“People who say it cannot be done should not interrupt those are doing it.” said the late playwright George Bernard Shaw. Putting in the time to accomplish end goals is often just a matter putting in the work on a gradual basis where we get better at the task at hand. Lamenting about doing the actual work is what leads to procrastination and making the activity appear to be harder than it is. Almost all ventures get easier the more frequently we do them.
Often we are consumed with thoughts about how we cannot do something. If we haven’t done it before, the simple thought of completing undertakings unknown becomes more intimidating than it often should be. It becomes a fierce animal that bears its teeth when it should be a house cat rubbing against your leg asking to be fed.
We make the mistake of seeing the CEO’s today who are worth billions of dollars after they’ve put in 20 years of groundwork to get there.
No pain, no gain? Maybe. But is the “pain” mental or physical? And is it truly pain or is it just mild discomfort? Is doing a bunch of squats really that hard or is it rather the thought of them is too much?
Nearly everything attained in life is often predicated on the subjectivity of effort and level of perceived difficulty. As much as Shaw is close to the point above, the more apt quote I believe is pertinent to physical work is Theodore Roosevelt’s “Nothing in the world is worth having or worth doing unless it means effort, pain, difficulty…”
So does that mean that every training session needs to be heavy grunting coupled with snarling and Viking battlecries? Does it mean that attaining the best physique we can requires 9 hours a day of training and eating nothing but steamed chicken and lima beans with a glass of water 3 times a day? Not at all.
Many of the leaned out and chiseled athletes we see on Instagram (those that aren’t photoshopped, of course) are built on consistency of training and reasonable discipline outside the gym. Nearly all of the bodies that are held to such high standards are results of steady training programs with effort and dedication coupled with nutrition regimens that are thoughtful in their preparation and appreciation of their nutritional value.
ie: They don’t fall off the wagon for more than a reward meal or dessert.
That being said, the actual work put in needs to be one that requires focus and attention to high levels of energy. Each individual session must have a level of exertion that doesn’t allow the mind to wander to other concerns of the day. A training session should have the absolute attention of the athlete for the duration of the time and an intent that at least gets close to—if not meets—that session’s goals.
It should be hard, but not unattainable.
In the beginning of a training program, many of the exercises will seem very challenging and perhaps scary. It’s more a product of the unfamiliar, however. As a lifter gains confidence from repeating the exercises and gains strength, progressive overload is essential to continuing to make gains and improvement.
And the cycle begins again; albeit with a more established foundation and a more confident approach.
As more and more sessions of accomplishment rack up, the brain releases and sustains higher levels of endorphins. These high levels of endorphins beget release of dopamine. Dopamine is the molecule that regulates motivation and an anticipation of accomplishment. Now the mental and physical components sustain and enhance each other as we soldier on to more sessions, programs and goals that get completed.
See how this all works?
Nearly everything we see from the outside is never as bad or as hard as it seems. We all have to have a starting place and that’s always the most difficult. But once we begin and understand what we have to do, we often wonder why we didn’t start it sooner.
Do you need to be perfect? No way. Do you need to be honest in how intense your approach is? Yes absolutely.
Getting help creating, sustaining and adhering to obtain one’s goals is suggested because it isn’t just the end game that makes us proud and happy. The journey to get there is what we hang our hat on and reminds ourselves how we got there.