Updated: Feb 4
If you are anything like me, you will have looked online to find inspiration and motivational advice on how to achieve your fitness or personal success goals. Once you go down that rabbit hole you can easily be inundated with an endless barrage of cheerful, upbeat messages that paint a wonderful, at the end of the rainbow sense of euphoria that seems too good to be true. If that isn't enough, once google or yahoo see you are interested in a certain topic you start to find it pop up seemingly everywhere online. After awhile its normal to start to create your own confirmation bias with the pictures that people are painting for you. It's easy to believe that the buffet, pick and choose, approach to learning or improving yourself in any given area can be achieved with a mere manifestation of thought. At a certain point though the rubber must meet the road. If we go too far astray from the practical reality of our goals we all tend to crash and burn to some varying degree. If we have the courage to try again and do the same thing, we eventually fall down so much so that most of us give up. We quickly walk away from the primary reason we started the goal in the first place. We tend to tumble toward our destinations by being drawn toward the pleasure of something or driven away by pain of it. It's a major part of our life story for so many of us. Can this telltale experience reveal a hidden truth about ourselves that we feel compelled to often ignore?
Why do we fail so often?
No one ever starts their day with a conscious notion of taking a sledge hammer to everything they are working hard toward. Do they? Hmmm... Can you unknowingly be the cause of your own set backs? I would say, "most certainly." In many cases, the little things that hold you back are held firmly in your grasp and you either don't know what they are or don't want to acknowledge them. We have all had an intuition at times that what we are doing isn't right but we drive on hoping that it will somehow work itself out or the "universe" will fix it for us. How often does that approach actually work? When you look closely at those euphoric rainbow-esque messages of inspiration how many of them are built on a foundation of substance vs. an apparition of hope? How many reveal to you the inherent truth that there will most always be a transition period between the starting point and the moment you gain a momentum of confidence in whatever process your are using?
For example, if you are transitioning from being unhealthy and obese to physically fit, with a sustainable mindset, you will face a modern culture that encourages endless consumption. You are destined to hit a point in the first few days or weeks that seems like a endless void. That is understandable and should be expected if you have no practical guidance to help you through the early stages of changing your nutrition and adopting specific goal-oriented exercises. It's always shocking when we still hit this wall despite having the best intentions and step by step coaching. If we are being honest with ourselves, we easily leave out the hardest parts of the process or skip over them often enough to avoid facing the price of discomfort. We blanket ourselves in the warm justification that the process should be customized to our personal preferences. Understanding the causes of our obesity doesn't mean we are demonizing the choices we made which happen to now have our body in a habit of storing calories instead of burning them.
Even as I choose to use the word "transition" I am contributing to the notion that it will seem easier than it ever ends up being. When I use the word "struggle" it may feel more accurate for most. If you are open to committing 100% to crossing the finish line of your goal then it's imperative that I share this with you. The sensation of failing is a critical element that helps us recognize and adapt to the obstacles that lie ahead. I will say that one more time.
"It's important to embrace the flames of discomfort
to forge a mindset hardened for success."
When your nutrition changes, your body will resist it at first. If processed sugar is your big issue then you will feel strong cravings for it. Your mind will scream for it at times. You can increase your fat, protein and water intake to pacify the internal struggle but in the end it will be uncomfortable for many of us. You will feel frustration as you get diminished or no immediate results. How and when we hit the initial wall will be slightly different for everyone but we can all agree that it will occur. I say let it happen and be comforted by your resolve to conquer that singular mental and at times, emotional challenge. The truth is that it's chemistry at work and not much more. We are all far stronger than we believe.
Make the Daily Choice to be Strong
As I get older I have come to redefine my notion of what it means to get strong. I used to think in terms of strong vs weak, which was more of an all or nothing approach. I measured strength on pure physicality for the most part. It's an inherent part of the male culture I suppose. Now, I can see the idea of being strong as a relative term with deeper shades of grey. I have come to place greater value on the actual daily actions required to increase strength, both mentally and physically. The process of getting strong is where we can blossom the seeds of confidence into a flourishing sense of self-belief. When we falter with our nutrition or daily exercise we can anchor ourselves to the strength gained from the other side of past failures and set backs.
Make no mistake, I am not here to paint a picture of a little hard work or discomfort leading to an overwhelming ocean full of pride filled success. In fact, its the other way around. It's not until you reach a threshold of daily strength building rooted in leaping through a hoop of failure that you can find genuine solace in any outcome whether its reaching the moon, the stars or even the empty void of space. (metaphorically of course) If you are fighting an illness, depression, anxiety, obesity or perhaps improving a business, a relationship, your fitness; we will almost always be faced with a daily crossroads that requires a conscious choice to push forward through the urges to give up. How many times have you made the decision to say, "I've had enough. I can't do it." It doesn't matter how many times you have. If you are happy with that call then you made the right call. If you are not...well, you know what to do. Start again with the knowledge that you have just gained a tiny bit more strength to face tomorrow's crossroads.