I’m going to admit something. I hate exercising. I really do. Just getting to the gym feels like an exertion. But not working out is not an option. You see, cancer cells get stored in fat cells. The more body fat a cancer survivor has, the higher their risk of having a reoccurrence. Plus, I like food and wine too much to deprive myself of them. (Life is about enjoying yourself, right?) So, workout it is!

The other day when I was taking a spin class at Soul Cycle, my instructor, Trammell, said something that struck me. During an uphill climb, he instructed the class to turn the knob on our bikes to increase the resistance on the wheels. I hadn’t been to class in over two weeks because of my book tour, and was feeling the burn. So, I turned the knob but just barely. Trammell wasn’t near me but at that very moment he said to the class, “Don’t be one of those people that fakes the turn. Embrace the resistance! It makes you stronger and more powerful. Rise up to the challenge!”

His message instantly resonated with me. Over the last six years, I have face two serious health crises. In 2011, I had spinal fusion surgery and less than a year later in 2012, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. Each health issue was a resistance in my life. Each put a break on the momentum of my career. Each forced me to find out who my friends really were. Each made me dig deep to find who I was and what I was made of.

The thing is, even though I was emotionally and physically exhausted, it wasn’t like there was a knob I could turn to lighten the load. That, sadly, is an option only available in spin class. I was up against real resistance. I won’t get into the specifics (if you are really curious, though, you can read some of my other blogs. Writing about them time and time against is almost like re-living them. It’s enough to cause me PTSD – seriously.) Suffice to say, there was a 4-year span of my life that was full of really tough challenges and lots of resistance.

Resistance is a force like none other. Even the definition of ‘resistance’ is interesting as its two meanings are polar opposites. Used one way, ‘resistance’ means the act of not complying with something or someone. Use another way, it means an ability to not be affected by something or someone. I find this dichotomy very interesting.

Resistance IS the key to our personal growth. When we struggle with change. When we are impervious to messages loved ones are sharing with us. When we refuse to let go of things not meant for us. When we fight against things that are happening to us. That resistance – whether it’s generated from outside forces or from within ourselves – stops us from experiencing emotional growth.

It was only when I stopped fighting against all the shitty things happening in my life – and actually embraced them – that things started to get better for me. Rather than agonizing over my failing health, or being miserable that the life I wanted wasn’t the one I was living or turning a blind eye to changes everyone else could see I needed to make – only then – did life become an easier road to travel. In letting go, I resisted being affected by all the hate, sadness, pain and misery that no longer had a place in my life.

Don’t misunderstand me, though. I still fought like hell for the things that mattered. That resistance is often crucial for survival. I fought for my health. I stood up for myself when I didn’t think people valued my work or me. I refused to let anything interfere with my friendships. I struggled, pushed and worked my ass off for a better life. I resisted – and still do to this day – when it is necessary. I wouldn’t have it any other way. Now, I turn the knob in spin class just to remind myself how blessed I am to be here.

Resistance plays a huge role in how we approach problems and react to them. It’s up to you to choose which of its definitions you will put into play. Will you choose to resist the things not meant for you? Or will you resist not being affected by the obstacles in your path. I suggest we listen to Trammell’s advice: Rise up, embrace the resistance in our lives, and meet the challenge. I promise the work is worth it.