Embrace the Suck
This week I’d like to talk a bit about mental toughness and discipline. I want to preface this article by asking you to reflect back on your life. I’d like you to think back to a time when you’ve made an important decision that ended up improving your life. Maybe that was the decision to ask for a promotion, start a business, leave a job, relocate, or switch careers; or maybe it was the decision to cut out a toxic friend/family member/significant other from your life, or do whatever it took to make a certain friendship/relationship work; or maybe something completely different comes to mind.
Whatever it is for you, I want you to think back on this time and ask yourself, “what would my life look like had I not made this decision?” Odds are, you’d still be hating your job, you’d still be stuck in a toxic relationship, or you’d regret giving up on the one that got away. I’d be willing to bet that making this decision was hard, and it took lots of dedication to make sure that it worked out for the better. There were probably times when you questioned your decision and thought about going back to your old ways, but you persevered and stuck with your decision anyway and your life is now better because of it. Life changing decisions require you to be mentally tough and disciplined, and your decision to try and improve your life through going to the gym is no different.
There’s a dirty little secret that the average trainer/fitness coach won’t tell you: accomplishing your goals is going to be hard. Like, REALLY hard. Whether you want to get stronger, lose some weight, improve your performance on the field, shave some time off your mile run, or just improve your health numbers at your next annual check up, you’re going to need to put in a lot of work consistently for a long time to see any meaningful progress. You’re going to need to show up to 99.999% of your training sessions consistently for more than just a few weeks if you truly want to change your life. You’re also going to need to take control of all of the other variables outside of the gym that may be holding you back. You may be going to the gym for 4-5 hours per week, but there are over 160 additional hours that you spend outside of the gym each week. What are you doing during those 160+ hours to help you reach your goals? It doesn’t matter how hard you work in the gym if you’re not taking care of business outside of the gym. If you’re trying to get stronger, it doesn’t matter how many sets of deadlifts you did during your last training session if you’re only getting a few hours of sleep each night. If you’re trying to lose weight, it doesn’t matter how “healthy” your diet is if you’re going out drinking multiple times per week. It’s important to have the discipline to keep your goals in mind during those hours you spend outside of the gym.
There’s no sugar coating it; there are going to be times where it will be hard to stay dedicated to your goals. There will be times where the gym is the last place you want to be, or that last meal prep container for the week is the last thing you want to eat. Or maybe your strength is starting to plateau and your body is feeling a little beat up but your program calls for a few more hard weeks before a deload; maybe you’re tired of feeling hungry throughout the day and going to bed hungry while trying to lose weight; maybe you’ve got a crazy schedule and feel like you don’t have time to fit your workouts in; or maybe your friends keep asking you to go out drinking and partying and you’re having a hard time saying no. During these times, it’s important to remember why you’re doing what you’re doing. Everybody’s “why” is a little different, but they all fit under one broad umbrella: Accomplishing your goal is going to improve your life in some way, shape, or form.
Once you’ve remembered your “why,” it’s important to refer back to it when you’re going through rough patches on your journey to becoming better. The sucky times are inevitable, but like the title of this article says, it’s important to embrace them. If you give up every time it gets tough to stick to your goals, you will never make any real, lasting progress. The people who make the best progress are the ones who work the hardest the most consistently for the longest amount of time. Anybody can get a little bit stronger by working out a couple times per week for a few weeks, but it takes consistency over months and years to take your squat from 135lbs to 405lbs. Anybody can lose a couple pounds by trying out the newest fad diet for a few weeks, but it takes dedication and mental toughness in and out of the gym to go from 300lbs to 200lbs.
If being fit, strong, and healthy was quick and easy, everybody would be doing it. It takes a special kind of mentality to be able to push through the tough times and keep the bigger picture in mind when you are going through a rough patch. Think back to other tough times in your life and remember that you’re now better because of them.
I’ll leave you with this quote by an unknown author as a reminder that the person in charge of you accomplishing your goals is you and only you.
“Don’t be upset by the results you didn’t get with the work you didn’t do”