In a perfect world, we would be able to get our training in, continue to make progress, good food choices would be as easy and affordable as an average trip to the drive through and genetics would have little to do with what we see for our efforts. (And perhaps the hydraulic toilet seat would be more prevalent; seriously, you can’t slam them, go ahead and try!)
We can work hard to overcome genetic issues like narrow lats or lackluster calf development and some people have actually made them strong points in their physique. Sadly, there will be times when life will get in the way of staying consistent. When asked the question, ‘What is the most important component to my success in the gym?’ my answer is always: consistency.
Making the right choices consistently is the key to success in any endeavor, not just the gym. I have heard, “Well, I’ve been training for two solid weeks and I haven’t been able to (insert over the top goal here) yet!” When I say consistent, I mean more then two weeks. It’s a constant choice, indefinitely. Anyone ever hear someone say, “Great! You’re in shape now, so you can stop training, you have arrived!” No.
No one had said that because it’s not like earning your Masters degree. It’s a process, not a destination. So the thing I want to talk about today is, what happens when life happens and your consistency is interrupted – which is going to happen. Whether it’s a torn rotator cuff, or a death in the family, sometimes life throws a curve at you and you may lean in and whack the shit out of it, or maybe…you want to take a seat for a minute to regroup. That’s okay, too. Eventually, when the troubles pass and it’s time to get back up swinging, you need to do so with conviction.
People get discouraged when they’ve been to a certain level and they feel like they are starting all over again. Do not fall into that trap. The homeless guy down the street with more change in his cup then he has teeth in his head? He gave up at some point. Checked out and never came back. Don’t allow yourself to stay down. The comeback trail can be more fun then the first trip out. To be honest, the humbling experience can also breathe new life and new vigor into something you may have been phoning the effort in on, as well.
It’s very exciting watching your lifts improve quickly, watching size come back, watching your body respond again. You know what? You will end up stronger and better for the whole experience. THAT is where the expression comes from, “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.” I’m living proof of that.
Early last year, my mom got sick. It was bad and she lived very far away. After getting a few hard knocks leading up to that news, I didn’t handle it very well. Ultimately she passed the week before my birthday and honestly, things were not good in my corner of the world. When I started to pull myself up again, it was hard, but I knew I had to keep going. I knew my mom would want me to fight for myself. I knew one foot in front of the other, one step at a time, would get me back on track.
I am not yet back to where I want to be, but my training is going great. I’m consistently improving and here I am, writing again. Sharing my experience with you guys. I’m here to say that sometimes life really sucks. But it gets better if you hang in there. Tough it out. Will you get knocked down? Yes. I sure as hell did. I’ve gotten knocked down in my life too many times to count, but I get back up every single time. The harder I fall, the harder I come back. There is nothing special about that; I certainly don’t have a patent on it. So when things happen and you feel defeated, it’s already there in your heart to get up and do something about it.
I knew what I needed and when I was ready, I locked my jaws on it like a hungry pit-bull. Never ever give up. A positive attitude, effort and consistency will win over almost anything life can throw at you. Even my mom, in the end, her attitude was over the top. She was fighting to walk, eat, live. She won. She got to see us and spend quality time, which was all she really wanted before she moved on. Maybe I got some of her strength, I hope so. I miss her so much, but I am doing everything I can to make her proud.
I hope no one ever has to go through this, but I know that’s not remotely realistic. Just know that you aren’t alone and it gets better if you hang in there.