Isn’t there a saying…”A diamond is just a lump of coal that did well under pressure”?
Think about this for a second –
If pressure brings out the best in us – what happens when we cave? If we give in or give up under pressure, then what? And are there times when “caving” is OK? I mean, we could relate this topic to SO many areas of our lives, but I am going to relate it back to pressure you feel in the gym – the pressure to perform – the pressure to stay strong – the pressure to embrace the burn.
There are times in our lives, when we really feel the pressure, times that will mark the “make or break” moments in our lives. I have had many of these moments and I am embarrassed to say there were many times that I broke. You know, those times when your back is against the wall, when your hand is to the flame when your metaphorical life depends on your ability to come through?
How many of those moments can you recall?
I can think of two, in particular, in my life. In the late 90’s I was a Nutrition major at the University of Houston – two and a half years under my belt, loving the education and experience I was getting and planning my future as an RD. It was around that time where I was close to my heaviest pre-pregnancy weight. I was right around 200 lbs. I was 200 fucking pounds and was a NUTRITION major for Christ’s sake! Mortifying! I was the heaviest female in my class and was surrounded by people whose physical fitness, health and wellness was earned and not taken for granted.
I “tried” losing weight – I mean, I was implementing what I was learning, I was the guinea pig for fellow classmates who wanted to try their hands at coaching a client for weight loss, and I even joined a local weight loss clinic in the name of “research” for my degree plan (LOL! – good one, KB!) I convinced myself that if I couldn’t lose the weight then I had no right pursuing my degree; no one would listen to a fat Dietitian. I really, honestly, believed I would always be overweight. That was just how it was going to be. So, even though I knew my future career depended on it, even though I had, kind of, given myself an ultimatum – I failed. I didn’t lose weight. And even in a more cowardly showing, I used my job as an excuse to drop out of school. I was good at my job and was up for a promotion – so I took it and told everyone that was the reason why I quit school. Total bullshit. I quit school and walked away from a degree because I couldn’t step up, I couldn’t let myself be that uncomfortable, I couldn’t handle the pressure and I certainly couldn’t face the failure – I caved.
And it was not OK.
Fortunately, that failure LOOMED over me for a long long time! Yea, I said “fortunately”. Ask me today what my greatest fear is and my answer is always “failure”. But then again, no one wants to fail. Even though I was ashamed of myself for quitting, that time in my life made me stronger. I became more aware of what I really wanted. And what I wanted was to succeed. So, maybe my cave created courage – courage to try again.
Fast forward about 10 years – 2007, fatter than ever – nearly 240lbs by now – I channeled that deep-seated disappointment in myself into laser-focused determination to prove myself wrong. And I did just that. I got my head on straight, my shit together and I did what I had to do DESPITE the uncomfortable-ness and the fear – and I successfully lost weight and regained my health.
I let myself FEEL ALL OF IT!
The feelings pushed me THROUGH ALL OF IT and I ended up stronger BECAUSE OF IT!!
That time is NO different than the days of staring down the barbell and pushing out the last two reps while your legs are quivering, your grip is slipping and the sweat is blinding you – the days when you simply cannot do another god damned burpee, but you do it anyway – the days when the run makes it feel like your heart will explode and your lungs burst into flames – but you cross the finish line anyway. It’s this time – between the BURN and the BREAK – where you will hit your make or break moments in the gym. When you are literally dying under the pressure of your own body weight in the seventh minute of the plank that you have a moment that will make or break you – maybe you make? Maybe you break?
Either way, you get better.
In the instant between the burn and the break is where you will have that “Come to Jesus” meeting with yourself – the moment where you welcome the burn and the pressure and the fear – and you WIN. You win because you did it even though you didn’t want to or you thought you couldn’t.
THAT’s how you grow.
THAT’s how you breakthrough.
THAT, my friends, is how you get BETTER!
The second time I felt the pressure was in 2017. The business was in trouble and I was to blame. I didn’t do everything I could and I certainly didn’t do everything right. My brokenness was hidden under the mask that I wore every day to face my members, friends, and family. Under that mask, I was scared shitless and I knew that I was headed into the clutch. I had to come through – even though I was broken – I could not break. This time, I did everything I had to do to save my business and myself. That time, the pressure changed me. It pushed me to shine.
We all have these moments in our lives where the pressure forces us to perform or it deflates us. It’s between the burn and the break, between dark and the light, between the loss and the win where we are made. So, whether it’s a barbell or a bankruptcy, allow yourself to feel the burn so you can relish the break.