[Disclaimer: I started this post after a really good deadlift session. If you smell your screen, you’ll probably catch a whiff of endorphins]
Here’s something that I find myself wanting to tell people all the time. You’ll read it and think you know it – and to be honest, you probably do – but you don’t always remember it. And it’s one of the things most worth remembering.
Nothing you do is ever harder than the very first time you do it.
Walking into a gym for the first time is awful – you don’t know how anything works, or what moves to do, or who’s doing stupid shit and who you should listen to (rule of thumb: almost nobody). Trying to work out what to eat is near-impossible – everyone has a diet to sell you, and the things that actually work get buried in the mess. Cooking for the first time is horrible: nothing makes sense, and everything burns. Going to a dance class, a ski slope, a dojo, picking up a pen to write, trying to work out Adobe Illustrator, monkey-vaulting over a railing, speaking in front of an audience, presenting an idea to a panel, slipping a right cross – the first time you attempt them, they seem impossible. This is where lots of people get stuck: going ‘If I’ll always be this sore, feel this weak, hate my new lifestyle this much, I’d rather just stay where I am.’
But it gets easier. And soon, you can’t remember when things were any other way.
This is especially true in getting strong and eating right. Once you learn to cook scrambled eggs properly, and maybe dice an onion, that is done – you can make a decent, cheap, healthy breakfast in less than two minutes, and you will never have to learn how to do it again. After you learn to deadlift, bench and squat, you’ve got the basis for a gym programme that’ll last the rest of your life. Once you’ve taken those first, brutal steps – finding a workout plan that will work for you, getting through the stage where you can’t even manage a single pull-up, finding a way to cook broccoli that’s actually edible – everything gets easier.
That’s when the perpetual motion badassery can start.
Your tastes will change. Your habits will change. The way you feel about exercise – chasing the sustained high of an endorphin rush instead of the quick hit of a sugar one – will change. You’ll know what to eat, and how to make it taste good. You’ll know that you can hit any sensible goal you set, and you’ll be inspired to set more. At some point, it won’t feel right to go two days without exercise. At some point, you might look forward to an Olympic lifting session or sparring/open mat/hitting the park’s pull-up bars like you currently look forward to a day on the couch, playing GTA V or mainlining Breaking Bad. At some point, you’ll be getting stronger, healthier and more confident every day, and it won’t feel like an effort, because it’s just how you live. At this point, you’ve done via biology and psychology what’s impossible in mechanics – you’ve turned your body into a perpetual motion machine that’s constantly getting stronger, and faster, and harder to stop. You’ve started a process that can, and should, last for the rest of your life. Eating and training properly will never, ever be as hard as the first week you do it. It will only get easier.
This is easy to say. It’s easy to read. And you probably believe it. But you won’t know it – like you know that you need food and air – until you do it. So, please, try it. And let badassery commence.
HOMEWORK: Go and do something exciting. LIVE HARD.