By Ken "Skip" Hill
The other day I got to thinking about how my daughter is finishing up 8th grade and getting ready for summer and how it was this time 28 years ago that I first started working out.
It really made me think that while that was a LONG time ago, it kind of doesn’t feel that way. I remember those times quite well and with fond memories and isn’t always easy for an old, jaded bastard with a fading memory to look back.
What struck me when I got to thinking was the fact that I have been training (and competing) for a very long time – longer than most no doubt. The main question that I kept asking myself was, “why do I still do this?” Thinking back to when I was my daughter’s age, I know now, in hindsight, that I was pretty insecure as a teenager. Sure, I wanted to be better at sports so working out would certainly make me stronger for baseball and the other sports that I played. But who am I kidding? I started working out to get bigger muscles to LOOK cool and get the girls to notice me more. I even had a strange view of myself and thought that I was fat. I wasn’t really “fat”, just not fit. To a 14 year-old, they are pretty much one in the same. I remember taking a picture for the basketball team and I wouldn’t bend my legs and sit on my feet because it would make my legs go out to the side and I thought that made my legs look fat.
I spent a lot of time at the YMCA working out in the weight room after practice for the sport I happened to be playing at that time of the year. I wouldn’t qualify it as obsessive because I only trained three days a week but the fact that it consumed my brain most of the day, every day, led my parents to believe otherwise. In fact, it took me years to get to the point where I had balance in my life and where the gym didn’t take precedent over just about everything else.
As the years progressed and I got married and had children, moved to Colorado and started a business, my life became much more balanced and along with that balance came more success in bodybuilding. While I was never a serious contender for a pro card, the older I got and more balanced my life became, the more success I achieved.
I doubt anyone who knows me considers me mature. However, with age comes wisdom and I now appreciate the fact that there are other things in my life that are just as, if not more important, than getting to the gym or competing in a show. As I sit on the toilet thinking, it occurs to me that my priorities have not really changed all that much even after all this time. The gym is still as important to me as it was back then but instead of having only one thing that is important to me, I have several. Because my family is more important than my training, that doesn’t mean that I can’t train with the same conviction and dedication that I had back then. It also doesn’t mean that I am any less dedicated, either. It simply means that as I have gotten older, I have more than one thing that is important to me. My point is that to succeed at something, you don’t have to focus on only that one thing. I missed this very important point many years ago.
What HAS changed in the last 28 years are the reasons that I do what I do. The reasons that I go to the gym and the reasons that I diet for a show are completely different today than they were years ago. At some point, I gained a sense of security and became comfortable in my skin. Where I used to compete to validate myself and try to prove to others that I was a bodybuilder, I now compete almost strictly for the personal challenge and couldn’t care less if anyone knows that I train and compete. Hell, I actually prefer to not have anyone know that I am going to compete and just show up the night before at registration.
I take the judging for what it is – subjective. I work my ass off just like anyone else but I am also good with my best effort and if that means a 4th place finish so be it. I train to win and I expect it. But if it doesn’t happen I keep it in perspective. At the end of the day, winning matters but there is something a little sweeter in getting a 4th place trophy when your kids meet up with you 5 minutes later as your biggest and proudest fans.
When we are young things are so much simpler in that we do things without ever pausing to consider why. For some of us it takes a long time before we can look at ourselves critically and examine what motivates our behavior and why we react the way we do. When you get pissed over something I say in a rant, keep in mind that my intention is simply to get you to look at yourself and evaluate how you act and what others take from you. This makes people uncomfortable because it’s much easier to just dismiss me as a dick than it is to reflect and admit, “yeah, sometimes I act like an insecure douchebag.”
Now, let me get back to my business. My legs are going numb.