“The gain is in the struggle.” Several days ago, one of the campers who trains with Renee Byrd at Camp Gladiator (CG) sent this statement to her in a text message. Byrd felt impressed to pass it along to me, and I have been pondering on it ever since.

After just one week of training with Byrd, I am amazed at the results my workouts are producing. But man has it been a fight and a struggle for me in order to get those results.

That’s why this week we wanted to focus on the gain that comes from the struggle of exercising.

Byrd eluded to the fact that the struggle is not just about weight loss.

“We struggle in everything we do in life,” Byrd said. “The campers who are coming out here (CG) this week are basically coming out here to find themselves, to find who they are. They’re learning commitment, discipline and self-confidence. It’s ultimately the life-changing week.”

She added that it’s all about learning to handle the struggles we encounter in life.

Some of the things I struggled with before I started training with Byrd was a lack of endurance. I couldn’t run from my end of the street to Byrd’s end of the street without giving out. And yes, not only is she my personal trainer, but she is also my neighbor. Motivation was also a key factor in my struggle. I wanted to get up and get moving, but I had lost my zeal for exercising and working out. Nor was I eating the proper foods, and that was playing a role in my stamina. But we will save the topic of proper nutrition and diet for another time. However, it does have an effect.

Although I had been involved in weightlifting, the cardio part of my workout was pretty much non-existent. When I began working out with Byrd, I was able to truly gauge my level of conditioning, and it was awful. The first couple of intense workouts, I felt faint and like I would lose my lunch. Then we instituted the running into my workout. The first run was a major test for me. I felt like my heart was going to beat out of my chest, my lungs felt like they were going to explode and my legs felt as if they would fall off. And when she announced the goal was three miles, I wanted to burst into laughter. But I thought better of that. I was afraid she might tack on another mile just to make a point.

I didn’t like walking three miles even less running three miles. But I endured the test, and I felt great afterwards. The next time we ran it got a little easier, and I felt like I was making real progress. Then, on Monday morning, I decided to go for a run without Byrd on my shoulder. I was so excited that I was able to run 3.14 miles without stopping, and I did it in 35 minutes. That was a great accomplishment for me. Through the struggles, I have gained so much self-confidence, endurance, strength and motivation. Byrd also added that there are other great rewards of struggling.

“In the struggle, people learn commitment, discipline, and they learn to stop thinking about it and actually jump in there and do it,” she said. “We’re always going to have a battle of the mind, and this is about talking yourself into work, not out of the work.”

While I’ve come a long way, I’m not saying that I don’t still need a push every once in a while. Byrd said every one needs a push every now and then, including her.

“We all need a push,” Byrd said. “We’re all going to hit a day where we wake up and struggle with that day in general. But that’s where discipline comes in. These guys come out here, and one of the things they gain is discipline. Without a shadow of a doubt, I’m convinced that discipline is the foundation for change.”

Byrd added that you must push yourself to those limits. You must reach beyond what you normally do.

“The bottom line is that we can get up and do what’s easy for us every single day,” she said. “But until we get up and do what’s challenging for us, and conquer that challenge, we’re not going to wake up tomorrow somebody different than we are today.”

Reader Question of the Week:

Is it okay to consume fruit only for breakfast?

Byrd’s reply: Although fruit is an excellent food choice, there are two rules to follow. One, remember to choose fruit in its whole form or sliced due to its natural sugar content. Secondly, always pair carbs with proteins. Fruit alone may give you a little energy form the sugar, but it wears off quickly and causes further junk food/sugar cravings. The protein/carb combination will make you feel full longer, and carry you through those tough mornings. For a complete breakfast, always include a healthy carb, clean protein and a good fat to jump start your day. My favorite breakfast: plain oatmeal with flaxseed, a handful of warm blueberries and two egg whites.

To reach Renee Byrd or if you have fitness questions, contact her at 972-741-1271 or renee@campgladiator.com. Her responses will be posted in next week’s Fit for Thought column, which appears in the Wednesday edition of the Daily Light.

Melissa Cade is a journalist for Waxahachie Newspapers Inc. Follow her on Facebook.com/MelissaCadeWDL. Contact her at 469-517-1450 or melissa.cade@wninews.com.