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Is Your Lifestyle Sustainable?

Something that recently occurred to me is the issue of sustainability as it relates to exercise, lifestyle and adrenal health. I hadn’t thought about it in exactly these terms until I watched a great Sara Ivanhoe interview on the Bridging Heaven and Earth Show. (Warning: This thing is VERY “airy fairy” and metaphysical. It’s definitely “out there” so consider yourself warned. You can skip right to Sara’s interview, which is at about 37:34min – and you probably should. I did! LOL On the plus side, Sara is WICKED HOT so it might be worth watching just for that reason ;-)

What does all this have to do with Adrenal Fatigue and Lifestyle?

So, a point that came up during Sara’s interview is how many of us are making so much effort in our lives that we finally become so exhausted that we have to stop. We essentially realize we have to find another way. (This gets discussed starting around 41:00min.) We are so exhausted from all the struggling and all the ego, we actually “give up” and it’s from this point we can begin to truly live.

Here’s why I think this is important and how it relates to Adrenal Fatigue:

If your lifestyle is unsustainable you will be in constant stress. If your training is unsustainable (meaning, not periodized and well programmed with varied intensity) you WILL eventually become exhausted because your physical resources have been spent. This is overtraining.

But while we think it’s working we keep doing whatever stupid behavior we’re doing. It isn’t until we completely crash and burn that we (hopefully) realize we were going down the wrong path, reevaluate and get back on track. I’ve been doing this in every area of my life – intensely – for a while now…

Pema Chodron talks about this in her book “When Things Fall Apart – Heart Advice for Difficult Times.” In Buddhist terms, she basically says we get so tired we can’t make any more problems for ourselves… The training interpretation of this is that we get so overtrained we have to take a week or two off from training to recover.

So, in terms of practical training and lifestyle stuff, take a good hard look at what’s going on with you and decide if it’s actually sustainable and moving you TOWARD what you want and toward better health, performance and happiness. And, by moving toward I mean you’re already there on some level. How’s that for a contradiction? What I mean is, if you’re beating the crap out of yourself now so you can have something you want LATER, you better be seeing some indication that the work you’re putting in is working. If you’re working on health or happiness or performance NOW and aren’t at least seeing SOME positive movement TOWARD what you want, you better stop and reevaluate.

Are you consistently moving toward your goals?

Think about this one for a minute or two. Are you truly, TRULY moving toward your goals? Are you stronger and healthier today than you were last month? Last year? Are your relationships better? Does your life have less stress and more fulfillment? If these are goals for you – but you can’t answer “yes” to that question – you’re trying to live in the future and that won’t work. You need to create these things NOW so you know you’re going in the right direction.

Here’s a concrete example: Say your goal is to improve your health overall and take your deadlift from 365 to 405. Good, attainable goals, right? As long as you have measurable health goals like: improved sleep, better digestion, better mood, etc., you’ll be able to objectively tell if you’re moving toward your ultimate health goals. Add to that a good training journal with your poundage progression and you can tell pretty easily if you’re moving toward your goals or not.

If you’re NOT ON TRACK and consistently moving toward your goals in small increments you need to STOP and reevaluate your lifestyle and your goals and your methods. Don’t think you can keep doing what you’re doing and get different results than you’re getting now. There are no quantum leaps in health and training. Little improvements add up to create BIG improvements – and if you’re not seeing the little improvements you’re NOT going to see the big ones. Time to reevaluate…

I hope that makes sense – assuming I didn’t lose you a minute into the video :-P

ttys

Adam

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Fitness, Health, Money and LIES

I want to thank my friend Darren Rueb for the two articles he recently posted that got my creative juices flowing this beautiful Sunday morning. I also want to thank Darren for saying a lot of what I said in my anti-establishment rant about fitness, health and the crap we get fed in society a bit more rationally and calmly :-)

I figured I’d keep going on those topics and see if I can say what I meant a little more clearly and with less piss and vinegar. Or, at least less vinegar…

Darren’s first article – Fitness Today: How You Measure Up – is essentially a comment on the fitness standards we see all around us and how some of us can have a bit of an inferiority complex depending which side of the spectrum we look toward. If you assume MOST of us sit in the main part of the bell curve we can feel great or awful about ourselves depending which direction we look toward. I’ll argue that those reading this blog and Darren’s stuff will sit a bit further to the right than most, but the vast majority of us will be in that main distribution. If I recall my stats class stuff at all, the hot computer guy and Arnold are going to represent 0.1% of the population EACH and everyone else will be between them with about 70% in the thickest part of the curve – 35% to the right of the line and 35% to the left.

Really Fat Guy and Arnold Schwarzenegger on a Bell Curve

Thanks to JC for the Fat Guy pic!

I won’t go as far as Stuart McRobert and claim that anyone with a bench press of more than 135lbs is a genetic superman who’s also using steroids, but I absolutely will not downplay the genetics thing for a minute.

Regardless of genetics, however, I believe that LIFESTYLE is the single most important – and most overlooked and downplayed – factor in health, fitness, strength and performance. I think a great disservice that occurs in the fitness mainstream – and the media in general – is the downplaying of the importance of lifestyle in building an outstanding, “0.1%” body.

I can vividly recall Flex magazine running pics of Ronnie Coleman in his police uniform – working a claimed 80 hours a week of SHIFT work in the patrol car – while preparing for the Mr. Olympia. Bullshit. Or the old Muscle Media 2000 running pictures of “Dan Gwartny, MD” who supposedly did 100+ hours a week in the ER – while maintaining 4% bodyfat and working out 6 days a week “to relieve stress and stay energized.” Bullshit. Both of those scenarios are obviously impossible – unfortunately, at the time I was reading that stuff I didn’t know better. Some NEVER know better.

While I’m on this topic, I also recall the urban legend that circulated through the science and engineering circles I hung out in during college. Supposedly, there was some guy who worked a full-time job, had a family AND was going to engineering school full time. Of course, he was also pulling straight A’s. Now, no one ever actually SAW this guy. And no one actually KNEW him. They only knew someone who knew him or knew someone who knew someone who knew him… The fact is that MY senior chemistry classes ran pretty much 9-5 Monday through Friday (OK, Wednesday was a light day) and many nights I NEVER SLEPT because I had so much studying to do. Of course, some part of me felt like a loser because I should have also had a full time job and been 250lbs at 3% bodyfat while pulling straight A’s. “All” I managed was a 3.5 GPA with no job, living at home and little weight training and no sleep. What a loser…

I think the frustration of “the guy in the street” is that he thinks he should be able to have that 0.1% body AND do everything else in his life with no problem. This is the image we’re sold in the media. So many people feel inadequate because they think they’re falling short or not working hard enough. Then, they WORK HARDER at EVERYTHING and get even worse results because they get even more fatigued, more scattered, more cortisol, less clear thinking and on and on. I LIVED THIS FOR MORE THAN 10 YEARS.

Seth Godin – who runs THE NUMBER ONE MARKETING BLOG IN THE WORLD – has said over and over again to pick one thing and become the best at it. Here he is saying it in an interview on Technorati.

If you truly are passionate about something, GO DO IT! Don’t believe for a minute that you’re going to be able to do everything all at once. Even Arnold couldn’t do it. He focused on being the best bodybuilder in the world – and succeeded – then he blew up the box office, then he went into politics. He never could have done all 3 at the same time. It would have been impossible. Many have probably tried but we’ll never know, because they never made it…

I think the media likes to promote the “you can have it all” idea for two reasons:

  1. No one likes to think they might have to give up something to get something else
  2. Many, many industries thrive on people being frustrated, misinformed and ready for a quick fix or magic pill

If I wanted to be generous, I might even say that many of the hardworking people who make up the mainstream media actually believe that they CAN have it all. They’re functioning under the same delusion. So the delusion just keeps spreading.

Darren’s other article asks the important question: Fitness vs. Money: What’s More Important?

I think this article and some of Darren’s points follow right along with my point on media conditioning. My current view is that you can – and should – have both health and fitness AND money. I think our current society takes an attitude that you can be healthy OR rich. And if you want to be rich you have to work yourself to death in hopes that “someday” you’ll have enough money to do what you REALLY want to do. If you think this way, read “The Four-Hour Work Week” by Tim Ferriss and see why the thinking is flawed. I bought into this flawed thinking for a long time and I’ve already ranted about it a lot :-)

And, yes, some people are born into money and are able to follow their passion with no worries about paying the bills. But I think that they are few and far between (go back to the Bell Curve above) and that situation comes with it’s own problems.

I’ve read somewhere around 80 self-help/success books to this point and the general consensus is:

  • Clearly define your values
  • Live by them
  • Find what you LOVE to do and figure out how to make money doing it

Tim Ferriss will add to that: Figure out how to make what you LOVE run on autopilot to the greatest extent possible while it’s making you money :-)

ttys

Adam

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Taking Steps to Improve My Sleep Quality

Last night I took a few steps to improve my sleep quality. I’ve never been one of those people who had a lot of trouble sleeping, but lately I’ve felt I could maybe do a better job of getting quality sleep.

I already have heavy blankets hanging on my windows to keep out the light (my neighbors LOVE me). With the blankets I sleep in almost complete darkness even once the sun comes up. I’ve still hung on to a few things that aren’t optimal though:

  • I like to fall asleep with the TV on. I KNOW this isn’t good for me, but I’ve been doing it forever. I set the timer to shut the TV off in 60 minutes and fall asleep with it on. I usually find that comforting for some reason.
  • I have TWO digital clocks in my room FACING me. Actually, it’s one digital clock and one clock on the Cable box. There have been times I thought these might be bothering me, but I’ve refrained from making changes until now.
  • There is a TINY green light on the smoke detector on my ceiling. Not a big deal, but it’s there.

So, yesterday here’s what I did:

  • I didn’t go to sleep with the TV on. In fact, I took my friend Robb Wolf’s advice and got a good Sci Fi novel to read. I’m reading Dead Beat by Jim Butcher, BTW… I only got a few pages read and I started to get tired.
  • I got rid of BOTH of the digital clocks. I’m lucky enough to not have to get up and be anywhere in the morning, so I really don’t even need a clock in the room. I also find that’s helpful if I wake up during the night because I just go back to sleep without thinking about the time. I think my body is going to learn to wake on it’s own a lot better if my brain doesn’t know what time it is. I also got rid of the Cable box. Don’t really need it if I’m not watching TV up there anymore…
  • Last but not least, I covered up the little light on the smoke detector with a piece of duct tape. Problem solved.

Last night was the first night I slept with the new environment. I definitely felt like I slept heavier and better. I had a high fat Paleo meal around 8pm and went to bed before 10pm. I only woke up once for the bathroom and when right back to sleep after that. I woke up at 7:30am feeling pretty good. I also woke up with a raging… well… It’s a guy thing… I did feel I could have gone back again and slept more, but the sun was up pretty bright so I decided to get up and have some Paleo coffee :-P

I’d say the first night of this sleep improvement thing worked out pretty well. I’m looking forward to seeing what a few weeks of it will bring.

ttys

Adam

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