If you have been using the interwebs long enough you have probably spent at least a couple of hours angrily hammering your keyboard arguing with Chad from Tampa who thinks Kanye is a creative genius, better than M.J., the Rolling Stones, and Mozart combined, and thinks he should be the next POTUS. But worse, Chad has the nerve to say this as loud as he can on your favorite website. You cannot let this idiot get away with this absurdity so three hours later you are frustrated and exhausted and with three hours of your life sucked away. My friend, you were trolled.
Trolls suck, and even though they are an Internet creation they are pretty much everywhere IRL too. Yes, they might be called douche bags, and they are not constrained by gender, race, or religion. The only thing that unifies them is that they are just a waste of time and energy. But my experience is that when it comes to fitness and nutrition, we all have an inner troll. And to be honest, this is the worst kind of troll there is.
For some people, their inner troll is straight up an asshole. It will say things like: “yep, Juan after all you will always be a fatty, did you see how hard that run was? Who are you kidding? What are you doing? Buying lululemon's for what?!?!?!? Be who you REALLY are and head over to Dunkin Donuts”. This is the Lesser Inner Troll (or LIT), because it’s such an asshole and so loud you can identify it quickly and be on your way to slaying it.
But there is another kind of troll that is more subtle and it comes disguised in the body of a super rational person, we call it the Tricky Inner Troll (or TIT--no disrespect ladies), and it will say things like: “you see, the length of your humerus is so much longer than that of the average human being and this is why this exercise is so difficult for you, it will always be like this, sorry man, just settle”. Or sometimes, “People are going to think you are a rigid annoying asshole if you order that salad. What’s next? You going to start preaching about the phytonutrients in avocado? Are you paleo? BE FUCKING NORMAL!”
But where do our LITs and TITs come from? When we are working on our nutrition and fitness it will be challenging! Burrowing into the couch and eating a box of raw poptarts is so much easier and relaxed and less threatening than burpees and a kale salad with salmon. So I believe that our inner trolls are mental manifestations of our innate preference to preserve the status quo (a.k.a homeostasis). They are a product of a fixed mindset, which unfortunately becomes more and more common as we age (especially in men--sorry bros). So actually, the fact that they show up means you’re changing yourself.
Just like in the digital world, in our heads there are as many trolls as there are pokemon. Some of them are rare, some of them show up everywhere all the time, and all of them are stupid! The good thing is that if the Internet has taught us anything besides that there are a lot of freaky people in the world, it’s how to slay a troll: don’t feed them! N E V E R. Don’t debate with them. Don’t evaluate if what they are saying is true or not. That will only lead you to fury and lost time. Remember, the objective of a troll is to make you stop doing what you are doing, and to waste your life; they are desperate for engagement at any cost.
Unfortunately, it is super hard to ignore an inner troll since it’s in your head and often sounds right. Fortunately, you don’t have to try to ignore it! You don’t need to respond or debate, instead try just to notice. Our inner troll is an important cue: if it pops up in the middle of a workout, it might just mean that you’ve found the the struggle which is right where you want to be, right at the threshold of your performance. If it shows up in the break room when there are sugary treats on the table, it means you have found a challenge you can tackle! If you hear your inner troll, observe it, then use it to fuel your resolve. Say to yourself, “oh yeah, I’m right in the sweet spot now. This is where I get better!”. THAT is how you slay a troll.