The Lift: Goals Are Made to be Reached
Hearing Eddie Hall talk about the incredible journey he went on in order to lift 500 kilos completely blew my mind. He not only conquered a feat of the human body, but a feat of the human mind.
He was able to train himself psychologically and physically to complete a task no man had ever even come close to doing. At the top of the lift, Eddie actually held the weight for 4 seconds, smiling out at the crowd. It was his moment to say “up yours” to all the haters. His accomplishment was a triumph, but those extra seconds came at a cost.
Recovering from the Lift Physically
When Eddie collapsed after lifting half a ton, paramedics tried multiple times to revive him; it took almost three hours to get Eddie back to health. After he admits he couldn’t remember how to drive a car, and the next day at his son’s birthday party he couldn’t remember the people who were in attendance.
He would have full conversations with close family members and then have to ask his wife afterwards who he was talking to. He was stuttering and repeating the same conversations.
He went to a specialist who told him the extreme pressure he put on his body during the lift may have burst something in his head. It took time, but eventually Eddie got back to normal working with the specialist to get his mind back in order.
When asked if he would do it again, Eddie states not only would he, but he would add even more weight. Probably 510kg he explained!
Recovering from the Lift Emotionally
Eddie also carries some emotional scars from the lift. He has never been able to share with anyone the actual scenario he created in his psyche in order to lift the weight. Whenever he has tried, he breaks down.
He also began to struggle with depression. We talked about how with most athletes, there’s a major high when they win the gold metal or break the record, whatever it is. However, the high doesn’t last forever. There’s the lingering question of “what is life after success?”
One day you’re doing the biggest lift in human history, and the next you’re doing dishes. It’s a crazy thing to grapple with. To Eddie, it felt like no one really cared about his accomplishments. At the end of the day, he was really hit with the reality of his life after all the training and all the smashing of his goals.
He had to reset and reevaluate and it was really hard. He luckily had one more big goal: to win The World’s Strongest Man.
Journey to The World’s Strongest Man
Another one of Eddie’s first memories was of his whole family sitting around watching The World’s Strongest Man. He saw how mezmorized his mom and dad were watching the program, so he told them that that would be him one day. They laughed, but Eddie was hurt, he wasn’t joking around.
His family had always been hard on him, and he was always a competitive athlete. In school, Eddie was a championship swimmer. He was 13 and on the World Class Potential Squad; he was that good.
At the same time, Eddie started to struggle from crippling anxiety. He couldn’t eat or drink, he felt sick all the time, and his swimming career suffered. He started having anxiety attacks at school and stopped leaving the house. He began to rebel and started fighting a lot. He was drawn to drinking, drugs and violence. He ended up getting expelled from high school and kicked off his swimming squad. For 18 months Eddie barely left the house except to see a psychiatrist.
He completely broke down and was at rock bottom. His parents were incredibly worried about him and suggested he join a gym. After that first session at the gym, Eddie felt a true sense of euphoria. He had a new outlet for his energy and his aggression. When he was 19 he entered his first Strongman Contest.
Relationship with Nan
During all this, Eddie’s grandmother was diagnosed with cancer and as the years passed, her health started failing. Eddie was wrecked by this; his Nan was the most important person in his life. She was always there for him regardless of what kind of trouble he got into. She knew how to calm Eddie down and she kept him on the straight and narrow. She also always encouraged Eddie’s dreams and believed in him when no one else did.
It was on his Nan’s deathbed that Eddie promised her he would one day win The World’s Strongest Man in her honor. He knew it was a promise he would never break because he never wanted to let his Nan down. Through all the hard times that followed, he would think about Nan watching down on him and it helped him get through everything.
Eddie got incredibly emotional talking about his Nan and I was so moved by his absolute and total love for her. He credits his Nan for every single one of his successes. Both in her life and in her death, she was what kept Eddie going.
Sacrifices for Strongman
During the years that Eddie dedicated his life to training for The Strongman, he completely isolated himself from his family. He would get up at 6am work until 5pm then train for at least four hours then go to sleep and repeat.
It was an incredibly difficult time for Eddie he was “ill” with obsession over the competition. All he ever thought of was the Strongman. He went weeks without seeing his wife or kids. There were a lot of dark moments, but at his worst, he thought of Nan and it kept him going.
He looks back on the time and is very upset with himself. He didn’t know his own children and it hurt his wife very deeply. He felt very selfish for sacrificing his family for his own goals, and his wife did end up leaving him five weeks before the competition.
However, he promised her as soon as he won he would change his life. He easily won The World’s Strongest Man in 2017, finally completing his life goal.
The dedication, drive, and heart that Eddie displays is truly remarkable. He has faced some incredible challenges in his life, but he has always come out on the other side. I hope that this interview inspires you to tackle your own goals with the same unwavering determination.