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How I Got Here by Zac Harris

Mindset determines who makes it to the top of the mountain and who never makes it. My first powerlifting meet was in West Plains Missouri, which was about a 4-hour drive from where I lived. I made a cut from 208 down to 198 to make weight, that was mistake number one. I had no idea what I was actually doing and I listened to the wrong people for the cutting process and I did not have a rehydration plan. Mistake number two happened when I didn’t take the opportunity to change my opener from the planned 540lbs to something much lower considering the toll the cut had taken on me. My First attempt buried me, my second attempt buried me, I think you can guess what happened on my third attempt. My first powerlifting meet in front of over 70 lifters I bombed out, talk about a hit to the ego. The way I saw it I had two options, I could have quit and let fear and failure get the best of me or I could pick my sorry self-up and go into the gym that night and train. In that moment, while in tears I decided to win. I could have easily decided to say “powerlifting just isn’t my thing” and missed out on all the awesome things I have because of powerlifting. Instead I went into my home gym and I trained like a man possessed.

I am so thankful for the lessons I learned in that competition. The first thing I learned from that experience is not to attempt any sort of weight cut for your first couple meets. The most important reason is the confidence factor, I have seen a lot of people bomb out at their first meet due to a poor weight cut and it took a very long time for them to ever come back from it psychologically and attempt to compete again. There are so many new things going on at a powerlifting meet, it is nothing like just going into the gym and training. It is more like a total war of nerves going on within your body, while your brain is trying to tell your mind to stay cool and just visualize exactly how the lift is going to go; and then doing it all in front of a crowd of people all there to see you and others perform well. Trying to adjust to all the extra fluff at a meet while your body trying to adjust to a weight cut usually does not make for a good combination. Powerlifting meets last a very long time so learning the skill of turning it “on” and “off” is a skill that is learned. AKA getting in ‘the zone” and out of ‘the zone” quickly is the reason I find it beneficial so I can keep my energy levels higher through the entire day.

I also realized things will probably never go as planned, there is just no way of preparing for the many things that are out of my control at the meet. Inconsistent or poor judging is something that happens and you must learn as an athlete to shake it off and maybe help your federation and become a judge yourself to make sure things get called better. I learned what pre-rolling knee wraps is, I learned how unprepared I was, I learned bringing three sets of pre-rolled knee wraps (if you compete with wraps) was a crucial thing to have. If you drop one in the middle of wrapping just grab another one that is wrapped. If things go well you will not have to pre-roll your knee wraps. I learned I was better than what happened that day and I also learned I how competitive I can really be in the sport. I learned that I loved the environment and the intensity of powerlifting meets. There are too many things to even list on what you are going to learn from your first powerlifting meet.

My mindset dictated the next 12 hours, the next 3 months, all the way till the very letter I am typing. That is what separates the good ones from the great ones. The Eddy Coans of powerlifting, no one forgets that kind of person. My mindset from the day I picked up a weight at 17 was “I want to be just like Arnie, the Austrian Oak, a legend”. That’s why it wasn’t a hard decision to make to go in and train for another meet, adversity is a champions best friend. Looking back on that meet and all the mistakes I made I wouldn’t change any of it for the world. If I wouldn’t have learned those things at that meet I would have eventually made the same mistake but possibly at a much more important meet. How you think about yourself will manifest in your daily life. If you think I am the greatest, I can do this, I will succeed eventually, it clicks and all that hard work pays off. If you constantly think “there is no way I can do this, I am not as smart as that person, It will take too long I am a slow learner”. These types of thoughts will hinder your progress greatly, even to the point of possibly giving up on your goals all together.

Your mindset on life determines on how your life goes, having a mindset of a quitter means you will get the results of a quitter having the mindset of a champion will yield results of a champion, it’s not rocket science. It comes down to you and how you view your life. Are you a quitter or a champion?


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