The Importance of Progress

Many of us have an idea of what progress is or should look and feel like, however it does not always work out the way we expected!

A new year is upon us and many will begin the New Year in hopes of a new goal, whether it be weight loss, a new career, or paying off debt, the end result will always come down to how steady you steer the course!

Around 2013 I broke my left hand from a 100lb (45Kg) dumbbell falling on it while I was placing another weight back on the rack below it. The pain was tremendous and injury severely put a halt to all the goals I had in the gym.  Among them was a 400lb (185Kg) squat and getting my weight to 180lbs (82Kg). 

Along the road to recovery I had many ups and downs.  I lost weight over 40lbs (20Kg) from where I was at 160lb (73Kg) at the time. I started walking for the first month.  Every week I would walk a little farther, feeling more and more blood flow to the point I almost got down and started doing pushups!  I wanted to lift weights so badly it was killing me, an itch I could not scratch.

The second month I decided to go to the gym and just use leg machines that were standardized for fixed movement.  Slowly but surely I started to get really strong in my legs,that by the end of the that month I was leg pressing around 600lbs (270Kg).  Keep in mind a leg press is no where near the same as a squat where as press is on an axis controlled with pistons that absorb a percentage of the ranges of motion.  Never the less it was still a substantial feat to be pushing and more than I had ever done.

By the Third month I had about 90% usage of my left hand restored, however my strength was still not up to par with lifting yet.  I continued working legs, all areas calves, hamstring, quadriceps and even abductors still pressing upwards of 700lbs (315Kg) on the leg press and decided to start trying dead hangs from the pull up bar with a bench underneath assisting me. Turns out I was stronger than I thought and by the end of that month I did my first pull up. The doctors told me it would take 6 months to recover and I had done it in 4.

All of the lifting on my legs not only had given me size back but the whole time was inducing blood flow to my injury and helping it heal faster. My legs had a new found strength and 6 months later I was squatting 315lbs (140Kg)... 2 months later I got my 400lb (185Kg) squat and I only weighed 170lb (77Kg)!

Even though I had a setback on my goals, I still stayed consistent in small steps every day.  The journey did not take the road I expected but I still stayed on the path.  Remember no matter how many twist and turns life gives you it is the progress you make everyday that counts.  My recovery was nothing extraordinary or that impressive, rather a humble learning that you get back what you put in.  So the next time you or someone you know feels like they didn't accomplish enough in a day, just say yes you did.  Stress is very demanding on the body and raises cortisol that can cause a very bad hormonal imbalance, this is where positive mindset comes into play.

A 2015 study by psychologist Gail Matthews showed when people wrote down their goals, they were 33 percent more successful in achieving them than those who formulated outcomes in their heads. That being said what could it hurt? Write it down. Another benefit to scribbling your goals is how you visualize them. How would you stay on the road if it had no path to see where your going?  Something is better than nothing, so get out your note pad and let the journey begin!

-Phelan Barrios