Thursday, August 22, 2013

Dwell in the real.....

You are better off dwelling in the real rather than wasting time searching for the ideal.

 The actual quote is the mature lifter is better off dwelling in the real rather than wasting time searching for the ideal, taken from this post at Dave Draper's forum.   

I read that the other day and it has stuck in my mind.

Dwelling in the real

So much of the health and fitness world is about fleeing from who we are.  Sometimes this is hidden or reframed as achieving a goal, changing our appearance.  Often though it is a case of a deep unhappiness with who we are.

There comes a time when we need to stop that and simply dwell in the real, to adopt some reality about who we are, what we can aim for.   There is nothing wrong with seeking improvement but we need to be realistic.  At 45 I will never play professional football no matter how hard I train.   With my bone structure and metabolism I will never be a competitive bodybuilder or powerlifter.   With my VO2 max and endurance I will never run a 3 hour marathon.  Aiming for such things will be a recipe for failure and more than that discontent.

However....I can be a good enough runner and better than most people.  I can develop a good physique, appropriate to my structure;  I can be leaner than 90% of guys my age; I can exhibit endurance to jog or walk for 20 or 30 miles.

I can do things which are excellent for me and for my potential.  The model that I can aspire to is not some shredded physique which is probably built on drugs and through superior genetic.  It is not a sub 3 hour marathoner.  It is me.

I think the word that sums it up is "contentment".  Being happy with what you have and making the most of it.


This identity thing is also present I think in all of the mad diets.  It is when people start to identify themselves with a diet.

  • I am paleo
  • I am gluten free
  • I am primal
  • I am low carb
  • I am vegan
  • I am a clean eater
No you are not;  you are you.  If you are "paleo" grains erode your identity.  If you are low carb, that pasta dish will take away from who you are.  As vegan you cannot eat those eggs and still be who you are.

It is all rubbish.  You are not your diet....or your training (I am a Crossfitter, a runner, a HITer)


FeelGoodEating said...


Although i will be a surfer... One day :-)
Like you say....i have no illusions about dropping down some crazy ass wave and i wont be shredding the top of a wave wirh a small baord.... Buti will enjoy being out there for hours on a long board. Paddling out without issues...with strong and flexible shoulders and a body ready for the task at hand. And ofcourse hopefully enjoying long rides on my strong and somewayt flexible legs, maximized for MY structure.

Keep it real and find whats FUN for you!

Nice nugget Chris!


Chris said...


I think you missed the point or perhaps I didn't express it well enough. Better than most or leaner than 90% is not the issue or aim but a consequence of being me.

"Deceiving" myself? whatever.

Carl Mynott @GBWildlifeTales said...

Anon. Show yourself.

Nice post Chris. I relate to this. My recent discovery of a healthy and stronger lifestyle has been a revelation. I have not had a cold or sniffle for almost 4 months now and this is some achievement with 2 kids in play groups year round!

Keep up the posting, despite Anon.

If we can't compare ourselves, even if only to the person we used to be, then we remove the human that we actually are.


Anonymous said...

"If you are "paleo" grains erode your identity. If you are low carb, that pasta dish will take away from who you are. As vegan you cannot eat those eggs and still be who you are.

It is all rubbish. You are not your diet....or your training"

Excellent points that I hadn't thought of before on what happens when you label yourself. Great post.

Unknown said...

The most important message is "Action, not words." Learn through experience. You could read history of tennis, strategies, technical manuals, watch historic games, listen to coach talk, visit matches, study tennis mindsets...but if you don't go and play tennis, it means nothing. You learn when you hit 10000 balls against the wall.

Anthony said...

Hey Chris

You might be interested to hear that I observed the "identity" aspect of your post at a large paleo related conference back in 2012.

It wasn't everyone, but it was a lot of people. Maybe half the audience, and the degree varied.

Towards the max, paleo wasn't something they *loved*, it wasn't something they *practiced*, it was a major component of how they viewed themselves and lived their life (and this is excluding anyone and everyone who had made it part of their professional life, so this is on a purely personal level).

I did find it a little weird, but I am biased having seen even worse at pickup artist related events (much worse).

In my not so humble opinion, much of it is temporary, and it will fade over time. Even so it is sad because I think it distracts from *practicing* paleo, or HIT, or xyz.

Additionally, people that get themselves truly stuck in anything like this are doing so for reasons unrelated to paleo, or HIT, or whatever.

They do not have clear vision of who they are, what they value, etc so they latch onto one movement after another -- rather than pro-actively supporting/building momentum for something they believe is good and virtuous.


Matthew @ The Lasik Method said...

Very well said!

Anonymous said...

Insightful as always, Chris. Thanks for continuing to post on living a real life and not being distracted by bright, shiny but hollow and impossible promises.

I found this article that is along those very lines, over at Exuberant Animal:

A great thought from the article: "Maybe it’s time to suspend our war on injury, aging and death. Maybe it’s time to look squarely at the impermanence of our incredible, beautiful, fragile and highly temporary lives."

Words like impermanance, fragile, and highly temporary are all great reminders to us to get on with life, real life. That we as a species are here at all is beyond amazing, so start there and just live with gratitude for every breath.

Many thanks for helping us to keep focused on the real and doable. Take care.


Matthew @ Lasik for Your Surgeon said...

Turn the real into the ideal!

Unknown said...

Hey Chris,
I just wanted to say that Bret Contreras publishes a bodyweight training book which is at low preorder price of 13 USD at Amazon and it's published on 6th September. From the preview it seems like something I've been waiting for. HIT is good, but if you are not limited by equipment/travelling to the gym, you can do more. Also, there seem to be clever substitutions for bar work(chinups etc), so it should be fully no-equipment.

Katy said...

What an excellent post! I totally agree with you. For me, I am not the strongest girl at the gym nor the fastest on a bike but I like to dabble in all things because it makes me happy and I feel content. That is ALL that matters.

Robert said...

Here's a excerpt from "The Pursuit of Perfect," by Tal Ben-Shahar, which blew my mind the first time I read it. The book gave me some insight into the positive and negative effects of my perfectionist tendencies.

"Philosopher Alan Watts, who did much to bring Zen to the West, wrote, 'The difference of the adept in Zen from the ordinary run of men is that the latter are, in one way or another, at odds with their humanity.' When we stop resisting who we are and what we feel, we drop the heavy burden of an endless, hopeless battle against our humanity."

DanMartin said...

I dig your site man. Just to let you know, the real I'm dwelling in currently is kicking my ass. Although pressed for time, the weather is still good so all I'm doing is Hill Sprints and Kalos Sthenos Get-Ups to the hips high position.

Twenty minutes of sprints (the walk back down in between is a lesson in slow, Ha!) And 10 minutes of KSGU's.

Don't know how long this will last, but 3-4 days a week is happening. My off days are just that.

Chris said...

Thanks for the comment Dan. You inspired this post.

Gaby - Toronto Personal Trainer said...

Contentment is the word. Sometimes, people must be contented enough to see their strengths and weaknesses.