As of late, I am going through many changes in my life. The most visible of which is my loss of body mass. For at least fifteen years, I carried around a lot of mass, trying to be as strong as I possibly could be. I let some of that mass go for the past five years but focused on my strength. 

After many years of being so big and strong, there are challenges to dropping mass and changing focus. The biggest has been the mental aspect of not being as big and strong. This challenge has made me look back over my strength career and use those experiences to accomplish this next goal in my life. One of the greatest realizations is that we must not fear change. It is inevitable, and great things come from that change. I know because I realized if it were not for change, I would have never achieved such great accomplishments in lifting.

A Change in Body Weight

I started my powerlifting journey at about 275 pounds which grew to 397 pounds at my highest. I spent most of my time at 385 pounds because that is where I felt the strongest. Over the past five years, I have fluctuated my weight from 360 pounds to 283 pounds at my lowest. A few months ago, I was at 330 pounds and currently at 277 pounds. The goal is to drop back down to 270 pounds and possibly 250 pounds which will be my lifetime weight. Most people I know have responded positively to my mass loss and don't understand how I could have any difficulties being completely happy about it. I fully understand this is a very good thing for my health and well-being; that is why I made the goal. 

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Still, it took many years of hard and dedicated work to gain that amount of strength and mass I had. People see me and comment on how healthy I look. I see myself in the mirror and think how skinny I look or how strong I WAS. In the end, this change is a great thing, and it is something I have made up my mind to achieve. The reward will show itself in my quality of life for sure. Knowing and understanding are one thing, but emotions are another. Sometimes the most challenging part is the change itself, and this is why I look to my past to help me keep moving forward with this goal.

Looking to our past helps us increase our knowledge for the future. We don't want to dwell on it; we understand and learn. While looking back to help with my current goals, I realized something about my life's journey and people. It seems to me people in general fear change. Maybe it is more specific to say that they fear the difficulties of change. 

How many people do you know that are almost the same person at 40 as they were at 20? Yes, they may be different, but I am talking about core stuff. If they were an angry or hot-headed young person, are they the same now but just older? Did they only think about themselves and give little thought to the people around them? As a workaholic, do they still work all of the time? If they were the kind of person to stress about everything, do they still do that? 

I could go on with many different personality traits, but I think you get my point. I love hearing people's excuses for why they don't want to change or can't change. My favorite is "that's just the way I am!" I don't even know how many times I have seen their actions negatively affect everyone around a person, yet they will say there is nothing wrong with their behavior. They will blame other people or say it isn't their problem. Humans will lie to themselves in all kinds of crazy manners to avoid change. I am no exception to this rule.

One of the reasons I decided it was time to drop weight is because I realized I had been lying to myself. I always told myself I was healthy for my body weight. What a bunch of bullshit! Healthy for a body weight is not healthy. Even if my body fat is not really high, my body is not made to carry that kind of mass. This becomes truer as I get older and I am right at 50. 

I am not saying you can't get huge and gain crazy strength because I have no regrets about that at all. I'm just saying there is a time for that and there is a time to be healthy. I also realized I tend to fall back on heavy strength training whenever life gets crazy and beyond what I can understand. I again told myself it is just because I love to lift. Although this is true, I used it as a crutch because strength training makes sense to me—it's comforting when so many things in life don't make sense to have an area where it does. Luckily I eventually see through my lies and am willing to make that change.

As I discovered these things about myself and worked to change them, I thought back to my past training for powerlifting. I love lifting so much my brain will relate everyday things to it. I realized that every great step forward I took in my strength came from some change. This is when I first started powerlifting and was training linear periodization. I did not see the gains I thought I should, so I went to an elitefts seminar and got my ass handed to me. Dave changed everything, and I went back to the gym to do a ground-up rebuild. If I had not taken that risk and made that change, I don't believe I would have achieved any of the stuff I did. Then when I was moving up the ranks, my whole team would hit a wall many times.

We would stop making gains and show signs of overtraining. We always tried to give everything time to work, but there is a point where you have to try something new. Remember that not all of the new things worked, so we had to scratch some of them. One huge change for me was that I had to stop using lifting to control my anger or deal with the frustrations of life. I had to look at lifting in a whole different light. 

A Change in Mindset

Another big change was learning to focus more on recovery than training—working just as hard outside the gym as in. I would say that most of the changes we made showed results and increased the strength of everyone on the team over the years. Some of these changes were things that no one else was doing, which really takes some courage to do. There are many times I felt I knew what we needed to change but thought about it for a month or more before going for it. The more this happened and the more it worked, the better I trusted my ideas. Still, making a change is a difficult thing.

Another big change was learning to focus more on recovery than training—working just as hard outside the gym as in.

It is just so easy to stay the same and continue doing things the same way. I know in strength training, if a program or a certain way of training works, we tend to want to keep doing it. Even when it stops working, we figure we need to go harder. We sometimes forget that there are things about us that change no matter what. We get older every year and put more miles on our bodies every year.

If we have gotten stronger, we have changed. When we increase our mass or decrease it, we have changed. If all these things are changing, then maybe the training needs to change, too. Just because it worked at one point does not mean it will continue to work. On the flip side, change takes time, so jumping from one thing to the next is not the correct answer either. It is a complex balance of knowing when to be patient and stay the course or steer the ship into uncharted waters. Either way, you can look at a change with fear but see how positive it can be.

The point is that change will happen whether you like it or not. You can try to fight it, but it's going to happen. The more we fear it, the more it holds up back. Think about it, if you're trying to get bigger or stronger, then you're trying to change. Why would you try to change but get completely set in one way trying to make that change? It is the same in all aspects of life. If you're trying to be a better person, start a new career, start a family, or make more money, then you're trying to change. We must keep ourselves open to change and how to make those changes. If you continue to do everything the same, you will never change anything. 

Chad Aichs is a world-class and elite powerlifter in the SHW division. He began training seriously for powerlifting in 1999 in Sparks, Nevada, where he still currently trains at American Iron Gym. In the ten years since he started, Aichs has proven to be one of the strongest lifters in the world. His best lifts are an 1173 squat, 821 bench press, and a 755 pull. Aichs' best total is 2733, which makes him one of the top lifters of all time.