Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Training with my daughter and her letter to me....

I shared this on Facebook last night.  I know everyone doesn't follow me there and that's cool, but it had such a positive response and made my training partner so happy, I thought I would share it here as well (I know the blog has been dead lately because I've been swamped and writing articles at other places).

This is a VERY personal tl;dr. So if you're going to be one of those assholes, just bypass it right now. Otherwise, I think you might get something out of this.

So I have spent about the last half hour sobbing uncontrollably.

I have just gathered myself enough to write this. No, this is not a sad story or cry out for help. This is joy beyond belief, that as a dad, the kind of little things you LIVE FOR. LIVE FOR.

For those of you that have been following, my middle daughter Emmy Jo, has been training with me for a few months, and I love it. My oldest trained with me for a while but once she got old enough found other interests and wanted to get away from training. And that's ok. Not everyone takes to training like some of us do.

But Emmy Jo, she works hard man. This is not me bragging, or embellishing. She absolutely pushes me, and demands I work harder, and when I'm not focused she helps get me focused. It's almost like in some ways she's been training for a long time, and is the exact kind of training partner I need.

So she sent me this email tonight, that she wrote about a week ago, but had been saving up for me.

I want to say a few things about it before you read it -

1. As a father, what we give our kids is a part of who we are. And for the rest of their life that will have a negative or positive impact on them, their friends, their significant others, and their children (if they have any). And this is what building YOUR LEGACY is about. Giving your kids the best part of you that you can. Yes, you will fail at times, and they will see that. And what I remind myself is, I need to show them how I respond to falling, and failing, and that my response to such is what is most important. Because we are all going to fall, and fail and it's what is revealed after that, that is most important.

2. I had this conversation with Brandon Lilly the other day about training. I've gotten back to this supreme love of training again. Something that has been missing since my youth, that I didn't really realize until the last few months. I don't care about weight on the bar, or about youtube, or impressing anyone, or any of that shit. The only place I even post any training vids now is on IG, and that's because people asked me to start posting my training logs again. But what has returned, especially with training with Emmy, is just that very simple love of training hard, having fun, and remembering what the iron gave us in our roots. What made it stick. It wasn't about Youtube numbers, or likes, or any of that social media bullshit. It was how it made us feel. The confidence it gave us, the fire we had to go in and work hard, despite the weight on the bar, and instead training to shut down "haters" or fight off ridicule we did so because we LOVED TO TRAIN.

And I have found that again, and it's become even more magnified training with Emmy.

So tonight I get an e-mail from her, and it brought me to my knees and filled my heart up as completely as it has been in forever. Because as a father, the area I don't...I can't fail....is with my kids. If I do, I will go to the ends of the Earth to make it right.

So getting this, along with the time Fat BayBay made comic books about me, is one of the most dear and precious things I've ever gotten in my life. I asked her if I could share it, or if she wanted it to be just between me and her. And she wanted me to share it.

So I hope you understand that in me sharing this, it's letting you into a piece of my life that is really dear to me, and to her. I also hope it puts some things back into perspective about what the iron can and should mean to all of us. That perhaps someplace along the way, we lost what she is writing about to me here.

So here it is...............

Hi I'm Emmy Jo , I go to the gym and lift weights with my dad every two days. I've been doing this for a couple of months and before I started everything felt blurry and tiring . I was very skinny , my sleeping patterns were up and down and all over , I was depressed and I had horrible eating habits.
Everyday felt like a challenge just to wake up because I was too weak to want to get out of bed and do anything. I thought that nothing could change me.

And I remember when I was nine , my dad told me "emmy jo you know I'm going to make you work out with me in a couple years." And I would just groan and cringe. But then I took it in consideration . So I asked dad if I could workout with him. Not because i wanted to be jacked or ripped. And not because I wanted to be dad's favorite ( even though that would've been an advantage , nah I'm jk). I just needed something to occupy myself. Something to be sidetracked with.

So my first day of lifting was in May of 2015 , a week after school ended. I remember being really scared. Not because of the people at the gym staring me down , or because there were prettier people there making me feel bad. I felt scared of failure , that I wouldn't be able to impress my dad or even others.

And that day was a lot harder than most. I was so weak. And I was so tired. I had no idea how I could do it again and I thought that I shouldve just quit. Or I would never be able to impress anyone.

Today is September 27th of 2015. before today I was never able to even press the bar when benching. I was that weak. But today I did five sets of eight on the bar. I never thought in a million years I would be able to do that. And I know , I know , it's only forty five ilbs, but a couple weeks ago I wasn't able to even do one set of one. So I was pretty proud of myself. And I wasn't proud because I got to do the bar (whoot whoot , you know?) I was proud because I was able to make someone else proud. My dad. He started laughing after I finished my first set and hugged me. I had never felt so much joy and strength. I wasn't a strong woman , or a body builder, but i was growing into a happy daughter . And every time I have even a slim of success I grow into more and more happiness .

I always think back to my first day , and think about how much it turned my life around. Of how inspired I've gotten, how much stronger I'm getting and how happy I've become. That day was a life changing moment. And I wouldn't trade that day for a trillion dollars , or even one direction to live with me. So thanks dad , for the help.


  1. As a younger father with younger daughters this moved me in such a positive way. I'm still figuring so much out, but these intangible moments you speak of go without saying. The best feeling a parent can have. Keep it up, and to your daughter, awesome stuff. Keep on keeping on.

  2. It's interesting hearing a person with legitimate credit just getting back to having fun. I spent last year having zero fun trying to hit goals that mattered zero really. I work long hours on a 3rd shift and I just figured out recently that I can't come home after not seeing the sun all day and get at it like it must happen. Stopped keeping a journal and doing reps and had fun. More on point, joined my wife in doing the 21 day fix and I'm using 8lb dumbells because it's what she has and our 3yr old couldn't be more impresses with us. It's truly just having fun.

  3. That is some beautiful shit, bro.

  4. As a father of a 5 year old girl, this gave me goosebumps. Thank you for sharing!

  5. This is fantastic. I needed to read this. I need to get back to my love of training for it's own sake and how good it makes me feel. Not worrying about numbers on the bar, or my standing on powerliftingwatch, or what I need to hit at meets.

    Many many thanks to you and Emmy Jo for sharing this!

  6. Thank you Paul and Emmy for sharing this. I'm the father of all girls (4 of them) and this really spoke to me. My only goal in life is to give my girls a father and solid, positive male role model. It makes me excited to get my olded in the garage gym with me soon!

  7. Sometimes life gets in the way. We make choices that affect us and others in the future in ways we didnt expect. A small thing in the moment can be devastation later on. I seperated myself from my daughter for 6 yrs but I gained insight and wisdom and let them return. Now the past 3 yrs have been a tough learning experience but very rewarding. Today the idea of life is so skewed by technology that we have lost our true sense of humanity. Your daughter is lucky that you have instilled in her very real values and now she is blossoming. You are a great dad. I have silently read your blog for some time and you are a rare person indeed my friend. I am glad that life has giving you the rewards you have. For me its been a real struggle with the iron game. Its been 14 yrs of lifting but much of it has been wasted. Lately for me too has the fun returned training on my own at home. Out of so many years lifting only a few months have been in a gym and I never was fueled by other bros or chiks but an inner drive to be better and yet there was something missing...family. The true meaning of being a dad is to inspire. I hope that we all can get our heart into it for ourselves and our loved ones and not for the next PR, meet or world records cuz in the end when we are on the last breath the real gold medal is won when our offspring bids us farewell with true strength. :)

  8. This is an incredibly candid picture of you and your daughter's relationship, Paul. Thank you for sharing it and well done.

  9. Beautiful, truly. I trained my oldest daughter for some years, and when she comes home from college we continue to do so. I hope she stays with it, and you guys continue to build stronger minds, bodies and love in the gym.

  10. Thanks for sharing, happy for you and your daughter.

  11. Awesome, Thanks Emmy Jo for letting Paul share this.

  12. Awesome, thanks Emmy Jo for letting Paul share this.

  13. This just made me smile, thanks for sharing it!