How old will you be when you realize your body is all you need?
Sixty-five-years-old. Suffering from constant lower back pain which recently travelled into the hip. Thirty-two pounds overweight – has tried several fad diets but never sustained weight loss. Complains of a lack of energy, laziness and suspects mild depression. Eats well according to a self analysis but many foods in diet when detailed include fast food with friends twice a week, quick meals at home due to fatigue (pizza, toast), lots of coffee and little to no water – basic to no understanding of what a healthy diet consists of.
Tests of motor control indicate poor movement mechanics in shoulders (special attention required to anterior shoulder capsule), hips (almost no internal or external capabilities from moving constantly in the sagittal plane – lunge depth in flexion is 10 degrees due to hip impingement), spine (pain sets in with mild flexion and has no ability to hyperextend).
Damage to tissue and lack of movement make it almost impossible for a full recovery. Best case scenario is 60% return range of motion and 70% reduction in pain with prolonged work on flexibility, mobility, stability and joint strength.
Does this diagnosis sound bad? It’s the state many older people find themselves in because they didn’t take steps to a healthier lifestyle. In the pursuit of money, wealth (what they think will make them happy – but now they are miserable and living in constant pain) they’ve forgotten about the only thing they need for the rest of their life: their bodies. And it’s very sad to me that people only realize this when it’s almost too late - often too late for full recovery.
Here are three reasons you might not be training and some mind-shift concepts.
- There’s no time. Break down your 24-hour day for me. Let’s assume you have a higher than average travel time and spend 90 minutes travelling to and from work, then 9 hours at work. Let’s give you 8 hours of sleep because we know everyone gets at least that much. I’m currently up to 18.5 hours of 24. That leaves at least 5 ½ hours to take care of yourself. Maybe you have kids’ activities to drive to and that takes an hour and a half of your time – 4 hours left in the day. Then you must make dinner and eat – another hour? Maybe 90 minutes? Still 2 ½ to 3 hours of time available. So, what is it you’re doing with your day? The real problem isn’t how much time you have, it’s what you decide to do with your time. Instead of going to work out, you’re getting home early to watch Netflix. I get it, there are a very small amount of people that truly don’t have time – but that’s a rarity and I would challenge you to send me your daily breakdown and I’d be surprised if I couldn’t find the time for you. What’s really going on is that you aren’t completely committed. It sounds nice, looking good and being fit – and you ‘should’ do it – but until you must do it or die – you aren’t committed.
Fitness isn’t an occasional thing, it’s a lifestyle. Look at yourself in the mirror. Set a timer and spend at least a full minute. After that minute spend another minute looking but imagine yourself in 20, 30, 40, or 50 years if you stay on this same road. Where will you be? How will you move? How difficult will life be for you? I wish there was a machine that would give you a day in the life of your future to scare the shit out of you, so you’d understand.
- I don’t like to exercise. Our bodies and brains were designed to like exercise. We release endorphins, a feel-good hormone, after exercise to enforce positive association with exercise because our brain is so old it still wants to make sure we’re moving enough to hunt and stay alive. What’s happened here is that you’ve told yourself a story so powerful that you’ll use it as a reason to sit on the couch. It sounds good doesn’t it? Then it’s practically not your fault when you’re obese and can’t move and live in pain – God didn’t give you the kind of brain other people have that makes them like exercise.
The truth is that there could be several problems you’re facing when you aren’t feeling good after a workout. Trust me when I say exercise in itself isn’t the problem. What kind of creativity are you using in your workouts? How hard are you pushing yourself? Do you keep track of your progress to see the reward over time? Are you hydrating and eating properly to recover from a workout or do you get fast food and it leaves you feeling lethargic and exhausted instead of invigorated? I believe the right people (group training is great if you can make it to a good class – assuming your goals aren’t in the specialty range), followed by the right diet (yes you can’t eat whatever you want because you exercise now), and proper sleep (7 – 8 hours is what most people need) will change how you feel about exercise. But you need it, your body wants it and only you have talked yourself into believing otherwise.
- I need to lose weight and get in shape first. I hope you chuckled when you read this because it sounds absurd to need to exercise and get fit before you exercise and get fit. Lowly lower your phone and stop spending money on a $10 a month app that is giving you a workout with no idea of your specific struggles, no motivation and no personal connection. What you need to do is overcome your insecurity. I think in most cases if this is your struggle than you are more concerned about what other people think of you than you are about your own health. In fact, that fear is so powerful you’d rather stay in pain at home than face people in a gym who you think are judging you. You know what? The only people in my gym that are judging are thinking, “Wow, look at her try her best. That’s amazing. Good for her.” Only in your mind, or in a gym with meatheads who are solely vain and focused on the cosmetic, is anyone thinking anything else of you.
The truth is that you need to learn to move well and you need good coaching to do it. The app is certainly cheaper but is it doing you more harm than good when you do 20 push-ups with poor form and technique, no warm-up and your wrist and shoulder are hurting? Yes, those things can happen over time anywhere, but knowing how to deal with it and how to prevent it through good movement, will make you far more powerful and in better condition for long term healthy – injuries happen, but injuries are short term. This is a long game, not a short game. Stop selling yourself on the next 5 years and look at the next 50 years. How much money do you spend at Starbucks? At restaurants? On alcohol? On a car you drive around to impress people but has no practical value and eats at your wallet every month? What is important to you? I really want to help people see drastic change in themselves, psychologically and/or physically. I want people to grow old and move well. I don’t want you to be in pain. Find a gym that works for you, with coaches and people that inspire you and care about you. It will make the difference you need.