Jennifer Petrosino: Head Check

TAGS: training philosophies, self criticism, perfectionism, head check, life lessons, learning, Jennifer Petrosino, education, matt wenning

Matt's Gone Which Means it's Time for Mello to Check My Melon Head

This article was inspired by Chad Aichs' Article : "Train Less as you Advance."

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This Summer I moved to Ohio to begin working as a graduate teaching associate at Ohio State and am training at Ludus Magnus. I am a raw lifter who competes in the 97-pound and 105-pound weight classes, and am currently prepping for Raw Unity 7. Currently, I am in the process of taking steps back to work on my weaknesses, before I attempt to go forward and tackle the goals I have set, but have not yet accomplished.

Guess what?

I'm about to tell you something that is embarrassing to admit.  However; before I do this, I will share with you some personal stuff.  I'm doing this,  because if I leave it out, this story will lack its intended meaning.

First of all, I am by no means an emotional person.  I've actually been told that I need to learn to be more compassionate in some situations.  And, while most people know me as "bubbly," that's not really something I would consider an emotion—it's more a state of being positive and energetic. In all honesty, I can count the number of times I've cried on one hand (well, that I remember). And, when I say cry, I mean CRY—the kind where you fight it, but it doesn't matter because the tears start coming. The last two times I can remember crying are as follows:

1. When I was in Coach's office last September describing why I had made the decision to move back to California.  

I thought that since I had been back for a month, that I was okay talking about my decision, but no—the tears just started rolling. TRUST ME, there is nothing worse than a stream of tears you can't control pouring out in front of your old bosses (I think crying may be taboo in that profession).

If I'm being totally honest, at that time, I just couldn't control my disappointment.  Disappointment in myself and the situation. Sometimes, it doesn't matter how hard you work or how long you work.  Sometimes it just can't change things.  Looking back, I was also upset because I realized that if I had acted in a way other than myself, the scenario might have played out differently.  I was crushed because I realized that I am the kind of person who can not compromise certain morals and values…and that not being able to compromise those things conflicted with doing a job that I really loved (and still love).

2. When I moved to Ohio and left my dad.

See, my dad and I used to have a strained relationship, but over time we worked hard to fix it, and now he is one of the closest people to me. He's not just a mentor or an adviser—he's also someone I'd call my dad even if we weren't  blood-related.  Anyways, when I was getting on the plane to move to Ohio, tear streams started pouring out uncontrollably.  I tried hard not to let them out, but it happened.  I might be the kind of person who doesn't cry at deaths, breakups, or even my own serious illness, but I did cry (a lot) at this moment. These tears were probably the result of being worried about whether being on opposite sides of the country would make our relationship lose some of the strength we had worked so hard to gain. However, I realize it's silly to think that, but then again, I understand why I might think that since I never think that I'm "good enough"'.   I graduated with a 4.0 GPA from college, but in my mind, I still feel like I'm "not good enough" to deserve my current job. In addition, both times I have accomplished an all-time record in powerlifting I haven't felt good enough.  Most recently, I had a "micro teaching" assessment with other graduate teaching associates where I got tons of positive feedback, minus the one comment that I needed to eliminate my constant use of the word "like".  My first thought was that I would start filming all of my lectures so that I could fix this. I was upset at my mistake and blamed myself for being under prepared.  I didn't care that it was my first assessment teaching, in my world, there are no excuses; and it was not good enough...

How is this relevant?

Well, today Chad Aichs had an article up about how his training has changed, and it really hit home for me. See, Matt's been out of town this week and this has been hard for me because when he's here he's tells me when to back down and when to back off (training). He helps me work on minimizing my crazy side; the side that is as prone to overtraining as it to getting a speeding ticket. (For those of you who don't know, I get TONS of tickets).

Anyways, today Chad wrote: "The biggest and hardest change for me was learning to train less. In fact, this is something that I continually struggle with."

Well, yesterday I was in the gym doing GPP and Mello sits me down and says, "Girl, you are your own worst enemy. At this point for you to get stronger, you need to do way less." In Chad's article, he talked about how this was a hard thing for him to learn, because in his heart, he wanted to train more, but in his head he knew better. I feel the same way.  However, unlike Chad, my heart often wins more battles than my brain. Since I've been training with Magnus, I've gotten better at using my head (well, more like Matt's head).  Thus, with him gone, I resorted to spending my Saturday in heart-driven Jenn mode—not head-driven Jenn. If we go back to Chad's article, at one point he says, "I feel that it has been pounded into our heads that the more we train, the more we can train and therefore the stronger we will get, which isn't totally true." And then he says, "I purchased a bench press DVD by George Halbert (it’s worth getting too). One of the things he said was that as you get stronger, you won’t be able to train as much."

At this point, he really started to speak to me through his article because I really understood what he was trying to saying. The philosophy that, "more training equals more results," has not been pounded into my head, so I won't use that excuse for why I like to do more work when I train. In reality, I've grown up around influences like Buddy Morris, Wes Smith, and Ross Bowsher—all people who stress the philosophy that too much volume is not optimal. In addition, I've actually had George Halbert say the same thing to me. And, while Chad's words sunk in, it was still hard for me to fully grasp the concept as if it was second nature. Instead of grasping this concept, I have pounded into my own head is that I am not good enough. That self criticism, combined with my Type A personality, leads me to often think that more work is the  only way to get better. Thus, it's a conscious effort, and at times a battle with myself, to really understand the concept that less is often more.

Why is it a battle?

Why can't I grasp the concept of less work? Well, I believe it's because I want to be the best…and I want to be so badly, that while talking to Mello I teared up.

Here's the thing: there is education and then there is learning. Education is acquiring information in an attempt to better one's self. However, learning is an actual behavioral change—a change that results when a student is finally able to grasp a concept that they are being taught. So in that sense, I'm in the beginning stages of moving from being educated to learning. And, like a true behavioral change, it doesn't (and isn't) happening over night. Instead, I find myself taking a few steps forward, falling back, and then moving forward again.

So, let's go back to the beginning and understand how this relevant? Well, while Mello was giving me this great advice—advice that was hard for me to hear and lead me to become emotional-I realized something. I realize that I was getting emotional because I was mad at myself for being my own worst enemy. I was enraged that I was holding myself back, and have been for a long time...

And then it hit me—I was and am emotional, but only in the face of failure.

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