The Wholistic Revolution: The Concept of Sustainability in Pursuit of Vitality and Optimal Living
“Sustainability” has become quite the popular buzzword over the last few years. The term is used in many areas of our society: everything from personal finance, to business practices, all the way down to how are food is farmed can be viewed through the lens of how sustainable it is. Yet what about our health and wellness and, more specifically, our nutritional and exercise habits?
For a case study on this, we need look no further than our country’s obsession with New Year’s Resolutions. Every January 1st gyms across the country are inundated with new members, all moving with the intent of creating their ideal vision of themselves. “This is the year I reach my goals,” they tell themselves. Gyms will remain swamped until, by industry estimates, the second week of February, when most give up on their pursuit of enhanced health through exercise. They only lasted 6 weeks? If we could point to a root cause of this, it might be lack of sustainability.
You see, change requires energy This is the primary problem at the heart of the sustainability issue. Well intentioned people simply lack the energy to continue with their movement regimen. Why? The easy answer is to look at the balance between stress and recovery. Exercise is stress manifested physically, albeit in a good form, hopefully. The easiest way to quit a plan is to have stress levels that run too far ahead of recovery processes, such as water, food, or sleep. How does one get to a point where they are out of balance to the point that they quit?
The answer is simple: too much, too fast, too soon. When intensity, or how hard something is – in this case exercise, far exceeds skill level – or how able you are to do something, you have a recipe for disaster. Combine this with vague goal setting, such as, “I just want to get in shape,” and no attention to proper recovery, including sleep, water, and food, from the stress of exercise, and you can see why most don’t last two months. When you take your body to a place that it can’t handle it will fight back, in the interest of self-preservation, by “making” you quit. Cue up knee pain, back pain, headaches, getting sick frequently – anything to make you stop.
How can we balance stress and recovery along with skill level and intensity for lasting progress? First, we must have a goal, or as I call it, a “dream.” A dream tells us what are we working towards and is specific. Next, since we are going to need energy to manifest our dream, we need to put effort into cultivating some energy. Staying hydrated, eating enough to support activity, and getting enough sleep are of tremendous importance for the cause of sustainability. Only after addressing those three most principal factors can we engage in a movement program.
Although the industry would have you believe that movement is the most crucial factor, hence why their only answer is always more of it, you can see from the above example that movement is 4th on the list when it comes to reaching our goals. When it comes to exercise, a sustainable plan features incrementally progressed levels of difficulty that match the skill level of the practitioner. Don’t be fooled – I’m not advocating putting forth a low level of effort. Yet it must be said that the greater the effort you put in, the more you need to put into recovery. Therefore, starting slow is advisable. When engaging in exercise, it is always wise to leave with a little bit of energy left in your tank.
In other words, don’t take your dying breath in the gym. Keep in mind that you can always do more work. An easy rule of thumb is the one to three percent rule. If you cannot add one to three percent more effort, including time, reps, sets, loads, and so forth, then you are starting to “run in the red” and need to work on recovery. Take a day off, a nap or have more water and food, whatever recovery protocol that is going to help you add more fuel back in your tank to continue training sustainably.
The key is to find an optimal level of work, food, water, and sleep that will allow you to reach your goals long term, keep them, and continue to move forward on your wellness journey. Remember, our bodies are always talking to us; all we must do is listen. Pay attention, take your time, and think that sustainably and enhanced vitality is coming your way!
Column No. 1 – This Article is “Revolution Approved.”For further information please contact The Wholistic Revolution at 734-309-7173 or visit thewholisticrevolution.com