Torture Report: How Surrender Fits into Fitness

Photo by Daria Shevtsova on

It would seem counterintuitive that waving the white flag of surrender would be a helpful step in getting the wellness and fitness that you desire. But alas it is one of the more important steps. Until we are able to stop with all the distractions that keep us from facing where we are unwell, we can’t begin to address them.

For me, that’s been my ongoing resistance to a consistent strength training program. I have had this long-time challenge with maintaining dual commitments when it comes to fitness. I am either all-in for strength or all-in on cardiovascular endurance but I have struggled to do both well at the same time.

I am not sure why. Why likely doesn’t even matter, I just need to know what keeps me from being as fit as I would like to be.

Surrender is what’s required to stop making excuses; to stop saying it’s not that big of a deal, to stop lying to myself that I am fitter than I am.

You see all these rationalizations are the buffer from the discomfort that we often need to move. If I keep myself from the truth by fighting against, distracting from, or simply not looking at it, I cannot attend to what is.

About 4 weeks ago, I gave up all the excuses about a few things when it comes to my wellness.

  1. Attending to my levels of stress is the first step in being well. I cannot out-exercise, out-nutrition the effects of stress hormones and how they course through my body.
  2. Sleep is the second step in being able to work out hard and recover well.
  3. Encountering resistance along the way is part of the process, so quit waiting to feel like doing the difficult things, just commit to doing them.
  4. I have to be honest with myself that if I am not actively changing any of the items above then I am actively choosing to stay the same, whether it’s by default or not. If I am not changing that is 100% my responsibility.
  5. I must fully witness and be with the feelings that arise when I look in the mirror, acknowledge my weaknesses both physically and emotionally; and let those be motivators instead of things that I try to hide from.
Photo by Ketut Subiyanto on

I decided I needed an additional layer of accountability so I signed up for a 30-day challenge. You know how much Lowi and I love a good challenge. We have participated in our fair share. I am in a 30-day, 15 minutes a day challenge and it is kicking my rear. Every single day, whether I want to or not, whether I feel like it or not, whether I come up with good excuses to skip it or not, I am doing my 15 minutes. (In fact, even yesterday, Lowi had to give me the “go do your 15 minutes and then text me back when you are done” pep talk)

Last Saturday after running 10 miles, the very last thing I wanted to do was my 15-minute workout, which turned out to be full of pushups and jump squats. It was incredibly difficult. I was forced to face the fact that 144 jump squats and 144 pushups were beyond my ability without modifications. That’s not to say that the workout wasn’t useful. It was but it also makes me see everyday where I need work. I don’t need to run away from the work. I need to surrender it.

It’s the ability to surrender the lies we tell ourselves to feel better in the short term, and instead to say, right here, this is where I need work. This is where I am falling short of my goals and being honest about that. I can do that without shame or guilt because it’s also about living into our values.

If I say I value wellness, I need to live that. That doesn’t mean I will always have the body I want. It means that my actions will match my words. It means that my habits will match my values. It means I won’t have to shy away from the truth because I am living in it every minute of the day and also appreciating my efforts.

I think this is why we are so seduced by quick fixes and fad diets. We believe if we can find a short cut and get out of our mess, whatever it is, quick enough we can bypass the pain of the truth. Whether the truth is we’ve let ourselves go, we are 50 pounds overweight, we eat to cope, we don’t eat to cope, we fear failing and the list goes on. As I heard on a podcast with Nicole Sachs, shame requires self-loathing and it’s hard to hate ourselves when we are doing what we say we are going to do.  (That’s a pro tip if I have ever heard one)

So each day, I get up, and there are a few things on my list that are not open for negotiation. And when they are complete, I give myself the appreciation for living up to my word and keeping promises to myself. And with that the level of stress I feel begins to wane because I am no longer lying to myself. I don’t know where I will land by the end of the year but I do know surrender is the first, uncomfortable, annoying step when we say: OK this is what it means to be me at this moment in time. What’s gotta give?

Sunshine & Sarcasm,
Lowi & G

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