By Naomi Rabon
I was out for a run the other day listening to a Nike Run Club guided run narrated by Andy Puddicombe, the voice and co-founder of the meditation app Headspace. Puddicombe was talking about pushing through a run (or any type of workout) even when you feel weak and want to stop.
DELVING DEEPER INTO WEAKNESS
As I was listening, my mind got stuck on the word weak. Then my mind wondered deeper into the feeling of weakness, and then even deeper into the whole concept of weakness. What does weakness mean to other people? Maybe it means something completely different to everyone. How does feeling weak make you feel about yourself? What associations do you make about yourself when you feel weak? Have you adopted weakness as part of your identity to some capacity with anything in particular, such as pullups or almond butter? Do you think it’s “bad” to feel weak and that you should avoid it?
REWIRE YOUR FEELINGS
For a few years now, I’ve been trying to re-construct what I’ve learned and how I feel about my feelings. We tend to label feelings as “bad feelings” or “good feelings.” We consciously or subconsciously grow up learning what feelings we should want to strive for and what feelings we should try to avoid, or if we feel a certain way about something then something must be wrong with us.
It’s kind of weird when you really think about it, because feelings aren’t like words that you can choose to speak or not speak. We just feel. We don’t really choose feelings, they just are. We can, however, choose how we manage our feelings, or how we cope or deal with them. We can choose to channel them in constructive instead of destructive ways. But what we can’t control is the fact that our feelings – bad or good – arise into existence within us.
Here are some examples of stereotypical “good” feelings:
Here are some examples of stereotypical “bad” feelings:
FROM WEAK TO GREAT
Going back to the concept of weakness, this feeling has traditionally been associated with an undesirable or negative feeling that we want to avoid, right? Who wants to feel weak? But what if you rewired your brain and everything you previously associated with the concept of weakness and moved it from the list of stereotypical “bad” feelings to the list of stereotypical “good” feelings? What do you think would happen to your life if you intentionally sought out situations that exposed your feelings of weakness and you just stayed there for a while, fighting your way in that situation to not feel weak? I’ll give you a few examples of health and fitness-related situations where you might feel weak:
• Doing 5-10 pull-ups every other day for a month (physical upper body strength).
• Sticking to your nutrition 100% for one month straight without fail (strengthening self-discipline).
• Doing a 24-hour water-only fast and not giving in to hunger pains (strengthening self-discipline).
• Staring at your favorite cheat food (donuts, pizza, etc.) while eating a plate of vegetables (improving will-power).
• Running or doing the stair climber or elliptical at an intense level for 30 minutes without a break (improving cardiorespiratory endurance).
If any of the above examples aren’t a challenge for you, try to think of scenarios that you struggle with and that totally expose some of your greatest weaknesses. What would happen if you stopped avoiding these things and instead purposefully sought them out so that you could change that scenario from weakness to greatness? How much stronger of a person would you be in one or more aspects of your life if you spent more time strengthening or improving your weaknesses instead of staying in the same comfort zone of what you know you’re already good at?
STRENGTHEN THE WEAK LINK
Here’s a little secret: we don’t like to feel weak or to acknowledge our weaknesses. No one does. But no one ever got stronger by avoiding their weaknesses. This is why you can’t out train a bad diet: if your diet is your weakness, no amount of exercise will cover up or hide that weakness. You have to spend time with and improve upon whatever it is that’s holding you back in order to truly achieve success.
Don’t be afraid of or ashamed of your weaknesses. Instead, seek them out and become familiar and comfortable with them so that you can turn your weaknesses into being part of what makes you great. It’s like a doctor doing an MRI to try and find the source of what’s making someone sick or injured. You want to find the source of the problem so that you can treat it. You can’t treat what you don’t identify and acknowledge is there, so avoiding your fitness weaknesses is like avoiding going to the doctor when you know something is wrong.
The next time you find something that makes you feel weak, put a smile on your face and think “Ah, yes! I found you, weakness. I’ve got you now, and I’m going to spend so much time with you that you’ll be converted into one of my strengths!”
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.