Just lift weights. Yoga is for Sissies
Apr 05, 2017
Just lift weights, yoga is for sissies.
that’s what I used to think.
But now, after a few decades as a self-proclaimed gym-rat & fitness junkie (20+ years of lifting weights, running, playing sports & more or less abusing my body in search of “the burn”), I’ve learned being fit really boils down to 3 things:
Lift heavy things, properly (& don’t take advice from a meathead)
Walk daily #getoutside
Practice yoga ('cuz it’s a lot more than just a stretching class for sissies)
Hear me out…
If you want to gain muscle – lift heavy things.
If you want to lose fat – walk daily & lift heavy things.
If you want fewer injuries, long-term independence & mobility – stretch properly, walk daily & lift heavy things.
It’s that simple.
Second, to clarify,
I use the term “meathead” (or sometimes “juice monkey”) to refer to, as this brilliant bloke at urban dictionary
“An enormously muscular guy who cannot hold a conversation about anything other than weight-lifting and protein shakes. Gets upset very quickly when he cannot complete his own sentences and thoughts. Can be found at nightclubs wearing shirts that are 10 sizes too small (if at all). They are by far the most closely related human beings to that of apes, chimpanzees, and other primates. They are evolutionarily hindered and are less capable of following directions than my dead hamster.”
And I beg you not to listen to them!
But yet, to my horror, the meatheads are the first dudes (or dudettes) you flock to when you’ve decided to break free from the mould of your ass on the couch.
“…’cuz I wanna look like that guy!”, you proclaim.
May I remind you, these guys spend 3 hours – twice a day – in the gym, obsessively contracting each muscle group individually while judgmentally staring at themselves in the mirror (for hours) imagining how much better their lives would be “if only my biceps were the same size.”
Don’t be fooled…
Big doesn’t always mean strong – and seldom is it functional.
He can’t even reach his arms over his head, not to mention that itch on his back!!
They parade around with “invisible-lat syndrome” and you want advise from these guys?! Com’on!
These jacked-up juice monkeys are prone to major muscle tears and other serious injuries; most commonly to their shoulders, neck, lower back & knees.
I'll also take the time to warn you about a slightly-more-evolved version of “the meathead”… folks I fondly refer to as, “cavemen”.
For this, I’d like to thank Cross-fitters and those at home flailing through programs, like P90X, for being a prime example & for taking the brunt of what I’m about to say…
You're gonna hurt yourself flailing around like a fool with weights!
Short term, you might gain some muscle, sure, good for you…but without fail, your weak links will show up. #promise
Unless you've taken the time to properly groove the movement pattern for each of your “exercises” (which you haven't) then you're compensating & you are
going to hurt yourself. Period. Full Stop.
Yet, these cavemen seem to think “the more, the merrier” when it comes to reps, weight and all-around-crazy-ass-shit.
They seem completely oblivious to their form & their body screaming for help.
To them, it doesn’t matter how you lift that 50lbs sand bag over your head, just as long as you get it up there! “URGH caveman throw rock.” *pounds chest*
Oi! What’s worse – these folks think it’s completely normal to pee yourself during a workout – like it’s some twisted badge of honour….?!?!
Ah Hell no!
There’s a better way!
Are you with me?!!!!
Maybe you're one of the few who already knows how lifting things can be used as a tool for building functional strength and joint stability (yay!) but let’s face it, you still suck at stretching.
If you’re doing it at all, I can bet you’re not doing it very well.
You’ll thank me later.
Still wondering, why yoga?
Well, why not!!?
Seriously, what have you got to lose? …except maybe that chip on your shoulder.
Yoga incorporates everything – strength, endurance, flexibility & balance (aka core strength) while creating a deeper connection to the body. Talk about wins!
Don’t think I can’t hear you whining – “But Megan, I’ve tried yoga…and I hated it.”
You didn’t try.
One of two things happened:
your experience humbled the shit out of you & you’re too embarrassed to go back
because you’re not a sissy,
you likely just picked the “wrong class” & are too lazy to put yourself through weeks of trial-and-error to find one that suits you so, you chalk it up to: “I’m just not meant to bend like that.”
To this I always argue…
you’ve got it all wrong!
“The cave you fear to enter holds the treasure you seek” – Joseph Campbell
Please remember, every studio, every teacher and every at-home DVD is different.
It's true, finding one that resonates with you is important but,
Joseph Campbell describes yoga as simply “the intentional stopping of the spontaneous activity of the mind-stuff.”
Think about it…
Regardless of how or where you practice, yoga is ultimately just a chance for you to explore your body, get in tune with your breath and quiet the mind.
Seriously – Who doesn’t need more of that!?
Personally, yoga and meditation have been invaluable tools in daily life as well as through my recovery from a TBI.
I see my practice as a chance to really tune in to what my body needs; to explore with child-like wonder.
On and off the mat, yoga reminds me to live in the present moment, stay grounded, find strength, allow for play, and most of all, take rest.
The most challenging part of yoga practice isn’t necessarily the postures (asana) but, really letting go of self-judgment; calming the chitta vritti (mental chatter, or monkey-mind).
We all tend to judge ourselves a little too harshly, don’t ya think?
We compare ourselves to others or what we think “should be”, what was or what we wish to be.
In these instances, I find it helpful to reflect on what Mark Twain said:
“Comparison is the death of joy.”
Learn to laugh at yourself.
Smile, breathe and just keep practicing.
Best case scenario, you’re already lifting things, playing outdoors, doing body-weight exercises and practicing yoga.
If so, good for you!
Go ahead – Celebrate it!
I challenge you then, to view your practice (and all of your workouts) as an act of self-love.
Because, of all the things I know, there’s nothing I absolutely know for sure, except that time is an illusion and self-love is a necessity.
I’ll see you in class.