One of the biggest and most effective lies we tell ourselves when it comes to doing anything we don’t like is that other people just find it easy. It’s the “It’s just not for me” card that we play in order to make ourselves feel better for not doing things that are difficult but necessary – like exercising.
This might come as a comfort to some people, and as a challenge to others, but even disciplined people find it hard to do hard things, like getting out of bed at 5am on a cold morning to train.
The first time this concept hit me (I’m sure I’ve always believed it, but the first time it really stood out to me) was when I was flipping through a book, Stuff Christians Like by Jon Acuff. It’s a satirical book making fun of the ridiculous (but very true) things that Christians do, believe, or say that, to put it bluntly, are stupid. One of the things he writes that “Christians like” is to dismiss early morning quiet time as something that God has not made them for, because they’ve tried it a few times and it’s not coming easily. As though Christians who do wake up early for quiet time found it a breeze to get into the habit of waking earlier than they need to in order to put aside time purely to spend with God and always immediately feel super spiritual and connected without any difficulty first thing in the morning.
In a similar instance, one lady I met while visiting a friend’s church was taken aback when I told her that I had been finding it hard to feel connected with God lately, and was struggling in my daily Bible reading each day. After a moment she told me what a relief it was to hear that even a seminary student can struggle with things that should be a part of our every day walk with God (and then went on to open up about ways she had been struggling in her faith lately… sidenote for Christians, be real with people). She felt that if I found it hard, it was even more reasonable that she was finding it hard.
Herein lies the comfort: you are not the only one who struggles to do what you’re trying to do. Even personal trainers (often especially personal trainers) have days when they feel like the last thing they want to do is spend time exercising. Even people who like the challenge of exercise and discipline find it hard to set routines, say no to unhealthy foods, push themselves when training, and get out of bed at 5am on cold mornings.
The thing about exercise is that, if you’re trying to get fitter or healthier, it is always hard. Exertion is exertion. I might be lifting more weight than the first-time-gym-goer next to me, but we are both pushing and exerting ourselves to lift what we’re lifting. We’re both going to feel puffed out or fatigued, and we’re probably both going to, at some point, ask ourselves if this is worth it.
(Pro tip: it’s worth it)
But like I said, this truth holds a challenge as well. If even the people who exercise for a living find it difficult, than your finding it difficult is no excuse to quit. Stop telling yourself that some people are just born for it. Yes, I believe that certain personality types enjoy challenge and hard work more than others. Yes, some people are “natural athletes”. But most people who achieve their goals do it because they don’t throw in the towel every time something gets hard.
[All this is not to say that there aren’t genuine obstacles in life. I’m speaking a truth to the general population about flimsy excuses we make to avoid hard work. But things like physical and mental illness, injuries, insufficient knowledge, and disabilities are all examples of things that can put up very real hurdles between us and our goals. There are always ways to jump the hurdles, and they’re no excuse to give up. But we all need to give ourselves grace when we encounter obstacles and are learning how to navigate them.]
Stop believing the lie that you are the only one who finds exercise as hard as you do. Stop making excuses, and start making some moves. You got this.