As a powerlifter, grad student, father, and husband, I hear piles of insane BS from the general populace. “Wow, I could never do that.” “You can lift how much?” “You must be on steroids.” “I used to do that and then I broke ____.”

Like most of us, I smile, nod, and continue my training. However, there was one comment by a professor that literally blew me away. As a full-time graduate student, my time is compressed into family, work, studying, training, and sleeping. I eat somewhere in there, too. During a particular lecture on statistics, my professor looked at the class, and pointedly stated, “I gave up my health for this degree. That is what you do to succeed. You sacrifice your own health to promote health behavior for others.” The first thought in my head was, “Bullshit.” The first words out of my mouth were, “Sucks to be you.”

After class, the professor asked me about my comment, and I explained to him that the world—professional and personal—is about sacrifice. I went on to tell him about the kids, the wife, the 60 hours of work, the 20 hours of studying, and the full-time job. Oh yea, I train to pick up heavy things, too. He just stood there and justified his statement by saying, “You would be a world class lifter without all those obligations.” I was floored. Here was a guy with a doctorate degree bitching about how hard it was for him to get it.

I’ve stewed over this conversation for weeks…well, months actually. I still don’t get it. From all of my years in the military and my years of training, nothing—and I mean nothing—is a given. You work your ass off for it. You sweat, you cry, and you bleed. You heal and then you do it again.

As I write this article, I want to lift more, heavier, and faster to spite this man. His words are my fuel to improve as a father, a professional, and a lifter. I want an Elite total, but I want more than anything to show this whiny bitch that hard work has its results. Fuck the obligations. You make it work with what you have. Too much schoolwork? Train early. Not enough free time? Push a Prowler in the evening after the kids get baths. I may only train legitimately twice a week, but that’s all I can do.

I’ve set a PR every week with a new bench press PR of 90 lbs more than my best ever meet weight. I plan to do more. I train alone a lot because my schedule is so dispersed. This is not an excuse. It’s a reason to try different training. It’s also a way to mentally test your limits when you have to PR a squat with no spotters. Complaining and whining about difficulty is for the mediocre. I don’t want to be mediocre. My intent is to be Elite with all the obligations along the way.