My belief in superpowers has secretly endured long after most's had given in and grown up. The idea of a chance genetic mutation or the activation of key genes allowing humans extraordinary abilities lasted years after Santa ceased visits and the Boogie Man stopped hanging out under my bed.
What's more, we have seen them! The humans who walk among us and defy logic time and again with proven skill. In our time alone, people like Scott Flansburg, Concetta Antico, and Daniel Kish have wowed us with their superhuman brains, and individuals such as Wim Hof, Jim Thorpe, and Stig Severinsen achieve physical feats that continually push the boundaries of what we thought was possible.
What does this have to do with your fitness journey? As much as you want it to.
The human body is an incredible machine that allows us to achieve nothing short of miracles; alas, over time, the colors of our potential have dulled in the mirror. Like so much magic and technology, it is underappreciated in our time. So mesmerized by external distractions, we forget that we are each capable of our own unique set of natural abilities or super powers given the right environment and motivation.
I aim to start an ongoing empowerment series for our inner supers that covers different aspects of health and fitness while traveling and at home. To kick things off, I'm taking us back to the beginning and sharing some basic yet vital bits of fitness knowledge.
Time to learn and level up!
"I don't have the time."
The biggest hurdle for most who are trying to get into shape is carving out the hour or two per day it takes to get to the gym; a task that often requires you to get pumped up just to make it out the door, causing us to laze away from the idea of working out altogether. But you should not have to stress about setting massive chunks of your time and energy aside. Fitness is a lifestyle best maintained by small yet powerful choices.
This is even easier than it sounds. Fitness is primarily dependent on proper diet, and up-keeping our physiques can simply be done by adjusting the way we participate in the present moment. We spend a great deal of our lives waiting around - for transportation, in queues, in a meeting with someone who's running late, for dinner to ding, your phone to ring, the Fat Lady to sing - you get where I'm going.
Seriously though, if you calculated the cumulative years we spent waiting around in some way throughout our lifetime, it would shock you. Alas! This is a perfect moment to cognitively reframe and make those small yet powerful choices.
Squat jumps or push ups at the bus stop. Calf raises while waiting in line at the grocery store. Do kegels while seated - men too. Lunges while scrolling your phone. Stretch when watching television. Focus on your diaphragm and breathing while reading this article.
Kindly remind yourself to do these whenever it pops into your mind. Soon it becomes automatic. Then the numbers begin to add up.
Small tasks daily will rival the labors of Hercules.
It is also important, as we'll discuss towards the end, to remind ourselves that we are of Nature, and Nature does not usually adhere to society's 9 to 5 schedule nor always align with the times you had planned for your workout.
So move when your body asks you to. Excuse yourself from that board meeting for two minutes, dip into the bathroom away from the party, stand up from your table at the coffee shop, and give your body a few seconds to shake it out. Even if you only take a moment to stretch, let your body know that you have heard it. The more you do this, the more it will talk to you. Our bodies possess wisdom on how to best care for our individual selves, so it is important that we give it proper attention when feeling restless.
"I don't have the money."
Far too many of the greatest athletes in history came from nothing and trained with nothing for you to be able to use money as an excuse to not be in shape. In fact, I believe it shows that money can often over-complicate things.
All the skinny teas, waist trainers, and fat burners are bullshit. You don't need to wait for those new yoga pants. Gym memberships can be overpriced. You technically do not even need shoes.
This is primal shit. Money only serves as 'fun coupons' in this world.
As a species, we have become strikingly disconnected from nature - and thus, the most basic wisdom of ourselves. Physical Education and Health have become partial subjects in schools instead of a naturalistic part of our lives taught at home. Not that it was their responsibility, but our modern education system has failed us in these subject areas.
Media has also managed to fear-monger falsehoods through comparison and aesthetic competition into the most basic knowledge taught to children in order to promote corporate gain and political agendas. Now, it can be difficult to tell fact from fiction in regards to what truly works for our bodies.
Here are some basic yet vital facts that might adjust your relationship with fitness, or alter your path altogether:
The fact that popular magazines still get away with publishing articles like"Beyonce's Secret Body Workout" or "The New Model Diet" is proof that we, as a society, are not educated when it comes to our own bodies.
Unless you were born looking like a model, you probably never will. These people did not simply put in hard work to make it to the runway; they were born having won a specific genetic lottery; same goes for most of the world's elite athletes and super-brained geniuses. This is not to say that those born without these gifts can't improve upon their station of skill or appearance if desired, nor it does not mean that those naturally gifted will always win out in the end (Gattaca, anyone?).
All this means is that if our bodies are liken to temples, then we should take pride in ours being unique. We each have a rare set of genetic building material, our heredity, as well as construction tools of our own devising, lifestyle choices. No two temples were meant to be alike.
Height: ~ 80% heritable
Aerobic fitness capabilities: ~ 40-50% heritable
Strength and muscle mass: ~ 50-60% heritable
Mix of “slow twitch” and “fast twitch” muscle fibers (muscles being better at endurance vs sprinting): ~ 45% heritable
Competing in sports: ~ 66% heritable
Obesity: ~ 70% heritable
Keeping in mind that multiple genes make up each characteristic, there is a great deal of room for error when trying to pinpoint what routines and habits work best for our individual selves.
Two people with no difference in age, gender, body mass, nor commitment can take on identical exercise and diet regimes, only to have completely different results by the end. Everyone has their own version of the "perfect routine." We are not forsaken to the cards we were dealt; in nature versus nurture, we can never underestimate the strength and determination of the human spirit.
But when was the last time you heard of a superhuman envying another's powers and it going well? If you get anything from this article, I hope you stop using your energy searching external sources, magazines or the latest Insta diet fad, for answers that will best come through personal internal observation.
Be patient finding your routine.
Diet is 80% of fitness.
While this may be sad news for those who were hoping to out-exercise their bad diets, it is wonderful news for many who are tired of over-exercising.
Food is not just fuel, it is medicine, and that can also be a tricky balance to nail down. Muscle mass, fat accumulation, energy levels, acne, and much more is highly dependent on how our diets interact with our specific genetic variants. One of the most reliable factors to begin honing in on your balance is your blood type!
Blood type plays a huge role in determining what foods and activities will respond best when refueling our systems. There are some interesting recommendations in the eat Eat Right for Your Type diet guide.
In addition to our regular food intake, there are certain part-time diets that offer powerful healing possibilities. Since ancient times, a raw plant-based diet has been used as a rapid fix for those looking to get into shape or cure a number of more serious ailments:
Type II Diabetes
The ancients also believed in regular fasting, a practice that as endured as many health and spiritual groups still practice it today. Humans can survive weeks without food, and when done properly, fasting is a safe, excellent way to cleanse and reboot our systems through ketosis. Being hungry does not mean dying or drained; science has confirmed that this is when our bodies and brains kick into survival mode and begin functioning at a sharper capacity. Long-term benefits of the practice include:
Prevention of Alzheimer's and other neurodegenerative disorders
Shrinkage of cancer cells
Stimulates cellular autophagy
Slowing the aging process
Improves immune regulation
Improves genetic repair mechanisms
Improves insulin sensitivity
Reduces levels of inflammation
There are dozens of methods within the school of fasting, so do the research to find the one that would best suit your body.
There is No Such Thing as Burning Fat in a Single Area on Your Body
Spot reduction, or targeted fat loss, is a myth.
Anytime you lose fat, it burns from around your entire body. You can workout a specific muscle group and lose general weight, then the targeted area seems to be shedding fat faster than the rest of your body because you've been giving it more attention and pumping it up.
But no, you cannot just lose tummy fat.
About the Workout
My relationship with fitness started before I can remember it beginning. Both of my parents were star athletes during their youths and workout junkies when I was a kid. My brothers and I would accompany them to the gym and exercise outings where my father taught us weightlifting, climbing, gymnastics, martial arts, nutrition, mindset, and the importance of incorporating nature into our lifestyle.
I was five years old when I fell in love with high intensity interval training. Dad set up obstacle courses for us, then timed our runs. This laid the foundation of respect for the work needed to gain new skills for the sports I've competed in or worked with throughout my life: gymnastics, basketball, dance, track, boxing, and highlining.
Despite thorough fitness involvement in my upbringing, it was never a center-point in my life, rather a consistent friend and outlet when the rest of life became too much. Even in university, I began putting up professional weightlifting numbers and competed as a boxer, going on to win two national championships undefeated, but these were for no other benefit than to supplement my personal growth.
This mindset allowed me to learn a variety of methods from diverse schools of thought. Throughout my journey, these are my favorite tips for improving my abilities thus far:
Workout to be Strong and Capable - Looking Good will Follow
I was taught that fitness is me