Thursday, August 1, 2013

Are you training to live, or living to train?

My latest podcast obsession is the Paleo Lifestyle and Fitness podcast that Sarah Fragoso and Jason Seib have been doing for almost a year now. They are killing it with smart talk about exercise and paleo food. "Heavy lifting" and "Take a walk" are two of their favorite phrases. Mine too. Exercise minimalism rules the day there. And I heard Jason say something recently that really struck a chord with me. It went something like this (I am paraphrasing):

"I don't want my clients to *love* their workouts. I want them to view them as a chore." And he followed that with: "But I want them to like doing those chores when they actually get going on them, just not love them so much that they show up at my gym too often."

And then I thought about all the many times I heard folks at the CrossFit gym *complaining* about rest days. So here's my followup to what Jason Seib said:

"If you hate your rest day that much, maybe you need to take another rest day."

I realize that this rant is a bit of a repeat of the last one. We have already discussed in detail how you can stray pretty quickly off the path of health/longevity and onto the 12-lane high-speed freeway of sport-specific training that grinds up athletes and spits 'em out sick, tired and injured. But I am sure that most of you will swear to me that you are doing whatever it is you do -- and let's say it's CrossFit, just 'cause that's what I am most familiar with -- to be healthy and live a long time.

So why do you hate rest days so much? Unless you are someone who is a really rare bird -- the person totally happy with body composition, under super low stress and sleeping like a rock every night -- rest days ought to be popping up *really* often. In fact, Jason Seib would likely tell you -- and I certainly would -- that a CrossFitter who is not trying to make the CF Games and is doing CF just to be healthy, live long and have great body comp likely is doing herself (or himself) no favors beyond three days a week of CF. Maybe four for you serious youngsters. Maybe just two, and an additional day of heavy lifting, for a lot more than that.

In other words, if you are hating rest days, you quite possibly have made working out a little too-frequent occurrence in your life. You might just have turned "training to live" into "living to train."

And I get it.... CrossFit is a fun community. I love my CF friends. And I dig working out there. But exercise addiction is no small thing. It's not just "more fun than you were already having" to hit the gym five or six days a week instead of three. The cortisol buildup and stress that that much CF causes will usually take your CF training right out of the health/longevity pathway. That's cool, as we discussed last article, if CrossFit is your "sport" and you have made the decision to beat the snot out of yourself with the goal of making the CF Games or even killing it at regional competitions. But all that has nothing to do with health/longevity. At that point, you have made the decision to beat yourself up to reach a *sports* goal, not one that advances health/longevity. So, in reality, Mr. or Ms. Person Who Wants Better Body Comp and Wants to Just Live Long and Be Happy, are you pummelling yourself because you think more is always better?

If it sounds like I am saying that a person unhappy with body comp is doing his or her body no favors with those extra two or three days of CF, yeah, that's *exactly* what I am saying. And if you need me to get more dramatic, think about possible thyroid damage too.

It's a pretty common mistake: love a form of exercise so much that you overdo it. Look in the mirror and tell the truth to yourself about your alleged health-and-longevity-based training. If you "hate" rest days, it's fairly likely that you need to dial down the exercise and take more rest days.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

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