All Progress Happens Outside of the Gym

This might sound a bit counter intuitive coming from someone who owns a fitness studio, but that is the reality of the situation.

Your brain and nervous system are designed to adapt to whatever you do. Here are some things to note as you learn to navigate your way through the complex world of your brain, your neurology and your health:

  1. Adaptation is ALWAYS occurring

There is a continual loop of information that never stops between our movement and our brain. If we aren’t paying attention, we may not be putting our practice or our repetitions toward our long term goal. This goes for behaviors and just about anything. Being aware of the fact that adaptation is always occurring, making it a science thing rather than a deprivation or shame thing, has really helped me shape my daily habits and practices.

2. Exercise is so easy, you can’t mess it up… NOT

Not every body responds equally to the same stimulus. This is why some people love yoga or kickboxing, and others hate it. People feel like failures after they try one thing after another. Instead, they might want to consider creating an environment for gradual adaption. I have a friend who has coined the term “meandering toward greatness.” Nobody should expect to be great at anything (including losing weight) in a short amount of time. This is exactly why the promises of losing weight in a 10 week program isn’t a long term solution.

If you look at exercise like you would a prescribed drug, you need to take the right kind, in the right amount, and at the right time. How people respond to exercise is how they might respond to any stressor in their life. We need to do just enough to offer the brain and body some adaptive capacities, but not too much that causes it to go into survival mode (fight or flight).

3. Glory is temporary; pain can be forever

You might think I have this backwards. The quote usually reads: ‘Pain is temporary, glory is forever.’ People are often told to push through the pain to get to their end goal, or at least get uncomfortable. While this is true from a survival perspective, it is not always true for long term health and well being. Being uncomfortable is sometimes needed, but again, just the right amount to facilitate change vs. going past the desired point.

We’ve been taught that stressors will help us to adapt to put on more strength, endurance, etc. But because we get better at whatever we practice, there are often unintended consequences from pushing beyond our current adaptive capacities. We can actually get good at being stressed. Don’t you know it! Learn how to measure or assess some markers so you can figure out for your own body and brain when can you push a bit, and when should you lay off. Don’t misunderstand me, I’m not suggesting a tame approach, but rather an appropriate one for you.

Moving forward:

  • So many people get lost in losing weight or putting on strength, and they lose sight of what they really want, which is to enjoy their life: playing with kids, golfing, and being injury resistant so they can move through their day pain free.
  • Don’t look for the entire answer in any one place. Don’t judge your success on the results of any particular plan. Be a consumer of information in a continuing ed program, your life.
  • Start practicing the small stuff. What’s one daily practice that I can change that gets me closer to my long term goal?

Find what works for you, who makes sense to you, and what methodology speaks to you. You know more than you think.