the joy of strength training


March 10th, 2009 at 6:23 pm

Life’s too short

I suspect many of you have had the experience of trying to explain to people at the office why you do what you do: why you watch what you eat, why you get up at 6am to train, why you’d rather go to the gym on a Friday night than go to the pub.

And the usual reaction from others is, ‘oh life’s too short to count calories/give up alcohol/not go out’.

I must admit that occasionally I start feeling this way. My training generally goes well and I really enjoy it but it is the lifestyle factors that let me down. For instance I find it very hard to stick to eating plans and I often don’t get enough sleep.

But anything worth having involves some kind of sacrifice. Many people who are not professional athletes achieve incredible things through hard work and sacrifice. I don’t want to be a professional athlete but I do want to achieve things that relatively few others can. So if that is the case, life’s too short not to make the effort.

Training outdoors

There are actually many people who are prepared to put great efforts in. All the people who finish Ironman triathlons, for example, even the many thousands who run a marathon. So if you want to achieve something extraordinary, you need to work even harder than these people! It’s a good plan to assume that there’s always someone working harder than you, and inevitably that person will have a full time job, a family, all the usual challenges but will overcome them. Life’s too short not to.
The trick is to remember this at every moment where you have a choice to make. When someone offers you a muffin, or another pint or when there’s a good film on. These everyday, mundane issues are the ones that can make or break your effort. It’s not difficult for me to work hard during a training session. I love them, it’s great fun. For me, the challenge is to apply the same effort to the rest of my life, control the diet, the alcohol, the sleep – those details that can make the difference between a good result and a great one.

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  • 1

    I feel your pain. I have those thoughts as well from time to time – why I do all this ? Why I have to always go from the party home to catch at least some sleep ? Why I don’t enjoy {food|drinks} ? Why I’m always (well 90% 🙂 under control ? Why all the pain and suffering in gym ?
    As I’m getting older I have those feelings more often but I’m still successful in “overwriting” them 🙂
    I really don’t know the answer – why. I want to enjoy life as well, but as you wrote – we have to make a choice – it’s only up to us and up to others what we do and why. Somone could enjoy a pint or two. I would as well, but let’s say once a month ? I’m much more satisfied with good deadlift of new skill that I’m able to learn.
    But is’t a everybody’s choice. It’s only up to you.

    “Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs even though checkered by failure, than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much because they live in the gray twilight that knows neither victory nor defeat.”
    -Theodore Roosevelt

    Petr on March 11th, 2009
  • 2

    Great quotation Petr, that’s exactly where I’m coming from!

    gubernatrix on March 11th, 2009
  • 3

    For many people, I think the pursuit takes on greater importance than the goal itself. You’ll see this a lot of the time where someone has a specific quantifiable goal – then is left feeling lost and directionless when they do achieve it.

    I personally enjoy the process. While it’s sometimes a drag, I really enjoy the workouts; they’re my slightly more grown up version of the way we played as kids. If it feels like a chore to go about, maybe you’re approaching it wrong?

    Chris - on March 11th, 2009
  • 4

    There is one song in Czech which goes something like this “…even the road(the path) could be your goal(target)… excuse my English.
    So yes, I definitely agree, even the process itself could be your “goal” or purpose why you do it all 🙂

    Petr on March 11th, 2009
  • 5

    Thank you for this. I am on a weight loss journey and probably would have been one of those people saying exactly what you said in the beginning, “Life’s too short, to count calories, yada yada yada…” Boy have I changed my perspective. I have lost 30 pounds and have about another 40 to go….But, in the meantime, I am enjoying trying new things (like the Kettlebell – which I love) and reading about people who truly love being active. Thank you for giving me that other perspective. :o)

    Lola Fierce on March 11th, 2009
  • 6

    It really is the quiet voice inside at the end of the day that says, “I will try again”.
    It’s not so much in how much you accomplish, but in how many times you pick yourself back up when you fall.
    Great thoughts.
    Thanks for sharing.

    Strong One on March 12th, 2009
  • 7

    @ Chris: I see where you’re coming from. My post was really highlighting the stuff that happens outside of the workout though. I think for many people the workout is the fun bit!

    @ Lola: wow, you’ve made fantastic progress! Keep it up. It sounds like you’ve caught the bug already.

    @ Strong One: I agree with that; it’s important to treat every day as a new start. I will keep this in mind as I continue.

    gubernatrix on March 12th, 2009
  • 8

    I think you speak for many of us – whatever our individual goals may be, we all are striving for something more. What gets me is that when I’m training for a 1/2 marathon (running), society seems to “understand” my dedication. Yet, when I am simply focused on a regular weight training regimen, I get blank stares when I decline a dessert or try to eat every 3 hrs. I think we still have a long way to go before weight training is accepted as a “normal” part of life.

    Darrin on March 12th, 2009
  • 9

    As you’ve probably heard before, my line of thinking goes along the likes of “real freedom scares you because it means responsibility.” If I’m honest with myself, I’m probably terrified of it. I tend to get passive aggressive when eating what I shouldn’t be, “See what you’re making me eat!” It’s something for which I should go to meetings of some sort but then I have to make a commitment, yada, yada, yada. Suffering the “could of, should of, would of’s” is pretty much self-inflicted. Writings such as yours, keeps me inspired, in turn keeping the inflicting tendencies at bay.

    ultrafknbd on March 12th, 2009
  • 10

    @ Darrin: I’m with you, mate! Society has a complicated relationship with food and eating so anything slightly away from the norm is treated with a lot of suspicion and doubt. But with the current emphasis on obesity and ‘eating well’, perhaps paying careful attention to one’s diet won’t be so socially unacceptable in the future!

    @ ultrafknbd: thanks; well at least you have the self knowledge to recognise it!

    gubernatrix on March 13th, 2009
  • 11

    Love the bodyweight video that the pic is from…very nice work! (I especially liked the idea of the modified handstand push-up)

    The hardest part is always the nutrition part…something I struggle with all the time. I’ve found that having social support, even a small group of regular bloggers, as in my case, really helps keep me accountable. You’re absolutely right on target about the training/workouts: that’s the fun part!

    Terrific site! Thanks!

    Fred on March 21st, 2009
  • 12

    @ Fred: Thanks Fred, glad you like it. I completely agree about making oneself accountable in some way. I do it by writing everything down (I am one of those people who likes making lists); for me, if it’s in black and white, it’s harder to ignore!

    gubernatrix on March 23rd, 2009
  • 13

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  • 14

    I totally understand where you’re coming from! Its bad enough to be susceptible to emotional eating responses without having everyone else trying to convince you the days you make the right choices are also bad!

    I have spent most of my life being chastised for my, very natural, all be it muscular physique and praised when i put a few (read ten!) pounds of fat on. Im continually being force fed by skinny\fat friends on a ‘cheat weekend’ or parents giving me loathsome looks whilst muttering about masculinity lol!

    Ive adopted a very effective all be it rather passive response. 🙂 I say ‘ooo yeah i’d love the bbq ribs with thrice fried chips and coleslaw, yummy!’ and then when the waitress comes round i order a grilled chicken salad with dressing on the side! I call it my Covert Feeding Operation!

    I say that if you have the will power and the drive to do anything then those around you should support that, even if it seems a little crazy to them! After all I don’t go around complaining they have a rice cake and a muller rice for lunch or go for twenty smoke breaks a day. They know its not smart or healthy so me moaning isn’t going to make a difference, just like if i want to have chicken at 11am instead of a muffin they should shut the hell up 🙂 Difference and drive promotes fear in those that don’t have it and they make comments in order to try and break you and bring you back down to their level.

    Alice on February 24th, 2012


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