The big problem in health and fitness, and where to start.
The exercise and health industry is broken and, unfortunately, so are we. We exercise because we are told we should do so with no real plan or markers of progress. We eat and drink without any real thought to how our metabolism, organs, and digestive system will have to respond hours and days later, not considering that our intestinal tract has a an entirely separate mind of its own called the enteric nervous system, taking energy away from our brain and controlling and training our entire immune system. We take pills and pain meds as a Band-Aid that don’t ultimately resolve our underlying metabolic dysfunctions without regard to the root cause often coming from our lifestyle and habits.
The numbers don’t lie.
Among developed countries, we are ranked 26th out of 35 in life expectancy.
The American Chiropractic Agency estimates that 80% of adults suffer back pain annually.
Yet we have more gyms and exercise more often than any other developed country in the world.
What are we missing? What are we doing wrong? Why aren’t we living longer despite our impressive commitment to exercise? Why do we keep suffering chronic debilitating pain and injuries that take so much enjoyment out of daily life and impede our desire for an active lifestyle? Why are we trying to fix our pain only after it goes on and on, often leading to a muscle strain or tear, but not investing time or thought to try and stop the injury or pain before it happens? Why are we treating the symptom of the joint pain but not the cause? Why are we being so unkind to our bodies when it comes to exercise and food? Where do we start?
Simply — we can start being more thoughtful and kind to our bodies.
That’s the big problem.
The health and exercise industry tells us to go on one-size-fits-all diets, and the newest and best diet changes monthly. We work out longer and with more intensity, feel the burn, push through the pain, but without thought of how these heath and fitness fads might not work for everyone, and even ultimately end up taking us further away from our goals, whether they are to lose weight and gain muscle, get out of pain, or improve athletic performance. The extreme measures we take in the name of health often end up slowing down our metabolism, cause yo-yo dieting, and wear down joints in the long term.
I want to give you a better and more sustainable approach. The anti-fad diet or workout. I want to teach you how your body actually works with principles that empower you to make better choices in the kitchen, the gym, and your daily life. These principles will carry you through the rest of your life.
So, where do we start? Well, we begin with the most important exercise principle nobody thinks about: paying attention to your own body and how it moves. Can you reach behind your back comfortably with one arm but not the other? Does one foot turn outward when you walk but the other stays straight? Can you lift one knee to your chest but not the other without hip pain? How is your balance and is it even on both legs? Jump on one foot; what happens with each side? Can you cross one leg over your knee when you sit but not the other without major side hip tightness? Are you loading your asymmetries with weight and making them worse?
You should be noticing your body limitations because the biggest predictor of pain and injury is when your body is working asymmetrically. Small movement asymmetries get compounded as we go from walking to running to sprinting and lifting weights, and before you know it that nagging knee pain is now chronic tendinitis, worn down cartilage that doesn’t grow back, or a ligament tear.
You see, persistent pain and tension in a joint or muscle is never the actual problem. That tense area (say in the calf, hip socket, shoulder, upper trapezius) is the joint or muscle trying to overwork and stabilize to compensate for OTHER parts of your body moving in dysfunction. Unfortunately, many fitness professionals tell you to go to depths and movements your body has no business being in. You say: “I can’t do that!” They say: “Suck it up! Do it anyway! This is good for you!”
The reality is that if you LOSE range of motion in a joint that is meant to be mobile, you will make up for it somewhere else in a joint that’s meant to be stable. I’ll give you an example. If you lose healthy ankle mobility and your ankle joint gets locked up — maybe by wearing bad shoes or through a sedentary lifestyle — you will make up for it in proximal joints that are meant to be stable like the knee and lower back. In fact, I firmly believe that lack of ankle mobility and intrinsic foot strength is the biggest cause of knee and back pain.
You have one body, one spine, two hip joints. You don’t get another one if you mess this up, so how about showing it some thoughtfulness and kindness? I would like to show you how.