15 years ago, for no good reason, I handed off all my clients in DC and moved to LA. After I ran out of savings, I scrambled to get a job as a personal trainer at Spectrum Sports Clubs. Driving to my very first day I got my first flat tire ever, and I had no idea what to do.
Calling work with, “I’ll be late on my first day ever because I have a flat tire” wasn’t going to work with my new manager. The worst part is that I had done everything right (I left early with a full tank of gas, and checked the oil and the tire pressure), but I was still stuck in the right lane of Sepulveda.
To keep rent low, I lived in a fairly rough part of town, so I always kept a knife in the glove box. Looking at the car I could not drive, and thinking how this wasn’t my fault put me in a terrible mood.
It was overwhelming, and I grabbed the knife to do something about it. I slashed the other three tires, and kicked out my right taillight to teach my car a lesson. Then I walked off, found a bar, and got drunk.
This story is half true. I really did get my first flat tire driving to my first day of work at Spectrum, I was clueless and I was angry. The rest is made up: I didn’t have knife (but I did live a cheap, crappy apartment), I didn’t slash my tires, and never went to a bar.
What I actually did was call my dad and ask him what to do. (I did not have time to wait for AAA.) With his guidance, and my heart pounding from with the fear of being fired on day 1, I found the jack, the spare tire, etc. and changed that tire ASAP. With my doughnut in place I drove as fast as possible and made it on time!
What’s the point? The “flat tires” are internal and external.
Internally, you will make mistakes/fail to live up to your commitments. This is going to the grocery store hungry and filling your cart with high calorie treats, and then eating them all week long. The flat tire is the self-loathing this usually produces.
Externally, the flat tires are getting sick and out of your workout routine, the stressful work week that disrupts your workout routine, or anything else that’s out of your control but still negatively impacts the self-care you’re practicing.
The real problem. The real problem here isn’t the flat tire, but our black and white thinking on what this means. When it comes to eating well and exercising, we think of ourselves as either “on the wagon” or “off the wagon.” But there is no wagon. This is just life.
Sometimes we get a lucky streak where eating well and working out consistently are nearly effortless. The problem is when we think this should last forever, and that any deviation from this lucky streak means we’re failing or a failure.
Struggling is a normal (and necessary) part of anything worthwhile. If you’re struggling you’re trying – you’re putting in effort, and that is the most important thing you can possibly do.
Really, what I’d like you to take away from this is a different view of struggle. Struggle means “I am working. Hard.” It does not mean “it’s not working.” There is no “it” to do the work for you.
When you see struggle for what it really is – what it feels like to work hard, then you don’t panic, and you don’t think about slashing your tires or “falling off the wagon.” Embrace the struggle.
“Without struggle there is no progress.” – Fredrick Douglass
I got started in fitness because I was teased for being “the fat kid.” I’ve been helping women give themselves the gift of fitness since 1998. Even my mom, Gail 🙂 Check her and other women’s stories out HERE.