While yesterday, I sent one of my clients a text and asked her how her food journal was coming along. She responds: "Oh. Of course you ask me right now after I buy a soft pretzel. This fitness stuff is hard."
Both of these instances got me thinking about my own relationship with wellness. I realized that I don't complain about it and I don't find it hard ... anymore. A mental shift occurred at some point along the way, though I'm not sure at which point that was. I'd imagine that it came sometime around when I came to understand that even an increase of five pounds in a max effort lift was something to celebrate. Whenever it occurred doesn't matter because that shift did occur.
In fact, when you take on a new endeavor, any new endeavor, a shift does eventually occur so long as you stick with it long enough. For example, if you ever learned a foreign language, whether it was a requirement in high school, a college course, or a hobby purchase of a Rosetta Stone box set, the shift is similar. It goes something like this:
You start learning a new language. All of a sudden you know a lot of words and phrases. You can point to the kitchen table and say "Der Tisch" or you're driving down the road and without thinking anything at all, you find the words, "Ich fahre mein rot Auto" playing through your mind." It's great! You're picking up so much, and it's so easy!
Then, you get into conditional statements and future tense and subjective something-or-others, and you're expected to know grammatical things in a foreign language that you don't even know in your own native tongue. And you realize just how much you don't know. That's when it gets frustrating and scary, but if you're a good, dedicated student, you sit down for thirty minutes every day and even if it isn't that much fun, you put in your time, learning your new language. It's a dark period, and it's full of setbacks.
Suddenly--and you're not quite sure when--you're reading Rilke in the original German, and somehow this:
Ich will mich entfalten.
Nirgends will ich gebogen bleiben,
denn dort bin ich gelogen, wo ich gebogen bin.
becomes easier to read, and more beautiful to read, than in the translation:
I want to unfold.
Let no place in me hold itself closed,
for where I am closed, I am false.
And you can look at German language newspapers and read their celebrity tabloids, even do a crossword puzzle, and it's enjoyable and it isn't work. You dream in your new language, and it's very simply just another part of you, like your first language, like breathing.
There was a shift.
I believe in several things when it comes to health, fitness, and wellness. One of those is if people had greater faith in themselves, they could understand that commitment doesn't mean balls and chains and no more fun and constant mental battles. For many people, it does mean this for a little while, but stick with an intelligently designed training and nutrition protocol and not only with your lifestyle change, your entire mentality will shift.
You don't know what you don't know. You don't know that the struggle you have to make to get to the gym won't NOT go away someday or that you won't ALWAYS dream of margaritas and chocolate pudding and bread. And people who believe it will always be a struggle simply haven't gotten to the point where that mental shift has occurred. So all the "healthy" things they do are gottas and have-tos and shoulds. Not wants.
I recently experienced another shift of my own. I turned to fasting every day. I fast (or consume some high quality whey protein every few hours) throughout the day and feast on excellent food in the evening.
And I realized something. I feel great. Absolutely and stunningly great. I'm alert and focused throughout the day (not devastatingly hungry or unable to focus on work), and I've made some awesome gains.
In the past five days alone, I've lost an inch off of my waist. And I just tested my deadlift max yesterday (after two weeks of committed intermittent fasting, no refined sugars, no grains, no dairy, and no alcohol)...and I upped my max to 280 lbs. Only 10 pounds shy of twice my bodyweight (Did I mention I was stuck at 235 lbs until 8 months ago?) So you know, that's pretty sweet.
The truth is, the reason I don't complain about working out is because (1) it isn't "working out", it's training and (2) I just don't feel the need to complain about it. I've gotten to the point where even if I've had one hell of a day, I'm on autopilot driving to the gym, changing into workout gear, and swinging a bell, until I'm out of my funk and into the training session. But at the same time, 99.7% of the time, I'm excited about training. It's a part of my life where I can log and see improvements in a tangible way that other aspects of life just don't or can't offer. There are goals and gains and setbacks that I can track, and underlying those are mental and emotional strides that I can't so easily.
...And without overthinking it, what is really boils down to is this stuff is fun. It's FUN. Mix it up, laugh a little, try a new complex or a new movement. Play. It's all about the oodles and making lots of them. Lots and lots of oodles.
To get you started...try out this locomotive kettlebell complex:
And then afterwards, cook yourself a fine meal, enjoy it with friends, hang out by the pool, play with the dog. Whatever. Just enjoy life. Because the better you live, the better you live.