That Damn Voice | Jim Steel

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That Damn Voice

by Jim Steel | January 30, 2024

Sports and training has been part of my life since I was a little
kid. Now, in my mid 50s, I don’t compete in sports anymore, I
train with weights, shadow box, and ride the exercise bike. Boring.

My last bodybuilding
competition was in 2019, and I have tried unsuccessfully to make
another run at a show since then. However, my body didn’t respond
very well, and hell, I’m all torn up from years of football and
powerlifting and just doing stupid but fun shit for years. You should
see me getting out of bed in the morning. I guess this sounds like
excuses, but it’s the truth. My point with all of this is that
without training for something, some type of competition, training
has taken on different meanings – boring ones: training for
longevity, and to stay as strong as I can.

You may say that those
are two great reasons for continuing with training. But I have always
trained for something, something that had the end goal of a game or
competition. I am down to a few exercises now. I can still deadlift
and do push ups and curls and a few machines. I mean, I can do other
exercises, but then it takes forever for all my joints to recover,
and it seems useless feeling crippled for the whole week without a
reason like competition.

The problem with my
“relationship” with training is that I don’t have a choice
about whether I train or not. As soon as I wake up in the
morning,usually lying in bed, there is a nagging voice in my head to
train: “Train. You must
” This voice has always been with me ever since I started
training but it seems to have become more prominent in the last few
years. And then I figure out when I will train during the day.

The perfect time for me
is to train right away, after I wake up. But sometimes it doesn’t
work out that way. Sometimes I’m waiting for my son to get his ass
out of bed to go to the gym, which for a teenage boy can be anywhere
from 9 to 12 o’clock. Believe me, I try to get him out of bed. If you
are a parent of a teenager, you know how it is. Just waiting. On
those occasions, I have a terrible morning. I’m at the grocery store
and here comes that voice, staying with me: You need to train, you
need to train. I’m ornery and preoccupied (at least that’s what my
wife says).

The other morning, I
was sitting around waiting for my son again, and the voice said,
“Shit, it’s gonna take him forever to wake up, and then he needs to
shower and eat a pound of beef and drink coffee, and then we can go
to the gym.” So, I decided not to wait. The voice said, “Hell,
just go downstairs and train right now, then you will feel great all
day. Just spot him at the gym. Get your stuff done now. You are only
doing deadlifts and push ups.” So I got up and walked downstairs
where I have a power rack and Olympic plates and bars, and I did my
training. The day went very well after that; it gave me so much
satisfaction getting it done first thing.

I have conversations
with myself all the time. For instance, last night I was having a
good time watching videos, writing, and drinking beer. I had some IPA
beers, like 7% ABV apiece. Pretty soon I’d had a 6 pack of them, at
least, and I was feeling good. However, that good didn’t last, and
I woke up a few times at night, thinking I was going to puke, but
just dry heaves, which suck anyway. So when my alarm rang at 6am to
get the kids up, make them breakfast, and take them to school, all I
could think about was getting home and taking a nap. I arrived back
at the house from dropping them off, took the dog outside and lay
down on the couch. Comfy, I was. My head was still foggy, my stomach
was churning, and every once in a while I’d break out in a sweat,
signaling me to run to the bathroom.

It’s been a while since
I’d been hungover and I was mad at myself. Here came the voice
again. “Dumb ass, now you’ve ruined a day because you had to drink
so much, and now you have to train and you feel like shit!” I laid
there for a while, trying to go to sleep. But that voice was strong,
now. “Are you just gonna lay here like a pussy? You have to train,
so suck it up. Go do your deadlifts and push ups, now. Get up
right now!
” So, I did. I got up and went downstairs and did my
deadlifts and push ups. I was dehydrated so my heart was pounding
like a drum between sets. But I listened to that damn voice and got
it done.

It’s a blessing and a
curse! It haunts me, that damn voice. Funny thing is, I only listen
to it when it comes to training. I’ll be driving past a redneck bar
in the country, my favorite type of bar, and the voice will be like,
“Don’t do it, keep driving, go eat a steak and get a good night’s
sleep,” and invariably, my Tundra pulls right into the parking lot.
I don’t know why I have the power to overrule it except when it comes
to training, but I reckon it’s a good thing. When the voice tells me
not to turn into the bar, I actually laugh at it, but it always wins
with training.

The voice is usually
negative with me. Every once in a while, it can be a positive voice,
but always seems to end negatively, especially when I finish my
training. “Yeah, man, got that shit done. You set yourself apart
from the masses. Good work. Now, your whole day is ahead of you. Good
job not being a coward.”

I was talking to a
friend of mine today about training. I mentioned the conversations
that I have in my head and he said he had the same thing. He wakes up
at 5am to do his training, and he says that the voice in his head
always says, “Think how good you will feel when you are finished.”

Then my friend told me
that he’d never finished lifting weights and said, “Man, I wish I
hadn’t done that.” I thought that was just great.

I think that I am
going to work on those conversations with myself to get that voice
less combative and more positive. Maybe it could say stuff like,
“Sure Jim, pull right into that redneck bar.” That would be a
good change. All kidding aside, I do like the focus being on how good
you feel when you are finished, with that sense of accomplishment and
achievement. I’m hoping when that alarm goes off tomorrow my
conversation with myself will be all warm and fuzzy, like my

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