"Joy and comfort are awkward, and make me want to die".
I heard this quote on the radio the other day, and it made me squeal inside. Like "ohmygawd, this is perfect" kind of squeal.
In Precision Nutrition, we talk about difficult-easy (D-E), and difficult-difficult (D-D). It's a metaphor borrowed from coach Alwyn Cosgrove:
"Difficult-easy is when you are on familiar terrain, no matter how hard the going. Difficult-difficult is when you find yourself at the bottom of someone else’s weight class with three crazy training partners: fear at your left, doubt on your right and (that big bastard) uncertainty squaring up in front of you. Difficult-easy is treading water while kidding yourself that you are swimming against the tide. Difficult-difficult doesn’t need to employ pretense because it is drowning and swimming for its life."
You've been going to the gym for years. You train six or seven days a week. Weight training? Yes! A new training program? Bring it on. Kettlebells? I have my certification! Difficult-easy.
Yet, if I ask you to sit down to eat. To slow down and chew your food. To turn off the television. To feel the hunger. And... you unravel. You rebel. You want to punch a wall and run away. Paying attention and slowing down is difficult-difficult.
Maybe, you do eat slowly. You eat your vegetables. You pay attention to your portion sizes and leave half of your paycheque at Whole Foods. Difficult-easy.
Yet, the idea of heading to the gym - with machines, exercises, and other people (!) - nearly gives you a panic attack. Difficult-difficult.
The shitty (I mean, awesome) thing is that progress lies within one, but not the other. Try to guess which one.
You know what difficult-easy is. You know what it looks like. You know what it feels like. Go to any chain gym - you'll see it - going through the motions, reading magazines on stationary bikes. Women - always, women - on thigh abductor/adductor machines (I tape those up with yellow caution tape every time, and they keep taking it off).
Some may ask for advice. "What's the best thing for weight loss?". Suggest high intensity intervals, and you'll see their eyes glaze over. They want to know how long they should be walking on a treadmill for - an hour or two hours a day.
At any CrossFit box - people pushing so hard they are about to puke, collapsing on the floor after the workout. It may be hard, but, for many, it's difficult-easy. Ask the same tough guy/gal to go to a yoga class. To skip a workout. To take a rest day. Heart rate goes up. Difficult-difficult.
There are opportunities to embrace your difficult-difficult every day. Running may be your D-D today. But it doesn't have to be your D-D tomorrow. The more crazy shit (by YOUR standards) you tackle, the more awesome you become.
You know those signature shorts of mine? Yes, the ones with striped socks. Well, that WAS one of my difficult-difficult.
You see before doing Precision Nutrition coaching as a client, I've never worn shorts (as as adult). Hell, I didn't even own a pair.
I hated how my legs looked in shorts, no matter the length, no matter the cut. I hated my knees, because they had "chub" hanging over them weirdly (or enter some other #firstworldproblem here).
My team members (bless them) challenged me to do my end of year photoshoot, wearing shorts. And it turned out that I love me a good dare more than I hate the look of my knees.
*Although these pictures have not seen the light of day until today. Another D-D, perhaps?
Since then, shorts are part of my go to exercise outfit. No, they are not the most comfortable piece of clothing (hello, wedgies!), which is why you’ll never see me racing in them. Or running in them, for that matter – chafing… shudder! No thigh gap here, thank you very much. And I am still not the biggest fan of my knees (hello, thigh highs!).
But it’s my daily positive body image reminder.
My daily “fuck you” to my own body negativity.
YOUR TURN: What’s your difficult-difficult? What are you doing today to become more awesome?
*Note of thanks to CrossFit Toronto for providing the facilities in the photos above.