The Key to Fitness Success
By: Matt Pitcher
"If you and I want to change our behavior, there is only one effective way to do it: we must link unbearable and immediate sensations of pain to our old behavior, and incredible and immediate sensations of pleasure to a new one."
- Anthony Robbins, Awaken the Giant Within
Why isn't every person who wants to be fit and healthy exercising on a consistent basis? If we know what we should be doing, then why aren't we doing it consistently? Fitness Motivation Coach Lisa Nordquist calls this "The Fitness Gap" and many of us suffer from it.
Knowing that we SHOULD be exercising rarely makes any of us do it on a consistent basis. So, how can we motivate ourselves to practice optimal self care - which includes exercising and eating right CONSISTENTLY? For those people who weren't born loving exercise, it takes more than JUST DOING IT (at least at first).
We start to practice optimal, and CONSISTENT, self care (even if we find aspects of it painful at the beginning) through a process I call Pain to Pleasure Conversion (PPC). So, as the Robbins quote above suggests, we must find pleasure in what we change our behavior to. But I think he misses a step in getting there. Before we find pleasure in something, we must (even if subconsciously) find MEANING in it.
So, the conversion begins with assigning MEANING to the very concept of exercising. For some, examples of meaning can be stress release, longevity, optimal health, strength development, or even the pursuit of spirituality. Or it could be simply being in a social setting or knowing that you're doing 'the right thing'. The meaning that we assign to exercise gets us into the gym and helps us TO BEGIN exercising (after all, how do we know if it will give us pleasure if we don't try it first ... and, in order to be motivated to try it in the first place, we must assign meaning to it). But, finding exercise meaningful alone won't lead you to do it consistently forever. Now, this is where Robbins comes back into the equation.
The 'doing CONSISTENTLY' conversion is complete once the ACT of exercising itself becomes pleasurable. For some, examples of pleasure can be the 'pump' from lifting weights, 'runners high' from running really long distances, or simply sweating.
Well, what about those of us, you ask, who have never experienced that kind of pleasure from exercise? Most people who don't find the process of exercising to be pleasurable, will exercise occasionally, but not consistently enough to maximize its benefits. If you can't stand to sweat or get frustrated by your lack of strength or lack of endurance, how can you start enjoying each and every workout? Who'd blame you?
So, how do we make this entire conversion happen so that we start exercising consistently and make fitness a lifestyle change, even for those of us who don't find exercising all that pleasurable?
First, assign a meaning to exercise that is important to you. Second, start making some progress towards what is meaningful to you through exercising. Once you start getting the results you want, the MEANS of getting those results (in this case, exercising) will then start becoming pleasurable to you.
The Pain to Pleasure Conversion (PPC) Equation at Work
An example of the Pain to Pleasure Conversion at work can be demonstrated through a series of "if/then" statements.
In the Beginning:
Weightlifting ("pain") = Don't DO*.
*For example: "I don't lift weights because I'm not very strong and get intimidated by the weights at the gym. But, I want to reduce my stress and get stronger."
Living a less stressful life/having strength = Meaning
Weightlifting = Burns off stress/gives strength
Weightlifting = Meaningful
Then, after I start lifting weights and getting stronger and alleviating stress over time (i.e. progressing towards what is meaningful to me) I might find that:
Weightlifting = Pleasure
Weightlifting = Pleasure
I will lift weights CONSISTENTLY and start loving every minute of it! And, if I start loving every minute of it, I will do it consistently the rest of my life!!**
**Because, as the equation above shows, every single thing we do consistently in life we find pleasure AND meaning in it ... somehow, some way.
I know this sounds a little black and white, but if you think about it it's true. For example, you might say, well, I know people who CONSISTENTLY complain about everything. Isn't that oxymoronic? My response: absolutely not. That makes perfect sense. I've known plenty of people who find intense pleasure in complaining about everything. And so they do it ... all the time!
So, by going through the PPC process, you can associate pleasure with exercise and start CONSISTENTLY practicing optimal self care the rest of your life even if it was once very painful for you.
It's that simple. I've seen it work over and over again. In fact, it has worked for me in my life and many of my clients. If you struggle with exercising or eating 'right' consistently, try PPC out and let me know how it goes.
About the Author
Matt is a certified fitness trainer through the International Sports Sciences Association, author of numerous health and fitness related articles, an entrepreneur and investor and co-founder of the enormously popular website DeepFitness.com.
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The Power of Stretching - Dave Snape
muscles ache from a good stretch. This is quite
normal and is part of the process. Stretching has
seemingly been with us and particularly with athletes
since the beginning of time.
A very key point to good stretching is to hold the
stretch for at least seventeen seconds. This is a
pearl of wisdom gleaned from a ballet teacher a few
years back. She said that any stretch under 17
seconds was just not effective.
The 17 second rule is exceeded in the high intensity
Bikram's yoga where stretches are held for about 30
seconds. Don't forget the high level of heat that is
used in Bikram's to extract that last little bit of
stretch out of your muscles. An interesting twist
is not necessary to gain benefits from stretching.
it can't hurt, right?
So what kind of benefits can you expect from
stretching? That's an easy one. Have you ever seen
movie, Blood Sport? Did you know that Frank Dux could
truly stretch his body to the extreme. The actor that
played him was quite elastic as well.
Great elasticity is also something you might see in
well trained Spetsnaz (Russian) agents. They often
out with Russian kettlebells too. They are for
strength gains and the ability to withstand ballistic
Why are stretching and flexibility considered
to these people? Stretching gives one the ability to
have explosive power available at one's fingertips
without the need to warm up. Of course most of us are
not martial artists or agents. But, you'll be happy
know there are plenty of other benefits.
Let me give you an example. After learning to sit in
the full lotus position for long periods of time, my
ankles became very flexible. One day I was walking
along and my left foot fell into a pothole. This
pushed my ankle sideways to about 90 degrees from
Amazingly, this didn't even hurt, not one bit. If my
ankle hadn't been so flexible, I may have suffered a
sprained ankle. At the very least, it would have hurt
Key point: stretching helps you to avoid injuries.
Not only that but if you do have a muscle, tendon or
ligament injury it should heal faster, theoretically
Stretching actually grows the ligaments, tendons and
muscles being stretched. They really grow longer over
Check with your physician before undertaking any type
of exercise, including stretching.
Here is some good
instructional material on stretching:
If you enjoyed 'The Power of Stretching' article, consider
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