Are Your Workouts Breaking You Down or Building You Up?
Something I’ve been contemplating a lot lately is: “Why am I doing the workouts that I do?” I spent the summer rehabbing a back injury and I’m now starting to get back in to lifting heavier weights and upping the intensity on my workouts. I also took up a new sport, jiu-jitsu. I knew I would suck at it for a long time but challenging myself and stepping back in to the beginner’s mindset to learn a new skill is rewarding. I believe we all need to move, work up a sweat, and stress the system to adapt and grow. However, we can’t kill ourselves in the gym every day. A lot of gyms today are so focused on high-intensity training and making you sweat so you can “earn” those calories you are about to consume. This is a recipe for burn-out and leads to injury and more stress than most people are ready for. Look at pro-athletes. Do they kill themselves every day or do they practice skills and work on their game to compete when necessary? They work extremely hard but recover just as hard. If you aren’t getting enough sleep, eating poor quality food, and overstressed in your daily life, going too hard in the gym will only break you. There is a time to compete and there is a time to focus on the process and work on getting better than you were the day before. I love CrossFit but there can be too much emphasis on competition in every workout. I am just as guilty as the next person when it comes to competing and have to watch my self-talk during workouts. Am I just trying to win the workout or am I focusing on proper movement, proper breathing, and the long-term? It is the short-term mentality that gets us in trouble in most areas of life.
As I get older, I want to be able to move well and have the ability to do whatever I want. Whether that is run a race, play a sport, or learn a new skill, unless you are training for something specific, the goal of fitness should not be to win every workout. The focus should be on ensuring you are healthy enough to do whatever activity you like.
As Laird Hamilton says, “Don’t be a liability.” Fitness and wellness are not about punishing yourself in the gym or through some fad diet. It is a lifestyle and starts with loving yourself and with that love comes a drive to get better. It helps you become a better person for your relationships, your community, and the world. We need a more holistic approach to our lifestyles. Trying to compartmentalize everything leads to undue stress. Everything is connected. For example, how we respond to our loved ones during times of stress, how much energy we bring to our work, and how we give back to our communities are all connected to your relationship with yourself.
“As you love yourself, life loves you back. I don’t think it has a choice either. I can’t explain how it works, but I know it to be true.” Kamal Ravikant, Love Yourself Like Your Life Depends On It
Our bodies are amazing machines and we need the right nutrition to function at our highest capacity. This starts with eating real whole foods and staying away from all the processed crap of western diets. Additionally, we can’t be “on” all the time and need to learn to take time to relax and play. We need to give our body and minds a break to be able to take on life’s challenges. For me, this starts with a breath practice and mindfulness to calm my mind. I also use yoga, ice baths, saunas or getting out in nature. These practices have taught me that I don’t have to be perfect. As one of my teachers said recently, “yoga is a practice not a perfect.” These practices help you become more in touch with your body and nervous system. They are great ways to learn to become less reactionary. You can choose your response to situations and work through negative thoughts you might have about others and yourself before reacting.
“Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.” Viktor Frankl
To Sum it Up
I am not perfect and I struggle with all of the things I write about and provide advice on. Through my self-work and writing, I hope for a little improvement every day and a better understanding of what makes me tick. While the above practices work for me, they may not work for everyone. However, it is a good place to start. My goal with this blog is to pass on helpful information in hopes that you might start experimenting to see what works for you to live your healthiest and most fulfilled life in the long term. When we have an active body, the mind will be sharper and more focused. Make sure the relationships in your life are positive. Stay away from toxic people who are trying to bring everyone else down to their level. When we figure out our “why” we thrive in this world and are a better person for our family and friends along with a greater contributor to society.
“Research your own experience; absorb what is useful, reject what is useless and add what is essentially your own.” Bruce Lee
Call To Action
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