“You know, I looked at my face in the mirror this morning, and I like being old. My face has more content and when I train in the gym now, I am not training to be strong or handsome – just better than I was yesterday. These days the race is just against myself.” ~Jean-Claude Van Damme
What are you training for? Seriously, ask yourself this question right now! Why do you hit the pavement? Why do you go to Crossfit six days a week? Why do you do yoga, run 5ks, lift weights, do Zumba, use the elliptical, do chronic cardio or have a personal trainer? WHY? Do you have an answer? Some of you might. “Because I have a [insert a competition or sport of some sort here] coming up.” For those of you who have an answer similar to this, good for you. Go for it! But if you do not have an answer or if your answer is, “To look good,” keep reading!
If you train to look good, I have got some bad news: very few of us respond to exercise the way you think we are supposed to. For most of us, exercise does not make us skinny or lean or whatever we want to call it. Don’t believe me? Go to the gym and take a look. Why is it so full of chubby, out of shape people? I promise you that for most of those people it is not their first day in the gym. Most of them have probably been doing this for a while.
When I started this primitive lifestyle in 2011, I went from being a 275 lb fatty to a 235 lb animal in just a few short months. I was in the best shape of my life, but because I didn’t have a destination, a goal, I kept pushing myself. I wanted more so I added more stress to my life in the form of Crossfit. My body liked it at first but then it started to show me signs via injuries that it was too much. Eventually my body had had enough and called it quits. As a result I ended up gaining weight! Do you understand? I wanted to get leaner so I added more frequent and intense exercises to my regimen and, as a result, got FAT! So much for training to “look good!”
If you do not have an answer to the question, “What am I training for?” then you are without a goal. Being without a goal is like taking a hike with no destination. Now, hiking is fun, but eventually, without a destination, you are going to run out of energy, food, and water and then the hike will no longer be about having fun. It will be about surviving. Plus, you will be lost, prone to injury, depressed, stressed and who knows what else.
The weight gain and injuries mentioned above could have been avoided if I had a stopping point. Really, what was I training for? Shouldn’t “Be in better shape at 37 than you were at 17” have been a good goal? A good stopping point? I just kept pushing and pushing.
The best thing that could have happened to me was getting tendonitis in both knees and injuring my hand. It forced me to quit training for a long time. This allowed my body to start healing itself. By the time my injuries had healed I was feeling a lot better. My body aches disappeared and my energy returned and, as a result, I took up movement instead of exercise in the form of rock climbing, walking, and calisthenics.
Oh, and by the way, I started training again. I am training for the MR340: An 88 hour, 340 mile canoe race down the Missouri River at the end of July.
What are YOU training for?