Uplifting

            I recently read an article about a 78 year old woman who deadlifts 400 pounds. She started lifting at the age of 65 and continues to break records for her age group.

            Hearing about things like this encourages me. As I’ve said before, I don’t believe age has to be anything more than the number of years a person has been in the physical life. Clearly, this woman doesn’t allow age to be a barrier. She doesn’t listen to the naysayers. Doesn’t buy into the stereotypes, not only of age, but of gender.

I suspect there are people around her who attempt to discourage her. Whenever a person pushes limits, there are those who try to hold them back. I have to wonder if those people don’t like someone showing them what they could be doing. It makes them feel uncomfortable. Maybe makes them feel lazy or under-achieving. It raises the bar—literally and figuratively. Most people are quite content with their bar where it is and don’t like some upstart raising it.

            In the fall of 2019, I took a part time grounds keeping job with the county in which I live. The job includes working on ball fields. We have portable pitcher’s mounds that are removed when the dirt infield needs to be worked. Some of them are large and heavy and take four people to lift. When I started working, I struggled to help lift those heavier mounds. I literally felt like I wasn’t carrying my fair share.

            We have a multi-station weight machine at home. That’s one of those with a couple of weight stacks and a bunch of cables and, depending on which part you use, you can work most any part of your body. I got to work.

            One of the disadvantages to a weight machine is that it can’t adjust to every person. It pivots where it pivots, swings where it swings, pulls where it pulls. The person using the machine has to adjust to it and that doesn’t always work. I decided I needed free weights. I got a weight bench, a long bar and curl bar and weights, later a squat rack and dumbbells.

Turns out, I like weightlifting. I like the workout. I like how it feels to have hard muscles rather than soft. I like that my muscles feel tender because I’m working them, rather than because they don’t get used enough. And I like the idea that my chest sticks out farther than my belly—and not because of man-boobs.

I’ll never be the Hulk—and I don’t want to be. Green isn’t my best color, anyway. I’m not looking to compete or oil up my body and strut across a stage. I don’t point at myself in the mirror and say, “hey, lookin’ good.” I do like how it feels to be able to lift things without the struggle.

            I don’t expect to break any records as the previously mentioned woman does. I don’t deadlift half of what she does. It hurts my back just to think of deadlifting 400 pounds! And I’m not nearly her age. But maybe I can be an example. Maybe someone will be encouraged by what I do as I was by her. Maybe someday I’ll have my own set of naysayers telling me I shouldn’t be lifting at my age.

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