My fellow Mechaniacs, it took me many, many years to understand that there is a distinct difference between Health and Fitness. And although you may believe they are one in the same, I assure you they are not. I have found that a person can be very fit, and still not be very healthy. Such was my situation. We measure fitness by the level of flexibility, speed, endurance, agility, and the like. We measure health thusly: Do you have any signs or symptoms of dis-ease? . For example, you can run 10 miles non-stop (very good fitness), but sharp pain in your hip and back plague you throughout your day. Is the difference a little more clear now? Once it became clear to me, I knew I had to dedicate myself to helping athletes like you (fit people) to become healthier. And in my world, the combined measure of Fitness and Health is the definition of WELLTH. Our "Wellth Triangle" logo embodies the entire mission and vision for The Body Mechanic. The idea, as an athlete, is to integrate seamlessly your ability to flex your muscles with mighty force with your ability to relax in direct proportion, while simultaneously optimizing your ability to perform, recover, and protect yourself. The triangle must be an equilateral triangle, where all sides are equally important.
So here's a question -- How Wellthy are you? Wellth is something that we all should strive for, but so many people don't really have. It seems most people do not give wellness too much thought until they have lost it. Then they want it back quickly (we hate to wait, don't we?), so they turn to quick fixes, which we all know by now do not actually work. Great wellth can be achieved by anyone that is willing to understand it and make regular investments towards it. The idea is to make your wellth-span as long as your life-span. But, increasingly, for most people, the wellth span stops around age 40 (this age is decreasing by the way) and the life span continues to around age 80. Do you really want to spend 40 or more years with ever increasing sickness and inability to really live? You don't have to.
Let's think of your body as having three broad functions. These functions overlap and are interdependent. They are Performance-Recovery-Protection. You can shorten it to PRP. Imagine a triangle with Performance on one side, Recovery on another side, and Protection on the third side. Think of this as your Wellth Triangle. You should work to optimize each side of your Wellth triangle. Further, this triangle should be balanced. And inside the triangle lie the keys to great Wellth. They are the actions you must take to achieve balance, and with it high levels of Wellth. Repeating these actions regularly will teach and reinforce the skills necessary for great Wellth. We call these "3M". They are: Mind, Muscle, and Massage. Now, imagine the 3M wrapped around the Chinese symbol for universally flowing balance, the Yin-Yang symbol. How deep does this rabbit hole go? OK, Let's look at PRP. We will get deeper in a later eLetter!
Performance defines your ability to actually do activities. Perhaps you can run a marathon in under 3 hrs. Perhaps you can play a hard game of soccer or tennis. Perhaps you can do 100 hindu squats in less than 3 minutes. Any activity falls under the category of Performance. As an athlete, you probably focus primarily on Performance. It is possible to perform at high levels, yet be deficient in the other two categories. We see it in athletes all the time. Athletes are used to performing at high levels in spite of chronic pain and inflammation. If there is chronic pain and inflammation, then Recovery and Protection are not optimized.
Recovery defines your ability to recover from anything that you have done or that was done to you (such as injury or disease). But, remember, Recovery comes in two categories. There is recovering from activity and recovering during activity. Perhaps after playing that game of touch football you suffer from back spasms for days. Those spasms did not keep you from playing, but they come on as a direct result of playing. How many athletes do you know that have to deal with this? This is an example of the inability to recover from activity. Perhaps you can run one mile in 7 minutes, but you can not maintain that 7 min/mile pace for a full marathon. Quite simply, this is because your body can not recover during your run sufficiently enough to maintain your pace. So, you must slow down or stop altogether. A runner than can run a marathon in 2 1/2 hrs has more strength endurance, foot fall per foot fall, than a runner that can run a marathon in at best 3 hrs. Or, consider a person that gets sick from a virus. Viruses make us sick by invading our cells and breaking them apart. If you have some sort of immunodeficiency, then you will either take a long time to recover, recover incompletely, or be killed by the virus. This is another example of recovery (or, more accurately, the inability to recover). A third example is when you are injured. I am willing to bet that you have some injury that you are living with. And it flares up from time to time, right? If you are wellthy, then you will recover enough from an injured muscle or joint to be able to function well and play your sport without problems during or after. How wellthy you are directly impacts how well you recover from injuries or sickness.
Protection defines your body's ability to keep you from breaking down from any activity that you do or that is done to you. Of the three components of Wellth, this one seems to me to be the one that gets the least amount of attention. This is probably true because Protection inherently involves proactively building yourself up through exercise, diet, and lifestyle. It involves practicing what I call "The art of relaxation", which is antithetical to the chaos of stress. If you do not practice the art of relaxation regularly, then by default you will allow the chaos of stress. And, let's face it, most of us consider ourselves too busy to invest in prevention. But I know you are different, in part because you are reading this article.
Remember, the three components are interdependent and must be in balance. If you focus only on Performance and Recovery and leave off Protection, you will break down far sooner, during your activities and over your life time, than you should. It seems many health care professionals approach rehab (Recovery) as if you should only focus on the body. But, trust me, if your rehab does not involve your emotions and feelings; if it doesn't integrate the "art of relaxation" in its methods, then you will very likely not recover from your injuries.
So, you can see by now that, in essence, it is impossible to focus on any one of the components of wellth at the total exclusion of the other two. If you exercise for performance (for example, to be able to run a mile in 7 minutes), you are still building up your recovery and protection systems because your body will get stronger. However, if you neglect to consider diet, supplements, sleep, and stress management, then you won't be as wellthy as you should. By the same token, if you focus on eating all the "right" foods and taking supplements in an effort to "enhance your digestion" and "protect your body from disease", yet neglect proper and adequate exercise, then you again will be lacking in wellth. I notice that there are a proliferation of writings that fall into this second class. My opinion is that this idea of eating the "right" foods (while avoiding "bad" foods) and taking supplements, while considering exercise as quite secondary (or even unnecessary) is becoming more and more popular because diet takes less effort than vigorous exercise. Let me say here that for optimal wellth, the right exercise is king. If you want to be wellthy, daily exercise is compulsory!
Remember, all of the action takes place at the cellular level. This is why I am so fascinated by bio physiology. If each of your trillions of cells Perform optimally, Recover optimally from the stress of performance and from the stress of invaders and injury, and are so well Protected that they can not be easily broken down by invaders or stress, then you will be very wellthy indeed. Cells make up tissue, tissue makes organs, and organs make your body. Your body is a mini-universe, made up of trillions of mini-mini-universes (your cells), which are made up of countless mini-mini-mini-universes (atoms), which are composed of sub-atomic particles (neutrons, electrons, protons). And there are theories concerning the make up of the sub-atomic particles themselves. All of these sub-universes somehow work together to maintain a steady equilibrium within the universe called You, regardless of the outside temperature or conditions. And anytime your universe is disrupted via injury or invaders or emotional stress, all of your trillions of systems come together to destroy the invaders, clean up the mess, and restore order. How well your body can do this is a direct measure of your Wellth.
So, how Wellthy are you? If you pay attention to your PRP, then you are indeed well on you way to great Wellth.
To Your Health!
Jeff Wooten, "The Body Mechanic"
I‘m not usually very big on new year‘s resolutions per se. Reason being they conjure up images of fad diets and failed exercise. With the beginning of each new year, many of us decide we are going to improve some aspect of our lives or break some bad habit. These are good goals, but unfortunately these goals tend to crumble shortly after they are conceived. The reason is that they aren't conceived properly. We all know that over the next couple months there will be a surge of enrollments at local gyms. Each person has made the commitment to get into shape because this is going to be the year. So, they sign contracts with the gyms for 1 to 3 years up front. But did you know that, on average, these same people stop going to the gyms after 6 weeks? This happens year in and year out. Even the more committed gym rats only go to the gyms here and there for a while. In either case, if you fast forward to the end of the year, most of the resolutioners are no further along than they were at the very beginning of the year. Sad but true.
I believe all of us can greatly improve our chances of achieving our goals if we follow the athlete‘s model for event preparation. Whenever an athlete decides to compete in an event that is perhaps months away, his trainer designs a comprehensive plan of what must happen in order to achieve that goal. The trainer and the athlete decide upon exactly (with details) what the condition of the athlete should be by a given date. The trainer installs several check points which tell the trainer and the athlete if they are on target to meet the goals. And they continually adjust the intermediate goals in order to stay on target for the larger goals.
This type of goal setting may seem foreign and complicated to you right now, but it is a well established model that has been followed for many, many years with great success. And you too can follow this model. Keep in mind that every world class athlete must be in tip top condition both physically and mentally at the time of competition. And we are talking about competitions where the difference between first and second place can be a matter of inches or thousandths of a second! Also note that no athlete can be in tip top condition all of the time. This is why every trainer must use what is called ‘periodization‘ in order to make sure the athlete peaks at the right time. If the athlete peaks too soon or too late (even a matter of days), then it could mean disaster. So, it is no accident that a sprinter can set the 100 meter dash world record at a track and field event when she probably would not have physically been able to do it just weeks earlier. Or, when you see a welter weight boxer at the peak of condition weighing exactly 147 lbs when the weight limit is 147 lbs (understand that this same boxer would likely have weighed on average 170 lbs just a few months earlier. This means that he and his trainer knew ahead of time exactly how much weight, to the pound, they would have to lose and by when -- while still maintaining world class athleticism. Talk about precision!)
For any goal that we are going to make, we must visualize how things will be once that goal is met. Once you can see the end result, then you work backwards from there and determine what you must do to achieve that goal. You must set several mini-goals (called meso-goals) and micro-goals. Most importantly, you must write these goals down. If you don‘t write them down, they can fade away. And every day, you must read these goals aloud and tell yourself what you are going to do to achieve them. As you achieve each micro- or meso-goal, you strike it off of your list or mark it completed.
So, for any long term goal that you are serious about you will write it down. This is your macro-goal. Decide upon when you will have completed it. Then, you decide what meso-goals you will need to accomplish in order to meet the macro goal. Your meso-goals can take weeks or months, depending upon how long your macro-goal is. Then, for each meso-goal, you decide upon a series of micro-goals that need to be met. Your micro-goals can be days or weeks long. You then install check points to measure your progress. If you are off at any time, you simply adjust. Just like an archer aiming for that bull‘s eye. Sometimes you have to aim higher or lower or to the right a bit more. But you keep adjusting until you hit it. This is the method by which I train all of my clients.
At this point you have a goal and a model by which to achieve that goal. You haven‘t simply said, ‘I am going to lose weight this year.‘ If you do that, you are probably going to fail. Every serious endeavor requires total commitment. This means breaking the goal down and planning to succeed. My father used to say that you must always have your 5 Ps together. They are:
If you remember the 5 Ps and put them into practice, then you are well on your way. Good luck to you!
To Your Health!
Jeff Wooten, "The Body Mechanic"