Why do we continue to run when our knees are clearly shouting no? Why do we continue to do heavy lifting when our backs are clearly asking for some rest? Why do we stress ourselves out so much that we began to manifest physical symptoms such as headaches or ulcers? Why do we eat a huge bowl of ice cream when we say we want to lose weight? Why do we smoke cigarettes when we clearly know they our destroying our bodies? So many of us have a struggle with our body in one-way or another, this is mine…
I exercise way too much; it is never enough, my body hurts and aches. But I keep exercising. I need to exercise, I am a personal trainer, how can I not exercise; I must keep exercising to live up to the expectations I have put on myself. I succumb to the expectations of others, that I should have this perfect body, all knowing; obviously he must feel great and look great. I may have a slight obsession, I may have a little problem, I exercise when I am tired, I exercise when I am sore, I exercise when I am sick. I also exercise when I feel great but sometimes that is the scariest because I will go and go and go. I know I am wired a little different, I love to be sore. It reminds me that I have been productive. There is something so comforting to me when it hurts to walk up stairs or when I have trouble washing my hair because my chest is so sore. I do know that I would rather be sore and in shape than fat and lazy. I know that I will take the pain in my back over the chance of developing diabetes or having a heart attack because I am 30 pounds overweight. I would rather put my head down at night knowing I probably over did it instead of knowing my big butt did not even get off the couch. I love being able to do 100 push-ups or run a 6 minute mile, I love being confident in a tight fitting shirt, I am happy that my stomach does not jiggle when I brush my teeth. I do think it is better to be on the end of the spectrum where you work your body too hard rather than not enough. I think pain is more manageable then all of the health-related problems that can come with being overweight.
But what if I could find a better balance? What if I could take that guy who sits at home and eat McDonalds and gets winded walking up the stairs and combine him with a guy who would not dare touch a fast-food chain and will do deadlifts even when his back is killing him? Is there a potential to find balance with my body? The answer is a definitive yes.
I am beginning to really take to heart the thoughts that are coming to my mind. So often we just assume we think what we think at random. There is a method in the way the thoughts we form come to fruition. I have listened to those voices in so many areas of my life it is time to start listening to the voice that tells me how I can find that balance. It is there I hear it all the time, I just ignore it. I love my ego, he is the source of much of the pain in my life and also the reason I can snatch a 62-pound kettlebell. I continue to ask for help and I know all of the answers are within me. When I start to think about working out and my gut is telling me that my body needs a rest I am usually the one who listens to my ego instead and hits it even harder. I do it because I am not happy with my body. I need to get rid of that one extra inch or tighten up just a little bit more. I do not like that my lower chest has not caught up to my upper chest. It bothers me that my lower abs just do not want to pop through unless I starve myself. It bothers me that if my back is not hurting than my shoulder is. It is not to say I do not like parts of my body but the parts I like are not presenting me with this challenge that I am so truthfully admitting right here and now.
With all of my years in the fitness industry I have come to the realization that personal trainers tend to have the poorest body image. It is not my clients who are overweight, it is those of us who are the ones offering the training. This is why we work at gyms, nothing is more important than getting in that extra workout.
I love to grind out the weights. For me nothing is more exhilarating than the pump that comes with another massive set of chest presses or squats. And I do not think I need to abandon it all together but I know in my heart that there is a better way to train my body. Often times I do train my body better. There are new methods, more efficient, faster, and just as productive. My goals are changing. It use to be to have the most perfect “six-pack” or to be able to bench 340 (which I have done), now it is to be pain-free, be more functional with my exercise, feel loser in my joints, have the pain in my back subside. I know how to do this. I do this with my clients all the time. I train them to be functionally strong. The knowledge is there, it really is not that hard from a physically standpoint, it is the mental side of me, my ego that tells me to pick up an even heavier dumbbell. And then I have to ask myself what happens when you can press the 120lbs dumbbells for a set of 10, I will just want more.
There is a balance within this body. I do believe Lance Armstrong was right when he said the day you are satisfied with your fitness level is the day you lose the battle. But I think I took it a little bit wrong. It does not mean that I constantly need to belittle my body, beat-up my body. For me it means doing workouts that are more efficient, sticking to this commitment I have of trying new things, changing my routine, doing more yoga like I keep hearing in my gut. I know how great I feel after a yoga class but I get into these ruts where I do not want to go. I am deeply afraid that I will lose my muscle tone if I change up the way I workout. And truth be told if I really listen to what my body is saying chances are my body will look even better and I will feel even better. Chances are I will get even stronger and move easier, and wake up less stiff, and yet I generally go right back to isolating my shoulders which really serves no functional purpose. I sure look damn good in the mirror when I can press those weights up above my head, and there is nothing to say that I cannot still do that but lifting when I am sore and hurt and sick has got to stop. Running on the treadmill when my back is hurting is so not a good idea. Sitting at home after a tough workout and having tingling in my thighs is only my fault when I do deadlifts because the adrenaline was pumping and I checked logical reasoning at the door. Sure all the pain goes away when the workout is going strong, but afterwards you really know its there.
I am not always in pain but there is a reoccurring cycle going on right now and I can if I wish put it to an end. I do not expect to always feel perfect and I do not always hurt either but there is a better way for me and I am taking the first long over due step in this journey. I am holding myself accountable to my body by sharing it here. I have the knowledge, the know how and the heart. I fill my body with only the finest foods, I drink plenty of water, and I do so many things right for my body so why not take it to the next level by stepping it down a notch. There is an oxymoron at its finest. I bet I will be amazed as my body starts to feel even better and look even better by doing a little less.
Goal 1: I will learn to love my body regardless of how it feels or looks. I will love not only my well-defined arms and shoulders but also that little bit of stubborn pudge around my stomach. I will love my nice smile and even the tiny bit of hair that is starting to grow on my back.
Goal 2: I am going to stop comparing myself to others. There is no benefit in comparing. I know from a physical standpoint when I walk into the gym there are many who wish they were in shape like me. Little do they know (until now) I merely need to open a muscle magazine and I too start to wish I looked like those fitness models. It is good to have focus and goals of how I want my body to look but I will never develop a realistic expectation of what or how I want my body to look and feel like when I continue to look for answers outside of myself. My body knows what its ideal shape and size should be and when I truly give it that chance things will unfold, as they should.
Goal 3: I do not necessarily need to be pain-free. I love the soreness that comes with a good workout and that is a very healthy type of pain to feel. However, I am going to become pain-free when it comes to injuries. If my back is hurting I will take a day off or go easy. If my shoulder is wound-up I will not do presses. This is going to be a major challenge for me, one that I am willing to take on. There is no guarantee either that I will never get hurt again, I could get hurt at random but I have a certain say in how things will go and I will take control of those factors.
Goal 4: I will alter my current workout structure to include new things. I am so damn comfortable in the weight room and it truly serves a purpose but with the education and knowledge I have there are so many things I could be doing that would benefit my body more. I will still get the burn, still get that amazing high. I will still train with weights because I like how it feels and how it makes my body look but I will let go of being so focused on atheistic. Instead I am going to try to practice more of my motto I use with clients; we need to train to be functionally strong. My obsession with push-ups and pull-ups can stay; there is no excuse to not be able to do a push-up or a pull-up. Pushing and pulling is a way of life and you better be able to do it. Spider-man may not always be there to rescue us when we are stuck hanging from the edge of a building!
Goal 5: I know in my heart that we get in life what we think about and what we expect. I have a shift that must occur. It is almost as if I anticipate pain or injury. I watch people in the gym workout with terrible form and some of them never get hurt. How is this so? How is it that I get hurt I am all about good form, almost too focused on form? I will never conduct an exercise that I cannot do without perfect form. Here is what I have discovered it is all in the mindset. It is not necessarily that I am thinking I will get hurt. But often times when I work out I am doing it to try to prevent something bad from happening, or a fear that I will get fat, or a fear that I will be diagnosed with a disease that exercise could have surely prevented. While it is admirable that I am so “health-conscious” I now see that much of my focus is on fear. Fear of what can go wrong, fear of what has gone wrong, fear of not having a good enough body, fear of getting sick or hurt. It is time to put my focus back onto why I got into exercise in the first place, because it is so much damn fun. Focus on the thrill of getting stronger, looking leaner, feeling better. Yes it is great to be informed and keep up with what is going on but the fact that I sit here and write right now is a strong sign that much of my focus may have been misguided. I do not fault myself, my intentions are great, I have helped so many get healthier and feel better and it is because I got them to believe in the best. I help them to find hope and know they can do better. I need to take that same mentality and apply it to myself. What an “aha” moment in my life. I do not need to continue to look for the next best vitamin or find the next best exercise. I have such a wealth of knowledge it is time to let go of my constant pursuit of how I can be better and just be.