Pain Period

Great piece of anecdote from bodybuilding.com

In the movie 'Pumping Iron', Arnold talks about what he calls the "pain period".

"[...]The body is not used to, maybe the uhh, 9nth, 10th, 11th, and 12th rep with a certain weight, so that makes the body grow then, going through this pain period. Experiencing uhhh, pain in your muscles, and aching and just then go on and go on and then go on, and these last two or three or four repititions, that's what actually makes the muscle then grow, and that's what divides the, one from a champion and one from not being a champion. If you can go through this pain period, you make it to be a champion. If you can't go through, forget it. And that's what most people lack is in this, having the guts, the guts to go in and just say, i'll go through and I don't care what happens, if it aches, and if I fall down... I have no fear of fainting in a gym, because I know it could happen. I threw up many times while I was working out, but it doesn't matter, because it's all worth it."

Here's a conversation I had with a very experienced trainer, a few years back
Wise Sage: In a given set of 10 reps, out of those 10 reps, which one do you think gives you the most growth?
Me: Uhhh, probably the last 2 or 3 right?
Wise Sage: But which one specifically?
Me: I guess the 10th rep?
Wise Sage: See, that's the kind of attitude that keeps you where you are in life. It is not in the 10th rep that you get the most growth, but the 11th
Me: Well you made it a **ing trick question dude wtf? You're a bitch

Here's my thesis, during this pain period, is your opportunity. When you are outside of your comfort zone, only then do you have a chance to grow, or to stay the same. This is especially relevant with working out, but I think it also goes into other aspects of life. Doing homework, you experience the pain period that makes you want to put it off until later. In a relationship, addressing the issues you've been avoiding. In your own life, facing the 'elephant in the room' you've convinced yourself doesn't exist.

Today I very clearly experienced that 'pain period'. I've had this goal to establish a 5am-9pm sleep cycle. Prior to attempting this, my sleep schedule was more like 1pm - 5am, so on the first day that I decided to wake up at 5am, I actually was just pulling an all nighter. I stuck with it for about 3 days, but on the fourth day I forgot to set my alarm, and I ended up going back to my old routine. So just last night I decided I'd give it another go. Fell asleep at around 3:00am, woke up 2 hours later. Which was actually worse IMO, because getting that 2 hours of sleep reminded me of how good it felt, where as pulling an all nighter you just stay awake. Anyways, I got up, made some breakfast, and around 7:00am I was getting really drowsy. To keep myself awake I started pacing around my room and tried not to think about how comfortable my bed looked. I reflected upon this difficulty, to change old habits, to try something new, to set out and attempt to achieve my goal, I was experiencing the pain period. It was painful to think I'd have to stay awake for another 14 hours. I just wanted to quit so badly.

My thesis is that, in any endeavor, where there is opposition, or an obstacle, there will be some kind of a pain period. Whether you want to make more money, you want a better relationship, you want to be healthier, you will experience a pain period. And how people handle this period is what defines them either a champion or a loser. It's not the time when everything's fine and dandy with nothing to worry about that you grow, it's during the difficult times, those times are what separate the men from the boys.

The great leaders in our past understood this. Think of the kind of pain period Abraham Lincoln went through when he was trying to pass the emancipation proclamation. In fact, imagine the starving children in Africa, what their pain period must feel like when they aren't certain whether or not they'll live another day.

These kinds of thoughts give me strength during my pain period. Pain is temporary. If I can make it through my pain periods I will grow, I will be rewarded for my efforts, I will be outstanding. Pain is inevitable, suffering is optional.

So I say embrace these pain periods. Psychologically reframe them in your mind as positive rather than negative. When you see the word 'responsibility', think 'opportunity'.

That's my 2 cents.

Seah Ying Cong

Old soul in an older body.

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