When Why Matters

Many of us are much more concerned with how to do something than why it works.

While this works for many things in life, it is not always the case when it comes to your body and your health.

The need for understanding comes from the fact that each of us is different, both physiologically and psychologically. Without understanding the mechanisms behind the results, we are unable to make informed decisions about adopting processes that will suit our individual needs.

Solve For X

We feel a need to quantify our improvement, meaning that we pick a number and want to see it change over time. But what happens when all of our formulas, all of our calculations, fail to yield the results that we are after?

Some will give up. Others will double-check the math to make sure that everything is correct and keep at it. And the rest will throw out that formula and try a different one.

But the reality is that not everything is quantifiable. There is no universal formula or training program that gives everyone the same results for the same input. Train for quality, and let the quantities speak for themselves.

Believe It!

Often times, the only difference between success and failure is having the belief that you can succeed.

When you don’t believe it, you encounter things that you cannot do and reasons to give up. But when you have faith in yourself and your capabilities, you come across stumbling blocks and obstacles that can slow you down but will not stop you.

A friend reminded me of that yesterday; and it holds true for all goals in life, whether they be fitness-related or not.

Quality Input For Quality Results

When garbage goes in, garbage comes out.

Your body is not a trash compactor. Whether it be food, drink, or supplement; do not expect quality performance from sub-par nutrition. (And especially when it comes to supplements: High price does not automatically equate to high quality!) The same goes for goals. Whether it is physical training, or business growth; do not expect amazing results from poorly implemented practices.

Spend time considering the inputs, because every input has an effect on the processes that follow.

Keep An Open Mind

We have opinions on everything. These quick judgments help us deal with the sheer volume of information that is constantly streaming. While our opinions are necessary, they are not always correct. And just because we have an opinion does not mean that we are informed on a topic.

In fact, our opinions should change as more information presents itself. This holds true for diet and exercise, and every other field that has ongoing research. Even without new studies and innovations, our bodies give us both short and long-term feedback that will gradually inform our opinions, if we let them.

Yet for many of us, once we have declared an opinion (or even worse, assumed someone else’s as our own), we stick with it. We resist changing our opinion, disregarding evidence that may contradict a belief. We need to be aware of this instinctual tendency if we are to keep our minds open.

It’s Just Business

We are always being sold to. It is simply a fact of modern life.

In an effort to drive sales, companies make big claims about the impact that their products will have on our lives. They hope to convince us that their products will fulfill a need in some aspect of our lives. When there is no need that their product fulfills, they strive to create a need within our minds.

Do not get discouraged with yourself when a product fails to deliver on a company’s promises. The product was never the answer. Your dedication and your effort will allow you to your achieve your goals. Keep working.

Mixed Signals

Many of us no longer know when we are hungry, and when we are thirsty; we simply have cravings. We have trained our bodies to send us mixed signals. What should be straight-forward is not the case.

We have a lot of options when it comes to food and drinks, more so than at any point in the past. While variety is the spice of life, it comes with a problem that most of us do not realize that we have. We have confused our body by consuming beverages that contain macro- and micro-nutrients (carbs, minerals, vitamins), and foods that have high water content (soups, stews, and sauces).

This can be combated against by adhering to a few simple guidelines. First, drink water more often than any other beverage. Ideally, have two or three glasses of water between any other beverages. Second, during meals try to drink sparingly. When you get more thirsty than hungry, that is a signal to stop eating. Drink a glass of water and then wait fifteen minutes before eating more food. Finally, do not eat when you are not hungry. There is a difference between having a taste for something and being hungry.

Train Inside Out

Our tendency is to train ourselves from the outside in. For many of us this comes from an aesthetic motivation to workout; in other words, many train because they want to look better. But the problem with this is that focusing on the outside can leave you frustrated. It can even set you up to be worse than when you started.

Instead try to train yourself from the inside out. Focus on rest, nutrition, and core musculature first; then slowly shift the focus outward to encompass strength, endurance, speed, or aesthetics and body composition. This can be a great boon for anyone that is having trouble because they are intimidated.

The Help Thresholds

Motivation is not something that we can switch on and off at will. It is a culmination of events that allows someone to arrive at the conclusion that the outcome will be worth the effort. This is a special moment, especially when it comes to health and wellness.

Most people want to do it themselves. Just about everyone recognizes that there is simply too much information, too many areas of research, and too many scientific disciplines to know everything; but that does not stop a person from wanting to go it alone. It is their body, after all. Unfortunately, it may take failure at that point before someone would be willing to ask for advice in the future. We can only help people when they are ready to be helped.

That is the first help threshold; the point when people not only want to enact personal change, but are also ready to listen to instruction (hopefully from a trained professional – just about everyone has an opinion on what people should do, but that opinion is not necessarily based on science or education).

There is a second threshold that is very important. That is the maximum level of help or advice that someone can take at a particular time. The human body changes gradually. The same can be said for personal habits and practices. If that threshold is surpassed, if a person feels that they are being asked to do the impossible – all relative to their subjective experience – then they will lose their motivation and give up. Keeping in mind that most people receive advice from a number of sources, this can be very detrimental (especially when two sources give contradicting advice).

So when we try to help others, we must remember to give advice in small doses. While people want an overall feel for what they are trying to accomplish, they will not necessarily be ready to hear everything at once. Giving the most important point and the very next step is often more than enough to help move someone forward without overloading them.

Change With The Weather

The weather is changing for the better. Our bodies will respond to the change in seasons, thereby altering both our energy demands and hormone levels. Here are a few quick pointers that will make these adjustments smoother.

Your body requires nutrients from different foods to gear up for a more active spring. Focus on refreshing foods such as sprouted and spring vegetables. Lighten up your protein intake for faster assimilation by eating less red meat, replacing it with more seafood; which will also give the added benefit of reducing the post-meal feeling of drowsiness.

Speaking of sleep, seasonal shifts in the times of sunrise and sunset will alter your sleep pattern. If you have trouble with waking up too early, try to keep as much light from the room (daylight and blue light from electronics cause hormonal responses that will wake you up). If you have trouble falling asleep, try turning off the tv/pc earlier. And do not forget to be flexible with your workout volume and intensity while your body’s natural shift occurs.