Category Archives: Food for Thought

Is This The One Thing Holding You Back?

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“The only thing to fear, is fear itself.” – John F. Kennedy

“I can do this”  I think to myself over and over again.  I’m practicing throwing handstands – something I never did as a kid but want to be able to do as an adult.  I know I have the pre-requisite strength, stability, and ROM in my shoulders.  I’ve done the progressions – holding against the wall, kicking up into the wall, etc. etc.  “I can do this.”  But in my gut, there is a kernel of doubt.  Whenever I try to throw in open space, I can feel myself hold my breathe.  I’m not relaxed.  I tell myself it’s just the nerves of the unknown.  When you don’t spend much time upside down, it’s pretty disorienting to go there.  “I can do this.”  And I do.  Kind of.  I can throw for a couple of seconds.  Sometimes, the planets align and the moon is full and I can even break 10-15s in a single go.  But it’s inconsistent.  I can tell something is holding me back, though I’m not sure what.  My wrists start to ache from practice, and I don’t feel like I’m really getting any better.  I’ve hit the dreaded plateau.

So, I back off.  I wish I could say it was strategic, that I went back to work on the basics, but really, I just realized that I wasn’t getting anywhere doing what I was doing.  I let my attention drift to other things.  It was pure luck that one of those things was the Original Strength system.

OS workshop Chicago

Teaching at the Original Strength workshop in Chicago with Paul, Tim, and Sarah.

OS + Hope

If you haven’t heard of Original Strength before (we talk about it all the time on The Human Animal Podcast), it is a movement restoration system that focuses on the developmental blueprint we are born with.  In order to learn to walk, we must first master breathing, head control, rolling, rocking, and crawling.  Original Strength retrains those skills in order to restore our original movement operating system.  Essentially, we’re hitting the reset button.  I won’t go into too much more detail here, but there is one final point I need to make about Original Strength.  The most important part of OS isn’t the movements: it’s hope.

Original Strength gave me a set of tools that was approachable and effective at changing movement and pain, both with myself and with my clients.  With the confidence that you are not made to be broken comes another kind of confidence – that you are capable of learning to move well.

And so, almost 6 months later, I decided to try handstands again.  I noticed a change before I even threw it.  In my mind, I didn’t think “I can do this.”  I thought “It’s going to be fun to hang out upside down for a while.”  And I did.  And it was easy.

So, the question is, did Original Strength help me move better by fine-tuning my vestibular system?  Probably.

Or, did finally believing in my gut that I had the handstand – that it wasn’t a question of if I could do it, but that I wanted to do it – unlock my potential?  The only answer I can give is YES!

The Lightbulb Turns On

Experience has proved this point, both for my own practice and in my coaching.  I like to call it The Internal Governor Model of Self-Doubt.  Most of us know about the governors in our car engines that keep you from going above a certain regulated speed.  There’s also the Internal Governor theory for the nervous system – that your brain acts as an governor to control muscle tension and length, as well as energy expenditure so that you don’t push too hard too far.  In both of these situations, there’s still a little left in the tank, but it’s close to the limit so the governor keeps you within a safe range.  But what if that governor was set too low?  What if you were leaving safe but effective potential on the table?

The Internal Governor Model of Self-Doubt works in much the same way.  Namely, it’s the principle that your beliefs about yourself become your limitations and restrictions.

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Let Go

It’s time to let go.

To let go of who you think you should be and embrace who you are right at this very moment.

To let go of the pursuit of a perfect body and instead embrace the journey of understanding your body and nurturing it.

To let go of the idea that exhaustion equals progress and embrace rest.

To let go of the scale and embrace the WHOLE you.

To let go of the quick result and embrace the process.

To let go of your judgements about food and embrace mindful eating.

To let go of the fitness culture and embrace a movement culture.

To let go of your screens and embrace the faces of those around you.

To let go of your limitations and embrace your possibilities.

To let go of workouts and embrace play outs.

To let go of perfection and embrace progress.

To let go of grudges and embrace forgiveness. (especially towards yourself)

To let go of the fear of what you can’t do and embrace the hope of what you can do.

It’s time.

How Hormones Affect Body Fat Regulation

Below is a list of just some of the hormones that affect body fat regulation and metabolism.  I hope this gives you a clearer idea of the wonderful complexity of our human system without making you feel overwhelmed.  Remember, even though understanding the role of hormones is important, it all comes back to actionable steps – like the ones I have listed out on the EAT page.


 

Insulin: (“the bank teller”) – Think of insulin like a bank teller that only accepts  it puts money in the bank (i.e. energy into the cells), but doesn’t release any back into circulation.  When insulin is high, it’s partner hormone glucagon is unable to release energy from the cells into the bloodstream.

Leptin: (“the weather reporter”) – Leptin is a hormone produced by fat cells in the body. It acts on receptors in the hypothalamus of the brain, where it inhibits appetite.  In essence, it tells the brain how much fat the body is storing for energy.  However, through a condition called leptin resistance, it’s possible that this forecast is inaccurate and that the body will continue to store body fat well beyond what is necessary.  Think of if a weather reporter told you it was freezing outside – you’d bundle up!  But when you stepped outside, you realized it was 60 degrees and sunny, but it’s too late to turn back to change clothes.  Your body can work in the same way if it thinks we are low on essential body fat!

Cortisol: (“the emergency responder”) – Also known as the “stress hormone”, cortisol is secreted by the adrenal glands to help the body recover from a fight or flight stress response.  When you get stressed out, cortisol is there to help.  However, chronically elevated levels of cortisol promotes insulin resistance and elevates leptin levels.  This has led to cortisol getting a bad rap, when in actuality it is an essential hormone to our survival – we just want to make sure it’s not overworking itself.

Glucagon: (“the ATM”) – Glucagon is a hormone secreted from the alpha cells of the pancreas in response to the demand for energy.  It lets the energy out of cells that insulin has stored.  When your body gets low on energy (or cash in this example), you can go to the ATM and withdraw more.  This keeps your blood sugar levels steady throughout the day.

Emotional Well-Being and Tiger Kittens – The Human Animal Podcast

In today’s episode, we dive down a rabbit-hole that Nate opened on a previous pod:  emotional goal-setting.  Drawing inspiration from the work of Thich Nhat Hanh, Nathan lays out a template for understanding our emotional selves and how we relate to others.  We also talk about empaths from Star Trek and Tiger Kittens.  What’s not to like?

We feel this is a topic that gets swept under the rug in most “fitness” circles, but our emotional readiness is just as important to handling a situation as our physical readiness.

We’d love feedback/shared experiences/etc!  Just send them over to:  thehumananimalpodcast@gmail.com

And if you have time, please leave a review on iTunes!

Best,

Matt and the crew

Do You Have a Health or a Fitness Goal? – The Human Animal Podcast

This week, Nate and I sit down to cover a topic near and dear to our hearts: goal-setting.  Why do we set the goals we do?  Are they appropriate for what we want to accomplish?  And how does the fitness industry alter our perception of ourselves?  This was one of our most powerful discussions yet!

Have questions?  Send them to thehumananimalpodcast@gmail.com