The marriage of mind & body for physical progress

Sat. April 25, 2009 12:00 AM
by Jim Gregory

The pursuit of the perfect body is truly something that many in our community seek to achieve, while this alone is not bad, it is often met with animosity and criticism. Outside and within the community, many view the individuals who pursue the perfect physique as vain and perhaps even dumb. While there are many driving factors that push us into the gym, all are too long to fit the brevity of this column section to go into great depth of their qualities, some are in fact driven by cosmetic reasons and some are driven truly for health reasons. I would like to focus on where the perfect physique began, ancient Greece, and take this moment to talk about the balance between the body and the mind and how holistic perfection is achieved through a strong mind and a strong body. This is a concept our chiseled ancient Greek friends called Aretè, or the marriage between mind and body. Most often we must fight through our own barriers we set in our mind, before we can actually start making major physical progress.

Modern health science has proven that it is not our body that gives out first, rather it is the mind that quits well before our body has truly exhausted itself. Researchers from the University of Cape Town South Africa have shown that it is actually the mind that turns on the pain before we actually even run out of fuel. What does this research really tell us? Imagine if you are used to running two miles, but this week you are going to push yourself a little further and set a goal to run three full miles. As you jog, you reach your two-mile marker and embark on new territory for yourself. You run a quarter mile longer but then your mind starts to wander, you think of how hard your heart is beating, you think of how exhausted you feel, you think of a hot shower and the hot guy you usually see when you're changing, you think of a cold drink, a multitude of things may cross your mind, but that's just it, your mind wanders and suddenly it is quitting time. Your mind tells your body, no more, you can't jog one more step because you are exhausted.

By knowing what goes on in our head we can learn how to push ourselves further and farther than before. If you have trouble jogging on the treadmill, try running outside, you can set physical landmark goals for more of an adventure rather than just running like a hamster on a wheel. Or if you are trapped inside, make a play-list of songs that really motivate you and jog your heart out to your favorite tunes. As music has always been a source of great inspiration, it can transform a mundane jog on a treadmill into a fantastic journey. Know why you are in the gym, is it for health or just to get a great body for all the boys to check out. If you are running for health, think of who motivates you the most and who your health matters the most to, or if you are running for boys, think of the hottest boy you know. Whatever motivates you, hold it like a carrot on a string before you and don't let your focus dwindle.

If you don't get it the first time, try, try again. It's hard, some people spend their entire life not knowing how to achieve this and I am no master in obtaining my goals either, but I can say if you don't get there the first time, don't give up. You will get there. You only fail 100% of the time if you don't try.

It's important to know how to do these things not just for physical reasons, but for holistic reasons. If you can achieve your physical goals and conquer the barriers you have in your mind, there are hardly any goals you won't be able to obtain outside the gym if you learn this mindset. By achieving a harmony between your mind and body, you can translate this mindset and your accomplishments into all areas of life you wish to push yourself in. Learn from yourself, this is a great wisdom the first gym-bunnies of the western world mastered. Pursuing a perfect physique is much deeper than just wanting to look good, its about learning how to meet your goals.