If at first you don’t succeed is not a tired old cliché, it’s a true-to-life motto that helps individuals persevere through their toughest challenges. In fitness, when you find that you are breezing effortlessly through your exercise regimen, that’s a good indication that you can and should push yourself harder.

Overcoming adversity starts with a positive attitude and is not the result of some special talent or inherent skill set. It is an approach to well being that forces you to improve on yourself each and every day in the face of challenges and obstacles, such as injury or failure.

If you are accustomed to running the same lengths in the same time intervals each day, you will never learn to run farther and faster. If you lift the amount of weight you know you’re capable of each and every day, you will never understand your true potential. If you take the safe approach to fitness, you will never achieve the results you strive for.

Instead, you need to push yourself to run that extra mile or to shave off a few seconds from your previous best. You need to fight, mentally and physically, to lift that bit of extra weight that makes your muscles tremble, even if that means having a peer at your local gym spot you along the way. It’s important to extend yourself beyond your comfort zone, particularly when you know it won’t feel good in the moment.

It’s easy to decide not to extend your workout for an extra 15 minutes because you feel you don’t have the time or energy. You grow the most in the moments when you ask yourself if you are willing to take on that additional challenge and fight to reach your personal goals.

The struggles that professional athletes face are often the most inspiring, not simply because of their prominence or talent, but because of their incredible tenacity and shear willpower.

One of those is Hall of Fame hockey player Mario Lemieux, who overcame a back injury called spinal disc herniation and chronic back pain that became so bad others needed to tie his skates to compete at the top of his class. In 1993, at age 28, he was then diagnosed with Hodkin’s Lymphoma and missed an entire hockey season, only to come back the following year to be named the most valuable player in the league based on his premier performance.

While Lemieux and other professional athletes have a seemingly uncanny ability to excel in their sports, there is one characteristic that each of the top athletes share that everyone has the potential to match: an incredibly positive attitude.

In fitness, business and all other aspects of life, attitude is the great equalizer setting those who succeed apart from those who struggle. In the face of adversity, individuals who can see the bigger picture, identify what they do and do not have control over and maintain their vision for a better lifestyle will be on track to reach their ultimate goals.

Adversity is life’s way of challenging you to follow through on the improvements you believe, in your heart of hearts, you need and committed yourself to making. Like using the pieces of a shattered vase to create a mosaic, creating new habits and changing your lifestyle for the better is part of a transformation process—a reimagining—that can only be done if you are open and willing to live differently for the sake of your health.

Many of the troubling events and circumstances impacting your life can’t necessarily be fixed easily. Some are even out of your control. It’s important for you to understand that there is harm in being too harsh on yourself for not alleviating your issues easily.

It doesn’t take a special gene or skill set to overcome adversity and change your life for the better. It simply takes a commitment to creating positive habits on a regular basis.

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