“In pursuit of knowledge, every day something is gained. In pursuit of wisdom, every day something is dropped.” – Lao Tzu
Our world is fucking obsessed with more. We want more of everything.
We want more food, more money, more success, more sex, more shoes, more everything. Furthermore, organisms crave increasing levels of complexity.
Good job, humans. We did it! We’ve taken the abundance, convenience, and relative stability of modernity and we are fucking choking on it. We have to-do lists that never end, our sleep is fucked, and we’re more plugged in than ever. Our professional obligations are now in our pocket 24/7, pizza can be ordered with two clicks on our phone, and our collective attention span and patience has withered from underuse.
So it makes perfect sense our fitness pursuits are sometimes blocked by our incessant desire for more.
Some Recent Nuances
Let’s start by conceding when it comes to fitness, most of the society does too little. If you are currently not working out, you are politely excused from reading the rest of this article. You can use the time you’re saving by going outside for a nice walk so you have at least some activity. And while you’re walking you can brainstorm how to add fitness into your life, because doing nothing is surely as bad and arguably worse than doing too much.
But I direct these comments to you, my beloved overachieving reader. Yes… you! You know I’m talking to you. The “type A” person who approaches problems by working harder. You’ve always been praised for your work ethic. You’re super successful, and you’ve achieved a lot of awesome things because no one, I mean NO ONE can out-hustle you.
And this inclination to always do more? So what if it means sometimes you do more of what’s not working? Got the emergency brake on your fitness goals? Fuck that shit, just hit the gas harder!
Sadly, your body is immune to your desires. Your body was designed perfectly for a world that no longer exists. (TWEET THAT SHIT!) It doesn’t care that you want to be leaner. Your well-intentioned approach is not doing your fitness goals any favors.
Let’s again remind ourselves that we can’t out train our diet. It’s just not going to happen. Stop adding extra workouts or trying to go harder to make up for poor nutritional choices.
The first point to consider: if you go all-out every time you train, I believe you teach your body that Movement = War. If you are a sedentary couch potato almost all week, and workout five times per week like a maniac, you’re telling your body that movement is synonymous with various degrees of suffering. (And yes, if you’re active for an hour every day you’re awesome, but you’re still sedentary one hundred and sixty one hours of the week.)
I will totally concede this point is my own intuition. But I believe the body flourishes best when it’s exposed to gentle movement as part of its movement “diet.” Training your fucking ass off has its place, but if that’s all you ever do, I don’t believe you’re going to reach your potential.
Secondly, consider cutting back on your weekly “exercise” in order to fit more variety into your movement diet. With a finite amount of time in a given day/week/year, one must be disciplined about creating time for “non-exercise” movement adventures.
Ideally, we’d all have some physical activity we enjoy that elevates our heart rate and get us moving, but are more than just lifting weights indoors. I know this isn’t natural for many. But more and more, I’m coming to understand this is an important piece. Regardless of your fitness goals, your holistic movement regime benefits from some randomness, some chaos, some variability. (TWEET THAT SHIT!)
It can’t just be predictable squats and deadlifts indoors on a level surface. Those are great, and obviously I think they’re an important part of fitness for most in our society, but we want to explore what our body can do and challenge it with a bit more variation.
Lastly, let’s remember that many of us are going to live a long fucking time. Your joints can put up with a lot of shit. And yes, your body will of course pay a different price if you never exercise. But it’s possible those extra workouts you stuck in this past week to make up for the pizza could be something you pay for down the road with a hip replacement.
Admittedly, it’s tricky to find that sweet spot. But for general health and hotness, your best bet as always is to eat properly for your body composition goals, and train for muscle maintenance, heart health, and mental happiness.
Less Is Still More
This was a random-ass post, but I felt compelled to share with you what I’m thinking about these days.
Make sure working out is not always war, and intentionally create opportunities for gentle movement in your life. Seek movement that challenges your body in ways beyond traditional gym exercises (and ideally do so in a safe but randomized, unpredictable way in different environments). Lastly, don’t forget about longevity and remember the choices you make now could majorly affect the quality of the last thirty to forty years of your life.
As always, I’d love to hear from you. What are you thinking about these days in regards to your fitness? Do you see yourself applying any of these points in your own training? Hit me up in the comments below!