Struggle. What a hefty word. As a personal trainer, I see other people struggling almost every day. And when I say struggle, I mean that in every sense of the word: physical, mental and emotional. I guess you could say I’m a professional struggle coach.
In my experience, the best way to overcome something is to dissect it inside and out until you either find peace or make peace with it, or at least make enough peace with it (whatever “it” is) so that it doesn’t continue to torment you throughout your life. So let’s start with dissecting what it means to struggle.
WHAT IS STRUGGLING?
To struggle can mean several things, some of which include:
• Strive to achieve or attain something in the face of difficulty or resistance (ex: a fitness goal that may seem unachievable)
• Make every effort, do one’s best/utmost, bend over backwards (ex: doing your best to follow your nutrition plan)
• Have difficulty handling or coping with (ex: having difficulty with time-management, making time for family and workouts, meal-planning, etc.)
• Make forceful or violent efforts to get free of restraint or constriction (ex: feeling confined to a certain diet or calorie restrictions)
• Engage in conflict (ex: engaging in conflict with weights during a workout, lol)
• Make one’s way with difficulty, to labor (ex: working as hard as possible on your fitness program 12-15 weeks prior to a figure competition, athletic event, high school reunion, vacation, etc.)
COPING WITH STRUGGLE
One thing is very clear: struggles – no matter how seemingly big or small – are intense. Struggles with addiction or bad habits, struggles with finances, struggles with family and other relationships, – life is full of them, and we each have our own coping mechanisms for dealing with them. Some people can handle certain struggles and not be affected much at all, while others fall apart at the very slightest droplet of a struggle.
But what is it exactly that you’re struggling with? When it comes to health and fitness, diet is the most common issue people struggle with in my experience. I believe this is because food is associated with so many different things other than the primary thing it is intended for, which is to nourish our bodies in order to survive.
But more often than not we eat for almost every other reason than that – celebrations, family gatherings, boredom, depression, tradition, comfort, habit, addiction – the list goes on. Some people cope with struggles by eating, so then stress-eating becomes a struggle as well.
WHAT ARE YOU STRUGGLING WITH, EXACTLY?
So back to dissecting something you are struggling with so that you can figure out what’s going on and hopefully be able to make peace and move on (if only it were that simple, right?). Let’s use the example of waking up early to get to the gym for a workout before a busy work day.
You lay in bed looking at your alarm clock, struggling to decide if you want to sleep for another hour and a half or try to muster up the energy to drive to the gym. So you hit snooze a couple times while you struggle with your decision, and another 15 minutes goes by . Pretty soon, you realize you’ve been lying in bed for an hour arguing with yourself over whether or not to go to the gym. Then you’re mad at yourself because you didn’t to go the gym, nor did you go back to sleep! You just lied there and struggled. Ok, try again tomorrow.
Or how about this one: you are at a holiday gathering and there are quite a few healthy dishes, including healthy desserts. But there are also homemade brownies, cookies, cheesecakes and other decadent desserts. You promised yourself you would only stick to health options but your eyes frequently wonder over to the unhealthy dessert area and you keep tormenting yourself with the off-limit indulgences. You struggle the whole night over whether or not to give into temptation and don’t even remember much of the party except for the food that kept tempting you, so you go home and binge on some of the off-limit foods you have stashed at your house.
WHAT IF YOU DID THIS INSTEAD?
Scenario #1 You wake up in the morning to go to the gym but instead of thinking about if you should go to the gym or go back to sleep, you just sat up and planted your feet on the floor, walked out the door and drove to the gym. You didn’t think about it. You didn’t allow a struggle to start forming in your head, you just pushed “autopilot” and went to the gym.
Scenario #2 You arrived at the party and assessed your options, then took a plate of healthy food and moved as far away from the food area as possible and engaged in conversation. Pretty soon you are full from the healthy food and completely forgot about any other food that was at the party.
I know it sounds easy and to most, it may not be. But it truly is that simple. I didn’t say it was easy, but it is as simple as just getting up and going – as long as you don’t give yourself an opportunity to start thinking about it!
THE STRUGGLE IS IN THE STRUGGLE
So the key to overcoming a struggle, in the simplest sense, is to not give yourself a choice. If there is only one option then that’s it. If, however, you give yourself a choice, then you are creating a struggle between doing what you know you should do, what you set out to do, and reverting back to comfortable unhealthy habits. The struggle is then not with the thing you are struggling with, the struggle is with the struggle itself. So eliminate the struggle by not introducing another option in the first place.
WHAT YOU CAN DO
If you find yourself in a vicious struggle cycle in your fitness journey, repeating patterns over and over and not feeling like you can get past them, here are a few things you can do start overcoming them:
1) Identify what issue or issues you’re having the hardest struggles with.
2) Start practicing small changes in behavior surrounding this struggle that might create long-term habit changes and eventually overcoming this struggle.
3) If you don’t feel like you can tackle your struggle or struggles alone, find guidance or support that will help you take small steps toward overcoming these struggles.
4) Be honest with yourself.
5) You have to want to move forward in every way in order to make progress, truly want to.
6) If you are struggling with issues you may need professional help with to overcome, don’t delay seeking help! The sooner you can overcome these issues, the sooner you can move onward and upward in your fitness journey and other areas of your life!
Tip Me Tuesday: Know Your Body Inside And Out
Tip Me Tuesday: No Pain, No Gain (Sometimes)
Tip Me Tuesday: The Balancing Act – Health, Fitness & Life
Tip Me Tuesday: Enjoy The Journey
How To Set And Reset Your Goals
Tip Me Tuesday: Maximize Your Cardio
Tip Me Tuesday: The Waiting Game
ABOUT NAOMI RABON
One of the trainers on Nicole’s elite NW Fitness Training Team, Naomi is a certified Personal Trainer and Fitness Specialist through the National Academy of Sports Medicine. She is a NPC Figure competitor who has been involved in the health and fitness industry for over 12 years.