Let’s be clear about something. Failure isn’t what you think it is.
Failure is not the chocolate chip cookie. It’s not snooze button. It’s not the pizza and beer or the tv remote. Failure is not gassing out when the WOD calls for more sit ups or pull ups or (God help us all) burpees. Failure is not when you fail.
Failure is when you accept failing.
I have a client who shall remain nameless. He’s had a helluva few weeks. I won’t run the list of individual speed bumps, but suffice it to say that no one would blame him for taking a couple days off his routine to just catch his breath – both physically and mentally. It’s been what many might call an unfair run of luck.
Wanting to be supportive, I offered him that most empty of platitudes. When he said he felt like the Universe had it out for him at the moment, that it was just one thing after another, I actually fell back on that horrible Hallmark line about how the Universe had been waiting until he was strong enough to take it, which is just a slightly less Catholic version of God only gives us the challenges He knows we can handle.
I know. I’m sorry. You expect better from me.
And I knew I was wrong to say that. The moment I offered up the words I heard them ringing hollow.
Not that they are untrue – who knows what plans the Universe or God may or may not have? – but that they were entirely inappropriate for the situation.
Look, we’ve all been there. We have all been overwhelmed at some point in time. That’s exactly why we are all willing to give him the pass. We all know what it’s like to just want the sweetness of the cookie or the cooling rush of the beer or the safely reassuring snuggle of the extra 30 minutes’ sleep. And by and of themselves, those things are relatively insignificant. They are not the problem.
The problem is the acceptance of them. How easily and quickly they become the habit.
How many diets (good lord, I hate that word) have you been on only to lose your way when it seemed everyone in the office had a birthday the same week? Or maybe you didn’t get that far. Maybe you got to Thursday, and the time crunch of soccer practice, choir practice, working late, and an empty fridge had you reaching for the mac and cheese.
How often has your exercise schedule been thrown out because of a ridiculous work commitment, or a holiday, or a ridiculous work commitment just before a holiday? And really, when you get back, that alarm clock is just masochistic.
And those are the things you can plan for. How much harder is it when the obstacles come out of the blue? The break-up. The lay-off. The illness. The accident. No one blames him or you for feeling overwhelmed.
Ready for it?
That’s why you train.
Rehearsal is not performance. Rehearsal is so you know what you’re doing when it’s time to perform.
Soldiers don’t go through boot camp to look good in their uniforms. They go through boot camp so the know how to stay alive when nothing makes sense anymore.
Firefighters don’t drill because they like the way the oxygen masks make them sound like Darth Vader. They drill so that they can keep their heads together when it All Goes Wrong.
Fitness – as I have said elsewhere – is about adaptability. It’s as much about identifying the challenge as it is rising to it. And it’s every bit as much mental as it is physical. More so, even, I would say.
Fair is relative. Life, I am sorry to say, has no idea what you mean by “fair.” The very fact that you have the opportunity to read this – on your computer, connected to the internet, wherever you are – gives you an unfair advantage over 70 percent of the world’s population.
So, much as I love him, I am not accepting the reasons why he has fallen off the exercise wagon and skated on the diet. Because that would be failing. You understand? That would be me failing him. And I know, rough as it may be, he can handle it. I’ve seen him do it.
Shit just got real? Deal with it. That’s why you train.