Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Time is On Your Side

We live in a fast world. We are no longer have the microwave mentality, we are the internet mentality. We can get what we want as soon as we can think it. As a result, the way of patience is all but gone away. We no longer have to wait for anything. We want what we want and we want it now. 

Time is no longer something we care to contend with. It annoys us. Be honest, when is the last time you visited your local post office without getting a little impatient if not angry? Time is something you have to know how to deal with if you go to a post office - time is something you have to have at the USPS. Do you think we get frustrated at the post office because they are so slow, or do you think we get frustrated at the post office because we are used to being able to point and click our way through life? Maybe it is a little of both.

Anyway, we don't care much about wrestling with time. We rush things - we rush deliveries, we rush decisions, we rush through traffic and we rush through our training. In all of these areas (even with some deliveries) it may be wise to slow down. Going slow, wrestling with time, can be a tremendous asset for us when it comes enhancing the quality of our lives. 

I could speak on the benefits of taking our time in every area of our lives, but to keep in line with the original intent of this blog, I will just focus on training. When we train, time - taking our time and exploring the movements can be our friend. All to often we train, or exercise, for the sole purpose of just getting it done. We want to check off today's session. We rush through it. What would happen if we took our time and slowed down the movements? This is what would happen, we would become amazingly strong - in both mind and body.

Take Spider-man crawling for example. We could crawl for 20 yards in 30 seconds, OR we could crawl for 20 yards in 3 minutes. We could crawl SUPER SLOW and we could really own the movement. Owning the movement, having the strength to move at a snail's pace is owning the strength needed to move at any pace. 

Moving fast, or even at a normal pace, can often hide weaknesses, or allow you to cheat. Moving super-slow, allowing time to be your resistance, can strengthen your weaknesses and wash them away. Slowing down your movements builds beautiful grace and strength. Being able to move slow, allows one to move fast well. 

Being able to move slow, at a snail's pace, also allows one to strengthen the brain and overcome discomfort, boredom, and impatience. It disciplines your mind and teaches you the ability to withstand uncomfortable, unpleasant, mind numbing situations (like finding yourself at the post office). 

Give this a try. A couple of times a week, practice being in slow motion. Pretend like you are in Mission Impossible and you are trying to move slow enough to sneak by a motion detector. Use your imagination here and explore your slow strength. If you do this, you will unlock a new world of pure movement.

AND, you will be able to last 5 more minutes at the post office!

Incase you are wondering - I am preparing to go to my local post office today. But it is okay. I will endure it because time is on my side.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

The Death of Imagination

Do you remember when you were a kid, before the internet, ipods, and xbox? What did you do to entertain yourself? I'll bet you probably used your imagination. In fact, I'll bet your imagination was intimately tied into your physical activities. I'll bet you were Luke Skywalker battling Darth Vader, or Tarzan swinging on the rope swing in the back yard, or Bo and Luke Duke jumping over mud puddles with your BMX bike. You probably became all of your favorite characters, heros, or animals and you acted out their stories (your version of their stories) through physical, imaginative play. 

Imaginative play is one of the greatest tools a child has when it comes to becoming healthy and strong. It is the tool that makes moving and learning fun, the tool that nourishes the brain and the body. Do you remember all the crusades and adventures you once embarked on as a child? Do you remember when monkey bars and trees were made to be climbed, or "lived" in? When grass was made to put stains on your clothes from learning how to slide from a full sprint? Do you remember when you were the star quaterback of your favorite team and you led them to win the Super Bowl? There was a time, when your joy, your movement and your life was intimately tied to your ability to imagine and create adventures in your mind.

Once upon a time, we were all superheros, space cowboys, pirates on the run, or even damsels in distress. Once upon a time, we lived for adventure and we had the bodies that were ready and able for those adventures. 

Then one day, we let our imaginations slip away. At some point we decided that just watching adventures was as good as being in them. We decided that we could "play" and "imagine" through video games, or movies, constantly instead of getting up and acting them out. Somehow, some way, we traded our active, creative imaginations for passive, gluttoness  imaginations. We have starved our brains ability to create and our bodies ability to move by neglecting our imaginations. 

Do you know how to tell if your imagination is broken? Boredom. That is the word and the symptom of a broken imagination. Today, we live in a broken, bored world. Look around, you will see bored children everywhere. No matter your condition today, you were better off as a kid when you were growing up than today's kids are. There are so many imagination starvers and robbers in our world today, our children will have to fight for their health - both mentally and physically. 

It is easy to blame technology for killing our imagination and ruining our health and the health of our children, but that is an easy way to try to escape responsibility. The truth is, it's our fault. We don't force our kids to go outside and play anymore like our parents made us. We don't let our kids play dodgeball anymore because someone is being made a target. We don't let kids swing on monkey bars anymore because they might fall and get hurt. Pretty soon (and it's funny cause it's true) we won't allow our kids to run anymore because they may trip, or hurt their knees, or break a sweat. We are stifling our children's play and imagination because we have placed ourselves in a world of fear and complacency. We need to let our children, make our children, go outside and use their imaginations. We, ourselves, need to learn how to become space cowboys again. 

There is an abandoned world of movement and health that is waiting to be rediscovered - a world of imaginative play and movement that can unlock a reality of health, life and adventure. Think about it, Babe Ruth hit his way into history because he could imagine himself hitting homeruns. Michael Jordan became the greatest, most graceful basketball player in our day because he could imagine himself dominating the court. We need to fix our imaginations. Our imaginations guide us into the worlds we want to conquer. If we allow them to starve, if we accept boredom, we are doomed and we doom our children as well. 

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Do You Know Joe?

I have a friend named Joe. I see Joe only once a year during my family vacation. Joe is super cool. In fact, when I grow up, I wanna be like Joe. Joe is 71 years young and Joe has guns. His arms scream "I'm a man!"

Ever since I've known Joe, I've thought he was cool. How many 71 year olds do you know who kayak down rapids, ride jet skis, and exercise daily? How many 71 year olds do you know who are still conquering life?

Anyway, like I said, I see Joe once a year. So, for 51 weeks out of the year, I don't see Joe. This year, when Joe saw me he said "I've lost 25 pounds since February. I looked in the mirror and said 'something has got to change.' I started doing 1500 push-ups a week and running on a treadmill or elliptical for 20 minutes a day. Oh, I also cut back on sugar. No more soda and sweet tea for me. You know what? The weight came off easy."

Ive never known Joe to be overweight. But, did you get all that? Joe lost 25 pounds and said it was easy. 200-300 push-ups a day, 20 minutes of cardio a day, and cutting back on sugar made losing 25 pounds "easy." Joe rocks. 

Joe made a decision, set his sights on his target, and hit the mark. Joe doesn't play when it comes to making a decision. Did I mention Joe has guns at 71 years old, arms a teenager would envy! 

Do you know anyone like Joe? Someone who can make a decision, set a goal, and go get it without any excuses? I'm not pro-treadmill (I dislike them.) I'm not anti-sugar (I like it!) My opinions about health and exercise don't matter to Joe. Joe just goes after what he wants and finds a way to get it done - with consistency - day in and day out. 

The result? Life. 

Joe is a young man. Young, but wise. He knows consistency without wavering is the key to his health, to his life. At 71, his pulse is in the 40s, his pipes ripple with muscle, and his life is an adventure. 

When I grow up, I wanna be like Joe. 

Do you know a Joe? Are you a Joe? You can be a Joe at any age. You can live and love life at any age. It is "easy." Just ask Joe. 

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Are You Free?

It's Independence Day here in the United States. A day we celebrate freedom. A day to spend with family, friends, and neighbors as we grill some burgers, dogs, or chicken. We are free. Free to live and enjoy our lives, free to pursue happiness, free to make our own decisions about almost anything.

Freedom is a wonderful thing. There is nothing like being free. Though it may be difficult to truly appreciate freedom unless you are not free. Many of us, by the way, are not free. There are multiple areas and degrees of freedom that a person can experience. There is one area of freedom, however, that all of us should be able to enjoy no matter who we are or what country we live in: The freedom of movement. 

Are you free? Are you free to move? Are you free to go outside and hike up any mountain, or conquer any adventure that your imagination creates? Or, are you caged up inside of your own body? When you see other people outside living adventures, do you long to do the same? When you see children skipping around the neighborhood, or playing in the park, do you wish you could swing from the monkey bars like you once did? Does fear or doubt grip you when you think about sprinting across a grass field, or when you think about picking up an awkward piece of furniture? Do your first thoughts go towards your "bad back" or your "bad knee" when you go to pick up your laundry from the floor? 

Many of us are prisoners in our own bodies. We fear our own ability to move without pain or injury. We are simply not created to live this way. We should be able to play and live like we did when we were a child. Adults are supposed to be "big children". Why would we spend so much time developing our strength, coordination, balance, posture, and athleticism the first 5 years of our lives if we were just supposed to lose it the last 75 years of our lives? That doesn't even make sense. We are supposed to be athletic and agile well into our golden years, until the day we decide we no longer want to be so - hopefully, we never decide that. 

Some of you reading this may think you are free, non of what I am saying applies to you. But ask yourself, are you really free. When you "exercise", if you "exercise", do you spend 30 minutes warming up? Do you spend 15 minutes on a foam roller? Do you have to do "corrective" exercises just to do your other exercises? If your warmup takes longer than 2 minutes, are you really free? Or, are you trapped in a warm-up ritual? Or, even worse, are you held prisoner by the belief if you don't do these things, you will hurt yourself?

This is not right. Our first thoughts should never be about our mortality, our injury history, our tricky hip, or our imagined fear of future injury. We were not made to be fragile. And, we were certainly not made to live in a cage of fear. 

No matter what condition your body is in, it can be restored. You can regain your freedom. You may have issues that may take more time and effort, or even a miracle, but guess what. You can still make those issues better. Heck, you may even find a miracle or two if you start moving the way you were designed to move. The body is more amazing than we even know. It was made to be whole: Strong, resilient, athletic. It was not made to be broken: Weak, immobile, fragile. Your brain was also made to be whole: Confident, fearless, strong; not fearful. 

Are you free? Free to move? Free to play? Free from fear? Free from 30 to 40 minute daily preparatory movement routines? Just as this country fought for its freedom, you can fight for yours. Do not settle for less. If you are not free, if you are caged inside your own body and mind, fight to regain your freedom. That is where life happens.

How do you start fighting for your freedom? The same way you fought for it when you were a baby. You earned it, learned it, and created it through learning how to move. Those same movements that once made you free, will still work today. You can absolutely regain your original freedom by restoring your original strength. 

Happy Freedom Day!