Food & Fitness

Dealing with challenges

I recently started on the final course of my nutrition diploma program, Sport & Fitness Nutrition. I have three months left to complete the course, and then I have to write an exam for it, and then I have to complete my final exam for the entire course in order to get my diploma. At that point, I’ll be a Certified Holistic Nutritionist, and I’ll be able to counsel people on nutrition. As you can imagine, I’m very excited about it!

Up until my Sports & Fitness Nutrition course, I’ve been able to move through the courses fairly easily. I’ve spent a lot of time researching health and nutrition over the past five years or so, meaning that much of the course work was revision or expansion upon what I’d already learned.

Sports & Fitness Nutrition, however, is a whole different story. This course focuses much more on the chemical structure of things, and the science behind nutrition.

sports & fitness nutritionLast week I began the chapter on Human Energy. It was far more challenging than I’d expected, and I found myself getting cranky as I tried to read and reread each section. Although I was telling myself that I was trying to understand the science of energy, in reality my brain was shutting down, and I was refusing to process the information. It was too hard.

Finally I threw up my hands in exasperation and went for a long walk. Later in the day I went back to it, this time when Mr. Science was at home, and he heard my fuming over the course. Him being all science-y, he immediately offered to help and was eager to learn about the science of energy.

“You have to learn this stuff, you can’t just coast through it,” he said. “If you’re going to be counseling people on nutrition then you have to really know it.”

It wasn’t what I wanted to hear, but it was what I really needed to hear. Science is one of those things that doesn’t come easily to me, the way that language does. It was such a pleasure to graduate from university and know that I’d never have to take another math or science course again if I didn’t want to; instead, I could focus on what I was good at and what I enjoyed. But sometimes when we want to do what we enjoy, we need to go through something that’s challenging first.

After Mr. Science helped me with the chapter on Energy, I felt a little better about the whole thing. The next day I began reading the chapter of Carbohydrate on my own – earlier in the day, so that my mind was ready to concentrate fully – and I took a lot of time with it. I went through it paragraph by paragraph, pausing to let it all sink in, writing down notes and jotting down questions to ask Mr. Science when he came home from work. I stopped reading when I felt my concentration breaking, and went back to it early the next day, refreshed and ready to learn more.

Even just a few days later, I’m not dreading opening that textbook the way that I was before I started to really pay attention to it. I’d actually go so far as to say that I’m enjoying it!

Too often when things are difficult for us, we shut ourselves down and refuse to listen or learn, because it would take too much effort. But how can we accomplish anything if we ignore the difficult stuff and only focus on what’s easy for us? If we don’t constantly challenge our minds, we won’t be able to keep as sharp. We won’t be able to look at things from other perspectives. We won’t be able to understand those things that are difficult for us.

Trying out something that’s challenging for us – not necessarily something that’s new to us, but something that we think we dislike because we didn’t “get it” the first time we tried it – can result in a whole new way of thinking. I should have known better when it came to learning science: back when I was taking my Rhetoric degree, I had to take a mandatory class on Oral Communication. Before the class, I hated public speaking. I came out of that class at the end loving public speaking. Just because something’s challenging for us doesn’t mean we should dislike it or avoid it. In fact, if it’s challenging for us, that’s all the more reason that we should confront it and learn it better!

What have you tried recently that was challenging for you? What challenge will you take on this week that you have previously avoided? Share in the comments section below!


  1. Gena

    You’re almost done! Even being a science person I still had a hard time with the energy parts of biology. It is just so complex, and there are so many ways our cells can take nutrients and convert them to energy! There was soooo much to memorize that it was a challenge even for this biologist.

    My current challenge is taking on more leadership ability at work. We’re losing two valuable people to our team, and more responsibility will fall to me. It will be good experience, but it will be a challenge to do my own work while making sure everything else is running smoothly!

    1. Sagan Morrow

      That makes me feel better 😀

      It’s interesting to make the transition to a leadership role at work, I think… sometimes it can be such a completely different way of looking at things. That’ll be really awesome to try out!

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