First some quick housekeeping: the paperback of my new book Spandex Not Compulsory is now available through well-stocked online retailers.
And now this week’s blog post.
When You Feel Like Giving Up
Showing up to train is easy when all is swell. You’re seeing results and being fueled by the powerful concoction of energy, anticipation and progress that keeps you coming back and striving for more.
Yet, only beginners are naïve enough to think this is the norm.
If you’ve been training any longer than six months you know constant, linear progress is a short-lived, fairy tale scenario that only happens to Mickey in the Disney Gym.
But eventually all of us face the non-Disney Gym reality. The shock wake up to the miserable world where Donald Duck looks more like Donald Trump. Maybe it is that our progress slows down or even stalls. Or perhaps, against a better judgement, we keep pushing too hard and too fast to where the body can’t keep up.
You have two options
Persist, listen to your body and mind, and scissor-kick Donald Duck in the kidney (still looks like Trump). Or stop, quiver, call the wambulance and whither away like a silent fart in Sahara.
To be more of a Donald Duck-kicker and less of a Saharan fart requires you to answer tough questions.
Do I want to be going through this?
First, it’s ok to say no. Having a strong urge to say no often means you believe the effort is not worth the reward. You may do so and no one can tell you it’s wrong.
But because saying no is the easy way out and feels right in the heat of the moment doesn’t mean it is what’s best for you.
Let’s get personal
I’ve been dealing with on/off back pain for a long time. Let’s just say that it’s a nice reminder of the past times of being young and dumb. Nothing serious, but anyone’s who has dealt with back pain knows how debilitating it can be. During the Disney-times I can go months, even a year without an issue. During those bouts me and Mickey are best friends, overhead pressing singing Friend Like Me.*
Then I set off the pain (a combination of factors) and might go months with more or less constant pain, ache and a mental-misery. I have to change my training to compensate for the pain. It’s shit. And yes, I want to give up everything and anything related to fitness. I want to be that silent fart in Sahara. It’s hard to resist the urge to pick up the phone and call the wambulance.
Yet, most of the time I am wired to think long term over short term. Can’t say it’s something I’ve cultivated because I’ve been that way as long as I can remember. And so I know that, maybe subconsciously, I know this too will pass. I know that if I give up now, I will be worse off down the road. My fitness, health and quality of life would suffer as a result of stopping.
And so I change, limit, reduce and alter my approach to training until I get the back pain under control. I look for answers and know myself better next time to not do whatever sets off the pain. In theory, anyway. Lifting ego is a real thing and I too suffer from it.
Think about the hardship you might face now. What if you keep going? In a year’s time, would you be happy you kept showing up?
Can I find a way through this? Or am I going to get stuck with the negative thought of “this is too hard, challenging, painful and uncomfortable”?**
Misery loves misery. When you’re feeling down about yourself, there’s nothing more satisfying that to ladle some more shit-sauce on yourself.
You know the feeling when you’re swimming in your self-loathing and just want to dive deeper into it. It feels good to feel sorry for yourself. Sweet
Jesus Brian, how good does it feel! In a hazy way.
Being able to acknowledge these thought running wild in your mind is the first step towards the bright lights of Disneyland and the warm embracing arms of Mickey. And meditation and mindfulness can help you do that.
Learn to recognise your thoughts as they arise. Refrain from judging what you’re feeling. Rather, observe and acknowledge what is happening.
Sometimes taking a concrete-hard look at yourself during hard times is necessary. Who are you and what are you made of?
I am not conveying that getting over hard times is always this straight-forward for everyone. As I’ve said many times, if you suffer from life-limiting anxiety or depression get professional help. There’s nothing weak about that.
**I got this from somewhere but can’t remember where. Therefore can’t credit whoever that someone somewhere was.