Training For A Reason

Why do you train? What do you train for?

I’ve been asking myself this question and the answer is one of the reasons that I’ve taken a break from CrossFit (well, that and an injury). My primary focus is kendo but I had been doing CrossFit, ideally to grow my strength and stamina in support of kendo. And it worked.  However, I soon found myself thinking more and more about CrossFit instead of kendo itself.

Frankly, my kendo declined and I came to a crossroads: what do I really care about? What is it that will sustain me as I use a particular path which will support all of my other endeavors?

CrossFit is a world to itself, just like kendo. It comes with its’ own internal language and metrics. It has competitions, a defined system of training, and it focuses not just on getting strong but doing it the right way.

So I chose kendo. It is a lifelong pursuit of something both very physical and yet also very intangible. I’ll still have to do other training to support my efforts and I will have to figure out what that means.

First step of a long journey is that first step…

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GSP

George Saint-Pierre (GSP to his friends and enemies) is a pure champion. His focus is single-minded. He avoids trash-talk and excess displays. Instead he speaks with his actions. If you’re looking for an ideal to aspire to in your training (martial arts or other), he is the one.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2ZWTMO6xUsU

Foot Shoes

I drank the Kool-Aid from Mark Twight of GymJones. I’ve read his book, I’m influenced by his writings (his Twitching with Twight is on my office wall and I re-read to keep me focused), and I follow him online because I think he comes from a place of honesty forged by hard work. He’s earned my support, for whatever that is worth.

Via @GymJonesfame he tweeted this very good question:

“I’m confused. If those shoes shaped like feet were “all that” why aren’t Olympians using them? I’ve not seen a single athlete in them …”

Very good question and, while I am low on the fitness know-how food-chain, I do have an opinion about the “feet shoes.”

I train in CrossFit and I use the Vibram Five-Finger shoes. My chosen sport is kendo which is an activity done barefoot so using Vibram’s makes sense. Beyond kendo, though, I find that using shoes that closely replicate the experience of feeling the ground helps my overall balance.

Non-scientifically, I feel that having shows with no support requires me to work harder, lift more, and to be more mindful (having those toes sticking out is scary!). All of those components are valuable to have when training.

Getting back to the question, though, my answer is that you will most-likely see athletes with low-thickness soles and even “non-toe” shoes that are fundamentally the same as the infamous “toe-shoes.”

 

I think the toe-shoes bring with them the image of a paleo, “natural-living” hippie/hipster who thinks that the shows alone will magically transport them to a state of fitness minus the excruciating work required to get there. Maybe that is why they’re not being worn in London right now.

Institute of Medicine Report: Free Pass for Me

The Institute of Medicine released a 478-page study that claims rising obesity levels are not due to personal behavior. Instead, they say that people have no choice since they are surrounded by fat and sugar; although the report does claim that government subsidies for high-fructose corn syrup should not be stopped. That last point was a brilliant piece of political and special interest judo!

I don’t have access to the entire report but the summary in the news basically lays the blame on the food and agriculture industry (despite the fact that the government provides incentives for that same food that we are told we should not be eating).

No where does it apparently say that people who are gaining weight are to blame when they see themselves in the mirror and nothing about that (and by “nothing,” I mean to say, engaging in some kind of daily activity and being conscious of the food they eat and the decisions that they make). Also, the report recommends taxation as a solution for the obesity issue (specifically, a tax on soda).

I had a piece of chocolate today (albeit dark but still it had sugar so I fell of the no-sugar wagon), thankfully my personal choice to eat had absolutely nothing to do with it…it was someone else’s fault.

Thanks for the free pass IOM!

Walking as Exercise?

The NYT article by Gretchen Reynolds about the importance of walking as a key tool for health is misleading. While any kind of movement is better than sitting in a chair all day, there is a big difference between walking around and gardening versus a dedicated fitness program.

My proof: there are plenty of fat people who garden and take walks, but there are no fat people who are consistently engaging in a fitness program (i.e., running, lifting weights, swimming, crossfit, etc.). They may be overweight (especially if they have just started or have not locked down their diet yet) but they are on a road which will lead to true health and fitness.

And they are not walking down that road with a soda in their hand for just 20 minutes a day…

Hunger

Three weeks ago I removed refined sugar from my diet, meaning no refined sugars, no pastries, doughnuts, Nutella, gummi bears, cookies, etc.

Since then I have been sleeping well, waking up refreshed, and going through my days and nights with a marked improvement in energy and outlook.

In addition to having no processed sugar in my system, I have also been cutting back on my meals and/or meal portions. So there are times when I am hungry and I have been able to explore the feeling of hunger as well as the feelings around hunger.

Specifically, the feeling of control that one has over their hunger results in a strong sense of being removed from an unstoppable flow. Instead of rushing to satisfy my hunger like a fast-flowing stream, I remove myself to a quiet spot by that stream, observing my hunger and seeing myself and my world from a new angle.

There are different kinds of hungers, the hunger for money, recognition, control, and pleasure. It is tempting to remove those but, then, is that too a hunger of its own?