The Struggle Is Real…Or Is It?

By Jeremy Carden

I’m certain that everyone reading this has either heard or said the phrase “The struggle is real.” Similar to Y.O.L.O. (You only live once), it has become a popular catchphrase of our generation. Typically, it is used to describe some type of hardship being experienced by an individual. However, just like those songs you hear on the radio 24/7…it gets old very fast.

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Now I’m not writing this blog to point fingers at people who say this phrase (because I say it on a daily basis) or to express my annoyance of it. The point of all of this is to ask the question; what does it REALLY mean to say “the struggle is real?”

Whenever it rolls off of your tongue the purpose behind saying it is to express that you recognize a difficult situation that either you or another person is going through. Recently, I’ve been going through some hardships of my own and I’ve found myself saying “the struggle is real” even more often than before.

A few nights ago I sat down and thought about my “struggles.” It wasn’t until I hashed out everything that I realized most of these struggles were self-created.

Take a moment and ask yourself; Am I the reason for most of my struggles?

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While I was mentally listing out my troubles, the phrase “You are your own worst enemy…” kept going through my mind. That makes a lot of sense because I’m one of those people who can be classified as an “over thinker” or a “worrywart.” I’m sure that some of you reading this can relate to me when I say that when you worry about something you can play 20+ worst case scenarios in your head about a situation in 30 seconds. Now if that does not cause a struggle for you mentality then I don’t know what does.

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For those of you who say that the struggle is real when it comes to losing weight, how many of you get off of the couch to take a walk or replace that soda in your hand with a bottle of water?

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To anyone having a difficult time trying to move on from a past relationship, are you still talking to your ex or find yourself looking at their pages on social media sites to keep track of what they are doing?

Our inner demons have a way of bringing out temptation and painful memories to bring us down. The struggle is real after you’ve gotten your heartbroken whem a relationship ends or you step on the scale and the number you see makes you want to breakdown and cry. Just the impossibility of getting into shape or putting the pieces of your heart back together truly makes the hardship of the situation escalate. Of course, these are just a couple of the many struggles people face in their lifetimes.

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Money is one of the primary struggles people use the phrase in reference to. Wanting to buy Frosted Flakes but you have to buy the generic brand instead due to a budget is “a struggle.”

Sometimes in order to overcome these struggles you have to do something about it!

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Want to lose weight? Stop scrolling through Facebook on your computer or sitting in front of your TV screen playing a video game for 5 hours straight! If you can do that then you can certainly manage to exercise for an hour or so a day.

Moving on from a relationship proving to be difficult? Stop pinning over the person who broke your heart! The more you dwell on it…the more painful it becomes. You cannot make room for the right person to come into your life if you are stilling holding onto feelings for the wrong person.

No struggle that we go through in life is impossible to overcome. Despite the difficulty one must face in order to conquer a struggle, it will all pay off in the long run.

If there was one thing that I’d want someone reading this blog to take away it is that “The struggle is real, but so is the reward on the other side.” We have to go through those times of hardship for 2 key reasons:

  1. Going through difficult times (struggles) help us to appreciate the good things in our lives once that period of hardship is over. You don’t truly appreciate something handed to you on the same level you do for something that you’ve earned through hard work and struggle.
  2. Despite the struggle(s) that you are going through at the moment there is something good waiting once it is over.

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Something else that I’ve heard many times is “Once you’ve hit rock bottom there is no reason to give up because that means the only direction that you can go is up!”

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Of course, some realists or Debby Downer would say something sarcastic or technical about how you can go even lower and melt at the center of the earth. All joking aside there is a lot of truth behind that statement. There are some moments in life where everything has to be torn down in order to be built back up again. What’s even better is that sometimes when your life is rebuilt it is even better than it was before. The downside is going through the pain of the struggles that come with that.

So the next time you say that “the struggle is real” just stop and think about whether or not you are the cause of it. The struggles we face are only as real as we make them. Are you spending more time complaining about your struggle or are you spending time doing something in order to overcome it?

 

 

 

 

Losing Weight; What Do You See When You Look In The Mirror?

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Well, it’s been 2 ½ weeks since I’ve been home and I’ve lost 5 pounds! Cutting back on sodas (I went soda free for about 10 days, but now occasionally I’ll have a soft drink), walking with my 20 pound vest for a minimum of 45 minutes outside a day and generally not packing myself with junk food or eating too much made a huge difference in the long run.

During this time of the year, the temperature usually ranges (where I live anyway) somewhere in between 79 to low 90 degrees during the week. For me, sodas do not do the trick water is what keeps me refreshed. Also, I have to be careful of what time of the day I go outside to walk because the last thing I want is to get a heat stroke or something since it isn’t too smart to play with Mother Nature. Then when it comes to food when it is too hot I’m really not in the mood to stuff myself.

Now, I’ve talked about how people’s words can hurt when it comes to a person’s weight or how hard it is to keep that commitment to diet and exercise but there is one thing that will hurt more than anything; looking at yourself in the mirror.

I don’t know if that has the same effect on you but that does it for me! I know for some people it is looking at their weight on a scale. Personally I try to stay away from them but I just got one last week to record my progress. I only get on the scale every Friday afternoon so I don’t become obsessive and get to the point where I’m losing weight but not going about it in a healthy fashion.

Just taking a moment to look in the mirror while I go to wash my face and I just catch a glimpse of plump cheeks that weren’t so plump a couple of months ago take me by surprise. I don’t know why but that moment if when I realize that yes I have gained some weight. That was my reaction when I first got home from school. So, it is satisfying for me to know that my hard work is starting to bear fruit.

I think that the mirror is the biggest truth for a person to see for themselves what changes take place. That is why some people refuse to look in a mirror and I can see why. Just like getting on a scale it is easy to feel disgust and depression at what you are. However, that is not the way things should be taken. Use that motivation to push forward in order to change for the better. Not because someone called you a name like tubby or fat, not because you can’t quite fit into that old pair of jeans but because you WANT to lose weight for you and no one else.

Take a moment to remember that the next time you look in a mirror and do not like what you see. All it takes is a determined mind and the rest is just work and dedication. Never be disgusted by your appearance! You are who you are if you want to change do it for you and no one else. 

Losing Weight; Who Are You Doing It For?

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It’s been awhile since I posted a health related blog because I wanted to wait until something good happened or come to a realization that I wanted to share with everyone.

Who are you losing weight for or why are you losing weight?

-To fit into an old pair of jeans you are a couple sizes too big for?

-To gain the attention of someone you admire like someone you have a crush on

-Because a family member or doctor recommended losing weight

-Because someone said something hurtful that promoted you to get into shape…

As I was doing my usual hour long job/walk outside on nice days at home, I was just thinking about gradually losing weight as the week rolled by.

Then I thought; when I do get into better shape (by continuing to stay active rather than passive in my desire to get fit) what would I feel like in terms of accomplishment?

I guess what I’m trying to say is that if you are losing weight for someone make sure you are doing it for yourself.

Honestly, I was thinking about the attention I would potentially gain from females by being a better looking person by losing weight. Most girls are turned off by a guy who is out of shape; don’t get me wrong first impressions mean a lot especially appearance because we usually SEE a person before we HEAR/Get to know them in terms of personality. A guy/girl could have a heart of gold but people judge first one appearance.

Though I began to also think about how people would look at me differently, they might ONLY be attracted to me because of how I look and that is not the way I want it to be. Looks fade over time whether it is weight, wrinkles, etc.

So, be sure you keep going for you. Build up self-confidence, because I know if I get thinner and fit into 32 waist jeans because I’m a 34 now. I’m going to feel more confident in myself knowing that willpower and self-disciple helped me get there.

It will give me that extra boost to approach and meet new people. For now, I’m just losing weight for myself in terms of confidence, health and just to know if I put my mind to something I can accomplish anything and the same goes for you!

Do You Ever Feel Your Weight?

by Jeremy Carden

Have you ever heard the old expression “You’re only as old as you feel?” Well I think the same applies to weight.

Ever have that feeling when you can’t get that extra notch in your belt like you did 3 days ago? How about huffing and puffing after going up that flight of stairs that you had no problem with last week?

Yeah trust me I’ve been there and sometimes it still happens. Sometimes it’s that extra slice of pizza you ate at lunch or buying a candy bar while you are at the checkout line at a grocery store that makes all of the difference.

I think that it happens when I just lie around the house or the dorm and then finally manage to get out and walk somewhere. Not to mention skipping meals because I’m not hungry or my sleeping pattern is off.

I’ve been learning that I NEED to be consistent in my sleeping pattern, eating habits and not to be lazy when it comes to physical activity.

Even if it is 30 minutes to 1 hour of just moving around doing something it beats just sitting at a computer screen or lying in bed all day.

So, just remember you are only “fat” if you feel “fat” and weight is something that can either motivate you or slow you down.

That is why I usually work out with a Gold’s Gym 20 lb weight vest or 10 lb ankle or wrist weights. I use them as an illustration to myself of how hard it would be to get around if I gained another 10-20 lbs.

Stay strong, stay healthy and stay consistent!

Words Can Hurt Part 1: Confidence-Killer When Dieting

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Well I’m almost at Day 10 of not having sodas and things have been getting easier. You know what the worst part about dieting is? I know the answer varies depending on where you are in life.

I had to visit some family today because an uncle of mine died and his funeral is tomorrow. So, I got back from campus for a couple of days to visit them, I haven’t seen them since Christmas. I get there and talk to them for awhile and then one of them out of the blue just goes “Wow you put on a few pounds since I last saw you!”

That just cut me really deep…

I know it sounds childish to get worked up over a minor comment like that but to me it really hurt. The reason being was that it’s been nearly a week since I touched a soda, I’ve been going on 30-45 minute jogs at night for the past 10 days all in an effort to get my body used to training because over the summer I plan to really go hard care with my workouts and dieting to get in better shape (through losing weight, gaining more muscle and endurance) before next semester starts in August.

And to me all of the work I’ve done so far seemed like nothing based on that one comment. Yeah I know, family is supposed to poke fun with those kinds of comments and you’re supposed to laugh it off and move on. But for me that wasn’t the case. I mean I’ve lost 6 pounds over the past 2 ½ weeks and I now can get to the 4th notch on my belt while before I could only get my belt on by the 2nd notch. And this was all by cutting back on sweets, sodas, and other junk food along with exercising 30 minutes a day to stay loose.

For someone to just come along and say something like that while I’m making an effort to get fit just hurts worse than looking down at a scale and cringing from the number on it.

Words can hurt seriously whether it is a snide comment made on someone’s; family, gender, sexuality, religion, race, political views, etc. I mean one compliment can make someone’s day but one wrong joke or comment can cause lasting pain to a person.

My heart goes out to anyone who feels belittled while they are trying to better themselves. Don’t feel discouraged but just keep on keeping on. I know this was a setback for me mentally and emotionally but I know in my heart that there will always be someone trying to put you down when you are trying to build yourself up.

Keep on going and just remember that old saying; “Sticks and stones can break my bones but words will never hurt me.”

I know it’s a lot easier to say those words than to believe them but they do hold truth just remember that. 

Soda Cravings

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by Jeremy Carden

Well it hasn’t been too long since I blogged about “The Run-Out Diet” and I just wanted to give you all an update about how things have been going for me health-wise. It has been 5 ½ days since I have had a soda.

I’m not going to lie it actually started with the “Run-Out” strategy. Where I ran out of sodas in my refrigerator and I didn’t have the funds to go out and get more. Instead I just opted to drink nothing but water and an occasional cup of juice for Vitamin C to keep my immune system intact.

It is extremely difficult or should I say “was” because the first 3 days were a killer with no Sierra Mist or Mountain Dew in my system. The lack of caffeine (because I don’t drink coffee) was starting to get to me but I got used to it overtime. Water isn’t that bad at all I mean it doesn’t leave that sugary taste in my mouth like soda or Kool-Aid does but it gets the job done in keeping me hydrated.

Not to mention there is no guilt from drinking water! I’m going to see how long I can go without drinking a soda. My friend I was talking with yesterday told me that it has been 6 years since he had a soft drink. I was shocked!!

Don’t know if I can go THAT long without one but hey everyone should move at their own pace. An experiment I might try is to wait after 10 days and try a sip of soda to see if I still get that craving for more.

I know from experience that going without a certain food or drink product for an extended amount of time might get rid of the cravings or want for that product after you stop consuming it for awhile.

So, in about 5 more days I’ll come back with an update to let you know how things are going with my soda cravings!

If anyone reading this is going through a similar experience then I just want you to know that you should stay strong and resist! Walking down the aisles of the grocery store or seeing the soda containers at the back of the gas station is painful sometimes but just keep pushing that grocery cart in another direction and grab some water instead!