Adversity — Setback or Opportunity?

Lately, life continues throwing me some heavy-duty, rib-breaking body blows.

Fallen angels in Hell

Image via Wikipedia

Compared to many I am blessed, but recently — I don’t feel that way. The reality of owning a business in these current economic times can impact us all. I feel much like I did a few years ago. Similar situations caused apathy, which in turn led to laziness. The result was that my weight ballooned to a ponderous, pachydermian three hundred and forty pounds and my fitness levels plummeted to previously unforeseen depths.

On a recent morning, when the alarm clock sounded, for the first time in a long time, I had the desire to shut the buzzer off and roll back over. Reawakened by my current situation, my inner demons reared their ugly heads.

Thoughts of pancakes, home fries, doughnuts and waffles for breakfast started bubbling to the forefront of my brain. Later, I could go for a pizza and a nice pot of pasta. Then, in the evening, maybe a pie and a pint or two of ice cream. The comfort foods would work their soothing magic.

The demons screamed into my skull:

Why exercise?
Why eat right?
What is the point?
Think of how nice it would be to sleep, on a full belly, an extra three hours each morning.

I knew that the combination of sloth and gluttony would once again isolate me from the outside world. The calming influences of empty calorie, carbohydrate loaded foods would help me sleep. The lack of exercise would convert the excess consumption into a protective layer of fat and I would once again be isolated from the rest of the human race.

Dante and Virgil in Hell

Image via Wikipedia

I look up and studied the proverbial rope that is keeping me from plunging into Hell’s fires. The repair jobs, from the previous occasions in which life almost took me down, were once again frayed. The gremlins and gravelings, which are busily hacking away at the rope, are now more than half way through.

Will the rope give all together? Will my life and future plummet into a great abyss? It very well might. When it desires, life can be a cold and heartless bastard. The big question is:

Will I embrace my inner demons  and willingly hasten my demise?

I stayed in bed and wondered what it would be like to have had a charmed life. I asked myself:

How different would it have been if my father hadn’t been forced on to disability by a life altering injury?

How would it have been if my parents could have afforded to send me straight to college out of high school?

Was my judgment to enter the Navy, to alleviate the burden of at least one child to care for, the correct decision?

Yes, the self-doubt and self-pity of despair were being cheered on by the demons. Much like WILK talk radio host Steve Corbett, my inner mischievous sprites are acting as the harbingers of doom — joyfully, fanning my flames of despair, discontent, doubt and disillusionment.

How easy would it be to embrace their self-destructive message!
How simple would it be to return back to my former indolence!
How effortless would it be to add a hefty burden to the rope!

As these thoughts ran through my head, a truck driver outside my window slammed on the brakes. As the tractor-trailer came to a very loud halt, its cargo violently shifted and I was jarred by a thunderous clang. My still sleeping brain interpreted the clamor into the clang of iron plates being dropped onto the gym floor.

Thoughts of clanging and banging iron sent a familiar shiver through my body. I jumped from my bed and the demons hid in terror. I would not give into their cursed cheering.

There is no time for self-pity.
There is no time for self-sorrow.
There is no time for self-destruction.

The rope is starting to show threads.
I am not sure how long it will hold out.
I will not increase its burden by adding weight to my frame.

As much as we tend to think otherwise, there is very little in our lives over which we have control.

Well run businesses fail everyday.
Bad, at times awful, things happen to good people.
Politicians pass laws regardless of the actual outcomes.
Hard working, loyal employees often find themselves without a job.

Is adversity a setback or an opportunity?

It is all in  how we choose to view it. We can allow bad luck, bad decisions and just flat out bad situations dominate, control and beat us down —  or we can choose how we respond.

For the last two weeks injury, medication side-effects and an illness have kept me from the gym.  Tomorrow morning I can’t wait to get back.

You see, I choose how I respond. I choose not to allow those demons that were screaming effect me.  And, I choose to tell those demons to go straight back to hell!

The one thing we can control is ourselves.

We can control our mental attitude.
We can control our fitness level.
We can control what we eat.

In spite of Gary Taubes’s anti exercise writings, I will continue my endeavors in exercise. Because, by being physically fit and strong, if that rope does give out, I will be powerful enough to reach up, grab the remaining end and support myself.

Don’t quit on being fit!



Physical Culturist and Chiropractor, Dr. Joe Leonardi is the author of the life changing book, “Obesity Undone” and a contributor to and He is available to appear on any talk radio, internet podcast or television outlet.

He has appeared on 94.3FM’s The David Maderia Show, What’s Weighing You Down, w/Dr. Marilyn Gansel on FTNS radio, Nurture and Nutrition on Blog Talk Radio, Low Carb Conversations with Jimmy Moore and Friends, BlogTalk Radio’s Toni Harris Speaks, Internet Radio: Cathie’s Talking, TV -35′s Storm Politics with Tiffany Cloud, WILK’s The Sue Henry Show, Magic 93′s Frankie In The Morning, WBRE’s PA Live, SSPTV’s News 13, Public Television WVIA’s State of Pennsylvania and Call the Doctor; Entercom’s Outlook on Northeast PA with Shadoe Steele, Citadel Broadcasting’s Sunday Magazine with Brian Hughes, Lisa Davis’ Your Health Radio; Hank Garner’s Podcast, Dr. Robert Su’s Carbohydrates Can Kill Podcast; and the one and only Jimmy Moore’s Livin’ La Vida Low Carb podcast.
Dr. Joe Leonardi also will come and speak to your group; to learn more about his motivational speaking fees and availability contact him at and check out his website
************The information contained herin is for information purposes only and is not intended to diagnose or treat any disease or disorder. The posting and videos do not apply to those with an underlying medical or hormonal condition. I advise anyone embarking on a weight loss and fitness plan to have a thorough medical evaluation. You want to be sure that you are physically able to exercise and you don’t have any underlying medical conditions No guarantees are made or to be implied.************


3 thoughts on “Adversity — Setback or Opportunity?

  1. HI Joe, It breaks my heart that you´re going through such a rough patch. But I know you´ll pull through for yourself and also as that great role model for those of us who follow your inspirational and wise self-toughness journey. I would say:”Don´t give in, don´t give up!”,but I know you won´t. You´ll keep moving forward and with every step away from former obesity you´ll be that much further from the food addiction mindset. Oh, those thoughts will jump out at you unexpectedly from behind big rocks along your path, but drop the rocks on their heads and keep on walking…

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