This post was originally written to be published by Rapid Personal Training on their site. Since then the business has closed down, and so I have decided to re-publish any content that I produced for Rapid PT here so that everyone can still have access to it.
Have you ever followed a really famous fitness model on Instagram?
Doesn’t it seem like they have infinite motivation to train and eat well?
The endless mix of food porn, gym selfies, professional shots (where there’s never a hair out of place), and every outfit is colour coordinated and carefully piece together to put as much skin on display as possible; without making it seem that way, of course.
Don’t you just hate how easy they have it? As if they’ve never struggled to drag their backside to the gym ever in their life. As if they must prefer eating salads to burgers.
It’s easy to forget that the world of social media is largely fabricated. Most people’s social media accounts represent only a small fraction of their actual lives, and this is almost always selectively represented to highlight the best of it. This includes our famously fit friends.
Just as you have good and bad days, so do they. Just as you have fluctuating levels of motivation, so do they. Just as you would prefer to bite into heavenly pepperoni pizza, fresh out of a wood fire oven to a meal of roast chicken and broccoli, so would they.
Everyone does, and there’s nothing wrong with that.
The difference between those who are successful in body transformations, and those who struggle to make any progress, is the decision to do what they know that they need to do in the times when they don’t feel like it.
Which leads me to today – today I’m going to share a personal story with you.
In late February this year, I tore my ACL in a jiu-jitsu class. Five weeks later I was in surgery getting it repaired. For those of you who aren’t aware, ACL injuries are one of the most feared injuries in all of sport, and with good reason. Physically, it’s about a 9-12 month recovery period until you’re completely healed. Psychological, the effects (namely the fear of re-injuring the knee) can last quite a while after that.
It’s a debilitating injury, but with a quality rehabilitation program, as well as an intelligently planned return to sports, you can come back as strong as (or even stronger) than you were pre-injury.
But the rehab program sucks.
For the first two weeks, I spent my days alternating between icing my knee for 20 minutes every two hours and doing exercise to try and be able to straighten my leg. The pain was always present, I was moving very slowly everywhere, and doing simple tasks like lifting my leg to get into the car became a mini event.
Once I was able to straighten my leg, I progressed to doing exercises to try and bend my leg back to normal range while being cognisant not to tear open my wounds around the knee. This allowed me to progress well enough to then begin to re-learn how to walk properly again.
Seven weeks on, I’m back in the gym doing bodyweight exercises for my lower body, as well building a routine for my training again after having taken so long off – which has been, hands down, the hardest part of it all.
I’m realistically two months into a 12-month process, and how I’m feeling about my progress is an ever-changing landscape. Some days my knee feels like it’s ready to jump from the first floor of a building and land with ease, and other days I feel like an 85-year old man who’s spent his entire life working in the salt mines.
But overcoming the mental battle of firstly getting to the gym for my scheduled sessions, and then rolling through the exercises knowing how much strength I’ve lost, has honestly been tough.
Every day is a struggle to get to the gym.
Every set is a struggle to push through.
Most days I want to finish early.
But each day, I keep making myself do what I know I have to.
One of our core values at Rapid PT is Feed The Right Wolf, which is value born from a well-known parable, who’s origin I’m unsure of.
The story goes –
An old Cherokee is teaching his grandson about life. “A fight is going on inside me,” he said to the boy.
“It is a terrible fight between two wolves. One is evil – he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.”
He continued, “The other is good – he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. The same fight is going on inside you – and inside every other person, too.”
The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, “Which wolf will win?”
The old Cherokee simply replied, “The one you feed.”
It’s a fitting story to the subject at hand – except in this instance the two wolves battling inside aren’t necessarily related to managing emotions, but self-discipline. Each day I have a choice to make the decision to do what I need to do or to do nothing.
One path will lead me down the road that I want to travel; the other will not.
It’s that simple, because if I give up now because things are hard, what’s the alternative?
What’s the alternative for you?
If you give up now because you’re not making progress forward, you’ll only go backward. Remember, plateaus often represent a small victory at maintaining your results, which should be celebrated.
You gain nothing by giving up, but you’ll gain everything by pressing forward.
I’m not going to say that it’s going to be easy; on the contrary, it’s probably going to take everything you’ve got.
The key is to learn to trust, and even enjoy, the process. If you learn to love the process and the results will follow.
And make the process a habit, because habits are worth infinitely more than motivational quotes, Instagram posts, or articles (including this one!).
But you’ve got to acknowledge that, sometimes, it’s going to be tough, and that’s completely normal. As you acknowledge that, however, you also need to acknowledge that the effort you put in is most certainly going to be worth it.
When I’m tying up my belt over my gi again, it will be worth it.
When I’m moving pain-free again, it will be worth it.
When I can sit and reflect upon how incredibly far I’ve come, and be overwhelmed with that sense of pride that fills you with joy, it will be worth it.
It will be worth it for me, and it will be worth it for you.