05 Oct Staying on Track Through Powerlifting
By Ben Sheard
Most people are well aware of this, but if they aren’t here it is: I have dealt with years of struggling with both drug abuse and alcoholism. Most of my adult life was a series of unfortunate events that I created under my power. Only recently, in the past five years, have I been able to stay clear of trouble and not pick up a single drink or narcotic. When I found out that my teammate Andrew had a similar story, I realized the importance of sharing what got me to that point and eventually how I pulled out of it.
Ironically, for me, the leading cause of my drug abuse growing up was for performance enhancement. The every-single-potential edge that I could get out of medications and other known PED’s was the route I took. It started with a few pain pills before a powerlifting session. Of course, they made me feel good, and I felt like I could lift and perform better on them. Taking them only for heavy sessions didn’t last long, and before I knew it, I was taking pain meds before every training session at 16 years old. Anyone who has dealt with pain meds knows they can suck you right in before you even know what happened. One day you are taking them to feel good and the next you are popping them not to feel sick anymore. Over the next two years I added stimulants and other drugs into the mix, but only because what I used to take wasn’t working anymore.
I used to have a burning passion for powerlifting. I came into the gym hungry, hoping that it was my day to go heavy on the squat or deadlift (I hated bench back then, too). Over the course of a year and a half, all of that passion was sucked out of me. I didn’t love anything anymore. Family, sports, fishing, and everything else that I used to love was gone and replaced by a full-on drug addiction that I had to tend to every single day. I went through the motions for a little while before admitting that I had a problem and trying to get help. I then managed to acquire a 1-bottle-a-night alcohol habit, and I was hopeless, but I didn’t find my rock bottom for another nine years or so. I had a poor self-image, legal trouble, multiple car accidents, severe anxiety, and depression, and to top it off, I got removed from the police academy due to my actions. Thankfully, I decided to move down to Florida and start over. I went to a medical detox and a rehab facility, followed by a halfway house where I ended up staying for almost two years. I owe a lot to everyone at that house and the way I decided to clean myself up.
After about a year of being sober, I decided to do my first meet down here. I had been training for about nine months or so and finally felt ready. October of 2014 is when I first met Brian and the team. It lit something inside of me that I hadn’t felt in a long time. I was passionate again and knew that I would continue doing this for a while. There’s something about the risk-reward system in your brain that rewards you for hitting big lifts, just the same as the high you get from drugs or getting away with something that you shouldn’t get away with. I find that chasing the lifts I want to hit is very similar to chasing the high I used to get from drugs and alcohol. There is always that next big lift or high to pursue, and you don’t stop chasing it no matter what. Any poor attempts lead to more effort put forth into receiving what you want. It is bittersweet when you can put your efforts into a good showing, and you are pleased with your performance.
On the outside, it looks like powerlifters are gluttons for punishment with the way we train. Thankfully, by using 10/20/Life principles and incorporating deloads, my body is not beat up too badly at any given time. I can assure you that while we do punish our bodies on the outside, it is the internal satisfaction that keeps guys/girls like us going.