Well here we go again. I've tried to write blog posts before on my other website(s) and never had much success at it, but I'm determined to write about what it is I teach to people now, and continue to hope that I can someday write about it in a way that it can be accessible to more people than the few that I get to see in my office or in the gym.
I might try to get two entries in today. I'm stuck waiting for my car that's in the garage, so I'm kind of forced to sit here with my thoughts in this café. A lot fewer distractions than when I'm at home. If I'm not with my 21 month old daughter, my two young boys or my partner, I'm always tempted to prepare some food or clean the apartment. I generally like to do both because I like food, and cooking and I need things to be organized in my life otherwise my brain seems to get disorganized too!
So this'll be a little intro post to set up the following posts to come. Although it's true that I like to share the information I have accumulated over the years with others, I think I want to do this blog in order to finally put in one place what I have accepted is "my" system. It's not really a system per se, but it feels more like it's mine as apposed to what I've done a lot of in the past, which was to say it was "his" or "her" system or the system called "x". My system just means that it's what I believe is the best way to feel good in our bodies in the current life and society we live in, here in the "western world". I can't relate as much to people living in different conditions that mine, so I'll try to stick to the things I know. For people who's main concern is having enough to eat today, talking about how they need to exercise is missing the big picture. I think those of us that are lucky enough to not have to worry about food, are un-lucky enough to have other things to worry about. If we can learn to worry less about these things, maybe one day we can worry more about the bigger things (like the fact that there are too many people without food) and worry less about the small stuff. Don't sweat the small stuff - as they say.
What is this system? It's what I believe is the best way you can start to feel better in your life if you aren't feeling so hot. It's a system that takes into account that you might not be able right now to stop everything you're doing and go on vacation for the next 10 years, with unlimited funds to eat good food, attend entertaining events, and go for regular spa and massage treatments. Well, in fact you can have all these things, just that you might have to do them at the same time as living your life as you live it now. Meaning, if you have kids, a busy job, both, health issues, complicated relationship or any other number of things, you can have the benefits of a "vacation" at the same time. It's that balance things we've heard so much about. There's nothing easy about living life and so sometimes it's nice to balance those more difficult moments with things that make us feel good or help us feel good. A massage or the spa treatment of your choice (or walk in the woods - whatever is your relaxing thing to do) is one of those things that "makes" us feel good. Exercise (the way I will describe is specifically) can "help" us feel good. The relaxing things can help lower our stress levels - huge impact on our well-being stress can be - and so doing these things from time to time will help lower this harmful stress. Exercise, the way we do it with Simply Stronger, can help make your body stronger. Not just your muscles so you can pick up a heavy box or help your friends move, but your whole body: bones, muscles, joints, metabolism, fat storage, blood sugar levels as well as other positive metabolic and hormonal processes in the body. Basically in laymen terms, your body becomes younger. And we all know that "when we were younger" we were more resilient to physical and mental stress. We may be older and wiser, but often we don't feel like we have the energy to deal with things the way we once did. Exercise, specifically High Intensity Resistance Training (lifting weights), can do things to our body's that resemble the things our bodies did naturally when we were younger. I don't want to go into the details of what is happening exactly. We can save that for an other post perhaps, but for now, you can either do a Google search on the effects of Resistance Training (lifting weights) and read the overwhelming evidence showing the benefits of short infrequent (once a week) sessions of weight lifting can do, or you can ready my friend Paul Igraham's post on his amazing website Saveyourself.CA here.
What is exercise, and how does nutrition fit into this system? I came up with the name Simply Stronger because that's really what we all want to be. Stronger in the sense of being able to withstand force, pressure, or wear. You know what I mean? So how can we do this? It's simple really. Putting it into practice can take some time and patience however. The same kind of patients it takes to learn something new. You would never expect it to be easy to learn a foreign language for example. The same can be said about learning how to do anything new. Learning how to weight train so that you don't have an "accent" and have a better "vocabulary" can take some time, but once you've mastered it, you can take advantage of your new skill. Exercise is exercise, and skill is skill, don't get me wrong, but learning how to exercise IS a skill. I always say that there is exercise, and then there's the other stuff: sports (including skiing, hiking, walking, running etc.) aerobics, "cardio" etc..all that stuff we call "being active". These things require skill and coordination. We probably agree that if you are severely overweight, dealing with an injury, way too busy, or something else making life particularly difficult, signing up to a soccer league and playing 3 or 4 times a week isn't the best way to get back into shape. The main difference is how safe the two are compared to each other. Lifting weights, especially using Nautilus type machines, is a LOT safer than chasing after a ball, on a field with other people chasing the same ball.
The same can be said about nutrition. Nutrition... argh. What a heavy word isn't it? Sounds so much more complicated that it really is. No such thing existed before, and more and more it seems that it just isn't necessary. With websites and health crusaders talking about things like JERF (Just Eat Real Food), Eat the Food (Go Kaleo), RRARF (Rehabilitative Rest and Re Feeding) and others saying how important it is to not just eat "healthy" but to just eat. The restrictions we place on ourselves whether caloric or whole food groups, might indeed create fat loss, but if your goal is just to feel better, diets probably aren't what you need to be doing. Learning how to eat well for your own body's needs, learning how to prepare your own meals, not feeling guilty about eating certain foods, eating certain foods that put you in a good mood and lower your stress levels, is probably a better idea. We deal with plenty of stress, and as I said before, stress is a killer. We don't do stress very well.
Bottom line. So that's it for now. Don't want to make it to long. In truth, the garage just called. Unexpectedly my van is ready. I automatically said car at the top there without thinking. Yes I drive a mini van. Love it. With 3 young kids, I don't really have a choice anyways. Cross my fingers I don't get too distracted and end up putting off the next blog post to 3 months from now...
So what's the basic message? The bottom line? We don't all have a lot of time in our lives to be active all the time, the way we were when we were younger, or fitter. So what do we do? Use a little science and technology to help us out. The day we all go back to the farm and spend the majority of our days outdoors in the fresh air, relaxing by the fire in the evenings and growing our own food and making home cooked meals everyday, we can talk about exercise and nutrition as being just a normal part of our healthy lives. But for now, if we live in the city, or simply not on the farm, we can use the gym and modern food preparation methods to help us save a little time. You can get good quality prepared foods now a days. By prepared I mean things like bread, meats, cheese, milk, eggs in a cartoon, frozen berries, you get the idea. One of my favorite things to eat/drink is a smoothy made with frozen berries, weigh protein, milk, a banana, and then I further process these by blending them into liquid form. But I love the taste and it is still good whole foods. I have found ways to cook most of the time, prepare lunches and dinner with a little help from the grocery store and will sometime eat out, or order out. You can too. The time you don't need to spend in the gym - remember once a week is enough - you can spend learning about how to be less stressed and do things that de-stress your life a little.
More to come...
Take a deep breath. Just cause it feels good. :)