It may surprise you that in all of my years of bumping around in the fitness world, being certified, and competing in various sports that I never really had a solid reason for training. Oh, sure, I wanted to be leaner, more muscular, have better health, be stronger, have six pack abs, etc., etc. I had specific goals that varied with whatever sport I was involved with at the time. But what I lacked was a meaningful reason WHY. I didn’t like being overweight. I didn’t like being weak. I didn’t like being unable to do what other people could do. But those were never meaningful reasons.
It wasn’t until about three years ago, when I was diagnosed with ankylosing spondylitis, that I had a real compelling reason for training. Now I am facing something that could kill me, and make me really suffer for years along the way. When I was going through the process of being diagnosed, I told my rheumatologist that I was a powerlifter and loved training with heavy weight. I asked whether I’d be able to continue. She said it would probably be my best medicine. She was right. We tried several medications, but all affected me very negatively. The side effects just weren’t worth it. But training has been my lifesaver.
I had to relearn how to eat, how to train, how to rest. It was like learning how to walk again. Anytime I stray from the optimal patterns of training and dieting, my body reminds me very quickly that I am going a dangerous direction. Overreaching too far in my training will take me out of the gym for one or two weeks because inflammation and pain will blow up. Not training enough also results in increased inflammation and stiffness in my spine and neck. So it is critical for me to strive for balance.
I wouldn’t wish this kind of reason on anyone, but it does provide some teachable points that are useful for us all.
First, a compelling reason won’t go away or change much. I will never be free of ankylosing spondylitis. Not until I die. Kind of grim, right? But I am actually glad for it. Because now that I know what I am fighting for, there is no chance that I will turn away from the fight. Failing to fight the effects of this disease is the same as saying I am not worth it.
Second, a compelling reason cannot be ignored or avoided. I will feel the effects of my disease no matter what. I will never wake up one morning and not feel pain. Ankylosing spondylitis is a progressive disease, meaning it will get a lot worse. This is a guarantee. What is not guaranteed is the rate at which it progresses. I can influence that by confronting it and taking action. Ignoring it will only result in more pain and limited ability to move.
Third, a compelling reason overwhelms you. This isn’t necessarily negative. It just means that it will change your life. And that can be a very positive thing provided that you channel it to make positive changes. Life is what you make of it. There are negative and positive factors that will influence your path. A compelling reason will force a decision from you. It is up to you to make it a positive force in your life.
As the new year is upon us, I hope you will make the opportunity to look at your life and discover your compelling reasons…and then change your life. For the better.