I truly believe it is good for us to always spend a little time looking back. The clearer we see our past, the better focus we will have on our future. Since we are currently knee-deep in the holidays, and with the New Year just around the corner, it seems like a good time to reflect on my past year of life and lifting. It has been a very interesting year for me all around, and I have grown a lot.

My personal life has gone through many changes this year. I quit a stable job of 20 years to take a chance on a granite business. This was a huge risk for me, and although I tend to take some risks, this one I did not take lightly. Even though I quit just this year, it took years of growth as a person that led up to me doing this. This year, I also decided I wanted to make more of my living through coaching and training. Yes, I have always coached some and trained at some seminars. I always enjoyed giving back and helping others, but my main focus was on my powerlifting.

RELATED: 2018 in Review with Jeff Guller 

During those years, I never felt like I wanted to train lots of people or make a living doing that. This year, it became clear to me how much I love helping people improve their lives through weight training or meeting their strength goals. I realized I have this huge wealth of knowledge and insight that can have a major impact on people’s lives, but at the same time it’s given me a career I am proud of. Over this last year, I have put more money into converting my garage into an even better gym so I can train people from my home. I am still working on growing both of these careers, but looking back, I think I have progressed well in a year.

Other changes have been more than just career-related. Two very big ones were getting off the C-PAP and all sleep medications. This was by no means an easy task, but it’s something I’ve wanted to do for a while. I have managed to take great steps in improving my sleep. I won’t say it is at a normal level, and it probably never will be, but it is so much better than it was, and there are more improvements to come. I have also continued to improve on my depression and cannot remember any times during the year that were beyond normal.

My lifting has seen a lot of different changes this year, too. For the last couple years, my lifting has been through some huge ups and downs. I would feel good and start making gains, only to get hurt. I trained through the injuries, only to stay the same, or back off some, only to lose the gains I made. At one point, I hit the lowest strength levels I had since I started powerlifting some 20 years ago. This was an enormous hit to my ego, but sometimes it takes drastic measures to move forward. I am not content with my current strength, but I have been developing a new training program that is turning out some great results. I admit I am no longer looking for world-class strength like I had because the reality of it is that I am not willing to give powerlifting what I have.

On the flip side, I do not think I would have gained the knowledge I did if I had not backed off the lifting. A big inspiration in my growth of knowledge this year was getting to spend time with James Smith and Joe DeFranco at a CPPS course. It was amazing, and I walked away with so much from it (I also did a podcast with Joe when I was out there that I think is worth a listen).

This year, working with more new clients has also opened many doors to expanding my knowledge because I try to teach them to fish instead of just feeding them. It is surprising how much a different perspective can change your own. I have already learned so much in my lifting career that there really is not much new stuff, but there is a lot of stuff I can expand on or see from a different perspective, and I can possibly even see new applications to what I already know. There is always more to learn. For example, I learned more about movement patterns and neuromuscular firings. I neglected this information in my prime, but I was able to share it with my clients. I got to see their progress in both joint health and overall strength due to that knowledge.

chad aichs and joe defranco

I also learned more about nutrition. I always knew eating was important, but I focused mostly on huge amounts of protein. I ate a lot of shit to maintain 385 pounds. As I paid more attention to what I ate this year, I began to lean out, but I noticed other benefits, too. I see the importance of nutrition in every aspect of training and health.

Lastly, I think one of the biggest expansions of thought for me this year was to start looking at the whole. We to often want to compartmentalize our lives and keep everything separate, especially training. It does not work that way though. Our lives are a massive spider web, and even the smallest breeze, step, or motion vibrates through the whole web. Everything we do in our lives is connected to everything else.

This has been a big year for me, and I have learned new lessons while reinforcing old ones. I have learned that comfort and stability are nice things but taking chances and risks are also part of life that allows us to grow and learn about ourselves in ways we never could if we are always comfortable and stable.

I hope you all take a little time this holiday season to evaluate your past and let it help guide you to an even better future.