We think we know stuff about things. I know I’m guilty of it. Here’s what we can choose: our intention.
That’s about it.
You can select, from foods that are available, what you are going to put into your mouth. And that’s where control ends. Even then, we are manipulated into making choices, not all of which are good. But we do not control how we respond to what we eat; we do not control the quality of our digestion, though we may be able to influence it in subtle ways. And we do not control our access to food, either. As much as we can play the ‘should’ game, it is naïve to expect a poor person to buy a head of organic broccoli, when they can get a burger for the same price. Hand-wringing and complaining about other people’s choices isn’t all that helpful.
You can choose, based on your mobility, knowledge, health status, strength and fitness, how you wish to exercise. You do not magically have access to a wealth of exercise science if you have not previously researched it, you do not control the weather, and you have limited control over your access to fitness equipment. And having access does not give you time or energy. You can research, but you cannot force yourself to feel confident what you are doing is safe or correct, and you do not control how exercise effects you. You can influence how you recover, with your choices to a point, but when you are always told to exercise more and eat less, your ability to both exercise with vigour and recover well will be hampered. In short, you can set your intention, but you cannot control the outcome. That’s what makes competitive sports interesting: chaos.
And to be frank, this mode of thinking assumes that food and exercise are what determine your shape. There are a billion things about that assumption that are problematic, but we like to accept it, and believe we have control. Or that we have lost control. If only we had the control to regain that control! If only I was a different type of person (disciplined), I could finally be a different type of person (thin)!
I read a quote by Ricky Gervais recently. He said “a lot of the people who believe that being gay is a choice, believe that being fat isn’t”. I kinda get the point, but it kinda just bugs me.
Actually, no, I don’t get the point at all. These things are in no way related. It just made me angry.
We are afraid of chaos, and we want to believe that we have control, but does happiness really lie here? We want to believe that what works for one person works for others, but this is not the case. We look to science, and try to train in an efficient way, one that serves all humans, as if we ourselves are the bell curve. If someone fails, we are tempted to say they are doing it wrong – because: science! But science does not show that all humans are the same; it does not show that all humans respond the same way.
This touches on the heart of self-acceptance. You are not an average. We try to understand the reality of our situation, and work with whatever that reality is, as we try to make life better for ourselves. We do not rely on assumptions, or abuse ourselves with guilt-trips. Self-acceptance does not mean ‘doing nothing’, nor does it mean constantly working on any particular thing. This is why it is enabling: it makes no demands, but gives you insight and a true understanding of your circumstance, from which point you are free to act if – or as – you choose.
There is no best method – only what you’re interested in trying. You don’t control whether or not you are capable of doing the thing, only your intention. And trying hard at a thing you cannot do, is quite different from embracing a process of development, which takes you from skill to skill, strength to strength, by resolving weak points without judgement and focusing on your own way.
A friend recently told me about a trainer she was working with once – he said “you’re not leaving until you’ve done ten chin-ups”. I guess he was trying to be motivating? But saying it firmer doesn’t magically give you the skill of being able to do the thing you are not yet strong enough to do. It’s true – there’s no need to limit yourself with preconceptions, but it is naïve to think you can master exercises by force of will. This does not make for a sophisticated training process.
We have a way of attributing our success to weird things. “I succeeded when I started training this thing” – but what about the process of development that made you capable of doing this thing?
Discover your base, know where you’re coming from, and you become capable of seeing where you are headed.