“Why do you work out so hard?”
I could hear the words coming from behind, but I wasn’t sure if they were directed at me.
“Hey, bro. Why do you work out so hard?
I stepped away from the trap bar, turned around, and acknowledged the trainer to my left. He was leaning against the wall, talking to me while looking up at the TV.
“You’re always in here working like crazy. Why do you do it?”
I looked at him with an emotionless face and told him, “Why not?” Not wanting to be interrupted, I let my one-word answer suffice and went back to my deadlifts.
I remember being frustrated that day. It’s the type of negativity that I try to limit, but I was irritated; I was surprised by the oddity of the question, and bothered that it was even asked at all.
Maybe I shouldn’t have been so upset. Maybe my reaction was overblown. But the one thing that I now know is that I gave the wrong answer.
The Day It All Changed
I can’t tell you how difficult it’s been to write this blog, let alone put everything into context. But I feel an obligation to try.
I haven’t thought about that interaction with the trainer for about six months, but tonight it found its way into my head. It all started with an email I received from Chad, one of my online clients.
I was walking back to my office when I saw the message waiting for me. The subject read: “Thoughts and prayers for Lindy.”
I swallowed hard and was afraid to open the email. I had the same reaction as when I wake up in the dark of night convinced someone is in my house—an awkward mix of nervousness, anxiety, and fear.
Call it a gut feeling. Call it intuition. But I knew something was wrong.
It was just a day ago I was emailing Chad. He was on vacation with his wife Lindy, another one of my online clients. Lindy has a special charm. She’s the type of person that emails you videos of her baby Beren, and has goals like “Lose baby weight and survive the Zombie apocalypse.”
Chad and Lindy were on a ski vacation, and he was joking about how they’d gone a little lax on their diet because they figured all the calories they were burning on the slopes would even things out. I told him that it’s vacation and that he should enjoy.
Actually that was my last word, “Enjoy.”
I finally opened the email. Chad’s message started in the worst of ways: “I hate to bring you this awful news…”
Chad wanted my help. Lindy suffered a serious injury in a ski accident, and had multiple spinal fractures. She was life-flighted off the mountain for emergency surgery.
I read the words over and over, as my tears landed on my iPhone. It hit a little too close to home. I remember a similar message in the form of a call from my brother just a few years ago, letting me know that my father was taken by flight for life after a skiing accident.
I kept reading, only being able to process the important pieces.
“Odds are against her ever walking…”
“Or holding her baby…”
“I don’t know where we will go from here…”
When I was done, I sped home to hug my wife. I told her I loved her. And then I took my phone, wrote to Chad, gathered myself and filmed a video for Lindy.
The Importance of Strength
The video was short and simple. There’s not much you can say to someone when they are at the start of a new journey that will be tough and arduous. But that’s what I viewed it as; not an end or a beginning—just a new journey. A new challenge. And that’s what I wanted to share. My message ended with the most important reminder:
“You take care, you get better soon, and you stay strong.”
Strong. The word had new meaning now. For years I’ve seen how building physical strength can help improve mental and emotional strength. I’ve even documented how lifting weights changed my entire life, saved me from injury and doubt, and served as a beacon of hope for so many people in the darkest of times.
But now I believed that in this moment, few things were more important than strength. I was convinced that if Lindy stayed strong, that everything would be ok.
After thinking about it over and over again, I know that Lindy will be ok. I’ve already seen what she can do. How hard she works. And the type of incredible human being she is. The accident changes none of that. It only creates a new challenge.
I know that she will push on, fight, and create happiness. That’s just who she is. And she can do it because she’s strong. I’m not naïve. I know many challenges and hardships—physical, mental, and emotional—wait ahead. And while I don’t know what her future world looks like, I do believe that it will be ok as long as she continues to stays strong.
Why Do You Workout?
Two hours after I sent the video to Chad, I received his response:
“Lindy’s day is made. First goal identified: Holding [baby] Beren.”
I’m writing this now not because I wanted to share a private story, but because I want you to help Lindy build her strength.
One day ago Lindy was perfectly healthy and making the most of her life. She was active, doing what she wanted, and taking the most of her opportunities.
One day later, things have changed. But her spirit has not. Her desire has not. And a will to create the life she wants still burns within her.
That’s why I believe she will hold Beren. That’s why I believe in Lindy. She represents the mindset that I would wish upon everyone. No matter what: Do everything in your power to build the life you want.
I stayed up all night thinking about Lindy. Praying for her, and believing that she will hold her beautiful baby boy.
As I’ve tried to process everything that’s happened, the story with the trainer popped into my head. At first I was upset at myself for thinking about such a random event. It didn’t make sense. But I felt like my mind was trying to tell me something; a lesson that I could take forward and share.
Why do I train so hard?
The answer: I do it because I can.
It’s the same reason I love my wife, I love my family, and approach everything with an unbridled passion and optimism. I do it because I can.
I refuse to use Lindy as a cautionary tale. She is a story of motivation, inspiration, and strength. And that’s why I want your help.
Do you believe in Lindy?
If so, share this message with your friends. Comment on this post and share your thoughts. Spread the word on Twitter with the hashtag #BelieveInLindy. She is reading and listening. Let her know that you believe in her as much as she believes in herself.
My hope is that our strong belief—combined with her own strength—will help Lindy hold her son Beren. Why? Because she can.
Make it Count,
Adam Bornstein is a New York Times bestselling author and, according to The Huffington Post, “one of the most inspiring sources in all of health and fitness.” An award-winning writer and editor, Bornstein was the Fitness and Nutrition editor for Men’s Health, Editorial Director at LIVESTRONG.com, and a columnist for SHAPE, Men’s Fitness, and Muscle & Fitness. He’s also a nutrition and fitness advisor for LeBron James, Cindy Crawford, Lindsey Vonn, and Arnold Schwarzenegger. His work has been featured in dozens of publications, including The New York Times, Fast Company, ESPN, and GQ, and he’s appeared on Good Morning America, The Today Show, E! News, and The Cheddar.