Random Thoughts on Fitness and Movement – Part 1
Back in January, I set 3 goals: read more, deadlift 400lbs, and write more articles.
Well it’s the end of April, and so far I’ve finished two books–Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman, and Sway by Rom and Ori Brafman–and I set a deadlift PR of 374lbs just last week, which is one step closer to my goal:
As far as writing more–so far I’ve written a whopping three articles. So I’ve had to take a step back to see why I’ve fallen behind. The answer, it seems, lies in the very article outlining these goals: chunking.
2017 has been busier than expected. I’ve been coaching a lot, devoting a good chunk of time to continuing education, planning a wedding, and dealing with other personal issues that have taken up more of my time than anticipated. It’s not that I haven’t been writing at all–I have plenty of drafts.
But if I had to use movies to describe my approach to writing, I tend to be more along the lines of the 2006 fantasy blockbuster 300:
In other words, I’ve spent too much time trying to write these big, blockbuster articles. Unfortunately, with the little time I have to devote to writing, I haven’t actually been able to finish anything. The result is a bunch of half-finished articles and zero content. Bottom line: you, my loyal readers, can’t read what I don’t publish.
So in an effort to be more productive with my writing, I’ve decided to take more of a What About Bob approach:
With this in mind, I plan on writing more “baby articles” (articlets?) of 500 words or less in an effort to produce more content–with the occasional punch-packing 300-style article mixed in, of course.
(Note: due to the intro above, I’m giving myself a pass on the 500-words-or-less for today. But I promise to keep it brief!)
On to the “articlet!”
Random thoughts on fitness and movement, part 1: Patience, habits, and your desk
Rome wasn’t built in a day. Likewise, goals aren’t accomplished overnight. I think most people understand this. However, many underestimate how long it will take. Whether it’s the enthusiasm to get started, or the panicked reality of “what did I get myself into,” people tend to do too much too soon, which overloads a body that’s not prepared, leading to extreme soreness that takes days to recover from, or worse–injury.
Here are some tips to prevent this common pitfall:
- Develop a program working backwards from your goal, building up gradually.
- Write rest/recovery days into your program. They’re just as important as training days.
- Mix intensity between a tough day or days (1-2), medium days (2-3), and easy days (2-3).
- Respect the taper. As your training builds, so will fatigue. Give yourself one to two weeks before your event date to reduce training volume and allow your body to prepare for your event.
- Prioritize sleep. Seriously.
You are what you habitually do. “Habit” is a term we often equate to behavior, but movement is behavior too. Since habit is formed in the brain, and we know muscles do what the brain tells them to do (consciously and unconsciously), our movement, posture, physique–and yes, even our breathing patterns–largely reflect our habits. For physical evidence, look no further than former elite US distance runner Ryan Hall:
What led to his change in physique? You guessed it–a change in habit. While Hall still runs distance events, he drastically decreased his training mileage and ramped up his strength training.
But that’s an elite athlete, surely the rules are different for them, right? Not quite. Their bodies respond to habit just like yours and mine. The main difference between the average Joe Athlete and the pros is the fact that they are really good at developing and continuing those habits–those at the top almost to a fault, whether they’re a boxing legend, basketball prodigy, or some of the greatest golfers of all time.
So if you want to improve at something or just feel better, improving your habits is a big step in the right direction.
Standing desks aren’t the answer to sitting desks….movement is. There’s a big push toward standing desks, largely due to the whole “sitting is the new smoking” media frenzy. While research is unclear as to the extent and type of sitting that could be the problem, as someone who works with the general population on a daily basis, I will say this: prolonged sitting is only one of many factors in a complex health crisis. Our sleep, nutrition, stress management, exercise habits (or lack thereof), and environment all play major roles in our health–something my colleague Jon Carroll wrote about recently.
So when it comes to sitting versus standing desks, there is no one static posture that is better than another, because a static posture is not movement. That being said, the biggest benefit a standing desk has over a sitting desk is that it makes you more inclined to move around.
And after all, we were meant to move.