The Army Taught Me an Important Secret To Life. I Only Wish I Knew It Sooner

Isaiah McCall

Accept failure. Enjoy it even. Embrace the suck, for the suck is part of the process.” — AJ Jacobs, journalist

When I trained for Army OCS, I got into the best shape of my life. I could deadlift 365lbs, run a sub-six-minute-mile, and did hill sprints for fun. Ok, they weren’t that fun.

All that said, I told myself once this Army stuff was over, I’d sink back into old habits and likely let myself go a little. I didn’t want to keep the pedal to the metal for fitness especially when achieving the status quo is much easier.

After I left the Army, however, I had three life-changing thoughts:

  1. I’m not going to rely on external motivation (the Army) to drive me
  2. Sinking back into the status quo because it’s easier is lame
  3. Let’s apply my fitness mindset to everything. To use a phrase I learned in the Army: “embrace the suck.”

When it comes to embracing the suck, there’s a great Joe Rogan quote I always think about:

“I always have the inclination to blow off a workout, I feel it every time. I don’t ever embrace it but it’s there.”

A quick spoiler alert for anyone who doesn’t work out: 99% of the time I’d rather be sleeping, playing video games, or eating Taco Bell. I run 30 miles a week, workout twice a day, and I still get terrified before a workout.

That first step is always the hardest.

Learning to Embrace The Suck

“The artist must be like that Marine. He has to know how to be miserable. He has to love being miserable. He has to take pride in being more miserable than any soldier or swabbie or jet jockey. Because this is war, baby. And war is hell.” — Steven Pressfield

There is no finish line in life, no golden days when you can say: “I’m done now, time to go sink back into old habits.”

The day you say that statement is the day your soul dies.

Face your fears, look at the mirror and stare the immediate truth in the face. Who are you today? Not yesterday, not tomorrow, but today?

This is why I exercise every single day, I want to discover the truth, I want to find out who Isaiah McCall is.

The physical benefits of working out are fine, but the mental benefits are why I work out.

Because I started working out for me, it inspired me to write a book called “Mind and Muscle: The Psychological Benefits of Healthy Habits.” I didn’t think the mental benefits of exercise were overstated enough. Fitness is a drug. And it’s more powerful than pharmacotherapy. Way more powerful.

Final Thought

Embracing the suck is what human beings do.

It’s why we’re wired to admire people who run or work after hours when everyone else has gone home. Like it or not, we work, and as a consequence, it gives our lives meaning.

The Army was full of other alpha’s trying to compete with each other. I saw veteran soldiers running at 5am, work an entire 8-hour day, and hit the gym after that too. We don’t see that insane work ethic enough on the civilian side.

So, I’ll leave you with one of the hardest workers of all time, Navy Seal David Goggins.

“When I cross the finish line of a big race, I see that people are ecstatic, but I’m thinking about what I’m going to do tomorrow. It’s as if my journey is everlasting, and there is no finish line.” — David Goggins

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USA Today Reporter and Ultramarathoner. I write about Cryptocurrency, Fitness Hacks, and Greek Philosophy. Also a diehard Trekkie |

Jersey City, NJ

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