The Struggle Is Real
How often do most of us neglect the beauty of difficult times and the incredible feeling when the obstacles are overcome? I work with a client, “Chris”, who came to me because he was at a point that seemed, to him, to be the point of no return. The list of complications, aches and pains, past surgeries, his previous failed attempts, and other things that just went on and on. Regardless of what state he was in, I reassured him that even the greatest odds can be overcame with determination and the right plan. I helped out with the special olympics powerlifting meet before and saw people with much worse situations do incredible things!
The first part of the process for Chris was getting the motivation to say enough is enough! He wanted to live without pain, to wake up and feel good, to be able to get on the ground with his grandchild smoothly and without hurting. Taking that motivation and acting on it was critical, because motivation is powerful but it has a tendency to rise and fall. He took the motivation and worked it into his life routine, with checks and balances. For some people, like Chris, that means setting a schedule with me, a personal trainer, to help hold him accountable, and to make the necessary investment in himself. I helped him understand that although he is on the right journey, it would be filled with hard work and it wouldn’t be a walk in the park.
Now that Chris got the ball rolling by meeting with me and gathering as much information as possible it was time to get to work. Chris had to start from ground zero, learning which muscles made which movement happen with his body. Going up steps caused knee ache (due to being overweight and his previous surgeries that created improper movement) making him focus on the pain alone, and slowly his mind turned off from how to step up in the correct way (which would actually resolve the pain). Chris had accepted that steps were going to always hurt and he would need knee replacements for that to go away. Muscles are an important part to the skeletal structure! There is this myth that joint pain is only corrected by joint replacements or something needing done surgically… I strongly recommend seeing someone who is able to assess your posture and movements before assuming you need a joint replacement (this does not mean you should not consult a doctor, just don’t write off your pain as something that can’t be corrected with some hard work and determination). It didn’t take long for Chris to start feeling relief in his knees when taking stairs or long days on his feet, and seeing progress is an added dose of motivation! He started coming 3 times a week because feeling pain free was now a possibility.
As I mentioned, I told Chris that it would not be all rainbows and butterflies, especially with someone who has been through set backs such as his. Re-learning how to use your body can be extremely frustrating, not to mention make you feel completely insecure and embarrassed. Needing to hold onto the wall for support while being told how to properly control his body into a lunge repeatedly to what felt like no avail was crushing his spirit. He got upset with himself and his “inability” because he expected so much more from himself and couldn’t believe the point he was at. This is the part where your mind wants to fight you, the struggle. As humans we avoid hardships and discomfort because it’s natural for us, so something that difficult shouldn’t be done, it isn’t logical. He started convincing himself that he wasn’t any good and was shooting himself down for trying because he felt so low. This made his movements even worse because instead of focusing on what was important, he focused on how hard it was. By focusing on the negative you invite that negativity to take ahold of your thoughts and you convince yourself of all the wrong things. The struggle was very real that invaded Chris for a few weeks (and still can at times) until he was able to realize that the work was going to be worth it. The struggle is always mental along with physical. I truly feel that the mental battle is the hardest for most people, which is why I did my best to help Chris see the light at the end of the tunnel. A month ago lunging was completely impossible, the strength wasn’t there and the pain was too much, now although it was hard, he was lunging! What is there not to be grateful for? Some days doing the right thing takes the most effort, another reason that the struggle is real.
Chris continues training with me and the improvement he has seen in his upper and lower body strength and his fine tuned movements is remarkable! He spent enough work and energy into his physical (and mental) health to the point that it is now a habit. The scheduled days missed on keeping himself healthy are now what frustrate him! Running, burpees, jumping, deadlifting, squatting, overhead pressing, and it goes on. He has conquered so much, and his life is completely changed. The man that I met on day 1 is just a faint memory, the new Chris is filled with happiness, confidence, and strength!