Each generation builds on the next, and when it comes to fitness, the current generation is undeniably being on the lookout for ways to be fitter, stronger, and faster. Amongst millennials, fitness is also a way of relating to others, connecting with the community, and creating a sense of belonging. For instance, some people belong to the yoga community, while others belong to the CrossFit or HIIT communities. These days, it's about “who is my crowd." If a group is my crowd and I can associate myself with them, then I'll attend classes with them.
However, this social tendency has also resulted in a toxic culture of comparison. Combine this with social media tools that further encourage these comparisons, many people end up pushing themselves beyond their limits and injure themselves. To aggravate this even further, some injuries are then even seen as a badge of honour, because it makes the injured individual seem very fit and fearless. However, when the honour fades, reality sets in: injuries simply restrict movement and reduce your quality of life.
Trying to sustain an unsustainable lifestyle causes a lot of harm; not only physically (injuries), but also mentally (thoughts of “I’m not good enough" and “I should be able to do this”) and emotionally (feelings of guilt and shame that I’m not doing what I promised).
There are two main outcomes if you are constantly “hitting the gym hard” and trying to sustain your peak level over a prolonged time - either you get bored of it, or you burn out. Either way, your ability to sustain the active lifestyle you desire is compromised.
Between 2010 and 2014, as a competitive figure athlete, I trained for two hours a day, 6 days a week. I would spend an hour on weight training, followed by an hour of cardio. It was too intense and I was burning out. I was constantly triggered by my emotions, reacting to and snapping at people. My body was over-stressed and so my mind wasn’t clear and my feelings were a blur.
In addition to my training regimen, my diet was very strict because I needed to reduce my body fat. Given the training intensity, the food I was eating was too low in nutritional value. I was running on adrenaline rather than the nutrients in my food. I got all my adrenaline from competing, looking fit and being better than others at lifting weights. Yet if you asked me to sprint at that time, I wouldn’t be able to. The truth was, even though my body looked fit and was performing very well at lifting weights, I was actually in a very bad state. My energy levels were low, my body was in survival mode and it wasn’t responding well to life.
Today, I still want to look good but it isn’t my primary focus. I have stopped trying to puff up my muscles and instead, I focus on becoming fitter and leading a more sustainable and healthier lifestyle. Obsessing over achieving the perfect butt or six-pack is not going to give you the long-term self-confidence, peace of mind and performance you desire. Believe me, I tried it. It doesn’t work and you end up further away from your goal than when you started.
Instead of constant, intense and unsustainable performance, focus instead on both high and low energy expenditure days, and discover how to switch on and switch off. If you want to focus on the aesthetic aspect of working out, then do it for short, sharp bursts of 3 months. Beyond that duration, let go of the focus on looks and focus on an objective of being more active and performing better. Life might be a marathon, but it is best ran as a series of sprints.
There are many simple daily habits you could be doing to keep your body healthy and keep your spirits up. A great way to build in good physical habits would be to do “The Five Dynamic Energetics Workout” which helps to shift your energy, boost your mood and fully engage your entire body. This quick activity is especially useful because of our short attention spans today. This workout helps us to be agile, present and grounded throughout the day.
To view the full content, sign up for a free account and unlock 3 free podcasts, power reads or videos every month.
Nike+ Training Club