Making Good Health Simple: Life got you in a rut? Don’t panic. Embrace ‘the suck’

Third Platoon basic training soldiers at Fort Jackson, perform exercises in the Army's new physical training regimen during early morning PT in Columbia, S.C., Wednesday, Feb. 24, 2010. (AP Photo/Brett Flashnick) BRETT FLASHNICK
Third Platoon basic training soldiers at Fort Jackson, perform exercises in the Army's new physical training regimen during early morning PT in Columbia, S.C., Wednesday, Feb. 24, 2010. (AP Photo/Brett Flashnick) BRETT FLASHNICK

Are you stuck in a career coma? Have your workouts reached a plateau? Is everything driving you crazy? Do you know if you’re happy anymore? It might be because you’re avoiding “the suck.”

Wait, what? What does that even mean? Well, it’s modern day vernacular for basically everything we do not want to do. This is not limited to physical things – like cleaning your basement, detailing your car or filing your taxes – it also includes all things emotional (stuff we have shoved into the deepest parts of our brains).

So what do we do with all of it?

Embrace it.

The origin of “embrace the suck” (ETS) is derived from military terminology. Marine Michael Fischer explains that ETS means to have discipline, having that mental toughness to see the hard work through to the end, to continue with the hard-charging attitude to keep moving forward and never give up. One Marine would say to the other, “Dude, we have been here before, it’s horrible. Now adapt and overcome and quit complaining.” When you embrace it, you are able to push through that barrier — whatever that barrier may be — to reach your destination. This is an internal discussion that parallels the physical world you are wrestling with.

This makes sense to people serving in our military, but how can this apply to my life? According to author Anthony Meindl, this mindset is actually a very Buddhist concept. When we deny what reality is giving us, what is really happening, then we create suffering. So life becomes a dance between minimizing expectations and surrendering to what our lives actually reveal to us. The denial of something simply extends its presence. The more you deny or try to rationalize away your feelings of discontent, the stronger these feelings will actually become.

Too deep to wrap your head around? Let me break it down for you in a simple way we can all relate to: becoming more healthy. Transforming your body requires you to do stuff that isn’t fun. Example: exercising, when you’d rather be loafing on the couch, or eating salad when you really want pizza, or going to bed when you’re in the middle of a Netflix binge, all in the name of better well-being. Embracing the suck means lots of things in reference to taking care of your body. Sometimes, you just need to recognize that getting yourself to exercise (especially when the temps are close to zero) is not going to be fun.

Tyler Spraul, certified strength and conditioning specialist, has a great way of ETS. “When it’s cold outside and I’m still getting a workout in, I focus on the fact that I am learning to embrace the discomfort, which will help me overcome obstacles in all areas of my life. Additionally, I’m working on even leaning into the discomfort and thinking of that ‘burn’ as vital to the success that I’m after. It’s true that every time you get through a tough workout, you’re better for it”.

What can you do in the next 24 hours to start embracing? Change the way you carry yourself. In Amy Cuddy’s TED Talk she describes a phenomenon that more and more people are buying into: adopt the body language that corresponds to the attitude you want to possess. Stand up straighter to be more confident. Lean back to be more relaxed. If you are trying to ETS, there is a very specific demeanor that’s associated. You can verbally complain, but be sure to use tonality and body language that convey positivity and totally contradict the negativity of your words.

To begin this process, follow these four simple steps, and whatever you do, don’t prolong it!

1. Keep your head held high.

2. Complain.

3. Smile.

4. Embrace it.

(Crystal Reynolds is an owner at 43 Degrees North Athletic Club.)

Author: Crystal Reynolds / For the Insider

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