Tag: persistence

How to Do Hard Things


The Most Common Statement

Sometimes when people ask us questions about controlling their weight, regardless of what we tell them, they will inevitably say, “But, it’s SO HARD!” No matter how hard you perceive it to be, it’s easier than staying obese when you consider the consequences. While no one wants to do hard things, there are things that you can do to make it more likely that you will be successful in a difficult taskwp-15982276175617220010816211388207.png

1-Focus on the outcome rather than the difficulty of the moment.

When I feel the weight of a heavy bar of iron pressing on my shoulders, everything in me says to ditch that bar and run. However, failure is not an option for me until I know that I have exhausted every effort to successfully stand back up with that bar. I focus on my goal of having a fit, healthy body. Nothing will increase my lean muscle or shape my body like that heavy iron. As hard as life can get, nothing is any harder than standing up under that load. Focusing on my goal, makes me much more likely to successfully complete a set under the iron. That same strategy works for other things. When my job is so stressful that it seems almost impossible, I employ the same strategy. I just do what I know to do. The hard part will pass and I will accomplish what I set out to do. When I first quit eating sugar, the struggle with walking away from the dessert buffet was nothing compared to the victory of watching the scale plummet and my body being reshaped. The hard factor is relative. It begins to dwindle in the presence of victory.


2-Choose your mood.

When we are confronted with difficult tasks, we are inclined to go with our initial feelings and be miserable throughout the task. That will short circuit our efforts and cause us to quit before we reach our goal. Instead of dwelling on the misery of the task, choose your thoughts. If you cannot change the discourse in your mind, you might need professional help. When faced with a hard thing, instead of hating every moment of your existence during your execution of the task, think about something that makes you feel good. It could be an old memory, or new plans for something special. If you’re using your mind, use it to your betterment, not your demise. When I’m under the iron, I focus on my goal, the body that I want. I think about the benefits of continuing to earn a good income rather than the mediocre finances of retirement. I think about good times with friends and plan my healthy menus. When I struggle the hardest, I remind myself that I have chosen to do this. I have chosen my path. If you genuinely don’t like the path that you’re on, go a different way. Make your world small and there’s less junk to distract you. The difficult task may not be the cause of your agony. It may be your life. Fix it.



Oh, my goodness! When we’re engaged in a hard thing that’s going to take a long time to accomplish, it’s easy to get discouraged and think that we’re not making progress. Sometimes we lose ground, especially if you’re a heavy weight trainer. I do believe that Satan created the Overhead Press just to give me bad days. Too bad, it didn’t work. I make progress and lose a little progress, one pound up and 3/4 of a pound back. It would be so easy to think that I’m not getting anywhere with that damn lift except for my written records. I can go back and see where I’ve come from since I pushed that standard bar over my head the first time. I use an Olympic bar now with more weight. David taught me to keep records before I did my first lift and it makes all the difference in the World when the going gets tough. In some endeavors, the going is always tough.


4-Be aware of your position in the task.

When I first begin a difficult lifting session or any other hard thing, I go into it just because I have chosen to do it. If the “hard factor” persists well into the task, at some point, I will begin to look forward. I remind myself that I have already done the hardest part, I started. I made the initial commitment to begin. Once you begin, you will walk through a lot of your task by rote memory. Everything is more effective if you focus on the activity, especially lifting, but if you are having trouble with your focus, just do it anyway. At some point, the focus will kick in and time will pass. Then you can tell yourself that you’re almost finished! If looking forward to completion is not applicable, such as in long-term goals like weight management, you can still look forward to finishing THIS workout or navigating THIS meal or this day. Break your long-term goals up into short term goals and when you reach those milestones, it will give you the boost you need to keep going.


5-Add something positive to the task.

Adding something that you enjoy to any task makes it easier. That’s why so many people listen to music when they’re cleaning the house or digging a ditch. Weight trainers do the same thing but loud, aggressive music actually increases dopamine production which is conducive to picking up heavy stuff with better focus. The dopamine also helps us to remember all of the prompts that we need to recall to perform at our best. I recently bought new workout clothes so that I feel like a Diva when I lift. Don’t judge me. It helps. Whatever will give you a positive re-enforcement during the performance of your task is what will work for you. It may be music, conversation, clothing or even pictures of what you’re trying to accomplish. Just make it something that gives you a mental boost.


6-Remember where you started.

Unless you make a constant effort to keep your momentum going in the right direction, gravity will slow you down and then, without fail, you will lose ground until you are right back where you started. It doesn’t matter if it’s a fitness program or cleaning your house. This is a fact. If the thought of going back to where you started is terrifying, that should give you a little boost. For me, I was working for a major weight loss company, riding around to meetings and missing workouts. I was also losing muscle and strength. My muscle loss had become so profound that, although I was at the goal weight that they prescribed, I was beginning to lose mobility. There was more than one time that I almost fell going out my back door as I rushed to my car to drive 300 miles in one day to tell people how to lose weight. There was something missing, it was commitment to health. I had forgotten why I began that journey and did not have the proper tools to get myself back on track until I came to David’s Way. Remember your beginning and don’t ever go back. There’s nothing back there for you. Health is almost always yours for the taking. Push ahead and put as much distance between yourself and the beginning of a hard task as possible. Before you know it, the hard thing will be your new normal.



Want to Quit? Get Up!

If you have had a setback that makes you want to just lay down and die, listen up. Even though you may be on the ground now, you can get back up. It’s up to you. Agreeably, there are terminal illnesses that it seems that no one can fix, but anything less than that can be fixed. Is there still breath in your body? Well, get up.

Many years ago I was driving down a small country road in farm country and passed a huge corn field that had been beat to the ground the night before. It was so sad. I had watched that corn grow from the day it first broke through the hard ground. It had survived blistering Alabama heat and weeks of near drought conditions and now, there it lay, flat. It appeared lifeless. Although I had grown up in rural Alabama for most of my life and known countless farmers, I knew little about this hearty plant. I assumed that the crop was a total loss. Have you ever felt like that? You know, you have fought and fought to make progress towards your goal or sometimes to merely survive and then BAM! in one night, all Hell breaks loose and you want to die…or at least quit working so damn hard. Remember, that won’t get you what you want. You have to get up.

I drove on into town and did what seemed like endless hours of shopping because we lived in the country and I shopped once a week. I had to get everything for the week in this one trip. I was in town about 4-5 hours and gave no more thought to the destruction of the corn field. Finally after wrangling a shopping cart and a four year old through mountains of toys and sugary treats designed to make him howl for them, I turned my car down that country road and gave it a little extra acceleration. I was tired and wired and had experienced a bit of psychological trauma in Walmart. “Well-meaning” shoppers were trying to tell me how to properly cope with an autistic toddler and it was all that I could do to stay out of jail. I really wanted to just slam-dunk the lot of them. My parents were disgruntled about said toddler, other family members were chiming in and I was exhausted and broke when it was time to go home. I just wanted to give up.

I was fuming and desperate. Life was not good that day. Everything seemed harder than it was. I was having a pity party, why me? Why did everything have to be so hard? I was always struggling with my weight and that wasn’t going so good either. I was the biggest that I had ever been and depression was crowding me on every side. I was a size 22, at about 200 pounds. I’m 5’6″. Everything seemed hopeless. Have you ever had these feelings? Do you feel like this now? Get up.

I was all teary- eyed, dreading unloading the groceries and trying to figure out what to fix for supper for an ex that was impossible to please. Again, why me? Where did I go so wrong that I would never be happy? I hated my life. About that time, I almost ran off the road. The corn that was beat to the ground that morning was standing straight up! I had to find a place to stop close to the field. I had to take this all in! How was it possible? As it turned out, I discovered that corn may be all but completely destroyed, laying flat down, for all intents and purposes, dead, and when the sun shines on it, it will rise. As I sat there in my car tears streamed down my face. I knew that this was meant for me. I knew that I was supposed to see that miracle of the corn that day. I have never forgotten.

Since that day, my life has changed in so many ways that it is unrecognizable as the same life and I am unrecognizable as the same person. When I show people the pictures of me then, sometimes people don’t believe that’s me. I have changed completely, inside and out. I found David’s Way to make me strong and lean and profoundly healthy. I have also adapted the “Make your world small.” idea that David teaches. I don’t waste precious time on negativism and people who will try to undermine my goals. I work hard at my job and on this blog to try to tell the world that you don’t have to be unhealthy due to the choices that you make. I focus on what’s important and let everything else go. Although many years have passed since that day, I am much younger in so many ways. Every day is a good day because I make it so. I have huge challenges in my life still but my health and happiness are not on that list anymore. I took control of that. I have hard times and difficult days but in the end, I win. I don’t remember how to lose.

I am a strength trainer. Every time that I stand up from a heavy squat or set a new PR, I win. The Iron is a harsh taskmaster but if I go by the rules that it sets, I will always win. Even when I fail to complete a set or a rep, the mere act of trying as hard as I can makes me a winner because nothing else will train my mind and body like the Iron. Whatever you do, do it with all of the power in you. Don’t quit. Get up.