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Strength and Honour – A Note From Andrew
It’s 2011 and George Leeman has proved everyone who ever doubted him wrong.
Not just wrong but stupendously, irredeemably, embarrassingly wrong.
In the few years that I have been following him I have seen him hounded from one forum, belittled on another and all the while I have never understood it; here was a man – just a kid at the time – who was doing what everyone else pretends that they want to do. He listened, he read enough, and then he took action.
He became fucking huge.
And he became fucking strong.
A Monstrous 17 Year Old!
But he was also – by his own admission – obese, and not happy with how he looked. Many people can identify with that. What they can’t identify with is the gigantic strength of will to go with the gigantic body and lifts.
I wanted to find out a bit more about what made him tick – how he managed to overcome the haters and forge his own path in a world obsessed with six-packs and moderation.
George took some time out of his schedule to let me interview him; I got raw, honest responses and I want to let them breathe, so I took out my questions and the focus is all on his answers.
Here you can learn how George mastered his own mind and became an expert in mental strength.
Shortly after starting lifting, my brother introduced me to a site called T-Nation, where he would read training articles. I got on there and made an account and started posting on the forums. The first thing I learned was that the general attitude of people on T-Nation was terrible – at the time it was all about “flame wars” and attacking and belittling others, and since grown men were doing it, 14 year old me joined right in.
The general attitude there was that we were “hard core”, that we all worked harder and smarter than the other sites, and that sites like bodybuilding.com were full of pussies who didn’t know anything and didn’t train hard or want to get “big”.
That learned attitude haunted me for years on bodybuilding.com, because it made me an elitist douche bag who would freely insult others.
Of course it turned out that t-nation was just a big marketing hoax, brain washing their members into thinking they were hardcore, and because they were hardcore they needed to buy those terrible overpriced Biotest supplements.
Sooner or later T-Nation stopped marketing to the “hard core” and started marketing to the single leg balance ball squatters, and at that point I started to hate their site and ended up leaving after getting banned for telling people not to pay $50 a pound for powdered sugar with BCAAs in it.
However, T-Nation is where I met a poster called Professor X. To this day he has done more to help my progress than any other source of knowledge. A huge guy who preached about multiple year bulks, getting super strong, and to not try to cut every time you see a little fat gain.
Of course he didn’t intend for me to get to 385lbs, and if bodybuilding had been my goal it would have been a terrible idea to do what I did, but at the time I was doing it to be strong and gaining muscle was basically just a plus.
Don’t Ever Quit
There were times when i wanted to quit.
But lifting had become a part of my life that I couldn’t just put away.
I realized early on that if I sacrifice more than other people in terms of weight gain and training and learning about lifting, that I would get better results than the other people.
Lifting was what made me feel successful at something; I liked feeling like I was doing well, like I was working hard, it was like proving to myself that I wasn’t worthless, and could do well if I worked hard.
So whenever people would attack me for my weight, or my appearance, it didn’t matter much, because i got great satisfaction from my lifting, and didn’t believe I would be able to get that satisfaction if I dieted down and was of average size and strength; I needed to feel good at something, and I was good at lifting heavy things.
No-one could take that away from me.
Overcoming the darkest moments
I looked to the future; I knew that if I wasn’t so strong, that people would never feel the need to take away from me the way they did, and so I told myself they were jealous of my size and strength.
I told myself that all I had to do was stick to the path and continue to progress, and that someday they would see for themselves that I was not what they told me I was.
Mind-set and Mental Strength
Your mind is everything.
Believing in yourself, and being able to find the inner motivation to do what it takes to reach your goals, is all that stands between you and reaching your goals.
If you don’t believe you can do something, you will never try, and if you never try you can never succeed.
Belief changes the world around us, because it changes our opinions of ourselves, and so it changes who we are as people.
If you believe you are a hard working person, dedicated to your goals, who doesn’t shy away from hard work or suffering, then that’s exactly what you will be, and then everything will change around you.
Coping with setbacks
When I get injured, my world practically stops turning.
I have to change my goals completely to something I can continue to succeed in so that I don’t feel like I am wasting my time, or failing myself.
When I was at my fattest ever, I had just hurt my inner thigh badly, and was contemplating a diet (“a change of goals that I could succeed in”).
I had never been strict to a diet, never been lean, I didn’t believe I could accomplish these things and so I had never tried.
When I looked at the big picture, it seemed impossible, but I knew that I could do it for a while, and so I began dieting.
I had to make up a new person in my mind.
I made up a person who I wanted to be; I sculpted a person in my mind who would do whatever it took, never shy away from a hard diet, workout, or cardio, someone who didn’t make excuses.
That person wasn’t me, i knew that person wasn’t me, but creating that person served one purpose; it was a constant reminder to me that these things were possible, because the person I created could do it, and that if I wasn’t doing what that person would do, I wasn’t doing my best.
I would find myself sitting in my room, saying “if I was awesome I would get up and do that cardio right now”, and so that’s exactly what I would do, because I had a new role model who had an incredible work ethic, someone I could admire, and I needed to feel like I was doing my best.
Sooner or later I realized that all my efforts to be like that person I made up in my mind had turned me into that person.
I was the person who could easily stick to a diet, do 2-4 sessions of cardio a day, and train multiple times a day with high volume on heavy exercises.
I had lived my life like that person for so long, that suddenly I realized that we now shared attributes.
I created a new person who could accomplish my goals, because I didn’t think I could, and by doing that I proved to myself it was possible.
I believed I could, and my belief changed the world around me.
Following in my footsteps
Know what you’re getting into.
Sit down and think how being that fat, for that long, can negatively affect you.
It’s hard on your physical and mental health, I don’t recommend it.
However if you are dead set on doing that, I will say this, if you aren’t eating clean foods and training your hardest, you are sacrificing your quality of life for no reason.
If you are going to take the plunge into a multiple year bulk where you look and feel terrible all the time, you had better have everything else in order, otherwise it isn’t worth it.
Owning your body AND mind
Just like bodybuilding and powerlifting, figure out where you want to be, work on it a little every day, sooner or later you are there. It is the same with personality.
When I saw my body changing, and realized how drastically I can control who I am through my actions, I decided I wanted to be a nice person, who would help others when possible, someone who people had positive things to say about, like the people I look up to.
It has been a gradual change, but I am told I have improved in that regard, and that only reinforces my new belief that I can continue to improve in every aspect of my life.
In the beginning I was obese, with very little muscle and strength for my age (105×1 bench when I started).
I was a big kid, tall, and weighed over 200lbs at 14 years old, so I was an easy target for older kids to bully, because after all I was bigger than they were even though they were much stronger.
I started lifting to end the bullying, and take away people’s ability to use their strength as a weapon against me.
I fell in love with the fact that when I got bigger that people no longer picked on me, and I could just be nice to people and not have to act tough, and worry that I will get beat up.
The Reactions of Others
I used to never get looked at when I went out.
I was never good looking; if someone did look at me it was a negative thing.
Now people stare a lot.
Something I’m not used to at all, and all of a sudden I’m getting told I’m good looking, which is definitely not something I’m used to.
Overall people treat me drastically different, it’s amazing how different people perceive me now.
It’s to the point where my personality no longer fits my body; I love it.
I can’t even express in words how good it feels to go from one end of the spectrum to the other in such a short time.
The world is a different place for me now.
And I like it much better.
On Bodyspace: http://bodyspace.bodybuilding.com/babyslayer/
On YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/user/geoleeman
If this article inspired you or made you think about things differently, leave a comment. Me and George would both love to hear from you!