How to Conquer Adversity
BY Bill Yeager
All too often I meet and speak to people who think they are ready to “Transform” their body and they are ready to begin a new fitness program. The first thing I ask them is, “Are you ready?” Of course they say YES, I sure am this time. So I wonder what happened last time that prevented them so my next question is, “What happens when you get knocked down?” Usually I get a nasty look or I’ll be asked what the heck I’m talking about. Sure enough they were struck with adversity in the past so they didn’t reach their fitness goal the last time they tried, so this time they are trying again. This time they believe that there is no way adversity will happen and they will have the perfect ride to reaching their fitness goals. They think that nothing can stand in their way, again. The fact is, if you’ve been knocked down with adversity before and you didn’t get up, the chances are when it happens again, you will stay down again.
Problems are going to happen and when they do they can bring any progress to a complete stop. It destroys motivation, momentum, self confidence and can spin your positive momentum into a negative direction where all you find is one thing after another stopping you from achieving. Since you can’t prevent adversity, what are you supposed to do? There are only two ways you can react to it and both will determine your destiny. One, you can see it as a problem and try to let it pass; which will hurt you mentally and physically by increasing your stress levels (fear levels), cripple your healthy lifestyle and most likely have a negative affect on those around you too. Two, you can see it as an opportunity to grow and learn from, to make your life and the lives around you even better. In reality, you only need to look at adversity as life telling you that it is time for an opportunity to become better in some way. I believe that adversity is among us all, not only for ourselves to become better people, but to contribute to others so they too don’t have the same adversity that we’ve had. It all depends on how you direct your focus. Yes, this is easier said than done, but like with everything, with a little practice you will become good at it. Next thing you know, you will start to see that although “problems” appear bad from the start, as each one arises you grow from them in some way to become a better person. That’s one of the great things about life, to grow and to teach.
First and foremost, you need to understand that you cannot prevent problems and know that it is a part of life. What you need to do is constantly expect adversity to appear and when it does arrive you need to learn, conquer it, grow, celebrate how you handled it and await the next one.
#1 Know when you get knocked down, get up, dust yourself off and hit it again.
I have seen that you can’t accurately measure someone’s success by the look of their body, the car they drive or the business they run. The true measure of success is discovered by knowing the obstacles they’ve conquered in order to reach their goals. Over the years, I’ve had special opportunities to meet many people who have overcome seemingly unstoppable obstacles to get where they are today. These people have focused so much of their efforts on other areas of their lives while efforts for their health were deteriorating slowly. Sure enough they became overweight, unhealthy, depressed and in many cases were told to take medications because of the negative effects the extra weight they were carrying had on their system, including low self esteem and stress. This is the same person most of these people promised themselves they would never become.
In many cases, it takes a lot of adversity in your life to really make a change: for everything to go wrong and for you to just look in the mirror, stop lying to yourself and decide that you’ve had enough; it’s time for me now. The decision is the key. Once that is done, you need to sit down and create a map toward your success, allowing nothing to stand in your way. I’ve seen it so many times where a person begins a routine and in the first month they’re unstoppable. Everything has been perfect, they’ve lost 15 pounds of fat and their friends and family are making positive comments about them. Life is great! Then, adversity hits. An example of this was one woman who was doing well losing weight and getting in shape when one day told me that her husband just left her. She was in shock and the last thing on her mind was eating right and exercising. At first she wanted to quit. While still dealing with the recent tragedy, even more adversity hit. This same person was told she was no longer needed for her position at work and that she was going to be transferred to a new location which was much further from her current one. On top of that, it demanded more time including travel, a lot more responsibility and no pay increase. She couldn’t stop thinking about all the bad things that had happened to her in her life. She then reached a turning point where a decision had to be made, either give up on everything or reach deep down inside and find the strength to bounce back. She then told me she thought back to the promise she made to herself, that she would finish this no matter what. She decided that adversity would not destroy her goals. She used it as fuel to make her stronger than ever before.
What a great feeling as a personal trainer to see a client go through this and beat it on her own. Of coarse you can pump people up while they are with you, but it’s a whole different ball game what goes on in their heads when they leave you. As a personal trainer, instead of just pumping up your clients when this happens, just redirect their focus so they don’t have to do it themselves. Do you see what was done here? She stopped asking “Why me?” and asked herself, “How am I going to handle this?” She said, “I knew it would be a poor example to my kids if I gave up, my family means a lot.” She found courage to hold onto her dream of health, beauty and self esteem. Day in and day out this powerful woman conquered struggles which later helped her reach her physical goals by losing 40 lbs of body fat to in turn create even higher expectations for herself; however, the physical changes were simply evidence of the true changes that took place in her life! She not only achieved her physical goals, she also earned a new respect for adversity and perseverance. All you need to do as a personal trainer is to remind people what they are there for, their goals. Underneath their fitness goal there is something else that they want that reaching their fitness goal will get them. You need to know what that is for each person so that you can use it to remind them what it is that they really want when they are knocked down. It can be respect that they want, love, health, importance or to feel meaningful, whatever it is, know what powerful goal underlies the fitness goal to redirect their focus when needed.
#2 Know that it is going to happen, either large problems or small ones.
The adversity my friend had faced is merely an example of what can happen. In fact, I haven’t seen many cases where it didn’t show up. What I do see, is that some will persevere and some will give up. I’ve learned valuable lessons from many people’s patterns in a physique development program. Please, realize adversity is not avoidable. Do not take what you have for granted. Cherish and be grateful for what you do have. Do not let adversity kill your dreams and goals. The way you handle it sculpts who you are and gives you your character. Become a “hero” to yourself and to others. Be larger than LIFE. Adversity is your bridge to success, not your barricade. Only you have the power to create your destiny and it comes from how you react to ANY given circumstance. React well!!!