Update: Since writing this post, David Goggins has published his own book, Can’t Hurt Me. It is an absolutely fantastic read, and I highly recommend it to everyone.
A Certified Badass
One of my favorite figures in the fitness world is David Goggins. For those that don't know, David Goggins is a retired Navy SEAL, ultramarathon runner, triathlete, former pull-up world record holder, and all around badass. This dude ran 100 miles in under 19 hours despite never even running a marathon before, and then went on to place 5th overall in an ultramarathon mere months after beginning to run. In a four-month period in 2007, he ran 6 different 100-mile races. 600 miles of races in four months. And he didn't stop. You can see the list of all of the races he's done here.
David Goggins is a badass. There's no question about it. He has accomplished things that most people couldn't even imagine doing. Running a marathon, on its own, is an amazing feat. I'd be proud to run even a single marathon in my life. David Goggins ran races four times as long at an astounding frequency. He also had to overcome asthma, sickle-cell trait, obesity, and a heart defect. He graduated high school with a 1.6 GPA and had an abusive childhood. You can't write him off as having amazing genetics or being an athletic freak. Everything that he has accomplished has come from pure willpower. He has suffered more than most of us can even imagine. And he has done great things.
Suffering and Failure
The road to success is riddled with suffering and failure. It's unavoidable. Everybody who has found success has only done so on the back of countless failures. It is the ability to continue despite these hardships that sets successful people apart. Failing at something does not make you a failure. Giving up does.
"Everybody comes to a point in their life when they want to quit. But it's what you do at that moment that determines who you are."
Goggins embodies this mindset better than almost anybody. He has endured incredible pain and suffering, but continued despite it. His first race ever was the San Diego One Day, where he had to run 100 miles in 24 hours to qualify for further ultramarathons, which he wanted to use to raise money for the Special Operations Warrior Foundation. He was not a runner, and weighed around 240 pounds at the time. He made it 70 miles before collapsing. His feet were broken, his leg muscles were tearing, and when he tried to make it to the bathroom, he began peeing blood down his leg. He was in the worst pain he had ever experienced and on the brink of death. Did he give up?
"This became a personal thing, this became me against this race; me against the kids that called me ni**er; me against me. It just became something I took so violently personal.”
He walked for the next 11 miles with his wife by his side. To even finish the 100 miles, even at a walk, would have been admirable. But his wife told him that he wasn't going to make the time at a walking pace. He ran the final 19 miles and made it under the 24 hours. Despite everything working against him, despite his body being shattered and enduring the worst pain of his life, Goggins finished the race. His will to succeed was so strong that it overpowered everything else. Failure reared its head and demanded that Goggins give in, but he ignored it. The suffering he experienced was great enough that it literally could have killed him, but Goggins somehow kept going. His mind took over when his body failed.
On the journey to personal success, whether it be in weight loss, fitness, or any other life goal, you will encounter resistance along the way. It will be tough and grueling. You will grow tired. Life will beat you to your knees and demand that you stay down. It is your job to get back up. No matter how many times you fall, you must get back up. The goal is to become unshakable. To be disciplined enough that the curveballs that life throws at you will not deter you from your goals. To recognize that you may be tired, and that eating a pizza would feel great right now, but to deny yourself that simple pleasure. To recognize that you are doing something greater. You are on a path of success, and nothing will stand in your way.
Embrace the Discomfort
Changing yourself is uncomfortable. It means stepping outside of your comfort zone, doing things that you don't want to do. That's okay. It is the ability to push past this discomfort and to challenge yourself that will set you apart.
"Get your ass kicked. Do things you hate to do. Be uncomfortable every f***ing day of your life."
Most people who are resistant to the idea of exercise imagine endless pain and discomfort. And it's true, working out is tough and uncomfortable. But so is anything worthwhile. The funny thing is, those who are able to push through this discomfort learn to love it. Ask any fit person in your life, and they will tell you that they love working out. That may seem strange to somebody who doesn't understand. But it makes sense. It is this exact pain and challenge that brings you happiness. Every time I step under a heavy barbell, I know that it's going to suck. It's hard and painful. But the feeling of accomplishment I get after grinding through a heavy squat rep, or setting a personal record, is unmatched. I understand that I dared to challenge myself, to push myself to the brink of failure, and I came out on top. I threw myself into the fire and dared it to burn me. When my muscles were screaming and my legs were on the verge of giving out, my mind demanded that I continue. Toughness is born on the brink of destruction.
"If you can get through to doing things you hate to do, on the other side is greatness."
Dare to be better
We can all be a little more like David Goggins. Sure, most of us will never run an ultramarathon, set the pull-up world record, or go through SEAL training. But it's not about comparing yourself to one of the most badass people on the planet. It's about striving to push yourself, to be better than you were yesterday. It's about embracing the discomfort and smiling in the face of adversity.
"I wanted you to go home that night, after you beat the living shit out of me and I smiled in your face - I wanted you to feel worse than I did, and you were going home to a nice warm bed. I wanted you to think about me, knowing that I'm comfortable being very uncomfortable."
What would happen if you dared to be better? If you put aside all of your preconceived notions about yourself and decided to change? You can only find out by trying. Aim high. You may fail. But it is better to aim too high and fail than to never reach your full potential. If you aim high and succeed? That's where greatness is born.
Be more like David Goggins.
For more tips on how to better yourself, check out Your Diet is Bullshit: A Simple Guide to Losing Weight. It will give you the simple truth about weight loss with real steps to implement change.