From the start, I knew last week would be tough - there was lots of work to do in the office, most of it intellectual and a significant drain on my time and creative juices. So when I realized how preoccupied I was with the workload, and especially with one particular upcoming project, I knew it was time for the distraction strategy.
"Distraction" in this case meant finding some other challenge to take me out of my head, give me more energy and "steal" some of my focus and attention, all with the aim of making me more effective at the intellectual work.
Why Take On Another Challenge? Isn't One Enough??
You might think so, and this is where we often delude ourselves. If I had allowed myself to think, "Oh, so much work... I'd better make sure I have lots of veg time with my favorite TV shows," the week would have been so much harder!!
That's right... I would have found myself with even less energy and working less efficiently. So here's what I did instead...
I set the ambitious physical goal of doing 1500 push-ups and 500 squats within 5 days - about triple my usual number. And here's what I found:
- Some joint pain in my hips, one knee and one shoulder went way down and virtually disappeared!
- My energy level went through the roof (interesting since, as you know, I was on a cleanse at the same time and therefore operating on less and lighter food)
- Mentally and emotionally I felt fantastic in every way. Only experience will really convince you what this kind of challenge does for how you feel about yourself and your body.
Some of the lessons that come out of this are:
- If you've swallowed all the propaganda about the dangers of over-training (which people often interpret as "you shouldn't do the same exercise two days in a row"), be assured it's just that - propaganda. The vast majority of people who exercise are nowhere near their limit and are no more in danger of "over-training" than I am of winning the Boston Marathon ;-)
- It was the best "distraction" possible - For whatever reason, focusing on the physical goal left me feeling a lot more in control of the mountain of work and supplied a ton of motivation on all fronts.
- Those 1500 push-ups and 500 squats took almost NO extra time! Since I did them in sets of 50 for the push-ups and 25 for the squats, it was easy to squeeze them in whenever I had a few minutes here or there throughout the day.
- Do something like this and you'll feel physically like solid steel, mentally you'll experience crystal clarity and emotionally you'll be on top of the world
A Word of Caution:
Yes, as always I have to tell you not to try something like this without the approval of your physician. In addition, though, you need to pick targets that are doable for you. I picked these particular exercises only because my body is very familiar with them and because I do them regularly to a certain level. If you've never done these exercises before, they'll damn near kill you, even if you're a decent athlete.
On the other hand, you might pick, say, 25 laps of the front crawl in the pool daily. I sure wouldn't do that for myself, only because I haven't swum laps in years. If you have, then that might be a target for you. So it all depends on how in-shape you are and what your body is used to doing. And the possibilities are endless: walking, running, cycling, weight training, body weight exercises (the ones I used are "body-weight" exercises), calesthenics, Pilates, Yoga, circuit training, swimming...
Remember, you don't need to imitate a tri-athlete to get amazing results. You just have to pick an exercise appropriate for you and a target that's doable, but a bit of a stretch.
Try this some time and I'll pretty much guarantee you'll never look back!
~ Dr. Symeon Rodger