Today I met my goal of deadlifting 450 lbs. I set this goal back late last year when a group of friends who also suffer from Parkinson’s and I decided that we wanted to share our success managing our Parkinson symptoms using strength training. You see, what we have found is that if we push ourselves physically, our Parkinson’s symptoms are greatly reduced. While there are plenty of stories of People with Parkinson’s (PwP) using running, cycling, or boxing to help manage their symptoms, there are relatively few stories of People with Parkinson’s (PwP) using strength training to accomplish similar, if not even greater results. My friends and I decided to set deadlift goals for ourselves, to achieve by April. We called our group, Parkies Pulling for Parkies (PP4P) And so in January, I began my efforts to hit a deadlift single rep max of 450 lbs. A goal that seemed to me properly challenging, so as to be therapeutic for my Parkinson’s symptoms, yet achievable enough to keep me motivated. A goal that a relatively short time ago, would have seemed unthinkable.
Two and a half years ago, I could barely stand for more than a short time and could barely hobble from the couch to the kitchen. Then 38 years old, Parkinson’s had ravaged my body and mind to the point that I wasn’t sure I’d see my 40th birthday. Now, two and a half years later, I’m thriving. This is in part, thanks to modern medicine, as the medication I take regularly certainly helps. However as most PwP will tell you, medication by itself is not enough. You have to Move. A lot…and so i started doing just that. Somewhere along my journey I discovered power lifting. I found that the squat and deadlift in particular seem to have the almost magical ability to make movement easier. So I started posting videos on Facebook of me deadlifting, to show how I use it to help manage my Parkinson’s symptoms. A few fellow PwP saw this and reached out about doing friendly deadlift competition. Ultimately we decided it best that everyone compete against themselves; PP4P was born.
Now that I have achieved my goal of deadlifting 450 lbs, I am of course proud! Yet, as proud as I am of the accomplishment, I’m careful to not forget the whole point of the entire exercise. Even though my family calls me Parky Superman, I am not in fact, Superman. I will never hope to achieve any kind of real notoriety with my strength. What I gain however from going through this exercise is nothing less than my life. When I get to hear the joyous giggling of my kids as I rough-house with them on the trampoline. As I get to see a beautiful garden with my lovely wife on a stroll. As I enjoy a challenging hike with friends. Or even that I have the satisfaction of successfully holding down a challenging yet rewarding career and providing for my family….these are the real reasons that I get up in the morning and consistently put myself through this. Because the effort is worth it. And what is at stake is nothing less than my life, beautiful life.