The fitness journey is well worth the struggle

January 9, 2016

If you could snap your fingers and magically appear in great shape, would you do it? Of course, why wouldn’t you want to look great, eat whatever you want and not have to spend hours in the gym? But since that’s never going to happen, it’s important to learn to appreciate the process and understand why the fitness journey is well worth the struggle.

To me, getting in shape is a spiritual experience that builds confidence and character, and bleeds positive energy into other parts of your life. It’s not just the way you look, but rather the lessons learned along the way. I can guarantee it won’t be easy, and if it were, everyone would do it. Working out takes time and effort, and you must give up what you want now for results you won’t see until later. Working hard is habit-forming. If you can transform your body, you can do anything you put your mind to; just apply the same energy.

Working out teaches discipline. Things like eating healthy, lifting weights and doing cardio several times a week are not easy tasks, but once you learn to get them done, you will have self control and focus that will guide you through the most difficult situations in life. Purposely inflicting pain on your body can be physically and mentally grueling, but it teaches you how to stay committed and on track under stressful conditions to get the job done.

Getting in shape teaches willpower, and you will develop the ability to make decisions and not be influenced by others because you will have to make good choices with diet, workouts and alcohol to reach your goals and stay there. You will quickly learn that keeping your hard-earned results will not happen if you are easily swayed, and you must make eating an occasional piece of cake or sugary dessert a treat and not a lifestyle.

Working out helps develop time management skills, because you have to figure out how and when to fit your fitness regimen into your busy schedule and get everything done without neglecting other responsibilities. This can be difficult and can sometimes be like having an extra job, but the more you practice, the better you get at blending your workouts into your everyday life and using extra time you never knew you had to get the week's requirements done.

Last, but most important, is that getting in shape will help you learn to never give up. Despite how hard things may seem, you will surge forward until you achieve your goals, and, to me, this is the best part of all. There will always be times when things don’t go our way but if we keep trying and push through, things always seems to have a way of turning out better.

I’m not saying you have to love every minute you spend in the gym or look forward to every time you lace up your shoes to do another 30 minutes of cardio. I’m simply saying learn to embrace the process and recognize the positive effects the fitness journey has to offer. You just might find that the road you travel to get in shape in 2016 is not that bad after all.

Chris Antonio is a personal trainer and former world-class weightlifter. He has been lifting for more than 20 years and has trained a wide variety of clients. To send a question to the Ask the Trainer column, email Chris at or check out for training tips, news and inspirational stories.


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