Fit Five Friday – Does Hard Work Pay Off?

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It’s that time of week again! Hopefully you’ve been enjoying this new link up with your FIVE amazing hosts – me, My First 5K and More,  Running With Attitude, Runs with Pugsand Zenaida! ! Feel free to join in on the fun!

I’ve been thinking about writing something like this for a long time. I have really questioned “should I?” or “shouldn’t I?” because I don’t want to come across as negative. But I think it’s important when you come to the realisation that your body is the way it is, and sometimes you can change it and sometimes you can’t.

“Hard Work Pays Off”

I read this and hear this all the time. It’s a great way to encourage others or inspire others, especially when it comes to health and fitness.

Diet and Fitness Industries tell us this all the time. All you have to do is <insert new or even not so new formula> and you will lose weight! you will tone up! You will be healthy! You will be fit! You will be ready for summer! (the most irritating of all…)

What the majority of us have forgotten is that Every Body Is Different. So we sign up for a new diet program, or a new fitness program thinking that we should see results. We join communities online and ask “When did you see results?” And then we take the average of those answers and apply it to ourselves.

It doesn’t always work that way

“Results” are up for interpretation. And oftentimes the results you are looking for might be in the category of “unrealistic expectations”. For me this is 100% the case.

We assume that having a calorie deficit and burning calories each day with a workout or NEAT (Non-exercise activity thermogenesis) movement that we should see the same results as Mary-Sue Jones. The problem is, we are not Mary-Sue.

A plethora of other factors

Mary-Sue might be 20 years younger than you and built genetically different. She may have always been active growing up and possibly never really had a weight problem until after she had children, but certainly has never been obese. She may or may not take hormones. She may have different levels of vitamin D and cortisol than you. She may have a normal relationship with food.

My point is, we are an array of apples and oranges that cannot be compared. My situation, my youth, my history of obesity, of depression, of chronic pain is probably different from yours. My relationship with food is also a huge differing factor.

Does that mean I don’t work hard?

I question this a lot. Honestly, I hate that I question it because sometimes it puts me in a downward spiral. I have had, for all intents and purposes, no weight or body change for a long time now. Yet I have had a nutrition coach for six months, planned and logged my meals the whole time in MyFitnessPal, followed the macros recommendation and am active every day. And that’s not the first time in my life that I took my nutrition very seriously.

But there is no change, physically.

Does that mean I don’t work hard?

There are other pay-offs. It’s all about reframing.

I try to remember that the pay-off may not be a change in my weight or my menopause belly. I have been trying very hard to let go of unrealistic expectations. I feel good about myself and I always give my workouts my all.

I am starting to appreciate what my body can do and I’m listening to it. Yes I still have chronic pain (and that is a huge factor in non-weight loss) and there is nothing I can do about it. Really. But I can walk, run, bike, and strength train. And even as an overweight menopausal woman, I’m healthy and fit.

The pay-off is living a healthy and fit life. Unfortunately I can’t show you a #transformationtuesday photo to prove to you that “hard work pays off”. You’ll just have to believe me.

Food for Thought

Knowing and acknowledging that we are all different is a good thing. I would say the majority, if not all, women (and men) I know who care about their fitness and health are having some sort of pay off. But I can’t say specifically what the pay off is because it’s personal! What I would love is to stop equating “results” with just how our body looks. Whether this means you ran another mile, or you ran faster, you lifted heavier or you hit a major PR in your spin class – these are all massive pay-offs. I hope that sometime while I’m still alive we will let go what we physically “should” look like and maybe focus more on our actual health and longevity-factors instead.

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Here are the guidelines:

  • Your link should center around some kind of fitness (exercise, wellness, mental health, nutrition… the possibilities are endless!)
  • Please link back to your hosts! It’s the right thing to do! 
  • Share the link-up love by visiting and commenting on your hosts and at least two other Fit Five Friday bloggers!
  • Feel free to share about Fit Five Friday on your social media! Tag #FitFiveFriday to get the word out!

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  1. Darlene says:

    A great question to ponder.

    It’s crazy that sometimes you train hard for a race and it sucks. Other races, you slack off and you have a PR.

    It makes you scratch your head…

    Either way when your work hard, there are always results but sometimes that are not apparent and sometimes they are not the ones you expected.

    Ie you trained for a PR and you did not get it but you had consistent splits or negative ones or you made a new running friend or you got to visit a great location with fantastic views.

    The hard work for this race may show up in another race or different distance.

    IOW – keep at it!!

    1. Renée says:

      another good way to look at it Darlene! Maybe the result was not a PR but there must be other positive things in the outcome! Thank you for that!

  2. My issue is over-training and comparing myself to my younger self. Sometimes, too much hard work is counterproductive.

    1. Renée says:

      Yes, Erica, I do this a lot! And my younger running self was not so young but literally just about 5 – 6 years ago when I wasn’t always injured and was quite happy with physical results. I am still comparing myself to that and I’m just not there anymore!

  3. It is such an individualized thing. I do think hard work pays off, even if we can’t see the obvious (overall) results. I tend to look for daily results without respecting the long term benefits of my “daily” habits, workouts, setbacks or choices.

    1. Renée says:

      Hmm that’s a good one actually. Like when I walk in the morning and how I feel ready to take on the day once I’m home. That’s actually a great result for a little bit of work done!

  4. A very complicated question! I do think that hard work pays off but perhaps not always in the exact way. that we expected.

    1. Renée says:

      it’s the reframing that will help to accept the outcomes!

  5. Janelle @ Run With No Regrets says:

    It’s tough for sure. I feel like I’ve worked pretty hard training for my half marathon but at the same time I don’t know how I’ll feel about the results, because it’s always about that “magic number”, ugh! The comparison trap is real, especially when you’re comparing yourself TO yourself!

    1. Renée says:

      yes indeed the comparison trap is actually the WORST with ourselves!!

  6. Lisa says:

    This is so tough. As you said, there are so many factors that impact each of us. What I hope (and I know its not always true) is that everyone can find something that they enjoy, that makes them feel good. It can be so frustrating when you work hard and don’t see the results you would expect.

    1. Renée says:

      I too hope that people can find things they love to do and not only do them for “result” they may not be able to achieve. At times I find the exercise/ fitness community a little toxic.

  7. Thank you for sharing this with us. I also work hard but sometimes I don’t get the results I want. I do keep trying and then wonder if I should just stop or keeping working at it. But then I also realize that there might be other factors out of my control.

    1. Renée says:

      I too sometimes wonder if I just just stop all this nonsense (which of course, it’s not nonsense at all, but…) because it’s not working the way that “they” say it should. But gosh I know that without movement I would mentally be a wreck.

  8. runswithpugs says:

    FANTASTIC post. I work so hard, but my pay off isn’t in podium wins or BQs. It’s in so many different ways, but it can be hard to remember that since not all gains are the same.

    1. Renée says:

      I think the more we openly talk about what the pay offs are for us, and I mean the non-physical ones (let’s say what everyone considers the “obvious” ones) the less pressure we will have to be perfect (something that no one is).

  9. jenny says:

    Great question- it’s never black and white, is it? Sometimes “working harder” just doesn’t work and it can be frustrating. I’d like to think that in the end, the hard work does pay off. But sometimes you have to be creative about it- re-framing works wonders.

    1. Renée says:

      maybe we need to talk about the payoff more, the payoff that’s not just physical??

  10. Coco says:

    Great thoughts! Then there’s “work smarter, not harder” — what does that even mean? Luckily I’m at a point where I ^mostly^ am working out for the process, although it helps balance out some of the caloric things I enjoy.

    1. Renée says:

      Yes ohmygosh what DOES that even mean?!??

  11. I KNOW you work hard, Renee. In fact, sometimes I do wonder if you work TOO hard — because as we get older, that doesn’t always work for us, although as you pointed out, we’re all individuals.

    I get some emails from a nutritionist that I’ve followed for a while. I get it — it’s not like she can make you a personalized plan in a group email. But in general, that is one problem with the diet industry — there’s no one size fits all bodies plan.

    Letting go of how your body looks (most of the time, try showing up on video!) and appreciating what it can do is a HUGE win.

    We’re going to age, no matter how hard we fight against it, things will sag, there will most likely be crepey skin, so on and so forth. If we fight against it hard, it only makes us unhappy. Appreciating that this is the only body you’ll ever get — that’s the ticket to real happiness.

    And, of course, for some us losing weight is just harder than for others. It’s a sad fact of life and I’m definitely one of those people. My husband gets upset that I won’t order a whole pizza anymore. Yes, I’ll eat pizza, but a slice or two — I don’t need half a pie sitting around (and he’d just eat it anyway, and he doesn’t need it either).

  12. Very thought provoking post!

    Remembering first and foremost that all of this is so individualized, and as such, we need to define “results” for ourselves. I think we each need to be comfortable defining what success looks like – not all of us are striving for a PR or a BQ or some other physical manifestation. Sometimes the results are mental, a psychological or emotional win – those are just as important…if not more!

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