fitness

Did you know that your body talks to you?

bodytalkstoyou

Ok, my intention is not get all new age hippy dippy on you but once I got into the swing of things with strength training in 2013, it really did feel like my body was talking to me in a sidekick sort of way. When building your strength using compound movements that utilizes your body’s natural movements (like squats, deadlifts, pull ups), your body becomes, well, functional. Moving furniture becomes easier because, for example, you’re already used to the form of squats (legs bent, back straight, core braced) almost without thinking you get into that proper form and with your increased strength, you’re able to push or pull or lift. And you will feel like your body is helping you. Hence, the sidekick and the “talking” part.

I was helping my parents move a particularly heavy dresser drawer last fall when I first experienced this. I suddenly found myself getting into almost the deadlift postion (almost similar to the squat) and gripped the behemoth. And then another sudden epiphany. It was as if my body was saying to me “I’ve got your back. On three…”.

Since then, I was in tune with my body. I think I’ve finally understood what “aligning your mind and body” means.

Before I got into strength training, moving furniture was a clumsy ordeal for me filled with fear of throwing our my back and losing body parts.

Things are in harmony when you treat your body right. I was built this way to move this way. That’s why I’m such an advocate for squats, deadlifts, pull ups, all the compound movements which use your body’s natural movements. It’s a great feeling to be self-aware in this way.

My classmate, Danny Lombardi, happened to blog about a similar topic last week. In If you owned a Ferrari, would you use only first gear?, Danny talks about how we just aren’t made to sit all day in a vehicle on our commute to and from work, at a desk for 8 hours or so at work, or on the couch after dinner time. Danny uses his camping experiences to explain how our bodies are capable of allowing us to do “sustained, high-output work” and really amazing things (for example, look up calisthenics or street workout on YouTube for examples).

Your thoughts? Have you ever experienced a total awareness of mind and body in a way that you have never expected?

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How you’re being deceived by body transformation photos

For years I’ve been eagerly trying to get cut up, bulk up, push up, eat up, bla bla bla only to injure myself into feeling I have to work full time as a bodybuilder or, ugh, fitness model, and eat like a bird in order to achieve my goals. What average person has that kind of time?

I appreciate learning about the video above (hat tip to rosstraining.com). I’ve frequented bodybuilding forums over the years where everysooften a guy would share his experiences in posing for a bodybuilding product ad. The story was always the same – a few days before the photo shoot, the model would change his diet so he was down to a dangerous bodyfat percentage in the low single digits. Meanwhile, the rules for advertising a gym product dictated that the model had to have used it at least once. So a few reps or a scoop of whatever it was he posing with, and boom, you’re duped into thinking you, too, could have an impressive physique if you use the product.

Yeah, I used this thing to get all big and ripped. Right.

Genius video. I like how Furious Pete used the visual medium to show how anyone can make themselves look like a fitness guru. Even I experienced this myself. After a workout, I’d be quite pleased with my mirror reflection post-shower, pre-drying only to be saddened after a few days’ hiatus from the gym.

So here’s your takeway:

  1. Don’t bother looking at before and after pics as this is the PhotoShop/Lighting/Filter Effects Age, after all
  2. Eat clean
  3. Keep consistent with whatever exercise routine you choose

That’s it. And the only other products you need are time and patience.

The benefits of using events as goal dates

Image of the thinking man statue by Rodin.

Thinking hard about sticking to his goals. Get your 3D glasses for this one! Photo by Chung Chu. Click on image for more information.

Today is the first day of Lent and it couldn’t have come any sooner. As I’ve mentioned in a previous post, I became so weak to the temptations of emotional eating and snacking and such due to my injury-prone exile from working out, that I’ve decided that I needed an intervention. Divine intervention, if you will.

I won’t go into the details but in the Christian faith, Lent is a time of self-sacrifice from Ash Wednesday to Easter. Hence, why we have Carnival and Mardi Gras before the season. While, it’s more than the myth of “I’m giving up chocolate for Lent”, Lent is a time for us to rid of ourselves of sin through self-sacrificing (hence the giving up chocolate thing) to improve ourselves and grow closer to our faith. Self-sacrificing also means to help others. For the interests of this blog, I’ll talk about the first part. Improving myself.

Suffering builds character

For instance, going to bed early so I can drag my behind into the gym at 5:00 in the morning to do my workout 3 times a week is a form of self-sacrifice.  I couldn’t work out after business hours due to other commitments (and a very busy gym) so it was either 5:00 a.m. or bust. To my surprise, only a few weeks later I found myself enjoying the benefits of achieving my goals, higher energy levels, increased confidence and happiness. With my increased strength, I was able to help  others out when moving furniture or moving firewood.

I also ended up learning that I actually enjoy working out first thing in the morning! By 7:30, I had a feeling of accomplishment and was in a happier mood even driving through heavy traffic. Next thing I knew, I also developed a sense of I-can-achieve-anything-I-set-my-mind-to.

Set a date with your destiny

Adding the timeframe of Lent to my current state of mental-toughness-down-the-toilet gives me a real, honest-to-goodness goal. “Ok. As of March 5th, I’m going to dedicate myself to going back to the way I was in 2013. No more emotional eating, no more snacking, and no more distractions from my strength goals. I don’t care how tantalizing, what the occasion is, I’m eating healthy and re-building my resilience”. After all, how can I be a good person to others if I’m feeling miserable from caving into emotional eating and such?

Sometimes I need an event to kick me into gear. I was able to go back into the gym for the first time yesterday and… well, I have to start everything from zero. An empty bar. How’s that for sacrificing the fragile male ego in the gym? But I am looking forward to this year’s Lenten season. In the past it was always a pain in the neck. But as I’ve learned last year, the goal that I strive to achieving on Easter Sunday (and beyond) will be worth it.

Let’s just hope I don’t injure myself again.

Regular exercise is good for your brain

illo-3

I’ve recently come to learn about a cool service called Buffer. It let’s you schedule your social media posts at times it calculates as the most ideal. The reason I bring this up is because to my surprise and delight, their blog talks about exercise! I love it when my interests collide.

Anyhoo, the Buffer blog talked about exercising’s affect on the brain. Spoiler alert: it triggers happiness. In a nutshell: our stress levels go up when we exercise so our brains release endorphins to do something about it. One of the side effects of endorphins is it helps with our memory and acts like a reset switch which then causes us to feel happy.  The pain of exercise is then blocked leaving us feeling great. The article explains it better. But you get my drift. Exercise makes us feel happy. 

The article goes on to explain how much exercise is needed to reach that happiness level. Turns out that it’s a mere 20 minutes.

Being an avid bodybuilder (not that kind of bodybuilder. A body builder. One who builds his muscles but not to monster proportions.), I’ve always read how shorter workouts are optimal. Coupled with this happiness factor, this can be a great motivator in getting started with a routine. “All I need is 20 minutes”. The key is to keep consistent. And as the article explains, you need to do this every day.

And if you’re having trouble getting started, begin with 5 minutes. Then increase. What a great idea. For me, one of my challenges was to get into bodyweight workouts. For some reason, I just can’t keep consistent with them. I’m a veteran with barbells and pull up bars which makes it easier for me to keep motivated and consistent. With bodyweight workouts, I’m a novice with too many choices. So I’m going to give this build-up-to-20-minutes trick a try.

Especially now that my physio is complete and I can go back into the weight room and lift. More on that next time. But for now, how did you go about starting a routine?