Embracing the Suck…

Also known as:

  • Riding the struggle bus…  Or…
  • When you just wanna cry… Or…
  • Feel the fear and do it anyway…

I try to workout on a regular basis.  I just happen to post publicly on social media about my workouts so people think I workout all the time. However, I’m just like the rest of you…I try to workout and have a routine, but I struggle, life gets in the way sometimes, and it’s hard to stay motivated to get my butt to the gym.

People often ask, then how do you do it?! You always seem to have so much energy and you workout all the time….  Smoke and mirrors baby!  LOL…okay, so not really, but a couple of posts recently from my workout buddies made me realize what I do.

It’s a habit.

Yep, plain and simple…but yet…not so simple.  This graphic is what one of my gym buddies posted that sums it up well (by now, hopefully you know there might be swear words involved…):


So true! If we only did the work when we felt motivated and jazzed about what we were doing, it wouldn’t last long. It is easy to stay motivated when things are going well or when you have a new and different workout for a while or when you are doing all the movements that you love. But here’s the thing…that’s not reality and that is not necessarily what your body needs.  It’s is good to switch it up off and on and keep your muscles guessing what the heck happened.  It is also good to stick with something long enough to work through proper form and to develop muscle memory. It’s also good to do the exercises you hate and that are difficult for you (not impossible or hurtful…as in might cause bodily harm…).  You likely need to develop those muscle groups that allow you to get better at the hard movements.

This morning was a great example. I didn’t sleep great last night, I’m tired from my workouts from the past two days, I get up and as I’m drinking my Spark to try and wake up I’m not feeling it.  Here is the conversation that I was having with myself:

  • I’m tired…I could take a rest day today and hit it the rest of the week
  • I should go…for fuck’s sake…I’m already awake…
  • I could enjoy the quiet time and read for an hour
  • It’s really not my favorite workout, although I do like the format (Wednesday workouts right now are the 12 Days of Christmas…do exercise #1 for 1 rep, then do #2 for 2 reps, then #1, do #3 for 3 reps, #2 for 2 and #1 for 1…all the way to 12 exercises total)
  • I always feel better when I go workout
  • Julie’s classes always seem harder (a.k.a. I don’t like them as much and I’m not as good at them…just a note, this has nothing to do with Julie…LOL…)
  • Sigh…fine then, I’ll go…I’m already up, it would be stupid not to go

Ha!  What an ordeal…shut up already…right?!?!

I’m happy to report that I did actually make it to class and of course I was glad that I went.  In some ways, it was almost more rewarding because it was a tough workout for me…with at least 50% of the exercises being things I don’t really like or that I’m not really good at (wall crawls…shit…  burpees…ugh…).  Here’s a snapshot of the workout and the kettlebells I used:

Ultimately what got me there was that it’s a habit.  It’s a habit to get up every morning and go to the gym for 6am class.  It’s a habit so it’s more reliable; I don’t have to think about it, it’s just what I do.  I get up, I get dressed, I go to the gym, I come home and get ready for work.


Are there some days I enjoy more than others?  Sure.  I love kettlebell work like swings, figure 8’s, and other kettlebell strength movements.  I love Friday’s when we do Crazy 8’s – 8 exercises, 8 reps each, for 8 rounds.  I hate burpees.  I tend to prefer strength training over cardio, yet I know that cardio is good for me.  I love barbells and kettlebells because they make me feel like a badass.  I dislike running…  You get the drift.  😉

Having workout buddies that will hold you accountable…or at least notice and comment when you are gone is also helpful.  There are certain classes each 8-week session that I really try not to miss.  I have a partner in those classes and when I’m gone, she notices and sends me a message.  It is easier to get your butt to the gym when you know someone else is counting on you to be there and work beside them through a tough class.

Another thing that I do is keep a fitness journal with the workouts that I do, especially the weights that I use, tips for myself and how I felt that day while working out.  I started doing this regularly when I started lifting 3 times/week in our Aspire Weightlifting Club…and it has stuck.  I’m not lifting right now with the club; however, I still track workouts in my journal. It’s really beneficial to look back over my workouts and see the progress made and the weights I’m using today versus a year ago. Plus I found a super cool workout journal that has awesome daily quotes that make my day!

Workout Journal

Something our trainer Matt encouraged us to do regarding our kettlebell swing work is to pick a minimum weight – even given a workout with higher reps.  I did a kettlebell challenge last year with the 50# beast (I call my 50# kettlebell BeBe or BB for Big Bitch…LOL…).  But I had gotten away from that and honestly start losing my grip strength if I have to do more than 12-15 reps at 50# right now.  So I set my bottom limit at 40#. I won’t let myself chose less than the 40# kettlebell for any swing work that we’re doing in a workout starting this 8-week session (regular swings, not one-arm swings).  Some examples are below:


This was “only” 6 reps, but alternating with a partner for like 3 minutes (I think…) and alternating between regular swings and swing & pull which is a little harder as the weight gets heavier.


I decided to keep this at 40# as it was 100 reps total and an “add-on” to the workout that was prescribed; the workout on the board was just the first three exercises


In this workout, we had to pick 3 different kettlebell weights…so started at 40# and went up from there.

I also sometimes do things that scare the shit outta me…LOL…  I’m able to do this because I have a workout routine and have made training a habit.  Last year, I was doing a lot of barbell work and my trainer, Amy Boyd, encourage me to compete in the Novice Division of  the MAT Games, a CrossFit competition sponsored by CrossFit 8035 (June 2016).

I could tell you I was confident and brave…but I would be lying.  I reviewed the standards for the Novice Division and I could actually do every single movement on the list (at least relatively well) and at the prescribed weights, so I was flat out of excuses.  And I had a workout buddy that said “let’s do it together” so then I was committed.  I was terrified I’d make a fool out of myself but as we prepared and the competition grew closer, I knew I was as ready as I could be.

I was doing this to prove to myself that I could do it. I wasn’t in it to win, in fact honestly all I wanted to do was finish and not quit before the end of each workout.  There were 4 events – 2 on Saturday, 2 on Sunday.  They were “short” and intense workouts – the kind where you can barely breath and you want to just lay down and die.  I came in last in my division out of 23 competitors and I’m totally good with that. I did it!  It’s one of my proudest accomplishments to date!

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So there you go…  I’m not extra special. I don’t have a magic wand. I don’t have amazing energy or motivation.

I’m just an average girl who knows that I love working out and that it makes me feel stronger. So I’ve built it into my life as a habit. That’s what gets me there on the days like today when I’m riding the struggle bus and don’t really feel like doing the work.

Do it anyway. Make it a habit.



  • Both Matt & Julie Sillanpaa are trainers at my gym Brick House Fitness in Bondurant, Iowa. I credit Matt for teaching me pretty much everything I know about kettlebells and they both have been a huge part of my fitness journey.
  • Amy Boyd is a trainer at CrossFit 8035 and also has been a huge part of my fitness journey over time, pushing me and encouraging me to do crazy things like compete in the CrossFit MAT Games in 2016. She’s the one that first got me hooked on Olympic lifting.

2 thoughts on “Embracing the Suck…

  1. Love this. The struggle is real!!! Living it everyday. We have to remind ourselves that we are not the only one dealing with it and the motivation is out there. One stroke on the keyboard and you have 20 people telling you to go for it, you can do, you are strong, you are my inspiration!! Keep going girl!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Enjoyed your blog Carolyn. I can totally relate and you are right about it being a habit and that helping you get it done. I’ve been working out consistently for almost 2 years now and it has become a habit and something I look forward to most days. I feel better and stronger because of it. Keep it up girl!

    Liked by 1 person

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