Monday, February 4, 2013

Philosophy and Fitness

OK. A while back I wrote a piece about how a specific result requires a specific course of action. For example if you goal is to compete in a sporting event, you need to train specifically to be fit and prepared for that event. If your goal is to lose a certain amount of weight and create a particular body type or physique, you need to train appropriately towards that goal. This is putting like putting a round peg in a round hole, and a square peg in a square hole.

Quite often however, people will follow a training program suitable to achieve a certain level of sporting performance, when their actual goal is to create a particular body type. The logic is something along the lines of "if I could do that I'd be really fit, and if I was really fit I'd have a great body". This is not always the case. Following a training program designed to deliver one outcome, but expecting it to produce some other result seems a lot like trying to put a square peg in a round hole to me.

The ancient sages saw ego driven desire for more material wealth, power, or anything else to be a distraction on the path to happiness or enlightenment. In modern society, more than ever we tend to be focussed on wealth and material possessions, often while neglecting our physical and mental health. It is interesting that this was seen as an issue even in ancient times.

It was easy for these ancient philosophers to say "all desire is ego driven" and recommend that you just chill out and stop wanting things, and then you'd be happy. The message is true, but these days we have bills to pay. These guys were usually of an age where they had fulfilled their obligations to the state and where able to spend their later years being hermits, or just growing vegetables and meditating and not worrying about too much.

Usually these were gentlemen of a certain age where they had fulfilled all of their duties to the state, and basically where in a position to just chill out and spend their time meditating and contemplating the way of things, and maybe growing some vegetables or something.

Obviously we have bills to pay, we need food on the table and a roof over our heads... and a decent internet connection, but the message from the old masters is to stop working yourself into the ground and stressing out over things that you don't really need for any reason other than that you have decided to.

Picture it this way: "I can't buy last years perfectly good but slightly smaller model at half the price, I have to have the latest most expensive one because that's important to me. But oooooh how am I going to pay for it? I'm already in too much debt! Oh well I guess I'll just have increase the limit of my credit card and hope I can cover the interest somehow... maybe I can do some extra hours at my horrible job." it's a lot like saying "ooooh if I could just force this square peg into that round hole" if the whole idea in the first place was in buying something nice to enjoy in your leisure time. It has already turned into more stress and less leisure time.

Getting back to our usual subject of health and fitness, what do I mean by all this?

It's simple. If your motivation is that you truly want to participate or compete in endurance events, train towards that goal. If your motivation is that you truly want to be a strength athlete you should train towards that goal. If you simply want to first achieve the basic level of human fitness I described in the previous entry (ie normal weight, full range of motion and mobility) and then progress to your ideal body type and composition... then that is what you must train for.