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Fit For Life: “Adversity Introduces a Man to Himself” (Albert Einstein)

Sunday, May 14, 2017


Matt Espeut

I was thrashing through the trails in Lincoln Woods on my mountain bike the other day and started thinking. As I was jumping rocks, logs, and roots on the trails I kept saying to myself that this was scary and if I crashed at the rate of speed I was going, the possibility of broken bones was probable.

But I have been riding for a while, and due to experience, I crash a lot less these days. I didn’t say I never crash, just less. My experience tells me to navigate a path about ten feet in front of me, and don’t look back at the stuff I just rolled over. I know that if I plan my route ahead of time, the ride is much smoother than hitting obstacles head on. It’s the difference between being proactive and reactive. If you plan to try to avoid obstacles, your route will be more efficient than if you kept looking back, and then reacting to everything that you hit along the way. The rocks are always going to be there, so if you are going to ride the rough terrain, you better be prepared to overcome the obstacles, or you will crash and burn.

Then I realized that life is very similar to a mountain bike ride. You need to keep looking forward, try to avoid obstacles, and plan your path, or you will crash and burn. Your next move is the most important, not your last, and you should only look back to make corrections.

So this week my thought process is all about thoughts I’ve had in nature. Whether it be biking in the woods, going to work, staying at home, and even going out for a fun event, there is one thing that 100% of us - rich, poor, short, tall - every race and religion, too – we’re all going to face it in life. It can’t be avoided. and we are all going to have to deal with it at some point in our life,

I am talking about is ADVERSITY.

It happens at work, with family, or just drive down the street – and there it is and you are facing in squarely in front of you -  adversity. The definition in the dictionary is “difficulties, misfortune, ill luck, bad luck, trouble, hardship, distress, disaster, suffering, affliction, sorrow, misery, tribulation, woe, pain, trauma…”

I always like to stay positive about things, but I am also realistic, and sad to say, but, we are all going to go through some sort of adversity during our lifetime. Some more than others. Its unavoidable. This still is not an excuse to give up, and there are ways to deal with it that will create a positive outcome. "Life isn’t always what it’s supposed to be. It is what it is, and how we deal with the adversity is what makes the difference.” I am a business owner, and anyone else who is, we will face adversity every single day. In my line of work, I need to keep my clients happy, and I need to keep my team inspired and motivated all the time! I am dealing directly with over 200 people, so overcoming adversity on a daily basis is something I am getting better at every day.

Why? Because I need to. And it’s non-negotiable, because something is always going on. The toilet overflows, there are system glitches, which can happen frequently, such as members complaining that got charged twice (dastardly computers). Or,  people not showing up for their workouts or consults, employees calling in sick, and on and on and on.

But the funny thing is that I signed up for this, and I don’t regret a single minute of it. I don’t want to work for someone else, and I love my clients and staff. I have some great people visiting my facility daily, and I want to make every one of them happy, all the time. Although impossible, that’s where the adversity comes to play. I am not treating cancer (directly), delivering babies, handling million dollar accounts, so nothing I do is life threatening, life changing and life enhancing, but if I screw up a payment, or run out of hand soap it will get fixed, and no-one gets hurt.

That’s how I overcome adversity at work. I realize everything I do is fixable if I make a mistake.
Because I am OCD and a perfectionist, I still get super stressed when things don’t go perfectly, but deep down I deal because it’s not life or death. Don’t get me wrong, I can be irrational just like anyone else, but I try not to over react when dealing with the trivial bullshit that gets thrown in front of me on a daily basis. I try to save my energy for the real issues. Fortunately, I haven’t had any serious issues at my place, (it’s always possible), but I take every precaution to continue incident free.

Last week two people that entered my challenge got over charged. One was livid. Her account got overdrawn, and she sent me a nasty email. I accepted the responsibility even though I paid a company to set up my billing, and told her that I would compensate her for any fees she incurred. Simple and done. All settled, it cost me $35 to fix the problem, avoided confrontation with an angry client, no one got hurt and at the end, she thanked me for being on top of it.

Take a step back. 

So in my opinion, when we face adversity, it is best to step back, analyze the problem, and not only do you need to create a solution, you need to recognize the severity of the situation. Sometimes I compare my problem to something that is very serious, and it makes the one I am facing seem less significant. Like mountain biking, I have more experience now, and I handle adversity better, and try not to crash, or make irrational decisions. I will give you a few examples.

I was running late on day last week because something went wrong, and I got sidetracked, I become a maniac on the road. I hate being late for anything, but I was stopped a red light, and saw a homeless person freezing to earn a buck. It put things in perspective, and I realized being a few minutes late won’t ruin my life. I hate doing it, but life will go on.

This week I was lying in bed and stressing about juggling a few things that I made commitments to. I wasn’t sure that I would be able to accomplish the goals I had set, and it was giving me anxiety, but for some reason I thought of a friend with four kids that was going through bankruptcy and realized that he would be happy to have my problems.

Now don’t get me wrong, I am not telling you to compare yourself to others that have it worse than you to make yourself feel better, I am telling you to compare situations around you in order to put things in perspective. In other words, put things into perspective and act accordingly. Don’t join the misery loves company club.

A very personal example of putting things in perspective is when I lost my 18-year-old sister in a car accident. At that point in my life, I was so hung up and stressed about making money and not going bankrupt myself that it was eating me up day and night. I was facing a ton of adversity with the real estate market, losing money by the day, and losing sleep nightly. Then tragedy happened in my life.

People over money and material things.
Now nothing that doesn’t involve family, and people can rattle me for very long, because I put everything into perspective, and nothing matters as much as another life. Especially money and material things.

So the moral of the story is that we will all face some level of adversity in our lives. You are not an exception and you are not alone. The question is how will we deal with it?

Will you let it paralyze you?
Will you act irrationally?
Will you give up, and go hide under the covers for days?
Will you resort to alcohol, drugs, or binge eating?
Will you give up on life, and go down the path of despair and destruction?

I am saying that you can conquer almost all the adversity that comes your way if you keep the right mindset, and don’t let it get the best of you. Yes, some situations are going to be more severe than others, but we all have the strength and courage to overcome adversity when we put things in perspective.

Matt Espeut, GoLocal's Health & Lifestyle Contributor has been a personal trainer and health & fitnesss consultant for over 25 years. He is the owner of Fitness Profiles, a one on one, and small group personal training company, as well as Providence Fit Body Boot Camp, located at 1284 North Main St., on the Providence/Pawtucket line. You can reach Matt at (401) 453-3200; on Facebook at "Matt Espeut", and on Twitter at @MattEspeut. "We’re all in this life together – let’s make it a healthy one


Related Slideshow: The 7 Best Health and Fitness Apps

Here is a list of some of the most obsession worthy health apps.

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MapMyRun is the number one selling running app for a reason:  it is easy to use, offers community support if you want it, and tracks and stores your exact routes for you.  If you are training for a race or a serious runner, users say that the extra perks in the upgraded paid version are well worth it. 

Made for iPhone, Android and Blackberry 

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MyFitnessPal seems to be the clear favorite amongst everyone polled.  It is helpful not only for the fitness tracking aspect, but everyone polled mentioned how much they loved the food/diet aspect as well. From carb counting for diabetics to recipe ideas to complement your fitness goals, users love this app. 

Made for iPhone and Android

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JeFit is another fitness app that has rave reviews.  It not only tracks progress for you, but offers a huge database of workouts.  While many apps offer community support, JeFit allows you to sync workouts with friends who use the app, offering a (real) virtual buddy system.

Made for iPhone and Android

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Strava gets the highest mark of all the cycling apps.  While it is also great for runners, the cyclers seem particularly inclined towards the fierce competition that can be ignited by this app.  You can track all of your rides via GPS, then you can compare your efforts to those logged by others in the community on the same stretch of road.  You can also join ongoing challenges that can net you great prizes (in addition to bragging rights). 

Made for iPhone and Android

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YogaStudio gets the top vote for Yoga apps.  It has a lengthy collection of full class-length videos available at your fingertips.  Unlike many other apps, this one also allows you to customize your own video yoga class.  All of the poses are done by qualified yoga instructors, and you can find classes suitable for all levels of yogis.

Made for iPhone only

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SimplyBeing meditation app offers the best of both worlds.  You can choose to run this app as a background for your meditation with soothing music or natural sounds that run for a set amount of time.  Conversely, for those of you who have trouble focusing during meditation, you can choose a soothing voice-guided meditation. 

Made for iPhone and Android

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Fooducate is an app all about educating people so that they make healthier food choices.  Although not perfect, this app is easy to use (you can even take pictures of bar codes to instantly find foods in their database).  It gives food a letter grade, tells you the pluses and minuses, and gives you better ranked alternatives.  You can also use it as a weight loss tool by tracking your daily calories. 

Made for iPhone and Android


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