When fixing a problem, the first step is to become aware that a problem exists. Although many people claim to know themselves better than anyone else, a lot of the time we are still unaware of certain behaviors that we exhibit, whether it’s physical, mental, social etc. An example of this is when I was casually explaining what an anterior pelvic tilt is to someone and my friend overheard the conversation and said “Oh wow, I have an anterior pelvic tilt, I always wondered why I walk so weird and my butt sticks out so much”. I think these kinds of realizations are pivotal because knowing exactly what the problem is and why it occurs allows you to understand the direction to take in terms of fixing it.
However, the problem with many people is that they remain stagnant at this step. Being aware of a problem doesn’t necessarily solve it, action does. That’s step two, constantly taking action towards resolving the problem. In the case of an anterior pelvic tilt, it would be religiously doing myofascial release and focusing on keeping a neutral spine. Some problems might not have a clear cut solution yet, but constantly experimenting might lead you to stumble upon an effective result. An example of this is my battle with scoliosis. Since my hips overly shoot out in one direction due to the curvature of my spine, I use a pulley machine called the Keiser to pull myself in the same direction that my hips shoot out. This reverse psychology makes my hips want to shoot out in the opposite direction, thus straightening me out while I’m hooked to the machine. This is obviously something I am just experimenting with, but at least I am working towards a possible explanation to my problem.
I think that both of these steps are important and interrelated when solving a problem; you can’t have one without the other. Once you become aware of postural problems (externally rotated feet, rounded thoracic, lumbar extension), you’ll not only notice them in yourself but in others as well. One of my friends jokingly said he feels like his posture has to be perfect around me because I’ll be like “OH MY GOD BECKY LOOK AT HER THORACIC…It’s so rounded” (That is a reference to a very popular 90s song if you missed it). However, it’s important to note that posture doesn’t become perfect overnight, it’s a long process that involves hard work, patience, problem solving and intuition with your own body. I am aware of my postural deficiencies, and have been working towards fixing them but I am nowhere near perfect yet. That’s why I figured I’d end this post with snapshots of my postural deficiencies. Pictures and mirrors are great because they are objective tools that make you aware of your problems. You just have to take the initiative to fix them 🙂
This candid picture demonstrates my rounded throacic and internally rotated shoulders
Although this isn’t a candid, it demonstrates my excessive lumbar extension.
Regardless of whether you’re a Psychology major or not, the nature vs. nurture debate is probably one you’re familiar with. Although it is evident that they are both important, I think that people underestimate the influence that culture has on behavior. You’re probably wondering where I’m going with this, since this blog is supposed to be about getting fit again. It’ll all tie in I promise. Examining the culture that surrounds us is essential because our culture tends to “frame” the individual choices that we make (whether we’re conscious of it or not). Therefore, our health related behaviors arise out of the socio-cultural contexts of our environment.
Personally speaking, after recovering from an eating disorder five years ago, I made the decision to get fit. So I got a membership at LA Fitness and spent six days a week doing weightlifting, cardio on the treadmill, body weight exercises such as push ups. Relative to our cultural perceptions of what “fit” is, this was a seemingly logical course of action. It’s a course that most people take: becoming a gym rat who blindly does the same traditional exercises while repeating the “no pain, no gain” mantra in hopes of attaining health and wellness (and a “sexy” body).
For awhile, I thought I was doing great. I had a nice muscular tone, was seemingly strong for my size and was in shape to spend a grueling two weeks training with the best Muay Thai camps in Thailand (try doing intense pad work in the sauna, that’s kind of what Thailand feels like). Although people who blindly follow the “traditional” workouts might achieve results, it is most likely not sustainable for the human body in the long run. Especially when coupled with the dysfunctional stressors present in our environment.
For example, I had chronic back pain which stemmed from the fact that I spent all day sitting in school, tightening my hip flexors, and shortened my upper abdominals which contributed to an anterior pelvic tilt. However, I would still go to the gym after and place excess stress on my lumbar doing exercises like sit ups. My chronic shoulder pain stemmed from my internally rotated shoulders, since I was constantly hunched over the computer and then went to the gym to further that dysfunction when doing bench presses.
From an objective perspective, I realized something had to change in order for me to implement a fitness lifestyle that’s sustainable in the long run. I needed to make the change to my workout regimen so I can continue to train martial arts, so I can be physically healthier, but most importantly so I can live a pain free life. When one decides to abandon the current inefficient cultural paradigms, it’s essential that a better alternative exists. Luckily for me, I have Functional Patterns. And this is a documentation of my journey towards functionality and fitness, so I can hopefully one day instill relevance in others and bring value to the world.
PS: I suppose this whole post is an elaboration on how the notion of “live intentionally, not habitually” directly impacted my life 😉