Every time I run I want to stop. Going up hills motivates me even more to begin to create excuses for why I should cut myself some slack. I play this game in my head almost every time I do it. Sometimes the tendon behind my knee begins to hurt a little. I’m used to it and it always stops as I continue. I know it’s just a stiff muscle but when it hurts, I want to stop.

But I’ve learned that when I push through the pain I get to the other side and am always glad I did.

Living means encountering some pain. It can be the pain of exercise or the mental pain of being in a relationship that has problems or going after something that isn’t working yet or a number of other things. Mental pain can be worse than physical. There’s a whole lot of things that can hurt.

Lance Armstrong said, “Pain is temporary. It may last a minute, or an hour, or a day, or a year, but eventually it will subside and something else will take its place. If I quit, however, it lasts forever.

If you quit, it’s over, but so are the possibilities that come after the pain. Running keeps me fit. I don’t feel like quitting the whole time—just when pain either starts in my tendons or I feel tired and spent going up a hill. I do some loving self-talk. Knowing that without running, I’d probably gain weight, I lovingly call myself tubby and add a pep talk about how I need the exercise and must push through the pain.

I always make sure to be conscious when my run is over and say congrats to me for finishing!

There are times I almost give up. Times I’m so hungry I just want to run to McDonald’s and pig out. But I know that if I cut myself slack that once and shorten how much I do, or give in to the excuses and short term pain, I’ve lost. I remind myself of that whenever quitting thoughts go through my head. How can one time mean I’ve lost?

Giving in once means I’ll do it again.

You can always find excuses to quit. And if they work once, they’ll work again, which is why I can’t go there. Just as I said in my post Just This Once—Not!, I know that once you cut yourself slack, it’s so much easier to do it again in the future. So I push myself to be strong and push through any pain I’m experiencing. It’s also painful for me to make the calls and send emails to media people or others for my career. Not getting anywhere is downright mentally painful!! But this is the career path I’ve chosen and it has to be done to stay a freelance writer.

While the idea of experiencing pain isn’t pleasant, the rewards can be sweeter than you’d expect.

I’d never joined a gym or worked out with weights until 2001, when I decided my concern about how I’d learn to lift weights needed to be overcome in order to stay in good shape and keep my bones strong. I’d heard about slow motion weight training, where you lift heavy weights very slowly and when your body feels like it will die from the pain, you hold it for another count of 10 seconds.

Sound painful? It hurt more than anything I’ve ever done.

It sounded good before I began. The routine only take a half hour or less once a week, since you can’t do more than a few reps of each and it takes a week to recuperate. The science behind it is to quickly push your muscles to intense failure. That builds muscles faster than any other workout you can do. The workout is done with a trainer, who guides, pushes and insists you do what’s necessary. Most weeks I’d leave swearing that was the last time. And as I’d push through the pain of doing the reps, I’d think, “I have to quit!”

But I didn’t! Each week I returned for more torture, as I thought of it.

I did this program almost every week for a year. Had I skipped or shortened a session, I would have quit completely. I got into the habit of congratulating myself on the way home each week. I was truly proud of me. And that was a big factor in the rise of my self-esteem. It was tough but I pushed through! I didn’t let the pain make me quit. That motivated me to go back.

Pushing though pain is winning! The confidence it gives you to take more risks or do things that seem hard is priceless. I switched to a trainer in a regular gym after a year. By then, I’d learned many valuable lessons:

1) I can use my breathing along with my mind to lift the weights by concentrating hard and breathing into the lift.
2) Lifting in slow motion is a great way to learn perfect form for weight lifting.
3) I can do whatever I set my mind to!

After that year my body was much more toned and I had unusually strong muscles for only working out once a week for a year. My new trainer says I bench press heavier dumbbells than any woman he’s ever worked with, with perfect form! I’m up to 2 at 40 pounds each! When I’m stumbling with something, I remember how I felt when I left a slow motion session—proud beyond words. Even when my dentist had to do painful work on my tooth, I took deep breaths and told him to just keep going so it would be done faster instead of taking many breaks and dragging it out.

Self-love is a big motivator to push through pain. Doing so made my body healthier, which is important to me. Love yourself enough to drive through pain in situations that you know can have a reward at the other end. Stay on the treadmill a minute longer. Ride out the pain of breaking up with a romantic partner who isn’t good for you instead of going back for another sweet session ending in more pain.

Allow yourself to endure a painful treatment that can heal you.

Lance Armstrong hung in with his cancer treatments and he continued to hang in to win the Tour de France many times. You can win too if you love yourself enough to persevere to the other side of pain that can have a happy ending, like a fit and healthy body or freedom to find healthy love. You’re worth it! ?

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