Top 5 Things I’ve Learned From (finally) Listening to My Body

With a body that transforms as easily as some gelatinous, silly putty type substance, I’ve known what it feels like to be a sub 5 minute miler and marathon runner on one end of the spectrum and about 200 pounds and really overweight, lethargic, injured and just completely not motivated to move on the other end. I’ve had injuries to my knee, fractured my left ankle trying to get a rebound and landing on someone else’s ankle, developed sciatica in my lower back and down my leg, and I constantly feel like I’m on the borderline of hurting both of my Achilles tendons. I’ve also done at least half of the workouts from P90x, P90x2, P90x3, Insanity, Insanity Asylum, Insanity Max 30, Focus T25, and a bunch of other workout videos from Shaun T and Tony Horton. So I’ve been real high and real low, real fast and real slow. And these are the top five things I’ve learned from listening to my body (finally).

Here’s my transformation from fat to skinny:

1) Strength, Mass, and Aesthetics are Great, but without mobility and range of motion, it’s kinda hard to move around

In college it was all about “gains”, lifting a lot of weight, and getting a really good physique. But throughout my 20s, as I got more familiar with my body and began to explore more, I realized that I had to do yoga and basically stretch in order to increase my mobility and range of motion. If you don’t stretch and just go pure gains mode, it’s easy to get really tight and end up not even being able to scratch your back. You end up really bulky and limited in the way you walk. It just looks and feels silly.

2) The Achilles tendon is sensitive to trying to do too fast too much

I didn’t have this happen to me until about 26 or 27, but sometimes I feel like I couldn’t even jog because my Achilles wouldn’t let me. It wouldn’t bend and let me go into the running motion because it turned really stiff. Again, this was a stupid problem I created for myself by not stretching enough and warming up enough when I was younger. Being a kind of athletic kid I always just ran out there and played basketball or baseball or even cross country running up and down hills without any warm up. Stupid stupid stupid. Stretch!

3) You cannot outwork a bad diet

After a workout, all sweaty, I feel like I deserve something really nasty, something I’ve been craving for a long time. But this throws everything out the window. Whenever I did try to do chest day and then eat McDonald’s afterwards and go on a two week cycle of those kinds of habits, I end up strong and fat. I didn’t want to be strong and fat, I wanted to be strong and lean. So as of late, I’ve been paying much closer attention to my diet.

4) A six pack comes from low body fat percentage and proper nutrition, not a ton of ab exercises

Scooby’s exercise video:

5) Squats are a good compound exercise, but if you’re not ready for the weight, it’s a killer on the spine, knees, joints, everything

The reason why squats are so good are the same reason that they’re so dangerous. They force you to recruit nerves and muscle fibers from all over your body to work together in a nice synchronized motion that develops your legs, glutes, abs, and everything in that middle section to keep it together. However, put too much weight on too fast and it’s a recipe for disaster because it puts a lot of pressure on the spine. Also, this exercise is prone to poor form as you can lean forward too much, lean backward, or not having your butt in the right place, or even just looking up or down with your head. There are so many ways you can get this wrong that you just have to be really careful.

Overall, there is no substitute for experience. When we are young, we feel invincible, and with this freedom we tend to go overboard, not knowing that one day we’re going to need those knees. But boy I’ll tell ya, once they go they go. So listen to your body and take good care of it, and it’ll take good care of you. Peace!