Persistence Wins

why people give up

I’ve had this graphic sitting in my computer for a while now and decided to put it to good use.

I’m not even slightly tempted to give up working out, both because it’s become a daily habit and because I continually see positive results from my exercise routine (more on that in a minute). But there are plenty of other challenges in life that are difficult to overcome, and that can result in any of us giving up on some goal that’s really important.

I recently came across an infographic titled 7 Things Happy People Don’t Do. You can click on the link, but a summary of the list states certain qualities about happy people:

  1. They don’t avoid risk.
  2. They don’t seek everyone’s approval.
  3. They don’t complain.
  4. They don’t fear being alone.
  5. They don’t quit.
  6. They don’t resent someone else’s success.
  7. They don’t feel entitled.

Whether it’s starting and sticking to an exercise program, specific dietary regime, or anything else, we usually have to address those thoughts and feelings, long engrained in us, that have kept us from achieving our goals.

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One point that particularly got my attention in the graphic above was that people quit because they “give up their power.”

What power? Well, the power to achieve. Actually, power is realizing that you have the ability and resources to accomplish your goals while at the same time, understanding that your power doesn’t make you better than anyone else.

If someone else at the gym doesn’t perform as well as you or doesn’t lose their belly fat as quickly as you’re doing, that’s no reason to put them down, even in the privacy of your own thoughts, or to believe less in them. Chances are they have areas in their life where they do better than you.

At the same time, if someone at the gym is really killing it in squats, building muscle like the Incredible Hulk, and out-performs your very best while they’re still just warming up, that’s no reason to envy or resent them, either.

The first attitude makes you a jerk and the second will likely make you a quitter.

I periodically have some trouble sleeping through the night, and especially this week, I’ve been pretty drained. I managed to actually sleep reasonably well last night, but this morning as I was about to leave for work, my wife again suggested my sleep problems might be because I’m overdoing it at the gym.

While I think it’s possible for me to over-exert myself, I doubt that exercise is the contributing factor to my bouts of insomnia. In fact, it was after yesterday’s weightlifting session that I not only got better sleep, but I discovered this morning that my waking bodyweight had dipped below 190 pounds for the first time in over a decade.

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Officially, I woke up weighing 198.4 pounds (remembering that I’m a hair under 6’3″ tall, which is a tad less than 74 inches or 187.96 cm). That’s about 85.91 kg or 13.52 stone for those of you who don’t use U.S. imperial measurements.

It gets better.

Even after having a small pre-workout meal, mainly of protein, and then doing ab work and 40 minutes of cardio, expelling my water weight through perspiration brought my weight down to 188.6 pounds (about 85.54 kg or 13.47 stone).

I know. The minute I drank a glass of water, my weight shot back up, but so what!

Examining myself in the mirror, I still have “jiggle” around the middle. Not as much as I once had, but some of it is still there.

However, I’m now within a little less than 5 pounds of my goal weight of 185 pounds.

As my son David reminded me this morning during our commute in to work, it’s not just the overall weight but what that weight made of. At my goal weight, when I reassess, I’ll likely decide that getting lighter is no longer the primary focus. I’ll need to change what I’m made of so more of it is muscle and less of it is fat.

I’m not sure how I’ll approach that yet, but it’s exciting to be within “striking distance” of my target weight.

Tomorrow is my last weightlifting session in week 3 of my 5-week program. As of right now, I’m feeling pretty confident that I’ll not only successfully complete all five weeks, but that I’ll be able to go into the second 5-week round, increasing my lifting weights over the previous round, establishing that I really am getting stronger and building more lean, dense muscle.

When I found, during my previous 5×5 strength training routine, that it was too physically taxing for me to muscle 225 pounds of barbell off the floor in order to perform a deadlift for 5 reps, instead of quitting, I reconstructed my weightlifting program to continue to challenge myself while not straining to the point of risking injury or failure.

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The point, for anyone who may stumble across this blog, and who may be facing some sort of challenge no matter what it might be, is that you don’t have to quit.

You may have to change your approach and you may have to, at least temporarily, reduce the amount of effort you’re expending, but you don’t have to just plain stop.

You also may have to ease up off of what you expect out of yourself. Although I’m enjoying watching my strength go up and my waistline go down, if I expected to look and perform like someone 10, 15, 20, or more years younger than me, I’d probably end up quitting because my goals would be totally unrealistic.

I’ve already confronted my limits once. Now I’m on a different path and am out to find where those limits are. For all I know, what was limiting for me in the past has already changed. That’s what I’m going to find out in the next week or two.

Lou Ferrigno performing dumbbell curls
Lou Ferrigno performing dumbbell curls

I know that there’s only so far I can push my body, but what I’m doing is for more than just my body. It’s a template for how to approach any other challenge in life. Sure, it’s hard to do some things, incredibly hard. But if you’ve taught yourself to succeed in one area of your life, you can use that drive and experience to conquer other obstacles.

In the end, you’ll be stronger in more important and meaningful ways than just your muscles.

The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.

Mark Twain


2 thoughts on “Persistence Wins

  1. I wonder how much muscle you can hold on to weighing 185lbs at 6’3″. I know the feeling about not wanting to have some fat around the belly,about 30 years ago I went down to 165 at 5’11”. Imrember my father telling me I looked to skinny and I now think he was right. I just heard something on the radio today that being underweight is not as good as many people think. just,sayin


    1. I have no problem getting above 185 pounds as long as it’s more muscle than fat. That’s why I said I’d have to reassess my goals once I hit my target weight. Right now, I’m dedicated to cutting out the fat, particularly belly fat. Once that’s accomplished or mostly accomplished, building strength and muscle will become my primary target.


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