We all live fast lives nowadays, trying to balance all areas as well as we can. From family and friends, to work and hobbies, they all take time and require energy from us. We all choose how we distribute this energy amongst the various areas, some more consciously than others. I always considered myself quite self-aware but I did make one mistake when looking back at this year - not breaking it up into small enough pieces.
What I mean by that, is that I thought of the different areas and tried to save myself in some, to have more for the ones that matter most to me, like family and friends. I did not however, break it down to the chemical level and why would I, you might think? I have a new philosophy which makes everything clearer to me when juggling life areas.
In order for us all to understand, I quickly have to dip into our physiology. Do not worry, I will try not to bore you with the details. Like a car that runs on gasoline or diesel, we run on something and I do not mean food. We have three main energy systems that deliver us the kick we need, depending on the task we ask from the body.
The first one could be, a 10 second hard sprint to the bus (Phosphagen System – think Usain Bolt System). The next, quite high efforts ranging from 30 seconds to 2 Minutes (information sources vary with the times here, but they are roughly correct). The last one is the one we spent most time in, day in and day out. The ‘Aerobic System’ is the only one to use oxygen to produce long term energy, to enable you to dig your fork into the Christmas ham for hours without fatiguing. Your body always tries to find the best harmony between the systems, it is always a mix needed for movement, never just one.
Anyway, so what they ALL do is create ATP (Adenosine triphosphate – just forget about the long version). The first two systems produce it rapidly, while the long, slow burning aerobic system, rather slowly. So, this stuff I knew beforehand and maybe some of you as well.
What I did not do beforehand was to relate our physiology to everyday life (not sports).
When we really break it down, as we just did, you have to become aware that everything you do will in the end use the same energy, ATP. So, if you cry because you spread a fresh, beautifully smelling Pizza into the wall because you stumbled, this utterly horrible sadness will be taking energy from your one gas tank - ATP. Afterwards, still sad, you walk quickly to the bathroom and hit your small toe, hard against the door frame; amazing amounts of pain flush through your body - same gas tank baby, some ATP gone again. You already start dreading work and some co-workers - ATP gone. You have drama with your partner or friends - ATP gone. You crush your training anyway, hoping to feel relieved after - huge amounts of ATP gone. Lack of sleep - ATP gone just to get you halfway through the day. Lack of calories and still push through the day (who does such a thing?!) - ATP gone.
You get where I am heading here - everything you do and feel will be taken from the only gas tank we humans have.
This might help you to become more aware of yourself in daily life. Do not spend energy on things that deep down, you know are not in your best interest. They all have to align, to point towards your personal vision and dreams. Of course, the negative things will keep affecting us but the art of self-control and self- awareness is to cut it right there. Mark Allen, a legendary 6 x IRONMAN winner, perfected this with many years of practice with a shaman, called Brant Secunda. (Interesting book out there if you like this stuff, called, ’Fit Soul-Fit Body’ by Brant Secunda and Mark Allen).
IRONMAN triathlon is about constantly adjusting to stressful situations. The one that has prepared well and masters this on race day, will win. Mark Allen eventually only needed 5 seconds, 3 deep breaths during an IRONMAN to regain his balance, mentally and physically, after an almost melt down. Most of us need at least half an hour, up to several hours, to regain control over our feelings after an irritating stimulus, like an annoying boss or mean comments about you. Meditation is a simple and great tool to really become aware and regain control of whatever has been pushing your buttons. I highly recommend the App, ‘Headspace’ – super simple start to meditation, only 3 Minutes a day to start with. Funny short videos to explain and millions of downloads already. I often recommend it to patients; some need it more than others but I can promise that you will benefit from it.
When you read about the most successful people in business or athletes, you can be sure to find some sort of meditation in their daily routine. You do not have to become the most successful at anything but being a balanced and happy person, for the people around you and for yourself, should be motivation enough.
Have a great week and chat soon,