Friday, December 18, 2009

Lessons I've Learned

Today's post refers to some of the lessons I have learned during my fitness journey.

1) Don't get hell bent on finding "THE WAY"

Because like clothing, a lot of the time "one size doesn't fit all". When I was a student of exercise physiology, it was during the time when high carbohydrate, low fat diets were all the rage and we all furiously scanned our food labels for fat grams and the like. Now various research has shown us that perhaps a low fat high carb intake doesn't suit all. However, at the time, I was convinced that because I had learnt these things (high carb, low fat) at University, then that was "THE WAY". Years of experimentation and exposure to lots of different methods of training has shaken a lot of that out of me. Now, I'm almost embarrassed to say that I thought that this was "THE WAY". The same thing could be said for abdominal "h0llowing" vs "bracing".

Unfortunately many people who partake in the fitness industry seem to have many cases of the "all or nothing" attitude shining through. It almost may be safe to say that the more extreme the sport, the more obsessive the attitude (think marathon running, bodybuilding etc) - like most things, there are probably exceptions to the rule but I think my observation is on the whole pretty accurate.

The take home message for all of us is to breathe in the air of possibility - there is still so much we don't know yet. Scientific studies aren't always independent, there can be bias - so it is up to us to learn to critically evaluate claims about things and tread our own path.

2) To go LONG you need a wide angled lens.

ie - to enjoy your chosen sport or activity you need to be able to have a global view of things. A week where the gym is a distant memory will often do more good and hasn't been known to harm too many people. Connecting with experts who have specific interests can be really useful - to prevent injury or imbalances keeping you out of the game in the long term.

3) Maintenance Can Be Bliss

A common theme around us fitness buffs is the concept of goal setting, of always moving forward and always improving. Physiologically and psychologically it's hard to remain in this state long term. Many clients tell me they consistently want to improve and in the same breath finally be happy just as they are. This doesn't make any sense - sometimes appreciating where you are fitness wise and stopping to smell the roses is the biggest favour you can do for yourself. Be thankful for what you have done, enjoy being fit, enjoy being strong, just enjoy being for a change. Yes, you can always improve, but if you never stop to celebrate your improvements, you lose that sense of gratitude and never get a chance to appreciate what you really have.

4) Everybody's Free

We are lucky to live in a world where freedom of speech is encouraged. I cannot begin to say how much I've learned by tuning in to the opposite view. Recently I did some reading about diets that promote ketosis (to those who know me well, it's the last thing I would do - besides I'm too lazy) - it gave me some insight into why some choose this way of eating. Don't be scared to look at the opposite point of view for example - some love running, some don't enjoy it; some love competing, other people's experience is different. It's not about who is right or wrong, it's about being tolerant of others. I look at my marathon running friends and marvel at their ability to get through 42.2km and come to the finish line smiling like Cheshire Cats, I cheer my Figure friends on at a comp, knowing how hard they've trained to get there. I admire my friends who can hold yoga poses like true champions and I admire the group of ladies in my RPM class who are in their 60s and are so excited to be in the gym kicking butt with women half their age.

Which brings me to my last point:

5) Stop Looking Sideways

It's fine to admire other's physiques, but you need to stay focused on YOU and your own standards. Eg my current standard is to stay relatively fit whilst on reduced classes and limited time. People tend to focus on their own weaknesses but look at the strengths of others (which is probably why I have a fetish for amazing abs). However, focusing too much on this is a no win situation. I'm never going to have a fantastic six pack (even after surgery), so comparing myself to those with awesome abs is just an exercise in futility. Celebrate who YOU are and focus on what you can do, rather than what you can't and give yourself congratulations when you do make improvements.

And the greatest lesson of all - have fun, do what you love and love what you do!


Shaboom said...

Great post Liz!! I especially love the last point. x

katie said...

Great tips!

Happy Friday,


KatieP said...

My god Liz ~ that's three keepers in a row! You are transforming before my very eyes and I love it ♥

Kerry W said...

Great post Liz. Well said! I think alot of these realisations (for me personally happen as we get older and experience and appreciate more out of life. :)

Michelle said...

Amen to that!!!!