When I decided to get into better shape, I knew it was going to be a tough journey. But I did not anticipate I would ever learn as much about myself as I did.
On the surface, I thought going to the gym would merely be a vain pursuit to look better and feel better about myself. I soon found out that there was more to it than just the pursuit of aesthetics.
The journey was one of self-discovery. It exercised the tenacity of the human spirit more so than the physical aspects of it. Indeed, this journey was a true test of psychological strength, and it has helped me become mentally tougher. Getting through a workout at 6 am when your body already aches from the day before is not easy.
It takes a certain kind of person and state of mind to do it. Perhaps that is why, although many of us aim to become fit as we enter a new year, most of us do not even get through the first six weeks. Here are five lessons I've learned through my punishing, early morning gym sessions:
1. Be patient.
When it comes to the gym, being patient is a prerequisite. Many of us unfortunately expect that if we hit the gym for a week and eat some vegetables, we will suddenly develop washboard abs overnight. Yet, this is far from the truth. I have learned during my punishing, early morning sessions at the gym that some things, especially those worth having, take time.
As they proverbially say, “Rome was not built in a day.” This is as true when it comes to building a better, healthier and more aesthetically pleasing body as it is for achieving success in your personal and professional life.
If you want to succeed, you will need to be patient. Realize it cannot all just be done overnight. Just as it takes the might of the ocean’s waves years and years of ebbing and flowing to shape the coastline, it will also take you a considerable amount of time and effort to shape your body or succeed in whatever field you choose.
Be patient with everything you do. Your hard work will not be in vain, and it will bear fruit eventually.
2. Persistence and consistency yield results.
It is not enough to just do something once, and expect that it will yield instantaneous results. When I go to the gym, I know that one session is not going to suddenly change my body composition. Yet, an accumulation of these small efforts will lead to desired results. Therefore, it is about persistently and consistently working toward your desired goals while being patient.
If you have set yourself a big goal, do not try to achieve it all at once. Instead, focus on consistently contributing small but effective gains toward the attainment of your goal.
In the same way building a great body will require consistency both at the gym and in your diet, so will your goals. Being consistent in your approach when things are getting tough is not going to be easy, so be prepared to crawl on the days when you can't run. Get it done regardless, and remain consistent.
3. Discipline will make the difference when it comes to achieving your goals.
You can bust your ass in the gym all you'd like, but if you neglect all the other variables, it will affect the end results. Your hard work will seldom produce the results you seek.
This realization taught me that you will need to exercise a great degree of discipline in order to achieve your goals. Sacrifices will have to be made.
As I'm sticking with the analogy of the gym, not being disciplined could be similar to yearning to lose weight, but having an unhealthy diet. Therefore, this is where the discipline comes into play. If you want your body to look better, it's not enough to just work out. You will also need to pay great attention to your diet.
Thus, if you want to achieve a certain goal, you will need to exercise a great degree of discipline. This could be with regard to things such as saving money and refraining from overspending when you are trying to build a better financial future for yourself.
Thus, being disciplined will mean your efforts bear fruit much more easily and quickly. As a result, your efforts are not rendered futile by lack of discipline. In a nut shell, not being disciplined can hinder you from achieving the goal you are trying to achieve.
4. Good things do not come easy. If they did, they wouldn’t be as good.
As they say, “Beauty is pain.” Looking good will take a lot of hard work, sweat and years of consistency (among other things). The fact of the matter is, succeeding in anything is not simply done in a linear fashion. Along the way, there are bumps, ups and downs and forks in the road.
It’s an arduous journey, and one that will require a lot of tenacity. Indeed, it will be hard.
Yet, it is supposed to be. If it were easy, all people would succeed in achieving everything they've set out to do.
This is because not everyone has the mental fortitude to fight when the going gets tough. Most of the time, the tough times separate the weak from the strong, and the great from the good.
Therefore, before you embark on a large goal, you have to remember it's going to be difficult. Otherwise, everyone would’ve done it.
This is one of the reasons why professional athletes receive high wages. There aren't a lot of people who can do what they do.
5. Push yourself.
In my endeavors to build a better body and become stronger, I quickly learned through trials and research that the only way to ensure that my body keeps growing and improving is by challenging myself and pushing my boundaries.
In bodybuilding, if you want to ensure your muscles keep growing, you have to progressively overload the muscle so it can be stimulated to grow. This is because if you keep doing the same things, your muscle will not need to grow or become stronger to deal with the exercise. It has done the exercise plenty of times, and is now accustomed to it.
Therefore, you always have to “shock” the muscle. You can do this through a heavier load, more reps or higher intensity. In the same way this principle of progressive overload and “shocking” the muscle is true for bodybuilding, it is also true for personal development.
In order to grow and reach heights, you have to challenge yourself and venture out of your comfort zone. This is the only way you will grow into a better, stronger version of yourself. Keep striving and challenging yourself in order to keep growing and becoming better.
Although on the surface, this may just appear to be a pursuit that only athletes or those yearning to look better for the beach can be bothered with, going to the gym religiously has built my character.
It has made me stronger, both physically and psychologically, and it has taught me many priceless lessons about the human spirit. I now know that I can succeed at anything I set my mind to.