Can’t, Never and Other Such Nonsense: Part 1

Back in high school, when I was an undersized hurdler on the track team, I had a pretty amazing coach. Not only could I compete with long-legged girls who were a good 6-8″ taller than me, but my coach taught me some important life lessons as well.

The one that stuck with me the most….

Whenever a drill got tough or finishing practice seemed like an impossible task, we would mutter… “I can’t do XYZ.”  And my coach would always say, “There’s no such thing as can’t.”  He believed in that so much so that we had that image above plastered on the sleeve of our t-shirts every year. But it didn’t stop there.  Not only was I not allowed to say can’t, but I had to rephrase my sentence.  Instead of “I can’t do XYZ…”, I would say “XYZ is really difficult for me” or “I’m having trouble with that now, but if I continue to train….”

THAT completely changed my thought process.  Nothing ever seemed impossible anymore… it was just going to take time, dedication and hard work.

When I coach athletes or train people who say, “I can’t do pushups” or “I can’t run fast” or “I can’t make it to the gym”….. they get the same speech my coach gave me.

In fact, I was talking to a woman the other day who mentioned that, while in college, her friends convinced her to do a little bodybuilding show.  She was an athlete, so she didn’t do much other training to prepare for it.  She did well and enjoyed the experience.

“But I’ll never look like that again,” she said.

“Don’t say that,” I replied back, trying to encourage her to continue her weight loss journey. 

“No, really, I’ll never be that thin again.  My doctor even said that because of my medical (thyroid) issues….”

Her words trailed off… or perhaps I just lost focus after that first statement.  I wanted to word vomit all over her about limitations and the “never say never” attitude.  But I knew my words would fall on deaf ears. The tone of her voice was so strong that she had already convinced herself that any future body transformation changes were impossible.

“Besides,” she finished, “I want to be able to enjoy life….”  As if training hard and eating foods that we’re supposed to be eating anyway means that we’re not enjoying life. I get it… She wants to have her cake and eat it too. I’m not saying that everyone needs to strive for a smaller pant size or six-pack abs. But the fact that Americans are nearly killing themselves with their “no care” attitude is quite disheartening.

I opted not to let the conversation continue because at this point, there was nothing I could do.  She clearly had her mind made up. 

After all, I’m a firm believer that you can do anything and once you tag a “never” to an opportunity, you’ve already determined the outcome…

Stay tuned for Part 2….

About Julia Ladewski

3 Responses to “Can’t, Never and Other Such Nonsense: Part 1”

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  1. Fantastic post and exactly how I feel about chin ups this year. Thanks.

  2. raerae77 says:

    Very nice Julia! She missed out on a great opportunity shutting you down (not listening). Meeting you has inspired me in ways you would not imagine. Her loss unfortunately. I see the “not caring” thing a lot now days and have been guilty of it myself and it is a sad state of affairs. Misinformation drives a lot of it in my opinion. Anyhow, can’t wait (HA, no pun intended) for part II. Cheers!

  3. helki.iona says:

    Great post! Really needed this today, but stuck in the I can’ts since I have been struggling with a newly diagnosed autoimmune disorder. i was on my way to power lifting a month before it struck. i’ve been stuck in my own story of “I can’t” i gotta rewrite it!

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