Please enjoy this guest blog by Cypher member Teo M.!

Back in 2016 I was working a job that had me sitting in a building alone from 10pm to 6am five days a week for four months straight resulting in feelings of isolation and depression. spending 8 hours alone with a relatively well developed negative voice in my head, from other components of life, I got to a point where I believed that I was a worthless human being since my own employers shunned me away to a short staffed grave shift. I decided to shift gears in my life and went looking for anything to help me not feel like a wet carrot. My cousin Bianca (many of you may remember as Coach Bianca) obligated me, in some respect, to try CrossFit. She took me through my fundamentals, and After a few months of regular classes at Cypher I was hooked. Like many others, I found the joy of simply lifting and hitting new PRs while riding the wave of novice gains.

When signups for the USSF strengthlifting meet came around in 2017, I had a few people from our community pushing me to sign up and train to compete. I followed through and trained for the meet, mainly just farting around the gym then arriving at the meet sort of shooting in the dark guessing what numbers I could hit. Overall, it was fun, but I had little idea what I was doing and didn’t feel like I maximized my potential. However, I knew I was going to want to sign up for the next meet, so I decided I wanted to prepare with more structure. My main takeaways were that I need to eat more and educate myself and find a lifting program to follow.

As I was going through my learning experience with fitness, I was seeing a therapist who helped me understand that I had value as a human being, that my happiness isn’t something to be shunned as a selfish desire. Through the process I learned my needs were not secondary to others in my life, that it was okay to prioritize myself in my own decision making. With this shift in my prioritization, I was able to create a symbiotic relationship between working out and increased self worth by looking at my goals I wanted to achieve in the gym and optimize my lifestyle around them. I went through the Cypher Hatch squat program and made some baller shot caller progress. After that I followed another program titled “The Bridge”, again making some sick gainZ (that’s gainz with a capital Z). All the while, I was getting as much sleep as I needed and was adamant about maintaining a solid diet getting at least 3000 calories a day to keep the gain train rolling. I ultimately stopped making deteriorating promises in the rest of my life that would inhibit my own goals in the gym, goals that were at the forefront of my mind that I knew were most important to me at this point in my life.

Prior to the meet, I met with Mauricio and went over the numbers I wanted to hit: beat Diego in the squat (anything over 375lbs), overhead press 3/4ths my body weight (about 125lbs), and deadlift 400lbs. The day of the meet came around and the voice in my head came with new diction. Instead of berating me with comments like “You scrawny little shit, why are even trying to hang with these guys and lift weight? You’re body type isn’t meant to do this, you’re making a fool of yourself getting all hyped up screaming at nothing. You don’t deserve this kind of fun,” I found myself giving value to thoughts telling me “You’ve prepared, dude. I’m pretty sure you’ve got this. If you don’t make it, you know yourself, you will fight to the last second. There is still glory in that defeat. But I’m pretty sure you’ve got this, so go do it.”

In the end, I hit all my goals: squatted 172kg (378lbs), overhead pressed 58kg (127lbs), and deadlifted 183kg (403lbs). Moreover, I got all of my lifts going 9 for 9. I can’t leave out having Mauricio’s help, figuring out my attempt numbers set me up for success in hitting all my attempts, especially in the deadlift. Moreover, Leslie’s enthusiastic coaching and kick ass schedule keeping helped me maintain and fuel the positive state of mind and time when I needed to hype myself up for my next attempt.

Overall, I walked out of the meet happy and proud of myself, ultimately realizing that this intensity of good feelings is well earned and something that I deserved. I put in the work, I ate all the food, I lifted through a cold, this success is mine. It’s been easy for me to tell people when speaking of the meet that it was easily one of the best experiences of my life. The coupled successes of learning to respect myself and hitting my numbers almost left me in a state of euphoria. Sitting down and mapping out this experience in my head, I found that lifting is a stage in which to practice my new found skills of self prioritization, that it’s the perfect arena to showcase to myself that i am worth putting in effort, that I am a valuable person. I’m grateful that my journey in fitness and lifting not only has been productive in a physical sense, but has also given me the tools and a path to continue to learn to love myself.

Teo