Exercise

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Endure

Endure

Mind, Body, and the Curiously Elastic Limits of Human Performance
edition:Paperback
also available: eBook Audiobook Hardcover
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Classical Yoga Ãsana

Classical Yoga Ãsana

A teacher training manual and practice guide for classical yoga postures in the tradition of T. Krishnamacharya and T.K.V. Desikachar
edition:Hardcover
tagged : yoga, exercise
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Yoga for Everyone

Yoga for Everyone

50 Poses For Every Type of Body
edition:Paperback
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The Tao of Wing Chun

The Tao of Wing Chun

The History and Principles of China’s Most Explosive Martial Art
edition:Paperback
also available: Hardcover
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The Time-Saver's Workout

The Time-Saver's Workout

A Revolutionary New Fitness Plan that Dispels Myths and Optimizes Results
edition:Paperback
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Your Fittest Future Self

Your Fittest Future Self

Making Choices Today for a Happier, Healthier, Fitter Future You
edition:eBook
also available: Paperback
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Excerpt

Chapter 1: Redefining “Fit”

Who exactly is your fitter future self? What will he or she look like?

You have decided you want to create a fitter future self — great! Recognizing a desire for change is the key first step in creating a fitter, healthier future self. The next step is to figure out who exactly your fitter future self will be.

If you are thinking, I want to look and be fit. Fit is fit. What is Kathleen talking about? Don’t worry. That is a common response. Fit is a word often thrown around as if there is one monolithic version of fit — as if fit will look the same on everyone. Fit not only looks different on everyone but will also look different on the same person as they age or as their life realities change. Take my dad: he used to play hockey and only hockey. Now that he is seventy, he plays fewer games per week so he can have time to strength train, garden, bike, and do some Pilates with me. He views these new additions as activities that will keep him mobile enough to play hockey for life. In my twenties I completed a full Ironman, eight half Ironmans, and ten marathons. I thrived on endurance events. Now I gravitate toward shorter runs and Pilates. Why the change? Possibly because I no longer feel the need to prove myself, and possibly because I am concentrating more on my work. Either way, my vision of who I want Kathleen to be— the way I want to spend my time and what I value — has changed. Maybe next year I will do CrossFit. Who knows? The immense possibilities life offers are among the incredible privileges of being alive.

The problem with the current widespread, immutable, one-size-fits-all interpretation of fitness and fit is that it is, at best, unrealistic and, at worst, highly unmotivating.

You might be wondering why this chapter isn’t called Rethinking Health. I purposely use fit rather than a broader term such as health for two interconnected reasons. First — and most important — the title of the book is Your Fittest Future Self. To create that fittest future you, you have to first understand how fit will look on you: What is your understanding of fit? How will you embody your understanding of the word? Who is this future you? Second, the title of my first book is Finding Your Fit. Why is this pertinent? For me, fit is a loaded word. Your fit is not just your jean size or how many push-ups you can do. Your fit is the interconnection between the activities that work best for your body, your relationship to your body, your inner sense of worth, your history, your goals, and how your understanding of health and wellness plays out — how it fits — on your body.

People too often fall off the fitness horse because they let preconceived ideas of what a fit person is inform their image of health success. A stereotypically fit person drinks protein shakes, has washboard abs, and trains daily. The problem is, why even start working out when the image of what you are trying to become seems so unachievable? This unattainable version of fit becomes yet another way we self-sabotage, indulge in false either-or choices, and let ourselves off the hook. In short, we don’t change or evolve, and we spiral further down the rabbit hole of “I always fail whenever I try. I am doomed to be unhealthy. Why even try?”

What's Your Fit?

Before you read the remainder of the book to learn strategies that will help you form your fittest future self, it’s important to figure out what fit means to you. What will fit look like on you? Here are some questions to think about.

  • How old are you?
  • What are your genetics?
  • What are your financial realities?
  • What are your past injuries?
  • How much time do you realistically have to commit to movement?
  • What is your exercise personality?
  • Do you need to work out at home?
  • Do you thrive on competition?
  • Do you like group exercise classes?
  • Are you so busy you have to fit motion into your daily life?

What is healthy?

What does fit and healthy mean to you? Too often, two options — two extremes — exist. Either a person is dedicated, absolutely on their program, and trying to look like a movie star or in the zone of self-acceptance. Typically, neither extreme is productive. Looking like a movie star is — for most people — not an attainable, realistic, or healthy goal. Creating a movie star aesthetic demands intense dedication layered onto all-star genetics — a laser focus on diet and exercise that most of us are not willing to have. That degree of dedication often ends up bordering on unhealthy compulsion.

On the other end of the extreme lies the idea that being healthy is about absolute self-acceptance devoid of a need for growth. While I absolutely advocate self-love and compassion, being healthy does not mean adopting the attitude that you love yourself enough to accept your- (unhealthy)-self just the way you are. Too often the “I love myself enough” attitude is used to justify self-indulgent, unhealthy behaviours by couching them in the legitimate psychological end goal of self-love. The thing is, when you actually love your¬self, you want to make healthy choices, not excuse unhealthy behaviours and thoughts.

Wanting to look like a movie star and staying stuck out of a pretense of self-acceptance are two of the most prevalent philosophies of health and together are an example of a false choice. When I suggest figuring out what health looks like for you, I don’t mean simply finding the balance between those two points. Balance implies that to be healthy you have to find a perfect middle ground. What I want you to decide is what works for you. To most, my version of health normal — my ideal balance — would feel extreme. That is okay. It works for me.

Instead of looking for the middle of two socially constructed polar opposites — or even caring about any socially constructed concepts of health — find the version of health that works for you, one that includes a WORKOUTmix, NUTRITIONmix, and MINDSETmix that are both individualized and open-ended. Health has no end date.

Creating an individualized MIND-SETmix is not an “if you have time” aspect of adopting a healthy lifestyle. The right mindset is critical; your mindset overlays every health choice you make. Your mindset — your inner dialogue — allows you to dispute your negative brain propaganda and form appropriate responses. Once you have a strong mindset, the ability to act will follow.

 

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