You don’t need to shame or encourage people to exercise. It’s not really your job, even if you’re a trainer. If you are a trainer, it’s your job to teach people how to exercise. In a broad sense, motivation may come into it, but it doesn’t have to be dogmatic or cruel. I like helping people to get strong and become better at looking after themselves, in a certain context. And that context is fitness. The shape of your body is your business, what you eat is your business. Getting you stronger, helping you to become better at moving, that’s mine.
A long time ago, I used to avoid chocolate. Like many, it was mostly a weight-loss thing. And I was disciplined about it and all that stuff, there were months at a time when I didn’t eat any.
But after a while, I noticed by avoiding chocolate, I wasn’t losing any weight. And when I did eat it, I didn’t gain weight either. So, why? Of course, this is because what you weigh comes down to an infinitely more complex equation than plus or minus chocolate equals blah.
So then the inescapable question, the choice that remained was this: whether I include chocolate in my diet or not, it’s not a weight-based decision. It’s not about desired weight outcomes. So what then? What do I base my decisions upon? Actually it opened up a whole world of possibilities. What I eat – what we eat – if our decisions aren’t based on shame, fear, or prejudice, what then? Desire? Even that shifts. When you’re not afraid or ashamed, your desires shift too. I started to trust myself.
Why is it that in gyms, the yoga and stretching classes are always grouped under the banner of “mind and body”, while high intensity cardio, circuit or weightlifting classes are not? Weightlifting is all about the mind, strength is about the mind. I guess it’s because “regular exercise” is something we’re used to doing mindlessly. This is a shame. There is no way you can progress without mindfulness. It’s not religious, it doesn’t have to be serene or disciplined. Instead it’s quite simple. If you wish to progress your training in any way at all, you must think about it. You must reflect on what you’re doing, and bring your awareness and attentiveness to the task.
The plan is to create an exercise library of sorts, featuring weightlifting techniques and information, Tai Chi and Kung Fu tutorials, clips of me just messing around, and more. So my YouTube Channel should grow slowly over time.
Re-posted with permission, written by the astute and articulate Shelly of Body Positive Health and Fitness:
"Can you help me lose weight and keep it off?"
Real talk: (please read to the end)
If you are going to pursue weight loss, find out what the statistics are for people to maintain that loss via your chosen method or by any method at all, not at the 8 week mark when they seem successful, but at the 3 year and 5 year mark (usually less than 5%, and that's being generous, if there are even studies that went on that long - rare). Find out how much weight loss they count as a success (usually 5kg or so). Find out how many people were even able to maintain the diet for the duration of the short study (dropout rates are usually high). If your doctor suggests weight loss, ask them for these figures as well.
There is no hierarchy of attractiveness. Not in any absolute sense, not outside of what we have constructed as a culture. And that construction is an illusion.
Much as I can tell, the people I have been attracted to in my life – there’s no set criteria. They have been different sizes, races and complexions, always different, and the similarities are difficult to quantify. And a gain or loss of ten pounds doesn’t change one single thing. And what people may find attractive about me, is often not what I would have expected.
But the concepts, the ideas, the suggestion that you can control how people perceive you by changing your body, the promise of becoming more attractive through behaviour, discipline, training and hard work. It’s powerful. I find myself from time to time, wishing I looked a bit different. Wanting to ‘sculpt my body’ in one way or another. One could ask – what are you going to do about it? It’s a common question. It assumes that the pursuit of a goal will result in satisfaction, or at the very least that any attempt is worthwhile. I’m not going to diet, let alone starve myself, and I enjoy training very much, but there’s this other aspect, internally – why can’t I just resist the overwhelming weight of the cultural pressure to be thinner, the pervasive prejudices of an entire civilization simply by strength of will? Whhyyyy???
People sometimes wonder how frequently they should train, and we often overcomplicate it. Train again when you’re ready, do not train when you’re not.
There is no one correct answer because there’s an inverse relationship between intensity and frequency. The more intensely you train, especially with weights, the longer it takes for you to recover. Hence you cannot train too frequently. Likewise, if you train especially frequently you will probably find you are not capable of performing high quality work at the degree of intensity you might expect, but you may be capable of practicing low-intensity endurance or mobility work.
Games have rules. But playtime is more flexible, organic. It naturally shifts and changes, but that doesn’t mean it exists without structure. It may be ambiguous, and difficult to pin down, but that’s also one of the things that makes it special.
I forget where I first came across the concept (might have been via Pop Up Playground), but what’s key for me in the difference between free play and a game as such, is that if it’s playtime the rules can and often do change at any time, you are free to quit whenever you like, and the point of the activity is the activity itself. Play exists for the purpose of playing, and only for as long as the process itself is engaging.
At least, that’s my simplified definition for the purposes of my discussion, but this great article goes into more depth, describing play as “activity that is (1) self-chosen and self-directed; (2) intrinsically motivated; (3) guided by mental rules; (4) imaginative; and (5) conducted in an active, alert, but relatively non-stressed frame of mind.”
Sometimes people seem to behave as if everyone in the world shares their own particular aesthetic sensibilities. And sometimes they believe their own aesthetic sensibilities are not influenced or even dictated to them by the culture in which they reside.
Some people are attracted to the soft, round-edged frame of the sensitive individual who feels no shame, but takes joy in pleasure and sensuality, who has refined tastes and who possesses a deep physical understanding of the word satisfaction.
Yet others admire the lean, shredded physique of one who has endured suffering and hardship, who has forged their body with iron and discipline, as if sculpting their own physique from marble.
But then it seems to me there’s no escaping the truth: an individual is not a Jungian archetype; shapes and bodies have symbolic significance, but when it comes to any single person, their own unique circumstances often do not intersect with our own prejudices and expectations, and what we can extrapolate based on what their body represents to us – in truth it’s very narrow. All is often not what it seems.
Some of the people at my gym who work the hardest, and who possess the most admirable discipline, still struggle to burn any fat or gain any muscle, and many who are naturally thin and lean, who also possess a degree of muscular definition, really don’t apply much effort or sophistication to their training, and take a casual approach to their nutrition.
I saw an ad for the new iwatch, or Apple Watch, or as I think it should have been called: the watchamacallit. There was a guy at a restaurant doing bodyweight dips in between two benches. Someone else looked at his watch and then got up out of bed to exercise. And I don’t know why they didn’t run with the slogan: “the new Watch from Apple. Turning humans into robots since 2015.”
Now you can exercise anywhere at any time, every time your device demands your compliance. Way of the future – you couldn’t exercise anywhere before technology told you to.
Yay fitness! Many physique. Very athlete.