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The Fisher of Stories



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Many of you know (all too well, I’m sorry, well, actually I’m not, it’s amazing) about my transformation over the last nine months. You know about Chris at Reform Strength and Conditioning, and you know that if you don’t think you have the money for it, you really do, you’re just spending it on things that make you fatter.
I’ve bumped my workouts to four a week, and I’m making huge strides in the gym right now. I have never in my life been stronger than I am now, even in high school. Weight loss has plateaued, if only because I still have struggles with food addictions that I’m doing my best to break (I will NOT eat candy before bed, I will NOT eat chips before bed, I will NOT eat an entire double quarter pounder and three Filet ‘O Fishes before bed).
I got my first four week plan from Chris the other day, and I started in on it after asking him a bajillion questions he promptly answered even after he’d already provided video instructions (love you).
The first week, I felt good after I finished my decline dumbbell presses, but I didn’t feel like I challenged myself. I decided to challenge myself the second week, and I felt even better, even though I didn’t complete four sets with the same weight.
So I set a goal. Use the 45s for all four sets.


When I looked at the app today, I saw what I wrote last week, grabbed the 45s from the rack and leaned back on the bench. I put the weight up twelve times, felt a wobble at the end, but dropped them with a sense of satisfaction. Round two went much the same.
Before I started round three, a buddy of mine walked in with his mom. I like this guy, as far as that goes. He’s one of those guys that would give you the shirt off his back and smile while he was doing it. He sat down, asked me how I was, told me he was through with his workout, and started looking at his phone.
I threw the weight up. Once, twice, three…ten times. The tenth one got me, I’m not going to lie to you folks. Serious wobble, and a dip at the top that almost resulted in a 45-pound weight coming down to rearrange my overall gorgeous facial construction.

I saw a blur out of the corner of my eye, and then a face above me.
“How many more?”
“Do it.”
I lowered the weights, then got them halfway back up. A slap against my elbows and the weights were at the top. Lowered, another slap, at the top. Set three was in the books.
“Thanks,” I said.
“No problem.”
A couple minutes later I was ready to start round four. Having needed a spot the last set, and not wanting to bother anyone this set, I walked over to the rack and I picked up two 40-pound dumbbells.
I got to my bench, got ready to sit down, and I looked up. He was looking at me.
“You’ve got 45s in you.”
I opened my mouth.
“Travis. You’ve got 45s in you.”
I set down the 40s and picked up the 45s. I knew I didn’t have them in me, heck, I would wind up having them inside my brain by six reps.
I laid down on the bench, opened my eyes, and this guy was there.
He let me get through eight reps on my own. I couldn’t believe I got that many, to be honest. The ninth rep though, wasn’t happening.
A slap. Nine happened.
A push. Ten happened.
“Squeeze it at the top.”
Another slap, another push. Eleven happened.
“C’mon. One more. Do it.”
His hands never left my elbows, and I think it was more him than me, but twelve happened. I threw the weights across the room (dropped them pathetically), and opened my eyes. He was gone, sitting back down, going through his phone.
It didn’t hit me until the drive home.
I wasn’t allowed to do less than I was capable of, and I wasn’t allowed to fail.
I’ll add this. I had tuna for lunch. I spit when I exhale. When my head is lower than my feet, my face turns a sort of odd purplish-red color, kind of like a grape about to go bad.
I was not easy to help. It didn’t matter. I wasn’t allowed to fail. 
As a teacher, I come across all sorts of kids. Some kids don’t want to try, some want to try but don’t have the means, and some are completely capable with school work, but are socially awkward.
What if I didn’t allow my kids to fail? 
Some of them aren’t pretty. Some of them might have had tuna for lunch, and some might not have showered for a week. Some might spit when they talk, and some might not talk at all.
Some are not easy to help. It doesn’t matter. They shouldn’t be allowed to fail. 
What if, as educators, we began to look through the lens of this guy at the gym? What if we took the too cool to try kids, the socially inept, the nose pickers, and we didn’t let them fail? What if we carried this attitude through an entire school day. An entire month, a year?
“Hey kid, put the 40s down. You’ve got 45s in you. Yes you do. Two more. One more. Finish this.” 
It might be unrealistic. Some don’t want the help yet, some don’t want it at all. However, we owe it to them to try. We live in a world that encourages trophies for participation, results that happen overnight, and exerting as little effort as is required to reach the goal.
Hand ’em the 45s. Push them. Don’t let them fail.
And Zac, thank you. You did more than just help me lift weight in the air. You didn’t let me fail. For those of you having a bit of trouble with the title, I’ve illustrated it for you.

Disclaimer: Not my actual heart.

If you’re still having trouble, I meant “from the bottom of my heart.”

Just what exactly am I trying to tell you from the bottom of my heart?
The answer to that is “Thank You.”
You see, I got a message the other day from someone, and it made me realize that I have the most supportive network of friends in the world. I’ve been stewing on it all weekend, trying to figure out how I can thank you all without spending a whole lot of money in the process. I was actually going to mail you all iPad 3s, but The Missus stopped that from happening. Something about needing to feed our kids and pay bills. She’s a bit of a killjoy.
In all seriousness, I want to thank you all for supporting me, this blog, and all of the crazy things I try. I realize that Facebook has become sort of the driving force behind this piece of Internet heaven, and so I want to give a special shout-out to all of you who have liked, commented on, or shared something I have written. The same goes for the Twitter friends out there retweeting and mentioning posts.
Another shout-out should go to the emailers, who forward my blog’s links, or just tell others about them.
And still another to all the “word of mouth” folks who send their people my way.
And yet I probably wouldn’t be doing this today if it weren’t for the “blog friends” I’ve made along the way. Some have come and gone, but others have stuck around, and keep supporting me in what I’m doing, which has to be hard, because most of the time *I* don’t know what I’m doing. So I want to thank y’all as well.
As far as spending money on you, you should all know that right now, I am having to hook up to my phone as a modem to type this and post it. So I’m using my data plan. Which means that this whole thing is going to set me back about .42 cents. If you break that down across my entire support network, you’re all actually getting a small chunk of that sweet, sweet Travis money.
There are things I still want to try. I want to write a book. I want to get up on stage again. I want to become a motivational speaker that makes people laugh and then helps them through problems. I want to get through college. And I want to hug each and everyone of you really hard and awkwardly while I’m doing all that other stuff. And knowing that you’re there, supporting me, will give me a lot of the strength I need to do those things.
*Except for the hugs. I’m already strong enough for really awkward hugs.
I know this is a blog, and is therefore a tad impersonal. I understand that you’re just reading the words that I put here, and you have no idea if I actually mean them or not. But I’m here to tell you, when I got the message that instigated this whole post, I sat back on my couch, smiled, and thanked God for each and everyone of you. I was, and still am, enormously grateful for all of you, and the daily interaction that we have.
So I’ve reached the end, and maybe you’re still not happy. Maybe you want your very own personalized blog post, Facebook post, Twitter update, autographed headshot, or Skype call. I absolutely understand that, and I would LOVE to do it for you. Shoot me an email, fire a text my way, message me on The Book, or DM me on The Twitter Machine, or simply comment down below. Give me the details, and whatever you want is yours.  You can find the way to get in touch with me on social networks in the top right hand corner of the blog, and also the “Contact Info” tab just under the header.
I seriously love you all. And once again, I thank you. From the deepest recesses of the apex of my cardiac muscular tissue bottom of my heart, I thank you.