I Don’t Want To Be Defined

Holly India Dexter

It’s that time of year where the dreaded results day is looming. At the time of writing, it’s precisely 3 days, 7 hours, 5 minutes and 40 seconds away, which is PRETTY BLOODY CLOSE let me tell you. For those who are blissfully unaware, most 18 year olds in the UK will be receiving their A-Level results on Thursday 13th August, which will determine whether they get into their chosen university, or even any university at all.

I’m sure most of you will agree that this a time of great stress, not helped by the media (see The Telegraph’s latest article here) and the general pressure from parents, teachers and peers who will have done that bit better than you. I’ve seen comments from students who believe it will be ‘the end of the world’ if they don’t achieve X grade, or get into X university, but really, I don’t…

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Choose who you are going to be, then make it happen.

Warning – I am passionate, I will swear – they are just words, grow up.

If you are reading this and can say you are honestly content, please leave, this isn’t for you.

Right now they are gone let’s get a few things straight. Content – the most god awful word I have come across, it tells me two things; 1 – You don’t dream big enough, 2 – You lack drive.

Be the person striving for more, pushing yourself till it hurts, finding the limits you’ve set yourself and breaking them down.

I decided who I was going to be, I even went as far as to make a plan, a plan I have fought for, suffered for, that sure as shit was never going to be easy and I am god damn happy that it wasn’t, a plan that does not have an end and has requirements where failure or becoming ‘content’ will take everything from me.

I sit here looking at a sheet of paper, a sheet that in essence says ‘step 4 – Tick’. I don’t take more pride than that in it, it is the sum of three years and hundreds of hours, but to me it is just another bullet point. So was the £450 qualification handled in two weeks, or the few thousand hours of training and studying, even the accredited masters that requires a bank loan.

We all have something we want out of life, but we look at the road it takes to get there and shudder, the idea of sacrifice or hardship terrifies us, and so content seems like a suitable plan B. Let me say something that will get a scorn expression from many – fuck content, fuck your fear. I have had my own hell and hardships, there are moments that I would give anything to fix or get rid of from memory, but my goal, my dream requires so much god damn more. State your dream, wait no, let’s really do this –

Right now, say your dream, in 5 words or less – Might be a job/place/mood/ anything.

Next, state the minimum of what it’ll take to get there – cost/ hours/ ears/ qualifications

Now, and take this part seriously, are you brave enough? Could you take that on and accept the struggle that entails? Let us be very serious, if you look at it now, before even the first damn step in that direction and can’t say with certainty you are willing, when those moments come around that bring you to tears, that keep you awake at night, that lose you friends, to accept that this is all part of the plan, then don’t even start, and get really fucking familiar with – content.

Oh and if I need validation –

– Every damn friend I lost

– The hundreds of hours needed just to change appearance

– The tens of thousands of pounds for my qualifications

– The utter failure come competition day

– The loneliness for 3 years

– The laughter and judging

– The five years of work to just get my foot in the door

– The agony every fucking day

– The scars, history to overcome

and the rest of it that frankly if you need to hear, you were never going to be convinced anyway.

Be brave because in reality, if you aren’t living for those dreams, what is the damn point?

Aspire to Inspire.

Common nature.

I always like meeting other lifters because we have something in common. No, it isn’t the act of lifting; it is an unsaid goal that we all have. We want to be better than we were yesterday. In fact we hate ourselves in our current state. This is a good hate. The kind that rises up through your heels and engulfs the body. It gives us the strength to lift that indifferent hunk of iron off the ground. It staves off the mediocrity that surrounds us day to day. Remember this when you start your week tomorrow. Run with the Lions, not the gazelles.

I’d rather be dead than average.

I’d rather be dead than average.

It sounds morbid, I know. Trust me, it isn’t a call for help or anything like that. The simple fact of the matter is that I can relate to this. I believe this quote is from Mike Bell, featured in the documentary Bigger Stronger Faster. Somebody else might have said it but that’s where I remember it from.

From time to time, I find myself wondering why we do what we do. Why does ‘average’ represent everything that so many of us don’t want to be? I’ve done average, I’ve done below average and frankly, being a nobody is pretty shit.

When I was 19 years old, I decided to make it happen. I decided to stop being who I had always been up until that point, a nobody. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not foolish enough to think that I’m famous or even terribly popular, but I’ll be damned if I’m still average, and that’s a start.

I went from having no passion, no drive, no ambitions and a very limited perception of a future, to having an exact goal, passion that would astound, the drive to work on it every damn day, the qualifications to get me there and achievements mounting up along the way.

I’m not sure if I can say that what I am doing is right, or will even work, but for once in my life I’m doing something and I’m proud of it. So why dead over average? Seems dramatic and bordering on naive, but here me out. Average to me isn’t what it might be to you. Average to me represents who I was, the mental state, the loneliness and knowing what that did to me, yeah I would choose to never be that/do that again.

I’d like to think that the experiences of depression and mental breakdown leave me in a mind set that will never again allow me to be ‘average’. I would hope that who I am now is incapable of functioning without a goal or some form of ambition. So this is me, literally living for a dream, it may not be normal nor accepted, but it’s me, and I’ll die before I give that up.

Aspire to Inspire.

A life of Lifting.

WARNING – This post is solely discussing lifting/gym/fitness – If you don’t like it, leave now – You were warned.

Pick it up, put it down – The essentials of powerlifting, sadly it’s not all that simple, or least when trying to be better than average. Starting out simple, my lifts are a 175kg Squat, 120kg Bench and a 234kg Deadlift all at under 75kg (Junior). Where it gets a bit more complicated is – A) Getting here, B) Moving forward.

I’ve ran only one program designed by somebody else, everything else i’ve done is off the back of my own designs. For me, all the conventional programs lack the same thing, volume. I’m the crazy bastard that doesn’t want to leave the gym, that’ll train 6days a week for at least 2 hours, i’ll squat, deadlift and many variations of both all in one session.

A sample session for me will be:

Squat 5by5

Deadlift 4by5. 3. 2. 2

Paused Squat 3by3

Deficit Deadlift 2by8

Bent over row 4by8-10

Underhand pulldown 3by12

Neutral grip pulldown 3by15

Leg Extensions 3by12-15

Bicep curls 2by15

..Then abs.

You see my point, the squats alone can take up to an hour. So my issue now is how do I progress. I hit the intensity, I hit the volume, the frequency, so what’s left?

Sadly this all means a refresh of training methods, going back to basics, a 3 day split and build back up, giving me a chance to work with new variables. An idea that freaks me out because that means 4 rest days in a week! Not my style.

Regardless, I’m a little stuck in this and with ambitious goals in mind (Squat 210, Bench 140, Deadlift 250) I have little choice in the matter. If anyone reading has experience at this, please do get in touch! Any advice is always welcomed.

Getting to where I am has only really taken 18 months, but quite honestly hitting somewhat of a plateau recently after some serious progression.

My approach is rather .. blunt? You see there are periodisation approaches, phases, speed work, rep work, RPE scales, percentage based work, conjugate methods, cube training and all the bloody rest. My approach? Go in, lift heavier. I don’t care if that’s your assistance lift, your 8 rep max, your bent over row or the close grip bench you neglect, just go in there and beat SOMETHING.

Okay yes this has it’s issues, for instance if you want to be a bit of a bitch and say ‘I can’t beat a PR each session’ then fine you’re right, but mostly because you have a shit attitude. Realistically there is always something to beat, take the bench as a foundation, there is paused/close/banded/chains/pin/touch/floor press/incline/spotto/axle bar/slingshot and go and then very rep arrangement of those too! Let’s be honest, your excuse is invalid.

This will get you a damn long way for quite some time. But! Then you hit the wall I have, where things get technical, and if you are anything like me, you don’t want to just do any old method, time is valuable. So now I’m reading anything and everything hoping to get this right! So again, advice is welcomed!

Anyway, if I figure it out for me, I’ll be sure to update you! Though I still take on clients for programming,as it seems to be easier helping others than myself (I’m a difficult one).

Aspire to Inspire.

Holiday Packing Essentials 

Holly India Dexter

It’s that time of year again where everyone you know seems to be jetting to some glamorous (or otherwise) location, and hopefully that includes yourself! Packing can be a daunting experience, but it’s one that I personally love, so here are some of my tips to make it a stress-free task.

The Suitcase:

If like me you didn’t feel like paying £40 for the luxury of a checked suitcase, you’ll be taking on the challenge of squeezing all of your possessions into hand luggage. This can make packing a bit more tricky, but there are plenty of ways round it. All airlines have different restrictions when it comes to hand luggage; on British Airways you’re allowed a suitcase and a ‘personal bag’ (so a handbag) with reasonably fair measurements. Some allow a bit less than this and you won’t always be allowed a handbag, so make sure you check beforehand!…

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Where is my mind at?

I wrote to this blog last year as a means to an end. no, we have not reached that end, but my god are we closer.

The end goal for me had always been and will always be – Pride. I want to stand tall and say, I did what I wanted, I achieved what I set out to and I’m damn proud of the outcome. Can I say it yet? Well no, it’s not really my nature. HOWEVER! I am somewhat proud of pieces.

Don’t get me wrong, in the time I have been absent from this blog I experienced an exponential set back in my mental well-being (it’s a weird one but hear me out). A matter of months ago I found myself competing at British Nationals in powerlifting, an event which had all the foundations to be ‘my moment’, though it didn’t quite happen like that.

In the early stages of the event, things were going outrageously well, to the extent i wasn’t just competing, I was putting myself in line to make it to Worlds! Three squats into the event and I was in SECOND PLACE. Then we moved onto bench (if you don’t know how this works … Google it). Opener lift – Failed on judges command; embarrassing, of course, but no big issue. Second lift, too heavy, fail. Then it dawns on me, not only are my chances of worlds already gone (knowing I won’t get this weight), I’m about to bomb out of the event and won’t even place. Now this hurts for three main reasons. 1 – My name is off the board, this takes away my bare minimum expectation. 2 – In my head, getting to Worlds was about to be a fact, that’s a lot further to fall. 3 – There is nothing I can do to stop it, this weight is already noticeably out of reach.

I took that third lift (I even went on to finish my deadlifts which would have put me in second and taken me onwards) and it went as I knew it would. I can’t explain the pain I felt internally the second the bar was taken from my hands. utter despair that hurts to this day. i let myself fall so far, all pride of having made it there left me in the first beat of my heart after that failure.

So that is the bad bit. Here is the good.

I got there, I was on my way to achieving something I thought was impossible, setting me on the path to continue in the endeavour of powerlifting, now headed back to take a record for myself. if you know me at all, you know my failures are a big part of me, I like to stack the world on my shoulders, and then barbell. I have told myself that ‘the minimum’ does not exist, there is success, there is failure and that’s about it.

Am I proud?

Yes and no. Luckily, fitness isn’t all I have going. Clients, University, my girl, fitness, apparel, study, YouTube, Instagram, family and more. Having all of this offers me enough small success in each to pull me along when another shows failure, providing a degree of pride in general achievements. Nonetheless, me being me stops this amounting to substantial pride, none of it lasts and I see the failures over all else.

I am working on it, having made substantial changes to my life, it seems I’m getting a little closer, but we are not there yet.

As always,

Aspire to Inspire.

I’m Back!!

Sometimes our words can only take us so far. For this reason alone I stopped this blog with the intention to move forward with actions, and I did.

It’s been 6 months since I last posted and I’m glad to say I made it count. In the last six months I’ve competed in national powerlifting (near missing Worlds), I’ve finished my degree, lined up my masters in Sport Rehabilitation (Callum Barney MSc BSc in no time), I’ve finished half my PT qualification with 90%+ in exams, reached new levels of strength mentally and most definitely physically, now preparing for qualifier/nationals/worlds with the goal of reaching some records and of course, still have my girl with holidays and events just around the corner.

In this post I want to cover two main things – University – Powerlifting. I suppose the headings of my life, strength and education.

Powerlifting first, because I like that one more.

As you may see from the video… I train a lot…. and I made a youtube channel (check that out 😉 ) . Hell it’s my passion. So being specific, at the same weight as six months ago, 73kg, I’ve hit new highs of a 175kg squat, 120kg bench, 234kg deadlift, all untested for a current max. I’ve helped people, taken on clients, even my mum has dropped 10kg in a few months of taking my advice! I think it’s fair to say I’ve learnt a hell of a lot recently. I have big goals, as I always have, I personally believe it is half the battle towards success to aim high, then grind like mad to achieve them.

Powerlifting/ training has been a part of me for around 3 years now, in reality that is nothing in the scale of 22 years, but the progress and changes in such a short time has been astounding.

University … IS OVER

As of a couple weeks ago university officially ended, minus the technicality of graduation. So where does this leave me? Well regardless of a disappointing set back, i’ll be headed to Middlesex University to complete a masters in Sport Rehabilitation. I’ve never enjoyed education, I’ll even admit I’ve hated a lot of it, but now is a chance to study something i’ll actually enjoy! (I hope).

And I’ve gotten to that point once again where, well frankly I’m done writing.

I’ll get back into this soon and try to keep up with what hopes to be a very eventful year.

As ever,

Aspire to Inspire.