Mentally and physically I have experienced the following
15 life lessons I have learnt from making fitness a habit:
1) Reset yourself
Whether stress, anxiety, procrastinating, whatever is playing on your mind hitting the gym and really pushing yourself will clear it and help give clarity. If you’ve ever loaded a few plates onto a squat rack bar – set yourself up – squatted down – believe me your mind will not focus or think of anything else other than lifting that mother f***er back up.
Lifting/exercise puts your mind in a state of single focus and allows you to approach whatever was worrying you in a new light once your session is over. Think of it like a knife slicing through and separating the problem and your mind so you can take a breather.
2) Break down walls with confidence
You actually will be able break walls if you lift long enough. More so you will break down walls in life and that all comes from confidence. Lifting and exercise makes you more confident, it gives you ‘feel good’ self esteem and with that confidence comes compassion for yourself by understanding your limitations along with drive because you want to go beyond those limitations and improve.
I believe this applies in life, confidence can become ego without compassion for the people around you and also yourself, and confidence can diminish and become fear without drive. But the two balanced and understood together will make you a worthy opponent for life
3) Your mind and body
Your body is bloody incredible and so to your mind, but your mind can sometimes hold your body back and your body can sometimes fuck up, break and piss your mind off. Both are sometimes due to each one not fully understanding the other and to understand one another they have to test each other.
Just like in an experiment to find the best conclusion you run a series of tests. Exercise, sport and fitness are those tests. You begin to understand what your body is capable of and how your mind can aid it with the right thoughts and motivation. That brings harmonisation, and more importantly a never ending learning, communication (often through feelings) and respect for your body. Bring that harmonisation into the real world and your body and mind will tackle things together head on.
4) Fat burning supplements
are a load of crap. Trust me. Learn to understand your body, not try to trick it. Keep it simple and think scientifically. Daily, if you eat more calories than your body burns you will gain weight.
If you eat less calories than your body burns – your body will turn to storage and you will loose weight. You don’t need to calorie count just keep a consistent diet for a few weeks. If you gain weight, slightly reduce the intake and try again. Nothing beats trial and error. Once you understand your individual intake based on your life style it’s pretty easy to balance. Eat clean, train and your body will take care of the rest.
5) Reach higher
Those who push themselves physically tend to also push themselves in other aspects of life such as career, family, materialistic goals. Pushing yourself and striving to be stronger, faster, leaner, bigger etc is a drug, that drug will continue outside the gym into areas of your life (by the term gym I mean your exercise vice, whether dance, biking, running…)
Arnie never planned on becoming a body builder he planned on becoming rich and famous. He found bodybuilding was the fastest way to achieve that and added the best mind frame to do so.
6) Body and mind maintenance
What does a lion do as soon as he wakes to take on the wild? Stretches. Foam rolling and stretching before and after any exercise or sport will advance you, help A LOT to protect from injuries, improve muscle growth and rebuild.
Aside from that even if you don’t do to much gym style fitness, stretching burns calories, corrects posture and physiologically it will relax your mind and personal self from the release of endorphins caused by stimulating stretch receptors. Just how stretching can prep you for an event or match or workout, so to can it prep you for everyday life. Have a good stretch as soon as you wake up and see if you begin to feel the difference.
7) Training and cutting out carbs
will make fat (by that I mean your body will actually create fat storage), make you moody and make your appearance seem ‘flat’. Eating them (within reason) will make you leaner, give you an aesthetic shape and give you energy for life.
Muscles and their shape are created by the storage of glucose (carbs) which in turn stores water giving you that fuller healthier shape and look. Without glucose your muscles can’t intake water and nutrient as well and thus look flat and you look depleted as well as not being able to absorb vital nutrition to re-build better from training.
Whatever’s get you down, lifting weights will get you back up. It builds confidence, alongside that when you prove to yourself you can achieve something that challenges the body and mind it promotes a positive state of mental well being.
Most of all when you lift that big ass weight up against gravity the chemical stimulations that your body releases to do so are the most powerful anti depressants you could ask for and following on from this…
9) Squats rule
They are the biggest compound exercise along with deadlifts. Meaning they work every muscle, joint and bone in the body and they also stimulate the brain.
They chew through fat, improve cardiovascular fitness, make you sweat and give you one hell of a happy high. What’s more everyone should and can do them. Spend time learning the correct way to do them, always go to 90 degrees at the knee, lift lighter with better form rather than heavier just to impress with half hearted form.
10) Cancer and illness
(This is merely my own opinion.) I personally believe weighting and fitness makes your body and mind stronger in many ways: Body ways – being both external like your appearance from muscular shape and strength, to your internal cells and nervous system adapting and enhancing to take on the physical challenges combined with an increase in healthier nutrition that exercise comes hand in hand with.
When you push yourself to your limits you can physically feel your body crushing and pushing out sweat and toxins within it, you come out feeling cleansed and elated.
Mind ways.From the positive strong mental attitude pushing yourself creates. I feel it essentially preps your body to fight. I use the word fight as a metaphor for taking on challenges that life may throw at you. Cancer is one of them and so to could any other disease. Having your body ready to fight in a strong physiological state I believe helps keep cancerous cells at bay and preps you for any illness that may come
is a state of mind ruled by what if. It can save your life in an emergency but that is not the fright or flight fear I’m talking about. The ‘I don’t think I can or I don’t think I could or what if I can’t’ fear is what weightlifting and total fitness can help with. Whether social anxiety, standing up to a bully, wanting to protect someone, presentations or something you can’t describe.
Lift and it will help. It will shift your boundaries and perspective of what your fear threshold is for the better. Because you are proving to yourself that you can lift, that you can push yourself physically, that you are strong, that you will get stronger, your self belief rises. What if’s and can’t do’s start becoming… whatever the F it is – BRING IT ON!
12) Become a rock for others
Strength is respected. But what do I mean by strength? When people ask me how strong are you, not that I’m by any means strong in the weightlifting sense compared to many guys I know or look up to, I think to myself ‘are you asking physically strong, mentally strong or socially and environmentally strong.’
I believe those three things encompass the word ‘strength’ as a whole, all of which lifting and exercise strengthen. Friends and family sometimes need someone to lean on or pick them up, sometimes literally if they get wasted! More importantly in an emotional sense from hurdles life can throw at all of us.
From feeling strong yourself mentally and physically due to pushing yourself through exercise you can use that strength to help others and look out for those that aren’t feeling as strong as you are right now. It’s one thing being able to lift a weight – it’s a whole other thing being able to lift a soul.
We’re all creative in our own right and we all need to be to live an interesting life, advance in a career, stop the kids from crying or find a solution.
Lifting and the endorphins it releases stimulates creativity and sets you to take on a task. People who exercise in the morning are normally more alert and ready for the days challenges and so approach those challenges in a prepped state which can lead to finding new angles or new ideas faster and more efficiently.
14) Feel alive
Pain activates your body and mind in fact it makes you feel alive (yep, James Bond quote) lifting beyond what your body can cope with to make it stronger stimulates pain receptors.
You achieve muscle soreness (DOMS) because you physically tear muscle fibres when lifting. Yep, it can feel painful but I guarantee it also feels up lifting and bloody addictive. As The Rock puts it – “they haven’t got a cure for what is wrong with me – so until they find it lifting is my medication”
in life. As you train, fail, read, try again, learn, fail, learn more… you realise lifting, stretching, HIT’ing whatever it may be is only 40% perhaps even as low as 30% of the equation. It is the stimulus for physical and mental advancement but the advancement does not come without the correct building blocks and those building blocks are defined through elements of nutrition.
You realise you need to eat well to reap the benefits and efforts of your training. This normally leads to a natural progression of learning and researching through interest and motivation about clean eating – which leads to understanding about carcagens, toxins, saturated fats, bad cholesterol (and good) etc etc all of which, if you incorporate your learnings, will help you live longer. It is scientifically proven a healthy well balanced nutritious life style will help you live a long fruitful life.
The interest in lifting etc is the little nudge that encourages you to learn how to do so. After all beauty in both personality and physical appearance comes from the inside and shine out so guard your gates well in relation to nutrition and your environment.