There’s a fine line between persistence and stubbornness, but more on that later. Before going further, here’s a definition of persistence to get things straight between us. The two definitions you’re concerned with are.
Firm or obstinate continuance in a course of action despite difficulty or opposition.
The continued or prolonged existence of something.
Going by the above definitions, you can see how stubbornness and persistence are confused. From an outsider’s perspective, your actions might seem like stubbornness, but to you, it is because you’re persistent. No matter how often you fail, you will not give up until your goal happens.
Because you believe you can do it with others, don’t.
Case in point, my wife is both, and I admire her for it, no matter how many times I run into her wall of stubbornness. She will not stop until the task is done, even when it is hot, sweat is dripping down her face, or she has no idea what she is doing. Sometimes, she fails to read the instructions, but no more on this, just in case she reads this post.
Persistence: A Personal Story
Twelve years ago, I fell in love with the barbell deadlift, but I needed to figure out how to do it properly, not only as a regular gym goer or certified personal trainer. So, (in hindsight), It was only a matter of time until I hurt myself, and shit, it was a doozy.
One fateful day, while attempting to deadlift 275 pounds, something snapped, and it wasn’t my sanity. It was the L3, L4, and L5 part of my lower back, and I had herniated three disks, one bad and two not so bad. Those you are reading who’ve had lower back pain know the feeling, but I was in agony for those who don’t.
Sciatica pain and back spasms were my way of life for what it seems like forever. It affected my work, my personal life, my ability to be a father, and everything in between. It sucked. But then I promised myself I wanted to deadlift twice my body weight when I got healthy two years ago.
It only took me ten years, but who is counting?
Why did it take me so long?
The thing with lower back injuries is that they’re always there to remind you. There have been setbacks over the years while trying to deadlift 2X my body weight. Lower back pain, spasms, and strains. Each time stopping me in my tracks and almost putting me back at the starting line. But I did it persistently for the win, while it looked like I was plain stubborn to everybody else.
Persistence: A Client Story
Note: It is not her real name to protect her identity.
Around a year ago, Sarah sought my services to lose weight and be her best self. Like many clients who want to lose weight, she had tried a few things that didn’t work or were not sustainable in the long term. Like many of my clients and most likely like you, Sarah has a lot on her plate.
She helps run her husband’s business.
This doesn’t leave her much time for much else, and her stress levels are high. But twice a week, she comes in for an hour at a time and puts everything into her workouts to make her goal happen. She could take the easy way out and take drugs like Ozempic to lose that stubborn weight, but she doesn’t.
IMO, Sarah doesn’t take the easier way out and shows a certain amount of persistence (some may think stubbornness) in her effort to be her best self.
Make Persistence Your Story
Please don’t confuse persistence with perfection, especially regarding health and fitness. Perfection doesn’t exist and is the enemy of good. I’m far from perfect and have periods when my diet isn’t great, and my workouts are from perfect. But having a short memory, showing some self-compassion, and remaining consistent help a lot.
Because it is not the falling down that matters but the getting back up. All you need to do is to get up one more time than falling. You know the old saying that suggests people quit just before they are about to succeed? Because they need to realize how close they are to success. Don’t be that person because quitting is the only way to fall at this fitness thing.
You’re no quitter, are you?
Being hardheaded is terrible when you get into an argument, but it can be a blessing regarding your health and fitness. Many factors play into being successful with your health, including luck. But don’t sleep showing persistence, the neglected fitness trait for success.
Now, if I can only get my wife to read the directions.