How To Reach Your Goals - An Upside Down Perspective
So, a few weeks ago I did a handstand. First time ever in my life.
(You can read about my personal story about why that wasn’t an activity in my childhood, and my view on weight loss right here).
“Woop-di-doo, Wends” I hear you say. “What’s this got to do with me and my health?”.
Well… hear me out. I had been wanting to do a handstand for years. I had watched other people that I work out with do them with quiet envy and found I was a bit too self-conscious to ask for help to get upside-down. I felt that, as a personal trainer, I was supposed to know how to do these things (a familiar pressure we put on ourselves in any industry). In reality, I just didn’t know where to start and I was a bit scared of launching myself onto that wall and falling on my head. I think I’d be safe in saying that’s a common fear. As always, the Universe provides, and my gym fatefully had a six-week challenge starting. I thought, here it is - here’s your opportunity. So, I joined the challenge and the handstand became my goal.
As a side note, I need to let you know that I am not normally a very big fan of gym challenges because most of them advocate strict calorie controlled diets and encourage huge exercise loads – all the while focusing entirely on weight loss. They are generally unsustainable, unrealistic and damaging to your body’s metabolism. The gym that I go to is different. When they run Challenges they encourage you to pick an exercise related goal (like Increase squat / deadlift weight, running speed etc) and a restrictive diet is not given, although basic nutrition is discussed. I generally use them as a tool to focus in on intuitive eating skills, which I teach as part of weight management in the clinic. For instance, I might focus for six weeks on mindful eating and eating without distractions (TV, phone, paper, newspaper). Let me tell you – that in itself is quite a challenge!
ANYWAY – back to the point.
For the challenge I had an extra PT session a week on top of what I do normally. In that session we primarily worked on shoulder strength and stability and full body recruitment of muscles. I invested about another 10 to 15 minutes a day at home, 5 days a week, on shoulder rehabilitation style exercises that my coaches showed me. Three weeks into the program I did my first successful handstand. It was about 10 seconds. By the end of the six weeks I was doing 35 second handstands! And, I didn’t fall on my head once!
When I reflected on the process that helped me reach my goal, it occurred to me that wanting to improve your health is not too different than wanting to do a handstand. You know you want to do something but you don’t know where to start. Sometimes there is a concern that whatever you are going to embark on won’t work or that you won’t succeed (aka, I’ll fall on my head!). Sometimes there is even concern that you will be judged poorly (aka, “shouldn’t you be able to do that if you already know x-y-z?”.
I believe that this is where the service of a good health professional becomes vital. They can cut the volumes of information and opinion around what-why-how, and prescribe solutions that are individual to you. Sometimes it won’t even be huge changes to what you are doing now but if they have taken the time to understand you, then they will have suggested a course of action that is most likely to be successful for you. You – not anybody else. What works for one person is not necessarily the answer for the next person. That’s something we understand all too well here at Verve.
Take, for example, a common health goal… “I want to lose weight”. While one person may be telling you to start counting calories, another might be telling you to do the Atkins’ diet and someone else might tell you that if you rub your tummy after squeezing lemon juice down your back the pounds will simply shed. Has anyone asked you why you want to lose weight? How much specifically? What’s stopping you from reaching that goal? What about where your challenges lie and what the most sustainable way to broach them is? Have they asked if you sleep well? If your stress is high (which increases your stress hormones, inflammation and makes it difficult to lose weight)? Have they asked about your hormones, your gut function, how many vegetables you eat and how long you’ve had this problem for?
We take the time to get a full case history from you, we run testing to establish where you are at and we provide solutions that are tailored to your individual needs. We aim to give you are greatest chance at success at your health goal. We want you to do your handstand, whatever that looks like for you.
Wendy Burke (PT, Nutritionist, Naturopath and now Handstander)