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.

When You Can’t Trust Your Feelings

There are times when you cannot trust your feelings.

Your nervous system has relegated a number of muscle-firing sequences to your subconscious. While the purpose is to allow for higher-level thought to occupy the conscious mind, it backfires in every movement pattern that has become dysfunctional. This mechanism also compensates whenever an activity forces a greater range of motion or load than the neuromuscular system can currently bare. Over time, these compensations become habits. Habitual movement feels normal, even if the movement is actually abnormal and dysfunctional.

In these times when you cannot trust feelings of proper movement, you must rely on external cues (visual cues from a mirror or outside observer, or touch receptor cues from correctly placed props or movement re-trainers).

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.

A Lesson Learned

I have said it before and I will say it again: It is not a workout, it is practice.

All movement is skilled, meaning that we acquired our ability to control what our bodies do. So every time you exercise, you have the opportunity to get better at that movement. Be aware of your body’s tendencies, and evaluate your performance.

Stability, strength, balance, speed, power, breathing, and endurance can all be focused on during your self-evaluation; your goal is to improve one or more. And whenever you improve, your body has learned a lesson in movement. If every picture is worth a thousand words, how much is a lesson worth?

The Danger of Overspecialization

Every one of us has our reasons for the things we do, and how we train is no different. For every person that wants to live a healthier and longer life, there is at least one who just wants to look better, and another who wants to be better at their sport.

Regardless of your why, remember that your body functions so well because it is set up to be balanced and capable of all movement. The more you focus on a single aspect of training, the greater the risk of disrupting that balance.

It is easiest to maintain a body that is already moving correctly, and much harder to break out of bad habits. Address the issues that your training decisions may cause as soon as you are made aware of them. Not only will you keep moving the way you want to move, but you will also increase the progress that is being made toward your goals.

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.

A Lot In A Little

There are small blocks of time between activities; maybe a meeting ends early, or traffic was light.

These in-between moments are perfect for daily practices, a great way to build positive habits, or a moment to calm yourself.

If you recognize the opportunity, you can do a lot in a few minutes.

The Path of Least Resistance

Many of us struggle to make the right choices in the moment.

Sure, abstractly we know the better option; and on a good day, it is easy to make the right choice. But on those bad days, it is hard to do what we feel that we should, instead of what we want. Willpower takes energy to maintain, and constantly fighting saps energy until we reach a breaking point.

The simple trick that helps to stay the course is to take the path of least resistance. Avoiding the situations where we struggle is much easier than fighting against temptation every moment of every day.

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.