Workout of the Day

Get Rhythm

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I choose to stay away from talk of “hacks,” whether they’re related to fitness, life, health, or anything else. The whole phraseology brings with it an implication of cheating the system, and a mindset that I believe is somewhat tarnishing at best, and entirely corrupting and counterproductive at worst. That being said, there are simple practices that are downright effective -- things like exercising regularly, cutting down on sugar, meditating -- that can effect considerable change in our lives without much fuss or complication.

One such non-hack that we often fail to tap into (at least consciously) is that of rhythm. Your life always has some rhythm or another to it -- the rhythm is the regular structures, practices, mindsets, and habits that characterize your day-to-day (or week-to-week, month-to-month) patterns.
Regularly working late and getting fast food on the way home is a rhythm. Regularly hitting snooze seven times and dragging yourself out of bed in the morning is a rhythm. Always putting your taxes off until the last minute is a rhythm.
On the other hand… Making a practice of starting your day with positive reflection and meditation is a rhythm. Setting aside time for a daily family dinner is a rhythm. Having a movement practice every weekday morning is a rhythm. Going to the grocery store every Sunday to stock up on healthy foods for the week is a rhythm. You get the idea.

The real “magic” of these rhythms is that we get to a point where, once we are truly in the rhythm, it takes extra energy to get ourselves out of that rhythm. For rhythms like hitting snooze or procrastinating, this is obviously a negative thing. But if we can put some effort into developing rhythms like daily mindfulness or regular exercise, we can put ourselves in a place where doing the “right” thing is easier than the alternative. We can look to physics -- specifically, to Newton’s first law of motion -- for an analogy. The law states that an object in motion will stay in motion (or an object at rest will stay at rest) with the same direction and speed, unless acted on by an unbalanced force.

When we begin a regular practice, such as daily meditation, we set ourselves in motion in a particular direction. At first, our movement in this direction does not have much inertia. We are easily distracted and drawn away from our practice: a change in work schedule, getting the flu, a day of travel, and our practice quickly and effortlessly falls by the wayside. But as we continue with this practice and it becomes more regular and established, we get into a rhythm -- in our physics analogy, we could say that our object’s inertia increases. The more established this practice is -- the more we are in this rhythm -- the more energy it will take to disrupt this force. In other words, if you have been meditating every single morning for the last 1,000 days, an unexpected phone call is not likely to derail your practice. You will find a way to practice your daily meditation because it’s what you do -- it’s part of your rhythm. At this point, when a rhythm is deeply established, it may actually become an extra effort to step away from this practice. Not meditating becomes harder than meditating. It means changing something that’s firmly established in your day, and it just doesn’t fit with the rhythm that you’ve established. Is scheduling daily movement a challenge for you now? The good news is, with time and consistency, you will get to a point where moving daily becomes easier than not moving daily.

The more established regular life practices become, the more other aspects of our life begin to fall into place around the consistent practice, and in this way, the practice secures its place as an unmoveable piece of the time-and-energy puzzle.
It’s worth re-emphasizing, though, that as simple as this idea of establishing a rhythm may be, the effort involved is considerable. Like anything else worthwhile, it’s not easy. It will be hard to establish a daily movement practice or meditation practice or dietary practice or whatever and stick to it consistently. Other pieces of daily life will have to move around this practice, priorities will have to shift, and it’ll take commitment. But with time, the practice that initially took considerable effort to engage in will take considerable effort to disengage from.

We can use this to our advantage as we consider what type of person we’d like to be in perpetuity. Do you want to be the type of person who has to struggle every day that you choose to participate in some sort of growth practice like exercise or clean eating or mindfulness? Or do you want to be the person who is in the rhythm of moving daily, eating well, and practicing mindfulness to the point where it would take extra work to stray off the path?

Start small, start now, and keep going.

- Preston Sprimont


1/26/17

  • Pendlay row - 4x10

  • For time:

    • 250m row

    • 25 air squats

    • 250m row

    • 25 push-ups

    • 250m row

    • 25 sit-ups

    • 250m row

    • 25 HSPU