Our Well Being.
Everyday we take action. Decisions are made, big and small, that impact us from day to day. We think the bigger the decision we make, the more of an effect it will have on our life, when in actuality the sum of all the small and seemingly insignificant decisions we make is what forms us. This may not come as a surprise to many of you, but when we carry out our day with this in mind, our life will start to look very different.
Why are the little things so important?
For most of us, our mentality is along the lines of a hypocritical adult with their child. We go on and on about the things we try to do, and attempt at changing, but when rubber meets the road we shy down from the challenge and make excuses as to why. Very few of us are able to make changes, even at the smallest scale, and maintain the change consistently. Why is this?
When we think about these small changes, we generally perceive them as insignificant because of how small they are. When in reality, the smallest change will have the greatest effect on your life, and could potentially improve a multitude of aspects to your life. Rather than trust in ourselves that we can make the change and stick with it, we second guess and doubt that so much change could come from so little.
For the purpose of this page we will be talking about a few specific things we do every day, and how changing them just a little can benefit us so much.
The Pillars of Our Well Being.
There are three little things that dictate the quality of our lives and the state of our well being. Sleep, Diet, and Exercise. These are the foundations of our health and quality of life. Together, not ignoring one or the other, they can improve most, if not all functions in daily life. Seems trivial right? Most of the time one if not all of these pillars are sidelined and almost forgotten. No routine, no regiment, just getting by.
When we fail to maintain and improve these foundations, we fail to better ourselves. Just because you don’t eat right, sleep well, or exercise doesn’t mean you are a bad person, but it wouldn’t be true to say you are living as your best self. When we take care of these three small aspects, every other challenge or difficulty in life will seem that much easier. Your energy will rise significantly from increased sleep, a cleaner diet, and a difficult training regiment. This new energy could be what you need to make it the extra hours at work, or it can get you through the end of that hard work out. It may even help your ambitions and goals by giving you the power and fire that you always had, but had never utilized. If we are able to tap into these foundations, and use them the way that was evolutionarily intended, then we can unlock our hidden powers.
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When we think of peak human ability we think of superheroes. Why though? When you boil down what makes them special, it becomes much more clear as to why we tend to idolize these fictional groups of people. A superhero is in perfect physical condition, filled with energy, ambition and determination. They fight for what’s right and put the needs of others before their own. This is a model human being for a reason. With the rise of interest in the comic book genre, you’d think people would try to emulate the life of a superhero right?
What makes the life of a superhero attractive, is the return they get for the hard work they put in. They get the keys to the city, or take down their arch-nemesis. We want to feel this accomplishment. We want to be capable of everything they are capable of, but think to ourselves that we would never have the time to do it. Why?
Self defeat. On a certain level we are all programmed to give up early. It's the first thing our mind goes to when anything gets hard. "If I'm not enjoying it now, then I definitely won't enjoy it later." is what goes through our head. If this isn't doing anything for me now then how could it possibly do anything down the road? We can’t let this built in dialogue between id and superego take place because it stops us from doing what we truly want. Sure right now you don’t want to work out 6 days a week, for at least 2 hours on those days, but if we did the returns would be more than expected. If we can have the discipline to make these actions a reality, than the rest of the hard decisions in life will seem that much easier.
Lowering The Bar, For Now.
If we are to start on the journey of self improvement, we must let go of ourselves. We aren't the most important person in the world, and because of this, a lot of us have a secret desire to be just that. This desire, followed by a reality check of "Hey, look around you..." makes us feel doubtful that much is going to change especially by our own hands. The issue is, we set ourselves up for failure. If our goal is to be the next superman, it's going to be a long disappointing road. If your goal is to lose a certain amount of weight, or get a promotion, those are actually attainable. We have to start small before tackling our biggest issues. When starting small, our greatest ally to staying on track is knowledge.
"Those days when I'm tired, or worn out, or just basically sick of the grind, what do I do on those days? I go anyways. I get it done. Even if I'm just going through the motions, I go through the motions. I don't really want to work out, I work out. I really don't want to hammer on a project, I hammer on the project. Don't really want to get up and get out of bed, well get up and get out of bed. Now these could be signals that you need some time off, and those signals might be right, they could be correct, but don't take today off today. Wait until tomorrow. Don't give in to the immediate gratification that is whispering in your ear. Shut that down, do not listen to that instead, go through the motions. Lift the weights, sprint the hill, work on the project, get out of bed. Now as an overall rule I do not like procrastination. You need to get things done if you are going to rest. that is one thing that you should procrastinate, that's the one thing I want you to put off until tomorrow, and when tomorrow comes, you still feel like you need to rest, or you need to take a break, then okay, but the chances are you won't. You won't need that rest. Chances are you will realize that the desire to rest was just weakness. It was just the desire to take the path of least resistance, that downhill path, the easy path, and by simply going through the motions you overcame that path, and you stayed on the righteous path. The disciplined path. You stayed on the war path which is right where you know that you belong." - Jocko Willink
Going through the motions. This sounds dull and mundane, but this is the path we need to take to get through the hard times. When we start to become disciplined in our routine, we are adding extra work to begin with. Tomorrow it won’t be easy getting up in the morning to go out and get exercise in right away, or to eat as healthily. Today you want to rest and eat comfort food, but you know that this will set you back. When these feelings of weakness and defeat creep into our minds we have to expel them. Go through the motions. Make it to the the next day and keep on the right path. Each day is a challenge and within each day, its own set of problems, but we can work these problems one day at a time. So with that in mind let's dive into the pillars of our well being.
Sleep is probably the most important involuntary process of the body beside breathing. Everyday we grow tired as the hours pass, waiting for the moment to lay down, let your eyes close, and your mind wander off. We have no control over it and our body desperately needs it, but what controls our sleep? We have grown accustomed to today's sleep schedule getting home around five and falling asleep somewhere between nine and eleven. But what about thousands of years ago? Did we have the same sleep schedule? Whether or not we did, we have an internal tool to help us measure the time of day called the Circadian Rhythm. Our circadian rhythm is what tells us how late or early it is in the day and dictates our energy accordingly. As the day goes on, we grow tired as our body tells us it's time to sleep. Our circadian rhythm however, needs a little help from us. It is up to us to maintain the timing of our internal clock. If you go to bed at three in the afternoon everyday, your body will grow accustomed to that time, and will make you feel sleepy as soon as you approach three o' clock. So we have to make a routine, and stick to that routine to train our body to go to sleep at the proper time. If you don't have the discipline to make this happen you might not be getting the best sleep you could.
For half of our lives we lay down and sleep. Night in and night out we recharge our batteries for the next day, storing the energy we need to be functioning capable people. Without adequate sleep, many important functions start to go out the window. In addition to lack of energy, our mental abilities greatly decrease showing a loss of focus, computational skills, and problem solving. When all of this is added together, a sleep deprived person is neither a social butterfly or an efficient worker. We begin to crave unhealthy food, and engage in equally unhealthy habits. The average amount of sleep a person needs varies from around 7 hours to 9 hours. The ideal amount being a solid uninterrupted 8 hours of sleep. However, most of us fail to get this much sleep and because of this we are playing catch up. Always behind on sleep and never ahead. So how can we get better sleep?
Routine. Every night, at the same time, head to bed and go through the motions. Find an activity that helps clear the mind and do it before heading to sleep. If you repeat this everyday, it will result in habit. When something becomes habitual, we stop having to think about and it becomes second nature. The time at which you go to bed is when you will feel the most tired. The activity you perform before laying down will help clear your mind, and before you know it you will have a sleep schedule. One that is personalized just for you, and don't be afraid to try different things. If later is better, then go to bed later. If you need to get up early, go to bed early. If you can't seem to let go of what's on your mind, try a different method of relaxation. In short, there is no secret formula. The important part to sleep is that you are actually getting it. If you don't, you can watch as your quality of life slowly decreases.
There is a reason why "You are what you eat" is a saying. When you eat exclusively junk food, you in turn will feel like junk. The same goes for eating cleanly. As you continue along the same diet, that diet can dictate your energy levels, your emotional state, and your motivation. The healthier we can eat the healthier we can feel. So what do I eat?
Many of us are afraid of the word diet, because it entails what we can't eat. Whether it be Vegetarian, Keto, Paleo or whatever new trendy diet there is, it's not one size fits all. Not all of us can process gluten the same, but that doesn't mean it has to be eliminated. Many of us have a sweet tooth, but that doesn't mean we can't ever eat sugar. What a diet should be thought of as, is a guideline. Not rules or disputable truths, but guidelines to help keep us on track. Instead of ice cream every night, have it once a week. Instead of snacking on chips, try almonds. The world of food is so vast and filled with options that it is absurd to think we can't branch out and try something new. We should be expanding our horizons at every moment we can. Without knowing what's out there how can we change what we know now?
"Mother always said try new things"
Obviously we have been told time and time again by our parents "try it, you might like it." only for them to hear "no way" a million times back. Now that we're no longer kids trying to force down vegetables, we're just adults trying to force down vegetables. The difference being, as adults, we can talk some sense into each other. The only reason why a child won't eat vegetables for his health is because he has no concept of it. As adults we are constantly aware of the impact things can have. The funny thing is that, like the kids, we still can’t quite connect the dots. Even though we know vegetables are good for us, we refuse to eat them at any chance we get. I know some people really enjoy vegetables and eat nothing but. However, not everyone has the same pallet. Most of us are hooked on sugar, phobic of vegetables, and addicted to carbs (which is just more sugar). The idea of changing any of that is overwhelming for some people. Most people have that exact diet. Meat, Sugar, and as few Vegetables as possible. The crazy thing is that a good portion of people with that diet, aren't overweight. Certainly they don't have the best blood work, or their body fat percentage isn't the ideal ratio, but from an appearance based perspective, they look healthy.
Now look closer. Underneath the seemingly healthy body is a cacophony of alarms sounding. Blood sugar is through the roof, fat content is steadily rising, and the line keeping you from becoming diabetic is closing in. How can so many things be going wrong on the inside and the outside has nothing to show for it? It does. Let's say Mark has this diet. Mark eats a bowl of cereal for breakfast, a big hoagie sandwich for lunch, and for dinner is a large plate of meat and potatoes followed by a bowl of ice cream. Sounds like a lot right? Let's run back through that menu:
- Bowl of Cereal
- Hoagie Sandwich
- Meat and Potatoes
- Ice Cream
Doesn't look so bad, at first. Look again.
- Bowl of Cereal - Milk (sugar/fat), Cereal (sugar)
- Hoagie Sandwich - Bread (sugar), Meat (fat/protein), Cheese (fat), Sandwich Veggies (lettuce, tomatoes, onions)
- Meat and Potatoes - Potatoes (sugar), Meat (fat/protein)
- Ice Cream - Milk (sugar/fat), Added Sugars/Other Ingredients (sugar)
Not so nutritious now, huh? Each meal Mark had, has sugar in it. In addition to the copious amounts of sugar, the only substantial foods in his meal is the meat and veggies on his sandwich (both of which barely make up a quarter of the sandwich) and the meat he had for dinner. We left out the kind of meat he is eating because of the discrepancies over how healthy red meat and lunch meats are(which we will get into). All in all Mark may not look unhealthy, but physiologically he is causing major damage. Mark probably has a sugar addiction which can cause a lack of energy and a dependence on glucose. He most likely has an inflammatory issue, where if Mark gets inflamed from sickness or joint issues, it will be exacerbated or caused by his massive sugar intake.
If Mark wants to improve his diet, he would have to work on his attachment to sugar. Comfort food is a big weakness with many people, and most struggle to shake the habit. Sugar is addictive. There is no way around it. We think that because it is edible and has been eaten for so long that there is no reason to make a change. In reality, if we try to moderate sugar, many of us fail to be consistent. We fall back on the bandwagon and the next thing you know, you're back at square one. How is this different from any other addictive substance? We crave, we relapse, and we try to cut it out again and again. Sound familiar?
How can we break our habits after years of indulging them? Unfortunately there is no simple answer. All of us have the obligation to ourselves to become our own health specialists. We have to know what is going to improve our energy, or keep off the weight we're trying to lose. We have to be vigilant in our observations of how we react to what we eat, and when we eat it. By doing so, we effectively know what's best for ourselves, but the only way to do so, is to take charge and be the master of ourselves. Don't succumb to urges, and power through the desire for comfort.
Sugars are different types of Carbohydrates that come in many unique forms. Sugars can supply energy by raising blood glucose levels, but at highly concentrated amounts, consumed frequently, sugar is a very present danger. At higher consumption, sugar is an extremely harmful food with the ability to bring on diabetes, cause heart disease, and most prominently obesity.
Sugar is the enemy. It is one of the most addictive substances known, with a sneaky side effect. Poison. The way that sugar is used in the body, how it is processed and the effects is has while being processed, is very similar to a weak poison. Over time, as we continue to add more and more sugar to our systems, our body will respond. High blood sugar, risk for diabetes, lack of energy, chronic inflammation, etc. The list of dangers goes on, and we seem to consume sugar to no avail. The less sugar we eat, the more time it has to leave our bodies allowing our blood sugar levels to drop and not steadily rise.
Sugar has become more and more prevalent in foods, as corporations made the switch from fat. As fat content lowered in typical foods, the sugar content rose exponentially. Fat has the ability to give things flavor, where in its absence sugar performs the same function.
Sugar is not in everything. It may seem like when we go to the stores, almost everything you can buy has sugar in it. Even meat will have sugar added for sweetness, but this is becoming less of an issue. As sugar gains awareness regarding its negative effects, companies will make the effort to lower sugar or even exclude it from their products. In some cases sugar is replaced with a different sweetener, which can be just as harmful if not worse than sugar itself.
The unfortunate truth to sugar is: avoid it at all costs. It is one of the hardest foods to avoid, but if you can avoid it, you will see great changes in the way you feel and your performance in any given activity. That being said, sugar is not off limits. Fruits and vegetables have natural sugars that when consumed appropriately and with purpose can help performance while exercising and performing other strenuous activities.
What kind of meat do I eat?
This is a question that is seen a lot. With all the discrepancies against red meat, and meat in general it's hard to tell what to eat. Each kind of meat has its own nutritional benefits with different amounts of protein, iron, and so on. This means we have to look at every type and see its benefits and hazards, so that you can make the decision of what's best for you.
Beef, Pork, Poultry, Fish, and eggs. These are the typical meats that you would run into on a daily basis, for things like game meat, and other alternatives to store bought we have a great blog author who cooks what she kills (Katy Fassett) and goes in depth on the ways to cook it, the different kinds of meat, and their quality. Here however we will just look at typical meats that can be purchased at any grocery store.
Red Meat seems to the main point of contention along with pork in the issue of meat consumption. Beef being a very red meat, and pork being extremely fatty, they both are either loved or hated. A cow is a large animal and can be found in varying levels of conditions. Some are industrially farmed, where thousands and thousands of cattle feed on the fields and have little space to roam freely, while others are free range and raised on a more traditional farm. The differences in the meat received from the two different conditions are staggering. For one, the industrial farm most likely uses hormones, steroids, or pesticides, or even all three. When this is the case, the cow is consuming a large majority of these chemicals and there is nowhere for the chemicals to go. They simply are a part of the cow now and likewise its meat after cycles of rain, feed and manure have washed the harmful chemicals over everything.
This is the same issue for pork. Pigs are thought of as garbage eating, mud bathing, bottom feeders, which isn't far off, but is not quite the case for all pigs. In many industrial settings, the pigs are treated the same way as the cows. Hormones, steroids, and pesticides. For pigs it seems that based on the food they are eating, that more harmful substances can find their way into the pig. This isn't to say don't eat pork. What we are trying to say is not all pork is created equally, same goes for beef. When chosen properly and taken care of adequately, pork or beef can be very healthy and supply a lot of nutrition that can be hard to find alternatively.
When it comes to deciding if red meats and meat that are high in fats are for you, you may want to take into account the rest of your diet. Where are you getting your protein from? How much iron is in your diet? Are you getting natural fats from anywhere else? These are all factors that come into play. You also may not be able to process red meats/ fatty meats as much as others, and because of this you may want to avoid them. Alternatively, you may really need meat in your diet to maintain your protein since it may not be coming in from other areas of your diet.
Poultry is thought to be one of the healthier meats, being lean and low in fat. Poultry however can be much less nutritious and can still be mistreated through its production process. Similar to any farm animal, they can be packed tightly in small spaces with no place for waste. Each bird on top of each other unable to roam or feed on natural foods. The collection of eggs goes the same way. Chickens are given hormones and steroids to affect the size and appearance of the egg to make them look more uniform and appealing. Overtime this has caused the color of the yolk to become less saturated, and the shell to grow thin. Eggs purchased within the US for example look very different and taste very different from eggs purchased in other countries.
Fish, like the others has two sides to the coin. Industrial and sustainable. Currently fish count in the oceans across the world are suffering and becoming depleted. The reason for this is the poor treatment of the fish when their being farmed and fished. Which means that for consumption, one should be careful. Many fish can even carry mercury from pollution, and overtime, if you eat enough fish can cause mercury poisoning. However, none of this is meant to stop you from eating fish, quite the opposite. We just feel that finding fish from a sustainable source is not only healthier for the planet but also for you.
Shopping the globe
Fruits are the first go to for most people. When looking for something that is healthier than typical snacks, Fruit might not be the best option. Teaming with sugars and carbs, Fruits have a high glycemic index and can contribute to health problems as much as other foods high in sugar. Now the sugar in fruit is natural and not refined, but this doesn't take away from the negative impact sugar has. Fruits vary in sugar content so some fruits are better than others. For example 3 ounces of figs has over 13 grams of sugar, while raspberries only have 4.4 grams in 3 ounces.
Fruits can be a good snack but if you're looking for better nutrition day in and day out, Vegetables are going to be your wheelhouse. Vegetables can be high in carbs, but the majority have much more nutritional value. Vegetables such as mushrooms have next to no sugar content while still holding tremendous nutritional value. Sweet potatoes for example are very high in sugar content, but are argued to have greater nutritional value than typical potatoes.
When it comes to picking and choosing your produce you can look for sugar/carbohydrate content, the nutritional value, and if the produce has any other benefits (maybe falling into the super-food category). Don't forget that produce is very similar to picking meat, that there is a large portion of the produce available that is grown in unnatural and unhealthy conditions, given pesticides, hormones, and even genetically engineered. Produce should be purchased from a sustainable source as possible with regard to health of the crops, you the consumer, and how the way they are growing the produce affects its appearance or taste. Most produce is GMO'd at this point and the advantage is more for sales rather than health so be weary.
Much of what we buy in the stores has a multitude of processed ingredients. Whether it be high fructose corn syrup or various preservatives, they find their way into our diet. How do we avoid these processed additives? Whole foods. Not the grocery store, but the types of foods that we need to be consuming such as meats, vegetables, and fruits.
Unfortunately the amount of food that has processed ingredients is staggering. Most foods in a typical grocery store will have a long list of ingredients that you've never heard of. Most of which we don’t have a full grasp of their effect on our health in the long term. In the short term however, these foods cause a plethora of health issues. Foods are engineered for taste, how it affects our brain, store shelf life, appearance, and much more.
To affect these foods in such a way that they taste better or last longer on a shelf they are given additives which generally means foreign chemicals, or genetic engineering. For example, out of all the bananas sold across the globe, there are only two species of banana that are primarily grown today. The mass majority of bananas consumed in every country in the world comes from two species. Normally foods such as fruits would come from the region and only seasonally. Now however, we are able to farm bananas, and other fruits in tropical areas where they can grow year round and sell them across the planet to people everywhere. Putting this kind of pressure on a plant with fruits is not natural and to sustain the amount of bananas they are producing there will have to be human intervention.
The same is the case for all fruits, grains, vegetables, and the rest of agriculture. So every cracker, loaf of bread, apple, and potato has been intervened on by humans to affect the yield and ability of the crop. This will now be in the back of your mind as you walk through the wide array of options available at your local grocery store.
When we read about nutrition or food in general, we see new trends that rise and fall. Foods that until now were seen in a different light or weren’t entirely understood. Upon coming into a new light this ingredient turns into a trend. Goji berries, Avocado, Acai, chia, whatever the new trend is, it’s something we've seen before. The only difference now is the concept behind eating these foods.
Super-foods take on a different image when they become popular and mainstream. Instead of people adding these foods to their diet normally and trying to get the base health benefits that have always been a part of that food, people begin to swear by a single super-food. It becomes more powerful in concept rather than practice. The idea that a super-food could have tremendous effects on your health just by eating this one food is extremely powerful.
Super-foods could be looked at like supplements. Still certain people swear by certain supplements that they take, and may only take that one, but supplements are exactly what their called, which we’ll get into next. These super-foods are meant as an addition to what you already eat, but their purpose is to fill the gaps in your nutrition where the other food you eat aren’t sufficient. Super-foods are something we need to be aware of, so that we aren’t led astray by trends or what your friend is doing. Not to say that the idea of a super-food is unrealistic, but we should think of them as practically as possible. Banking our entire health on one ingredient or food is not the best idea.
Supplements do exactly what their name is, they supplement your diet. If you need more vitamin D or like turmeric for a faster recovery, than taking those supplements will benefit your diet even more. Supplements should be taken for deficiencies. How do we know what we’re deficient in?
Blood work more often than not is a great measure of what your body needs, and what it has too much of. Realistically however, most of us will probably not have the time nor patience to go through the process of getting blood work done. In which case the optimal way to see what you need more of or have a deficiency in is looking at what you eat day in and day out. What foods are you eating normally and what does the nutritional makeup of that diet look like? Chances are, there is something missing. Then the fun begins, for now you can experiment with all kinds of supplements because the supplement industry is not as straightforward as it may seem.
There are a variety of companies that produce supplements and in those companies the different supplements have varying levels of quality of production. One company that makes the best Omega-3 supplement might have the worst vitamin D supplement. So when we said this is where the fun begins, we meant it. Your job is to go through and find the supplements you need, where is the best manufacturer to get them from, and what is the best way to take the supplement. Most all supplements come in many forms, from powders, to liquids, to the regular pill form, it is your choice of how to take each one. Some supplements work better in other forms and some make no difference whatsoever. So in the process of finding the supplements you need, where to get them and how to take them, there is going to be a lot of trial and error. Even if you find a supplement that you researched thoroughly and everything seems to be on point, you will still have to take it for a certain amount of time to see how the supplement actually affects you.
After going through the whole process, you should have found a supplement that fits nicely into your diet and has benefits that you wouldn’t have otherwise seen without it. Over time you can build upon the supplements you take, finding specific supplements for specific functions, helping you reach the balanced and functional diet that you want to achieve.
Snacking rather than binge.
This isn’t an issue for everyone but for the people that have this issue, it seems impossible to break. The habit of binge eating or snacking throughout the day can cause a variety of unhealthy eating habits even if you eat healthily while doing so. Quantity is so hard to get right, and for each person it varies so greatly. One person might need to eat massive quantities of food a day to sustain their metabolism, exercise, and work, while another person might eat a small fraction of that. They may not work less or exercise less, but their body requires less food for energy so that person should adjust accordingly.
If we have just moved from a junk food diet to a healthier diet, we may be compensating for the lack of comfort food with the sheer quantity that we are eating. Instead of eating three meals a day and not snacking in between we end up eating three meals and snacking constantly throughout the day. The snacking helps get rid of boredom or the hunger for more unhealthy food. The issue is that the quantity of food you are now eating is more unhealthy than the diet you had before. Certainly the food is of much higher quality, but the quantity of this food at this rate of consumption wouldn’t be good for anyone. We have to balance quality with quantity. When we make the switch to a new diet or are struggling to maintain one, we have to be cognizant of how much food we actually eat. If we can be disciplined to eat a small amount of food from various food groups then we can have a diverse and still healthy diet. Yes this even means sugar. Sugar can be consumed healthily when done with purpose and a consciousness of quantity. Maybe one night a week you eat ice cream, but if that were to turn into multiple nights, or every other night of the week then the slippery slope will take us back to where we started. This is the importance of moderation and quantity that allows us to still have some comfort food while still sticking with the diet that has allowed us to improve our health so.
Exercise is very similar to our diet. There is no "one size fits all" regimen to follow. When approaching exercise, we feel that it's best to supplement your life. What we mean by that is, if you find an area in which you are lacking, cover that area. Work on it and add in the exercise needed to improve it. For example, if you want to work on your cardio and endurance, then you might start trail running or riding your bike. Each day going out to cover more ground, ride faster, and work harder. Over time you will have improved your cardio and extended the amount of time you can work at a certain intensity. However, cardio wasn't the only thing you were lacking. So rather than continually focus on cardio, supplement your cardio with another exercise that covers in this case maybe weight training. Rather than work on cardio for a few weeks then completely switch over to weight training, you would build up cardio, and at a certain point add in weight training. As you improved your cardio you would add more weightlifting. The key is to never focus entirely on one thing. When we hyper focus on one aspect of something, we tend to neglect the rest, and in turn suffer for it.
Exercise is not pleasant. We go in nervous, work out under stress, and come out sore, but the overall net gain is the improvement of physical health. Over time as you cover ground and see the impacts of working out, our abilities will grow almost exponentially. Now there is an abundance of energy that you didn't have before. Smaller remedial tasks seem less cumbersome, and larger tasks feel surmountable. This is a power within itself. To have the ambition and the energy to back it up can make you unstoppable. The unfortunate reality is that we don't feel this accomplished all the time. Most of the time we feel that what we're doing is incredibly difficult, and might not be worth it. Not because it's too hard, but because you don't know that it will go as well as people say. This is our worst enemy, weakness. Weakness is not entirely bad. The reason for this is because there will always be weakness. If we never had flaws and never wanted to take the easy path, we might not even be human. No person has eradicated weakness from their person, they simply know how to deal with it.
Negotiating with weakness is what we do on a daily basis. Should I work out today? I worked out really hard yesterday... so maybe today I can rest. Now when it comes to getting rest, we know that it is important. That's why we reiterate how important sleep is, but if you feel that you have to rest because working out is too hard, not because you might actually hurt yourself, this is when we negotiate with weakness. It's not the end of the world, but it can be the beginning of the end for your energy, motivation, and the path towards an improved well being. Of course there are going to be those days where we want to take it easy. We're sore, unmotivated, and looking for a way out. We need to stop ourselves from this. We can't stop because were on the path. Exercise and sleep are a part of the path, but our commitment to it is everything. When we commit there is no stopping, but only when we commit will we be on the path towards a truly better, more fulfilling life. This isn't to say that everyone of you needs to become a fitness nut, but if you can do one thing a day and continue to add on and maintain consistency, we can surpass what we used to be to become what we wave the capacity to be.
When we set out to exercise, we need to stay consistent. Working out one day a week might get you somewhere, but not very far. The key to using exercise as a tool for living, is to do it as frequently as you can. Exercise is a way to work on your body like you would a car. Engine isn’t running smoothly? Needs new oil. Wheels starting to pull on the road? Rotate your wheels or fix the alignment. If we were to approach ourselves this way, our perspective of what is and isn’t in our control changes drastically.
When our body becomes pliable in thought, it becomes pliable in practice. Working on ourselves the way a body builder would but not to that extreme a degree. Our goal is to work on ourselves as much as we can, and being that our physical state dictates our emotion so much, it makes sense to start here.
Like a bodybuilder we need to vary our exercise. Working on your body doesn’t mean doing the same workout over and over again. Like the bodybuilder we have to supplement our regime with exercises that benefit different parts of the body. If we just to situps everyday, sure you’d have a strong core, but no legs or arms to go with it. If we focus too much on one part of our body, the rest suffers for it. As we work our legs day in and day out, the only natural thing that our arms would do is decay. The muscle isn’t used, so it isn’t needed. In reality we need everything. This is why variation is so important. If we neglect any part of our body, choosing to focus on another, we are putting ourselves at a disadvantage. That one area could be the reason why you hurt yourself that one hard workout, or why you have joint pain, or back issues. By focusing on the body as a whole it can perform as such. Each part working together, aiding in the strength and resilience of the entirety of the body.
There are also so many ways to exercise from riding your bike to going into the gym, there is no shortage of options. CrossFit, for example, is designed around variation and promotes exercise for functional fitness. Greg Glassman the founder of CrossFit has 100 words on fitness which we find to be more than accurate words to live by.
The only way that we are able to make a definite change, is to commit. If we aren’t able to stick with the plan that we set out then how are we able to reach our goal? The idea is that if we can’t continue to work on our body, and maintain frequency and variation, then we won’t be able to make a change.
Most of us will try something out to see where it goes. In a short amount of time, we tend to judge a situation based off how we feel in that moment. More times than not, how we feel in that moment is meaningless. Not that we should ignore it completely, but to abandon something because of a momentary feeling of disappointment, or failure should be out of the question. Too often do we negotiate with ourselves to get out of something we don’t want to do. When we start to negotiate this way with ourselves, we tend to allow ourselves to forgo the pain and suffering of hard work stopping us from getting to a goal before we even cover ground.
This kind of thinking we are all guilty of. Certainly some of us are more prone to negotiating with weakness, but all in all we are the same. When things get hard, or we can’t see immediate benefits, we give up. That’s not to say that no one is capable of doing extremely difficult things, but most of the time we’d rather not.
We have to make the effort to change. In order to stay on track and eliminate these thoughts, we have to be disciplined with ourselves. We have to take control of our own minds and get rid of the thoughts that tell you to stop or to give up. This is what holds us back and we all have the ability to mute this voice. So the next time that you find yourself arguing with that voice in your head, don’t compromise, just commit.
Rather than treat ourselves like were just one small part in the massive rat race that seems to be life, we should be aware that life wasn't always the way it is now. As humans, we are just an organism like the rest of the species on this planet. Evolutionarily speaking, we weren't meant to sit behind desks, answer phones all day, or even sit on the couch for hours on end watching TV. We might feel like there is nothing else to life sometimes, being underneath the stress and pressure of supporting ourselves, but we know there is more to life. This may be a sort of philosophy, but I think it can be a way to frame the decisions we make and the actions we take.
Generations ago we were active. All day, every day, no rest days. There was no gym to get your lifts in, no grocery store to shop for food, and not always a roof to sleep under. You worked to live, but the consequence of not succeeding wasn't social isolation, or feelings of regret, but rather extinction. A morbid thought, but when you think about it, it made life simple. Work, eat, sleep. That's it. Today we have Facebook to let us know what the rest of our friends are up to so we can compare our lives in an artificial way. We have work to set up arbitrary goals that are important in their own right, but out of instinct feel fake and vapid. We have an abundance of spare time whether we think so or not to fill with activities that aren't helping improve us as people. Sure we don't always have to make everything about the improvement of our character, or health, but we should try to make what we do benefit us. This should be trivial, but we are lead astray by distractions that we can hardly tell are trying to pull us away from that. It seems that most things today are geared towards making people feel comfortable, which isn't a bad thing, but it is not what our minds are used to. For a time comfort meant safety. If we could truly relax then there was nothing out there to get us, no threat, no danger. Today, we know that we're safe. Maybe we're between jobs, or trying to buy a house, so we may be financially or socially in danger, but our life is not. Subconsciously we realize this, but we almost keep it from ourselves, now only feeling like something is slightly off. This feeling, that there is something missing, whether it be accomplishment, confidence, happiness, we can find where we least expect it. In ourselves. Taking care of yourself is the least you could do for you. Everything that you work for, is for you. So when we feel as though the little things are insignificant or the big issues we've been struggling to deal with are insurmountable, we have to keep in mind that, we are the masters of our own fate. All decisions are made by you, which makes you the key to your own happiness, and fulfillment.