I recently listened to an episode of the "Outside" podcast (from Outside magazine) that took on the "Keto conundrum." If you're not familiar with it, the Keto diet (which many people swear by) is a very low carb, high fat diet. Athletes have long relied on carbs to fuel workouts and races, and studies have shown no benefit to a Keto diet for athletes. And yet, some athletes insisted that it was magic for them.
Canadian Race walker (don't snicker - he can complete a walking marathon faster than recreational runner can run it) Evan Dunfree participated in a study designed to address the question. He was put into a group of endurance athletes who were put on a strictly monitored Keto diet. The only carbs allowed were the equivalent of a couple of bananas a day.
He said that the training was brutal. Everything was just so hard. Some of the athlete in the Keto group struggled with depression as they made the switch.
After a certain number of weeks he was allowed a regular diet again, the thinking being that the carb deprivation would have supersized his body's ability to burn fat along with carbs and provide more energy to go faster, longer
It didn't. It had no effect at all.
Except here's the curious thing. Over the course of a year his performance jumped. He set personal records. He began to dream of not only racing in the Olympics but competing for a medal.
What was happening? Too much time had elapsed for the difference to be due to a metabolic effect.
Dunfree realized that the study hadn't changed his metabolism. It changed his mind.
Enduing the grueling low carb weeks Dunfree pushed himself harder than he'd ever pushed himself. He learned how to push through the pain, how to keep going when everything in him was screaming for him to stop. He learned how to push through those places where he used to stop.
That was it. It wasn't the diet itself. It was the discipline and even suffering that the diet demanded.
One of the things that builds our emotional resilience is remembering those times when we faced tough times and found a way through. When we wanted to quit but kept putting one foot in front of the other. When we though we just couldn't but just did.
Tell your stories. Tell your stories of such times to yourself and if you're fortunate, to people who love and care about you.
I thought I the dark was going to swallow me up but somehow I found one flicker of light and that was enough for that day.
Our kids were small when my spouse died and I didn't think we could make it. But we did.
I lost the job I thought was my dream job and thought my life was over, but then I found a dream I didn't know I had.
Remembering them helps you find the strength you'd forgotten you had. Telling them may help someone else do the same.
Every week I send out an email with a story designed to encourage you in whatever race you're running that week (a marathon, a meeting, or the laundry.) Sign up now to get your own Monday Morning Manna.