I’ve been going to the gym and playing, as is my prerogative, and it suits my desires and sense of personal satisfaction well. Also it’s pretty much all you need to be healthy. I’ve been doing a lot of pull-ups, and I’ve progressed well. But every three or four months, I’ll tire of simply playing, and I’ll start to seek out some sort of structure. Then, having worked within a given structure for three or four months, I’ll typically go back to my gym time = play time approach. This is true to my sense of satisfaction. There’s a balance between playtime and learning new things, which is based on curiosity and experimentation.
A while ago, I bought a training system which promises uber strong maximum muscle power maximum growth doobewhatsit, (yes, I said maximum twice; it makes it more maximum) and underneath the propaganda is what I consider to be some rock-solid, progression-focused, effective strength programming. I’m not ready for it yet, because I need to rehab my left shoulder a bit (can’t bench press at the moment), but I will be soon. And I’ll tweak the system to suit me, as I always do, even though I’m sure there’s a special place in hell that’s reserved for disobedient trainees. I’ll do this, because I’m the important one, not the system.
You are what’s important. ‘The system’ is not.
Remember that. We forget it all the time when we succumb to propaganda. If I sacrifice myself at the altar of blah, if I surrender my autonomy and good opinion, I will be blessed with popularity. If only I do what I’m told, if I follow that system to the letter I’ll have *insert super-perfect fantasy body here*. Never mind that the result might well be unachievable by design – when I fail, I’ll believe it’s my fault, and still come back to buy the latest update.
That’s the question – will I remain true to my own health and development? Or will I start cramming extra protein in my mouth because I succumb to the sweet promise of chiselled triceps? Will I endure self-inflicted misery because I have sacrificed my opinion? Will I preserve my strength of character against the odds, will I remain true to myself and what I want from my training, or will I feel like a failure when I don’t pack on thick slabs of pectoral muscle in the first fortnight?
Time will tell, dear readers. Time will tell.
Hopefully I’ll remain grounded in what’s right for me, and hopefully what’s right for me will yield awesome results.
I’m all for body acceptance... as long as it gives me washboard abs...
I saw my shirtless body in a different mirror today, and I saw my round belly and saw that it was not ugly. These moments are precious.
Back to my opening question – if you’re counting calories, if you’re not training to develop your endurance and you still think the duration of your workout matters at all, if you have to force yourself to exercise with negative self-talk, and if you drink low fat milk even though it still isn’t making you thinner – I doubt you’re pursuing the truth of your own development.
The reason exercise is good for us is not because it might make us thin. The purpose of exercise is not weight loss – weight loss is only a possible, but rare, side-effect.
Exercise doesn’t really have a purpose. It’s just a thing we do. But it is good for you, and it will make you more resistant to disease, even if you don’t shed a pound. It will improve the way you metabolise sugar, even if you have zero progression on any obvious level. It will keep you mobile and robust into old age, as long as you aren’t destroying your joints. It will keep you fit, as long as you don’t burn yourself out. And it’ll keep you youthful, as long as you hang on to your sense of curiosity.
Being too focused on progression is just as bad as not being focused enough. Too much (self-imposed) pressure to excel will make you avoid training, it will keep you from committing to a process, so let go of judgement. Your training does not reflect on you or your character, not in the slightest.
As usual, play and be free.