Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Glassman and Eades Agree

The surest road to failure in the first few days of low-carb dieting is to listen to your body.  The whole notion of listening to your body is one of my major pet peeves.  In fact, just hearing those words makes me want to puke.  
Listening to your body is giving the elephant free rein. If you’re three days into your stop-smoking program, and you listen to your body, you’re screwed.  If you’re in drug rehab, and you listen to your body, you’re screwed.  If you’re trying to give up booze, and you listen to your body, you’re screwed.  And if you’re a week into your low-carb diet, and you listen to your body, you’re screwed.  Actually, it’s okay to listen to it, I suppose, just don’t do what it’s telling you to do because if you do, you’re screwed.
Another post I've read and re-read from Mike Eades' site - with a great point about what we should or shouldn't listen to.  Coach Greg Glassman made the same point in a video from, to wit, if you are training at a screaming heart rate, lifting heavy weights, doing pullups, and then running (like a classic CrossFit WOD, or any truly anaerobic workout), if you "listen to your body" you'll quit that nonsense workout - it hurts! - and go get a cold beer and a wet towel for your head.  
I've often wondered how to understand pain and/or discomfort.  I've a long history of sports, and years of learning how to workout, and years of trying to learn how to push myself harder.  Polish that off with a 13 year go of fairly intense martial arts training, throw in a pair of knee surgeries, and then wash that down with four years of CrossFit - I'm confident in saying I've  had a sincere relationship with both pain and discomfort.  
So my conclusion is - discomfort in exercise is a physiological question.  Your body is asking: "Do you REALLY want to do this?  If so, it will cost you."  And for a gozillion days of human experience, that feedback mechanism was enough to keep us from just up and running ourselves out of fuel.  Now that we get unlimited quantities of fuel (there are stores filled with the fruits of our agricultural bounty) for just a bit more than a song, I'm not sure that feedback system is totally necessary, but it is probably still largely functional.  I wouldn't say you should "listen to your body" but you should be aware of why you are doing what you are doing so you will have an answer when the body asks.
The curious thing is that if you REALLY want to exert yourself, it will hurt in the short term but feel so much better in the long term that you'll likely repeat the effort.  And as long as you continue to workout in ways that give you positive feedback (neither too hard or too easy, not too long, and not too destructive), you'll keep on engaging in pain, facing up to the question pain asks you, and living all the better for it.
Last night I dosed myself with some front squats, some weighted pullups, and then pushed a weighted sled up and down my driveway in 20s intervals with a 10s rest interval.  The heavy front squats sucked as much as they always do, but I did less than ten total reps.  The heavy pullups were kind of fun - no kidding, strapping a weight around your waist and putting your chin on the bar is a blast.  The sled - that was just one big dose of nasty as my body was fairly strident in asking me whether I really thought that was a great plan; but it was over after 4 minutes and a 400m walk was all that was needed to "recover" (except for the sweating).  
Go hard, go short, be ready for your body's question!
(minor edits, 28 July 11)

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