By Naomi Rabon, NW Fitness Team Trainer

This hurts.
This is hard.
This is brutal.
This sucks! I love it! I must be doing something right, I’m going to be so fit!

Is this what goes through your mind when you are struggling to get through a grueling cardio session, or when you are barely getting through your next weight lifting set, lifting heavy, heavier, and even heavier until your muscles feel like they’re giving out?

Or do thoughts like this go through your mind: I am so weak, this is pathetic. I should be able to do this, what’s wrong with me? Why does this feel so hard?

Guess what? Nothing is wrong with you, you are not weak or pathetic, you clearly shouldn’t “be able to do this,” and it should feel that hard.


If you are struggling with an exercise, workout, cardio session, training program, etc. that means it is challenging enough to make you stronger, better, fitter and healthier. If you can get through a workout with ease you need to bump it up a few notches.

This may very well be the most challenging part of embracing a fitness lifestyle, but the sooner you become “besties” with struggling, the more you will want to struggle and almost seek out activities that remind you just how mortal you are!


I’ll give you an example. The summers here in South Carolina can be downright nasty hot. Every summer I forget how hot and humid and sticky they are. Every summer I say to myself “I don’t remember it being this hot last summer” though I’m sure it was. But this summer is, well, extra. And I’m not the only one who thinks that this summer truly is the hottest and most humid summer in South Carolina in a long time. A few life-long residences confirmed my perception of this year’s summer heat and humidity.

Me being the challenge seeker that I am have thought that if I continue running even in 80 to 90-degree muggy, thick, stagnant air, I’ll be that much more fit when the weather starts to get a little cooler. This past week I went out to my favorite trail running spot, Harbison State Forest, and on a particularly “extra” (weather-conditions wise) Wednesday, ventured out for a 6- to 8-mile run. The conditions were so miserable that I literally could not run for more than a minute at a time without stopping to walk, catch my breath and rehydrate.

Now I would consider myself pretty fit and in great cardiorespiratory endurance health. But I felt puny and certainly anything but fit every time I had to stop running to take a walk break. I knew at that point this was going to be a 6-miler and not an 8-miler (maybe even a 4-miler!). I had to just laugh at myself because I truly do know that my level of running fitness is great right now and that I am a strong runner in general, so to have to walk every 45-60 seconds out of necessity told me just how bad the conditions are this summer.


I loved it though! I felt absolutely awful at only 2 miles and I wanted to just walk the rest of the way. No one else would know or care if I walked – except me. I told myself that if I need to walk/run the whole time, that’s fine, but you’re going to get through the whole thing. It’s easy to run when the air is nice and crisp and cool outside. But how often would I get the opportunity to challenge myself in this horrid heat, get beat down by the humid but chalky air with the sun blazing down on me like it was trying to punish me, and really increase my cardiorespiratory output, exercise endurance, mental fortitude and sheer will to just get through this damn thing? “Let’s see what you’ve got, Naomi!”

Make no mistake, this is far from the first time I have been faced with these kinds of experiences during my fitness journey. And it will be far from the last. I did end up making it through the run, and it was a horrible but wonderful experience. It was hard, it made me feel like a weakling, it made me feel like I wasn’t worthy of calling myself a trail runner, and it was a brutal struggle physically, mentally and emotionally the entire 65+ minutes I was out there.

That is how that particular training run made me feel. But that is not who I think I am, and there is a big difference in acknowledging how something makes you feel and who you know you are as a person.


• Just because a workout makes you feel weak does not mean you are weak.
• Just because a workout makes you feel unfit does not mean you are unfit.
• Just because a workout makes you feel like you aren’t strong does not mean you aren’t strong.
• If a workout is hard or challenging or you are struggling, you should know that is what it is supposed to feel like, regardless of your fitness level, in order for you to get stronger, fitter, healthier!


The key in embracing “the struggle bus” is knowing that just because a workout makes you feel a certain way (the way you should be feeling during a hard workout) means that the struggle is there to help you get to where you want to be. The struggle is there to make you better! It’s ironic, but it takes feeling weak to increase your strength, and it takes feeling unfit in order to become more fit. Most people can’t get past that in order to get through really hard workouts, really hard days and really hard struggles. When you can get over that (I think it is an ego issue) you can really start doing the hard work it takes to make significant changes.

The next time you feel like you are struggling embrace the struggle and know that the harder the struggle, the stronger and fitter you will become. The more challenging the workout or exercises (without risking injury of course), the more opportunity you have to become the best, strongest, healthiest and fittest version of you! Don’t run away from struggle (in other words, don’t quit when it starts to get tough), but seek it out and welcome it into your life with open arms!

Tip Me Tuesday: Muscles & Menopause
Tip Me Tuesday: The Fitness Quadrant
Tip Me Tuesday: Minimize Expectations
Tip Me Tuesday: Developing Skills
Tip Me Tuesday: Feed Your Physique

Naomi-lighterBIOOne 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.

Go here to find out more about training with the NW Fitness Training Team!