Post by Michael Plahn
This is the second installment of a six-part series to describe what I believe is the key to health and happiness as I have learned and personally experienced. It is doubtful that each of these areas will be controversial, and when followed, the changes that I will suggest have proven without fail to help every one of my clients, when they take the suggested actions. In just six installments, you may have the answer to achieve optimal health just by reading the LifeSkills Authorities Blog. With the goal to help identify the keys to optimal health for my own life and clients, I have read books, attended classes, acquired certifications, and listened to lectures by amazing individuals. What I have learned through countless hours of studying, learning, and experimenting, can be summarized in a simple acronym: “To Be Healthy Never Eat Carrots.” That’s it you ask? Here’s what the acronym TBHNEC actually stands for:
- Circadian Rhythm
Today the topic is exercise. This is a monster topic and I am asked about this area by virtually everyone who hears that I have worked in and have extensive training in the fitness profession. The typical question that I am asked is, “what should I do for a workout or exercise routine?” For any of you who are trained in personal training, kinesiology, physical therapy, corrective exercise, or holistic lifestyle coaching, you know that this is a very complex question. The answer requires complex and comprehensive assessments with the programs being different for most people.
First, in my opinion, based on my experience, exercise is not necessarily about lifting the most, working the hardest, perspiring the most, and feeling as though you have “really worked hard.” Those who are properly trained or educated know that exercise is a stress to the body. Some may view it as a “good stress” as I have heard it called, but is this really true? Well, it could be from one perspective. However, it is essential to realize that exercise is a stressor to the body.
Big deal, what does that mean? It means that you need proper rest, nutrients, hydration, as well as proper healing time to compensate for the stress you put on your body as a result of exercise. Thus, if you are not eating properly, sleep poorly, have relationship and career problems, and your posture is putting a constant strain on your system, and you ask me “what type of workouts should I do,” then after a series of assessments, the type of exercise I would likely recommend for you would be vastly different than if you have proper hydration, nutrition, sleep, relaxation, and your musculoskeletal system was in balance. It just makes sense when you look at it at this basic level, doesn’t it?
Just walking for 20-30 minutes outside at a leisurely pace may be plenty or even too much exercise for many people. It depends on a variety of factors, some of which I just mentioned. As you can likely guess, to properly answer the common question of “what should I do for my workouts” depends not just on the individual’s goals, but also on the numerous factors that must be assessed to recommend the proper exercise routine. I have found tremendous success personally and with my willing clientele if there is a willingness to look at the entire lifestyle and be open to making minor tweaks or maybe major changes in different areas. This holistic view of health is where I have seen true lasting positive changes not just in fitness levels, fat and weight loss, but also in health, the way the body looks, and how we feel physically and emotionally.
One of the worst things a so-called “fitness professional” can do is prescribe or write a fitness program for someone without knowing salient details about the person’s life. We are a culture of impatient, out-of-shape people who want dramatic change…and we want it now! We are also a people who believe in excess. Put all this together and you have millions of Americans with the good intentions of getting “healthy or in-shape,” who are struggling. They are failing to meet their goals, frustrated, starting to believe they cannot change, maybe even getting depressed as a result, and then finding dysfunctional ways to deal with all these negative results.
People join gyms, buy quick fix products off of late-night television or at the local sporting goods store, and buy one of the hundreds of fitness magazines sold, to find the newest “sure-to-work” or “customized” exercise routine. You know what I have seen as a result of this? People who join those gyms may stop going after a month or two. Many who do exercise and use the plans they cut out of fitness magazines or implement tips they see on television, get poor results or short-lasting gains. Some individuals make short-term progress, but cannot seem to stay on course to attain their goals for the long-term. Many people hire well-meaning personal trainers. Unfortunately, many of these trainers do not have the proper level of experience to understand how to look at the entire person and their lifestyle. Subsequently, instead of partnering up with someone with the proper education and clinical experience, they write improper fitness routines for their excited new clients. This leads to injury, incomplete results, decreased self-esteem, and potentially life-threatening recommendations. Why are these the common patterns?
People spend billions of dollars on poorly designed, but brilliantly marketed, fitness equipment with claims that it will change your body (and seem to imply your life) in six weeks. In no time, that equipment packs second hand stores and garage sales if it is not at the local dump. But, you know what? The fitness industry is getting bigger and more profitable by the day while our country is getting fatter, more discouraged, and more sedentary at the same time.
This does NOT have to happen to you. If you believe that you are financially unable to engage with a competent qualified professional, but have the sincere, desire to change, then ask them for help. You may be surprised to find that those who are the best at what they do in the fitness business, have a sincere desire to help others and will likely find a way to help you improve your life in some way.
To summarize, here is my suggestion to you. Hire a qualified competent professional who understands how to look at your entire lifestyle to help you take the actions that will produce lasting change. Interview them before you hire them. If they don’t ask about your entire life and lifestyle thoroughly, and take detailed assessments, or partner with individuals who can do the proper assessments, then do not hire them. If you do not have the money, ask yourself the hard question, “How much is your life really worth to you?” Then see if you have the money to invest in yourself. You may suddenly find that it’s pouring outside and its time to use that “rainy day fund.”