complete tangent and something I just thought of while typing this. SEE! Reflection and writing is great!!)
So what did I do?
On a whim I signed up for the Western Canadian WL Champs. It didn't fit my training plan but I planned to have no plan. I planned to have FUN and try to just enjoy competition. I planned to have no goal, to just go in and lift.
I started listening to more podcasts and reading more, looking for similar stories. Looking for inspiration. I found stories and ideas in the Brute Strength podcast where Michael Cazayoux interviewed Jessica Lucero, Danny Camargo, and Michael Gervais. I read Grit by Angela Duckworth. I saw my counsellor for the first time in 2 years to discuss my vision of life. I spoke with my coach about my training plan and the challenging task of maintaining an elite level in weightlifting.
I reset all of my PR's so that I would have new successes, and success more often. My old PR's are 89/113. Now they sit at 83/105 and I can't wait to keep breaking them! (I also included squats and accessory lifts in this).
I started a nightly journal to reflect on what I am grateful for every day.
I also answer two questions in my training log after each session:
1. What did I do well today?
and 2. What do I want to work on?
These two questions force me to acknowledge my little successes and create process goals. I make sure to NOT mention anything about numbers lifter, and instead focus on technical and mental aspects of training. (Thanks to Brute Strength for this one!!)
I started a 'Morning Warming' routine (Thanks Jessica Lucero) where I mobilized, visualized, and completed my physio exercises before heading to the gym every day. This helped a LOT with pain management during training.
All of these things combined in the short timespan of 3 weeks in March turned me around.
By the time the Western Canadian Weightlifting Championships came on March 25th it felt like the tides had changed. My training was finally back on track! I felt stronger, my technique was coming back, and I was HAPPY to be in the gym!
When I arrived at the competition I was excited and positive, I wanted to compete! I was nervous, yet relaxed and confident. The perfect combination. I was motivated to visualize my success and focus on myself (something I have a hard time allowing myself to do).
It wasn't just that I was competing. I GOT to compete! I was excited and thankful that I GOT to attempt heavy lifts. I GOT to stand on the podium. It was a complete shift in mentality from having to do something to getting to do something.
My plan to have no plan worked! It was the most fun I've had in years and I left the competition with a positive mindset and oodles of motivation.
That was a few weeks ago. Now I find myself filled with more intention, desire, and intensity in training.
Following the competition I got an email about the Pan Am rankings and the team selected for the competition this summer in Florida. I just missed out. If I had done what I did in a previous performance, I would have made it. That was a shitty thing to tell my self over and over again. I took away my own positive energy from that great competition. Instead of worrying about what would have been or should have been, I plan to move forward now like a wildfire and burn down all of the goals in my path.
Yes, I will still have the 'should have' and 'would have' moments. Training will still be challenging and painful at times, but I am more ready than ever to accept the task.
Bring it on!
Part 3: Kuyashii
Kuyashii is a Japanese term for using the words of doubters to fuel your energy for success. This idea has taken on a special meaning for me. I will use the energy of my old self doubt to prove myself wrong. I will work fearlessly and relentlessly towards my goals. I will leave no stone unturned and I will prove myself in my own eyes.
If you've made it this far.. Thanks for reading. I hope my little story here resonated with you in some way :)