This Sunday post, courtesy of my Dad’s teachings, is about one way you can stay your course when the going gets tough. Growing up, whenever I went to my Dad for advice on how to handle a grievous situation, he would listen carefully and then advise, “Amy, you need to take the high road here.” “Don’t,” he would counsel, “let your reptilian brain take over.” What he was really saying was “Rise up.” If you feel sidelined by someone’s behaviour do not respond with a hurtful attack. “Two wrongs,” he was fond of telling me, as further rationale for the high road, “do not make a right”. Or he’d say, “Don’t greet bad behaviour with bad behaviour.” Be bigger than that!
What does this have to do with health and fitness? Reading Grit or Quit made me think of my Dad’s advice because when bruised egos get the better of us, in the gym or in other life matters, we may take the low road. Admittedly, I have, in challenging moments, stormed away reactively. To avoid taking this road, it can be helpful to have a framework to guide your actions in these moments. The key is to be able to stop yourself from a maladaptive response when you are feeling under threat. Modern day threats can include, a difficult workout, a critical comment, the lure of chocolate cake and wine as salve for a bad day, or any number of other triggers.
What are the benefits of taking the high road? Josh Hillis tells a story about a woman who lost and kept off 100 lbs. How’d she do it? In her mind, she had an image of the daily actions taken by a healthy person. Every time she was faced with a decision, she would ask herself, “What would a healthy person do? Take the stairs or the elevator?” Answer: “Stairs”. She’d take the stairs. “Muffin or vegetables and hummus?” Answer: “Vegetables and hummus.”
I’ve started putting my daily decisions through the high road test. For example, this morning when making breakfast, I didn’t feel like adding greens to the eggs and avocado. I needed to get a bigger plate and wrestle a container of greens from the fridge. Not a Herculean act. Asked myself, “What is taking the high road in this situation?” No brainer. Found a plate and got some greens out.
Know, your reptilian brain will want the comfort of a quick bowl of cereal, not a decent breakfast of proteins, carbs and fat. It will beg for the couch at 6pm versus the gym, the take-out vs the shopping and cooking required for home based fare. Fight off that inner voice imploring you to take the easy path, especially if you’ve had a derailing day or have eaten poorly and don’t feel like working out. Don’t let it turn into a month slog. Hop on the high road. Make your next meal a good one, lay out your workout clothes and sign up for a class.
If you are in low mood, or feeling stressed or rushed, it is harder to stay on course, but doing so will take you somewhere the low road won’t. Show up for yourself as that bigger person. Next time you are faced with a decision and wondering what to do, ask yourself, “Which is the high road, and which is the low?” Choose accordingly!
Sunday Morning Athletics
Warm Up: 20 Full Body Rocks with Sky Reach
WOD: EMOM x 40 (5 Rounds):
Minutes 1-2: Row/Bike/Ski Meters
Minute 3: Strict Press (empty barbell)
Minute 4: Back Rack Reverse Lunges (empty barbell)
Minute 5-6: Row/Bike/Ski Meters
Minute 7: Med Ball Dead Bugs
Minute 8: Center Plank
Time/transitions will be called for you if wished. Goal is steady movement for 40 minutes. Speed isn’t intended to be uber fast. Pace it. High reps, low weights, minimal rest. Add light load to bar if needed. Sub other movements if required within framework i.e. floor press, ring rows, push-ups for strict press, squats for lunges, weighted sit-ups, flutter kicks, Russian twists, for med-ball dead-bugs. Cardio alternatives = Skipping, Step-Ups, Squat thrusts, Jumping Jacks, Get-Ups. Switch legs every rep on step back lunges.
- 20 reps each of head nods and rotations
- 5 per side: upper body, lower body rolls, elbow rolls with hold
- 20 bird dogs
- 5 superman holds
- 20 down dog climbers
- 20 hands and knee rocks
- reaching pigeon hold :30 per side
- :60 child’s pose with belly breathing