We’ve all heard it - slow and steady wins the race. So where does that go when it’s time to set fitness goals? Throughout my training so far, I’m seeing that the most common way to exercise is to do... the mindless stuff. Not necessarily physically easy exercise, but mentally lacking direction and oversight. Jump on a treadmill, space out for 30 min, throw around a few free weights, done! It’s no wonder most people get bored and fall off track, and never get to stretching or functional abs or kinetic chain coordination. When you take the time to get to know your body, get curious about your imbalances, and invest in full-body progress, you create a well-rounded lifestyle you can take with you anytime, anywhere.
Build your foundation! When building your dream house, you wouldn’t skimp out on all the quality materials or reinforcement details, would you? YOU ARE WORTHY OF THIS TOO! Take the pull-up: it takes the neural recruitment and coordination of your entire upper body, the mechanical potential of your joints to dynamically stabilize your weight, hand strength, core strength, and then of course the actual arm muscle strength, all to pull you up! Try this out of the blue and the risk of injury is high, but build up to it over a few months and soon you’ll be pulling it off! Breaking down any goal into baby moves and build out your joint stabilizers with resistance bands mimicking the move you want to do. Grow high-quality tendons and ligaments through high-rep, low-load sets, and establish deep neural-to- core recruitment with focused visualization of the belly button pulling deep to the spine throughout any full-body move. These are just a few examples of foundational strength. “Prehabing” your body will make a difference in your fitness journey starting today and allow you to progress efficiently. Even if you just fit 10 seconds or one set of corrective movements in, it all counts!
Aim up, no matter how small! A common mistake people make is setting their goal outside of their actual realm of possibility. “I’m going to hit the gym 5 days a week for 2 hrs and never miss a day and lose this crazy amount of weight in this small time window”... unlikely! It’s not surprising that an unrealistic pace like this get discouraging and tough to stick to, but we see it over and over... why? Because the steady pathway is usually NOT the glamorous one. Setting that giant end goal gives us a sexy rush, but once that wears off, the real work sets in, and it’s WORK honey! Be realistic about what baby steps you can commit to, and then stick to those to build momentum, and re-establish good habits. This will take you much farther than an unrealistic behavior that invites the self-sabotage cycle and may do more harm than good. Consistency over intensity! Even taking one bite less at each meal, doing one more rep, walking for 5 more minutes adds to your forward and upward progress. Before you know it, that rep becomes a set, those extra steps become extra miles, and you build sustainable trust in your body that will allow for much more release!
Go slow because it takes time to remodel your body! It seems that most people avoid stretching and stabilization work because it’s not an instant-gratification type of training. It’s as mental as it is physical. It’s going to require accountability, investment, and commitment TO YOURSELF as you re-create your body’s reality in physical space. Thank your body for splinting high-risk areas, and realize that there may be years or decades of inflammation and scar tissue to release. In many people the hip flexors are so tight that the thigh bone is tensioned forward and doesn’t sit correctly in the hip socket. This pulls on then pinches the rear hip complex and can be realized as low back pain. It’s going to take trust, work, and time for the hip flexor to relax and loosen, for the joint cartilages to re-mold, for the brain to turn on the glutes again, and then for the whole complex to coordinate together. Try to get to full-body stretching at least twice a week, as our bodily tissues (muscles, tendons, fascia, etc) start to revert to baseline after 3-4 days (until you reset your baseline!). Try to check in with yourself at least once a month, and get curious about whatever’s stiff or feeling limited, and take time to notice your improvements! Releasing tightness, activating the proper stabilizers, and realigning your skeleton is one of the biggest gifts you can give yourself, and also one of the major responsibilities of your life! It will take time and focus to increase flexibility and stability, and it’s worth it! You are the only one who can do this work.
Sometimes it’s easy to get discouraged because the goal you set starts to seem daunting, or unreachable... from where you are now. And that’s the most important part to remember! We are capable of so much more that our current parameters of reality allow us to see. Flash to the classic tortoise-hare story: up close, the hare seems to be miles ahead of the competition, right? But when you scope out to the full picture, the tortoise is the one building a foundation for success. Pull up one of your major skills in your mind, and think back to before you had EVER done that - could you convince your old self of how excellent you are at that task now? Realize you are capable of anything you let your imagination play with, and no step is too small to break your current habits and start realigning your life towards your perfect health!
This blog was written by Kat Blair, Personal Trainer at Body Kinetics Novato