So it’s a new year and you’re ready to change….again. Last year you made a lot of promises and resolutions. You swore that last year would be the year when everything changed. What went wrong? Maybe you’re one of the stout few who actually achieved your goals. If so I salute you and invite you to stick around regardless. If however you’re like most folks I know and most of the resolutions you’re making this year sound a lot like last year’s then it’s time for a wake-up call. The best diet and exercise program in the world don’t mean a thing if you don’t change the way you think and live. Your attitude and mental resilience determine the success or failure of your goals. If you’re not willing to do whatever it takes in your mind to succeed then you will fail.
There is no simpler truth then what I just said. I work as a trainer in a popular CrossFit style facility and I see people come and go every month with new goals and optimism. They’re excited and ready to change, and then reality hits them square in the chest about halfway through their first workout. The reality is that this is actually going to require work, sweat, and discomfort. They usually stick around until their first month of visits expires then they quietly disappear. It would be easy to blame us as trainers for not motivating them or nurturing them enough and many do, but I cannot make a client want to change. I can show them the way, give them technique, and encouragement but in the end if they lack the heart and character to soldier on and push beyond their comfort zone then I can do little for them.
Character is severely lacking in many people today and a gym is a great environment to see this first hand. The minute the sweat starts to pour and breathing gets heavy people get nasty. Smiles disappear and they forget all about their goals, their dreams, and the reasons they came through that door in the first place. All they want is for the workout to end, and they start watching the clock like it was the Virgin Mary come down from heaven to offer deliverance from hell. I can’t fault most people for this. I say most because there are many that I train that are just worthless grown brats and need an ass kicking and a few bloody noses to put things in perspective instead of a workout.
Most people in our modern American society have never truly been tested in their lives. Even the impoverished in our country live like kings compared to most of the world’s poor. They’ve never overcame anything difficult and life changing. They have no concept of struggle. Sure they work and many have labor intensive jobs but there’s no struggle; no do or die moment where they have to truly dig deep into that inner reserve of character and heart where the animal comes through and the imperative to survive at any cost takes over everything else. Facing death has a unique way of reordering one’s priorities and measurement of what is hard and tough in life and what is merely inconvenient.
That is our first step on the road to permanent change this year and the most important. Before we get into specific workouts and nutrition choices we need to build the heart and mind of a warrior and learn to face life in that way; taking no prisoners and refusing to surrender. Instead of running from challenges and things that take us out of our comfort zone we need to be seeking them out. Every challenge conquered and difficult moment endured is like a brick in the wall of our mental fortress. Even the laziest of my clients still works out harder than 90% of society on any given day. This knowledge and realization could be incredibly motivating and liberating if they would take the time to consider it, but most will walk out of the gym and forget everything they just did.
The problem is that while they workout they’re heads are somewhere else. They’re thinking about what they’ll do when they leave or what’s going on at work. You must break this habit as a warrior. Live in the moment and in the present. We humans are unique in the animal kingdom in that we dwell on and obsess about the past, the future and things we cannot control. We do it so much that we are oblivious to all the great things and opportunities surrounding us at any given moment. We waste our lives wondering what could have been instead of making it happen. When life becomes hard, you must allow yourself to be totally there in that moment. Don’t run from it and try to “find your happy place” this is just a form of denial and mental weakness.
My worst moments in life came far away from here surrounded by people bent on my torture and death. Compared to that anything I endure here can be beaten and overcome. My hardest workouts are trifles, my longest wait a moment to pause and reflect on life, my hardest client simply a test of patience and compassion. You may not have been in the military; you may be young with little life experience. None of that matters though. Understand the worst thing that can ever happen to you is death. Even then your troubles in life will have come to an end so stop living in fear and procrastination. It is cliché but also true; you must begin living your life like every day could be the last. You must seek out experiences and new things that put you off balance and force you to overcome. Only then will you understand what it takes to achieve your goals and make change. Everything else is just mental masturbation; it feels good for a moment but after the glow passes you’re still right where you started.