Sunday, November 3, 2013

What's the worst that can happen?

Unless the answer to that question is "I can or will die", I think most situations we are in are actually not that bad. Late for a movie - so you might miss a few minutes. Missing a deadline for your clients - odds are you aren't costing them a million dollars. Making a big presentation at work - so what if you screw up? You will probably have a whole bunch of chances in the future to make amends.

I guess the same philosophy can apply to lifting, exercise and training. Try to lift something heavy and fail, drop the bar, make a whole lot of noise - nobody in your gym is going to laugh at you. At least, they shouldn't. If they do, maybe you have to find a new gym. Huffing and puffing through a workout - who cares as long as you finish it? Not losing as much weight as you planned to? Ask yourself, are you honestly doing everything you should be? If yes, fix the plan. If not, fix your discipline and adherence to the plan.

The question is, when does this become too much? When does ambition and determination and perseverance become obsession and stupidity? I guess it is a fine line. I have been reading a few articles/blogs of late that talk about people who go to extremes in training/nutrition. I am talking about not eating cake at a family birthday, skipping social events for fear of 'cheating' on your nutrition plan, training through pain, not eating because you don't get grass fed beef and organic vegetables, lifting something 10 Kg heavier than you should be.

I have been guilty of doing some or all of the above at various points in the last few years. Granted, the intent was always to get healthier and stronger but in hindsight, it has either made me anxious, weak or sore. It has made me stay in at home rather than get out and meet people.

Importantly, I think there is some amount of insecurity that comes into play here. If you are working and training as hard as you can, you probably will not care about missing a workout or one or two 'cheat' meals in a week (btw, the preferred and more positive term to use is 'treat' meals). If you are doing a half-assed job in the gym or at work, you will most likely always be worried that the smallest possible intervention will drive a wrench into your plans. And hence, you obsess or crib over the small little details. I have also realized and have always experienced that hard work takes time. You don't get strong at something overnight. You need to work extra hard for the first few years to build strength and then work even harder to maintain it, as you fight against age and metabolism.

I have started late. So I am working extra hard to undo all the abuse I have put my body through. The good thing is, I don't feel insecure right now. I have a tummy, I can't run too far or too long, I am probably not eating 'paleo' 80% of the time. But I have basic strength now and I am working hard. I feel great - I am pretty sure it will pay off, but a few years from now.

So, unless you are trying something like this, go for it.

Try and lift something 1 kg heavier. Try and run that extra mile. Lose that extra lb of bodyweight. What's the worst that can happen?

As for me, I am going to enjoy my 'Indian burrito' tomorrow at my nephew's 3rd birthday party :)

P.S. This is an awesome post. Especially to motivate those in the 30+ age category

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