Thoughtful Thursday…'Training Day'… 3 different approaches
Welcome to Thoughtful Thursday. This GreenNote Fitness newsletter mindfully gathers and distills useful information that is supportive to our journey. It is my mission to educate, inspire, and propel you into action that moves you towards your goals and life of purpose. Take control of your journey today.
Should you train everyday? For me, every day is training day. How I train and what I consider “training” may not be considered what most think of when they hear the word training. My style may be considered “unconventional” in the sense that things we can do to improve and optimize our well-being aren’t necessarily viewed or understood as “training”.
Battle ropes, sledge hammers, tires, maces, kettle bells, rope climbs - these are popular unconventional training methods.
While I enjoy these modalities and think you get great results from incorporating them, I like to go beyond the “I go to the gym” type of training for overall well-roundedness and well-being.
Ready to look at a different approach to “training day”?
Before we delve into going beyond the unconventional training, let’s first understand why we need to have different approaches to our training. I’ve talked with many people who think if they aren’t “crushing it” at the gym every day, that they aren’t improving, getting stronger, loosing weight, etc. Some folks are addicted to doing a High-Intensity Interval Training Protocol, or lifting as much weight as they possibly can, or running on pavement for miles and miles every day. Any alteration in this repetitive training and they think they have failed.
The truth is if one continues in such a repetitive and addictive manner, over time, you will break - think injuries, hormonal imbalances, excessively high cortisol levels and the like. Exercise is a strong stressor on the body as are other stressors in our lives like work, relationships, traffic, health issues, etc.
Any form of stress is first perceived by the nervous system and a branch of the nervous system, known as the Sympathetic Nervous System (SNS), is activated. This ‘fight or flight’ response prepares the body to fight off or run from any type of stressor that presents itself. Where the body loves to exist in is a state of homeostasis. Homeostasis is the ability of the body to maintain a stable internal environment despite changes in external conditions. This balance that is attained is called a dynamic equilibrium. We need to approach our training in that manner.
With 95% of all illnesses caused or worsened by stress, it is a good idea to have strategies that can be used as training for balance and overall health and well-being.
Let’s look at a few of them.
Consciously Unplugged (but tuned in a.k.a. awareness)
There are many strategies for this. One of mine is meditation. Studies abound on the benefits. Meditation can actually rebuild grey matter in the brain, improving areas associated with memory, sense of self, empathy, and stress. Grey matter atrophy is associated with various types of neurodegenerative diseases so keeping it in tip-top shape is a good idea.
A second strategy I use is gratitude. Gratitude practices help us achieve better physical health. Not only has a daily gratitude practice been shown to help us make more positive choices, like eating well or exercising, it’s also shown to make people more optimistic and improve relationships.
A third strategy that I’m learning more about is digital minimalism. This is a term coined by Cal Newport. He has a book by the same name. As Newport, a professor at Georgetown University, so eloquently describes it:
“Our current relationship with the technologies of our hyper-connected world is unsustainable and is leading us closer to the quiet desperation that Thoreau observed so many years ago. But as Thoreau reminds us, ‘the sun rose clear’ and we still have the ability to change this state of affairs.
To do so, however, we cannot passively allow the wild tangle of tools, entertainments, and distractions provided by the internet age to dictate how we spend our time or how we feel. We must indeed take steps to extract the good from these technologies while sidestepping what’s bad. We require a philosophy that puts our aspirations and values once again in charge of our daily experience, all the while dethroning primal whims and the business models of Silicon Valley from their current dominance of this role; a philosophy that accepts new technologies, but not if the price is the dehumanization Andrew Sullivan warned us about; a philosophy that prioritizes long-term meaning over short-term satisfaction.
A philosophy, in other words, like digital minimalism.”
This strategy will become more and more valuable as we increasing rely on technology for work and companionship as we fall further from being alone with our own thoughts.
Other areas that one could use to be consciously unplugged but dialed in include spending time in nature, yoga, journaling, Tai Chi, swimming, and hiking.
Intermittent Fasting (IF)
Yes, IF can be used as a training strategy. After around 12-16 hours of not eating, the liver glycogen is depleted and the body begins the process of autophagy - the cells clean or recycle and repair themselves. This was particularly useful when my SI joint was severely inflamed. In addition to being used to reduce inflammation, it can also be used to burn fat. This would be particularly useful, if say for example you were injured and unable to go to the gym or do any physical activity. I use IF on an on-going basis for general cellular repair and to keep body fat percentage low. Autophagy is a great way for the body to clean up and repair itself and is important for defending against the negative effects of stress.
One of the oldest healing practices in the world, acupuncture involves stimulating certain points on the body using a variety of techniques - the most common being penetrating the skin with superfine needles. Nagging aches and pains, chronic pain, adrenal-fatigue, IT band issues, insomnia, and more, acupuncture can help.
The purpose of acupuncture and other Chinese medical therapies is to promote the proper flow of “qi” (life force) through the meridians, thus restoring health. I’ve used acupuncture to do just that. For a detailed look at acupuncture as a therapy, check out Chris Kresser’s article.
There are many different modalities and approaches to thinking about training
When we are dialed in we can use the right strategy; there are many to choose from
Your training should adapt as your requirements change; be familiar with different methods so you can adapt as needed
The examples presented just begin to scratch the surface of the approaches that will serve us
I’ve been working on different training methodologies for years. This is definitely a process so don’t think you have to go and incorporate all of these. This is to provide you with some examples that might help you on your path. For others who have been on this path for a while, you may be doing all of these “training” methods and more.
Be mindful of what your body needs. Don’t “feel bad” because you didn’t crush-it at the gym or log ten miles. Remember that training for life takes on different forms at different moments to keep us in balance. It’s not a “check-the-box” approach, it’s full of thought and purpose. This is a lifelong pursuit, adapting and modifying to what needs attention in that moment.
Every day is training day. What will best serve you today?
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