Part three of three, and this time I’m talking a little more about my own approach in the gym and how I have the audacity to consider what I do a holistic approach despite basically being an old school weight training meathead (although a vegetarian one, at least). Hardcore holistic, as I like to call it.
If you missed it, start with The Tao Of Human Fitness entry from a few days ago, inspired by the following paragraph from Benjamin Hoff’s book “The Tao Of Pooh”.
When you work with Wu Wei, you put the round peg in the round hole and the square peg in the square hole. No stress, no struggle. Egotistical Desire tries to force the round peg into the square hole and the square peg into the round hole. Cleverness tries to devise craftier ways of making pegs fit where they don’t belong. Knowledge tries to figure out why round pegs fit into round holes, but not square holes. Wu Wei doesn’t try. It doesn’t think about it. It just does it. And when it does, it doesn’t appear to do much of anything. But Things Get Done.
I want to focus on the very end of this text; “it doesn’t appear to do much of anything, but things get done”, and I want to compare these with a couple of my weight loss testimonials. Now, this isn’t one of those unhealthy scam weight loss systems you see on the TV where people are saying “I didn’t have to do anything at all!”… but these testimonials tell the same story as the paragraph above. When you’re doing what it actually takes, it doesn’t seem like you’re doing anything special. And things take care of themselves.
So what does it actually take? Short version: eat about the right amount, and train appropriately for about an hour most days.
When you’re just “eating the right amount” you don’t feel like you’re on a diet, you’re not having to resist cravings, and not stressing out about every meal choice. When you’re training appropriately, you get in, get it done, and get out again. You work hard, but you enjoy it and don’t feel like you’re torturing yourself. This is what it takes to get long term results through improved health… but it’s not what most people do. Most people are trying to forcefully jam that square peg into the round hole!
Now, this is why I consider what I do to be Holistic Training. When you think of holistic health and fitness, you’re usually picturing a nice clean cut guy or lady, in a nicely ironed polo shirt, not a hair out of place, clients all happy and smiling and feeling good about themselves, and no one really sweating a lot. Right? And then there’s me… kinda horrible ex bouncer with an out of control beard, who swears too much, noisily smashing weights against each other and grunting like a caveman. I don’t really fit the mould, do I?
But I think this is holistic? Yes. Here’s why.
- As discussed in the earlier entries, we are getting clear on our motivation and embracing it.
This is what I want, this is why, and that’s perfectly OK. No denial, guilt or justification to ourselves or anyone else.
“This is what I want, and I deserve it. So I am now making it happen”.
- Positive thoughts come from positive actions. When you know you’re doing what it actually takes, putting in your best effort, and most importantly making progress and seeing results, you feel great about yourself. Positive thinking and affirmations are great things, but it is only when you combine them with an appropriate course of action that they become your normal, natural way of thinking, rather than an exercise.
- A large part of this “appropriate action” of course is a healthy, realistic and reasonable attitude towards food, rather than excessively restrictive, unhealthy methods.
That about covers the mental, emotional, self development side of things, right? This stuff is crucial, but let’s not take anything away from the physical side of the equation. It’s not enough just to choose some form of non challenging activity and tell ourselves we feel better about everything, we need to train seriously and produce physiological changes!
However, there is a difference between “training seriously to produce physiological changes” and just “intensive exercise to burn calories”. We are training (and fuelling) to allow the body to get stronger and healthier, and the best way to do this is by doing more of the things that are natural behaviour for human beings.
In short, we build on our basic level of human fitness by progressively adding resistance to all of the natural movement patterns through a full range of motion. In other words lift some weights up into the air, and then see if you can lift some slightly heavier weights up into the air. We also choose an activity (or a variety of them) for improving cardiovascular conditioning, but this is a less frequent secondary concern.
To summarise even further; we choose a goal in accord with our inner nature, rather than trying to force ourselves to pursue some other goal. We learn to consume a normal amount of food to support good health at a natural weight, and we do more of the activities that would be normal for human beings in a natural environment. There is nothing difficult or complicated about any of this.
We simply put the round peg into the round hole, and the square peg into the square hole.