To Be, Or Not To Be, A Pansy

by Daniel Oakes | June 16, 2021

the bottom of the squat from head on

Oh Lord. My total testosterone is a pitiful 115 ng/dl, but the NHS has told me that I can't see an endocrinologist for a whole 20 weeks. Oh woe is me! I feel awful. What do I do?

Well, firstly, I suppose I know I can whine here because it's the reader's choice whether to read my rubbish or not. I feel a tad better knowing I can blow off a little steam in this sacred safe space.

And, secondly, it's important to continue training for medical reasons (for continued bone density and prevention of muscle loss – Attenuation of Resting but Not Load-Mediated Protein Synthesis in Prostate Cancer Patients on Androgen Deprivation, for example) – even when I just want to stay in bed all day. And as my coach Carl has told me, it's just 5 lb at a time. That's all, just 5 lb.

So I will trundle on, reminding myself that feelings (the feeling that I'm sitting in a hot swamp 24/7) don't matter – the process matters. And I don't have to rush things either; I can take it steady and sloth-like. Just 5 lb at a time.

Though, on the other hand, am I being a bit harsh on myself? Is it okay to embrace the pansy in oneself occasionally and give oneself a little slack? Should I (dare do I whisper it?) postpone training for a while?

I'm not so sure. As Carl said: once I knew I had low-T, I suddenly had excuses, and I suddenly felt worse. Once I had just a little bit of rope to play with, all hell broke loose and discipline started collapsing.

I've got to remind myself that I'm doing the right thing by training. I've also got to remind myself that I've written an article about tackling trauma with a “psychological bayonet.” Am I going to be a pansy and just give up, or am I going to put my money where my mouth is and push on through until I get treatment. People on this website have trained with cancer – I simply have no excuses.

It's probably best to reframe this situation, and flip it from a pitiful struggle to a hurdle to be overcome. Instead of whining I need to shut up and train – and if my press is stalling at 37.5kg, that's okay. I'll just do a small reset.

I learned from Rip that the great thing about Starting Strength is that it works 99.99% of the time. The Starting Strength linear progression works because we are human animals that adapt in accordance with the strength/recovery/adaptation model, like all other animals do. And it's therefore the best form of physical activity for someone with health issues because you reliably get results in proportion to your energy expenditure. And what do you get from running anyway? More catabolic weakness at a time you need to be anabolic and strong.

After all my whining, I therefore know that training during my time of weakness is the best thing for me. It might not feel that great; I might feel really poorly or exhausted, but we all know the process works and I know that at the end of this journey training will feel great. The best thing about relative strife and struggle is the contrasting periods of relative ease. I can't wait to train under Carl when my T is at a normal level. And I'm sure he'll be relieved to have a client who isn't a moping pansy.

Don't be a pansy when things get hard, because you might regret it when things get better. And challenge yourself. It's a worthy challenge worth investing in. Because it works, every single time.  

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