FDN, Health, Mental / Emotional

My Workout Philosophy: A Different Perspective

WoodCommon reasons to workout are to lose or gain weight (add shape where it is lacking, or remove shape where there is too much), making one self more attractive to potential mates, to boost self-esteem, to hide from the realities of life (exercise addictions). Of course there are other reasons as I am only scratching the surface. What I would like to offer is some insight into my personal perspective.

When I was young I did not workout as much as I played. We all played as kids, and as I got older the activities became more sophisticated. I graduated to cycling and century rides, and rock climbing. Then I became an “adult” and it developed into “working out” because I did not have the time to play as much, and I “had” to do something.

I also developed some low back / sacral issues from a run in with a tree in a car when I was younger and more stupid than I am now. Going forward, exercise was more pain management and play was further put on the back-burner. Currently, those old injuries are memories, memories of what was and won’t be again. I re-stabilized my sacrum with appropriate corrective exercise and my shoulder problems disappeared when my liver function improved (there is a direct connection between the liver and the left shoulder).

Over the years I realized how much I missed playing and being physically active. Buying a home was perfect because it allowed me to essentially play outside again and I have taken full advantage of it. To others it looks like work, all that landscaping, building flower beds, walkways, retaining walls and patios.

Early Patio Construction
Early Patio Construction

On a recent Sunday I was moving wood and I started talking with my 94-year-old neighbor (who is amazing by the way). She said to me “You work too hard.” I responded, “It is not work if I am enjoying it, work is doing something you don’t like because you feel you have to.” She didn’t argue with that point, though she still feels I work too hard…….

Working outside (I mean “playing” outside) in the dirt with stones, rocks and wood is very calming, centering, almost a “zen-like” experience. It is very rewarding to me physically, mental/emotionally and spiritually. It brings me satisfaction and is one source of joy in a world going insane.

There are a few pictures in this post that demonstrate what I mean by “playing” in the yard. You may have noticed the image of me standing in front of a pile of wood (I am in the image for scale). This is some of the wood mentioned earlier. It was free from a neighbor across the street. My wife and I choose to rely on wood for most of the home heating needs from late October through end of March so it is much appreciated.

To be honest, it was physically demanding moving the wood with a wheel barrel. Some of those pieces are rather large yet it was still very satisfying. Now I just have to split it, then move it again to stack it.

Completed Patio Today
Completed Patio Today

These activities are what I enjoy, they make up a significant part of who I am, so a priority of mine is to ensure that my body is capable of not only performing the activity but also recovering from it with minimal distress and harm.

The reason I workout is to allow me to do the things that I love and that bring me joy. That is pretty much it and rather simple. This was not always the case. I mentioned earlier the sacral and shoulder issues. They greatly reduced my play capacity, though I still did what I could. It just isn’t as much fun when the body hurts and is talking to you on an almost constant basis. It can get rather frustrating.

I hear a lot that it “sucks getting old.” It would appear that age is an accepted excuse for why the body does not listen to your intentions or ignores them completely and does the opposite. Let me tell you, it is just an excuse, it is not based in fact or science. Just because something is common, does not mean it is normal or needs to be accepted as fact. There are always those individuals that appear to be the anomaly, the freak of nature or just plain lucky. “If only I could be like them………”

I want to tell you a little secret. Those “few” are not an anomaly. They represent the potential that each of us carries within themselves. I plan on being one of those “few.”

If you believe that you are doing all the right things, I mean right things in regards to your exercise routine and your eating habits, etc. and you are not getting the results you want, then there is something deeper going on that is getting in the way. What I just said applies to every behavior or action, not just exercise, that is merely the example.

I am going to tell you a short story. When I struck out on my own I began burning the candle from three ends. Taking care of clients, managing the back office, working on marketing etc. It was a lot of work and I was essentially burning myself out.

One Part of a Walkway

I hid the fatigue rather well. I took care of clients, went home and crashed, slept long hours, self medicated with caffeine and chocolate…often together as chocolate covered coffee beans (which are by the way, rather tasty and effective). This behavior got me through the day but it was not a solution. I was reduced to doing the bare minimum and it was starting to show. I was not fun to be with, just ask my wife. I was grumpy and irritable with a very short fuse.

Luckily, the universe was in my corner. I discovered Reed Davis and his Functional Diagnostic Nutrition® course (I may have written a bit about this on my website). To keep a long story short, I was my first client and I discovered why I was feeling so awful.

Essentially, I was living a life out of balance, I was pushing myself beyond my body’s ability to defend itself against stress. I discovered what internally was not working optimally. I had stage 3 adrenal fatigue, hormonal imbalances (low testosterone for one), digestive and mucosal barrier dysfunction, a bacterial infection and heavy metal toxicity.

Looking back, this trend had been ongoing for a significant portion of my life, even back in high school. My body had been compensating and fighting for survival for many years. I just reached a tipping point where my body was incapable of compensating any longer. How I felt was the outward manifestation of what was going on inside. It made sense and that was all I needed to know.

I started with significant lifestyle changes, even for someone who was already eating organic, using natural hair, skin care and household products and working out on a regular basis. I was a personal trainer and I was getting it wrong!

I was honest with myself, with my lifestyle and took a hard look at my core values and realized what I needed to do. I took responsibility for my actions and began a process of self-discovery and self-healing that was based upon lifestyle changes.

Where this gets interesting for those that are not getting the results they wish. At this time I weighed around 160 pounds plus or minus 5. It did not matter what I did, the weight rarely budged. Once, I got to 172 but it was short-lived, as my shoulder issues flared up and that reduced the workouts.

As I was healing myself from the inside, something unexpected happened. I hit a tipping point upward when my body began to naturally detox and I began putting on weight. Good weight, muscle, as my waist size did not go up. Over the course of about 6-8 months without changing my exercise habits, I put on 20 pounds of muscle. I am now hovering around the 180-185 pound range.

I was previously working out appropriately to gain muscle, and eating the right foods but the changes did not happen. The reason was that my state of health and internal body function would not allow it. There were other priorities of greater importance than building muscle.

Once I brought my lifestyle into balance, reduced overall stress loads and allowed my body to heal, once the internal environment became healthy and functional the outside physical body changed. Pretty amazing, don’t you think?

The point I am getting at is that regardless of what the activity or behavior is if you are not getting the result(s) that you want, you may want to consider digging deeper, turning over every rock to discover what is at the root of the problem. Once you know the root cause, you then have a healing opportunity.

Lao Tzu put it simply:

“If you do not change direction, you may end up where you are heading”

What I would like to challenge you with, if I may……take a look at a current goal or objective and consider why you are trying to achieve it? What is your motivation? If you are not getting the desired results, what could you be doing better? What could you change, improve or enhance? Even better, what is getting in the way and can be removed? What can you learn that will shed light upon the root cause of the dysfunction?

If you are still stuck, I would gladly offer to sit down and discuss with you some options and proven methodologies that may kickstart the health building process.

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