How Bad Do You Want It?

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I had a hard workout yesterday.  No, not a long workout, not a challenging workout, a HARD workout.  The kind of workout during which I actually thought to myself, “Oh my gosh I think I could cry…” and then actually had to take a deep breath and prevent the tears from coming out of my eyes.  (I’ve had similar “Oh my gosh I think I might vomit” workouts but the ones that bring you to tears are sometimes even more defeating.)

The workout wasn’t “hard” because I’m weak or overly-dramatic, but mostly because I hadn’t worked this particular muscle group really strenuously in several months and then had done two serious upper body workouts in the same week.  Maybe not the best idea but eh, the work needed to be done.

At the end of the workout after I’d collapsed on the mat, I asked my trainer, “Ok, so how much protein can I eat after this?  15? 20 grams?”  I was fantasizing about the soft baked protein bar that was waiting for me.

“Yeah, 15-20 is good,” he said.

I was also fantasizing about dinner.  A real dinner.  Fish, veggies, maybe even a glass of wine…  So then I asked, “And I can eat dinner after that?”

He screwed up his face and gave me the “What the hell are you talking about have you gone crazy or do I just not understand your question?” face.

“Um, no,” he says, “The 15-20 grams of protein is dinner.  Just go home and eat dinner.”

“But I don’t want to eat dinner right now,” I replied, “It’s only 5:30.”  I could feel myself going into whiny brat mode even though I knew full well that I needed to eat 15 grams of protein within about 40 mins of the type of workout I’d just finished.  Waiting to eat dinner until 7:30 or 8pm would be counter-productive to the work I’d just put in.  Eating a protein bar and dinner would also be counter-productive.  The choice I was facing was either eat dinner now or eat a protein bar now and call it dinner.

“Do I ever get to eat like a normal person again!?!” I demanded to know.  (Ok, it wasn’t demanding, it was more like whining…I was in full brat mode at this point.)  “Or is it protein powder for breakfast, bars for lunch, salad for dinner… is that just my life forever!?”

The answer.

Yes.  Sort of.

Because when it comes down to it I’m a 31-year old woman who has been overweight for most of my life (even obese at points in my life) and I’m trying to maintain an elite body fat percentage that hovers around 17 – 18%. And that isn’t easy believe me.  But at the end of the day you have to ask yourself, How bad do you want it?

I read an article on-line the other day (“The Most Important Question You Can Ask Yourself Today”) that said the same thing a different way:

“If I ask you, “What do you want out of life?” and you say something like, “I want to be happy and have a great family and a job I like,” it’s so ubiquitous that it doesn’t even mean anything.

Everyone wants that. So what’s the point?

What’s more interesting to me is what pain do you want? What are you willing to struggle for? Because that seems to be a greater determinant of how our lives end up.

‘Nothing good in life comes easy,’ we’ve been told that a hundred times before. The good things in life we accomplish are defined by where we enjoy the suffering, where we enjoy the struggle.

People want an amazing physique. But you don’t end up with one unless you legitimately love the pain and physical stress that comes with living inside a gym for hour upon hour, unless you love calculating and calibrating the food you eat, planning your life out in tiny plate-sized portions.”

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The pain I’m willing to endure to live the life I want includes workouts that make me want to cry (or vomit), measuring out the right number of grams of protein powder, not ordering anything at Starbucks that starts with the words “White Chocolate..” or “grande..”, weighing myself every day, and seriously limiting my sugar and fat intake 347 days of the year so that I can throw down like a “normal person” on Thanksgiving, Christmas, birthdays, and 4th of July BBQs.

Being my healthiest happiest self doesn’t come without struggle, but it’s a struggle I’m willing to endure.