All of us experience stress throughout life, whether it’s intentional physical stress in the gym, the unintentional stress of everyday life, or the major stresses of an accident or illness. In order to progress in the gym, the system needs to be stressed, and it needs to be able to recover and adapt. This idea is true for other stressors as well. People need to be resilient in order to recover.
How can someone optimize day-to-day life to maximize resiliency? The answer lies in cultivating the nutritional, training, and mental habits discussed below to progress not only in the gym but also in life.
A Resilient Nutritional Profile
In order to become more resilient through nutritional practices, consider these 3 basic principles:
- Eat high-quality, responsibly raised and produced meats, vegetables, and fruits.
- Add minimally processed sources of carbohydrates as needed (whole oats, yams, beets, whole grain rice, quinoa).
- Focus on a balanced and varied selection of fats, high in omega-3 fatty acids.
- Avoid trans fats and fat sources high in omega-6s.
- Incorporate anti-inflammatory foods & ingredients.
- Examples include curry powder/turmeric, garlic, pineapple, cocoa, tea, and blueberries.
By purchasing foods that are ethically sourced and responsibly raised, consumers can ensure they are taking in the least amount of potentially harmful compounds from their food. Animals store stress hormones in their fat cells, so eating leaner, ethically raised meats reduces the intake of said negative compounds. This, in turn, lowers the inflammatory load on the system, leading to greater resiliency and ability to recover.
Choosing responsibly grown produce avoids the maleffect of chemicals typically found in modern agricultural practices. By purchasing organic, sustainably grown options, the toxic load of industrial chemicals in the system is lowered, promoting greater resiliency and recovery.
And for a final point on nutrition, consuming a balanced array of high-quality fats and anti-inflammatory foods leads to an optimized inflammation response during recovery. The body needs to undergo natural responses to stress, such as acute inflammation. Think of delayed onset muscle soreness (“DOMS”) from squatting. When athletes experience DOMS, it is because they’ve acutely damaged muscle fibers in a localized region of the body. We experience the sensation of soreness as a result of this acute inflammatory response. By nurturing the body with anti-inflammatory compounds, the body’s natural ability to heal and recover improves, further developing resiliency.
Don’t Call the Electrician for a Lightbulb that Needs to be Changed
When it comes to building resiliency through training, there is a simple principle to follow: Listen to your body when it whispers so you don’t have to deal with it when it screams. What does this mean, exactly?
At Central Athlete, if a client presents with an issue of continued knee discomfort from single-leg knee flexion in training, our coaches won’t brush this off and tell the client to simply push through. While discomfort is a sensation very common in training, continued discomfort from a specific movement pattern could be cause for intervention. The coach would further assess and investigate what could be causing this continued discomfort; for example, maybe there is simply too much single-leg knee flexion volume in the training program. Or, maybe there isn’t enough work being done on the opposite side of the leg (i.e., not enough double-leg or single-leg bending).
Without properly assessing the issue and addressing it, one can’t expect said issue to improve. This leads to yet another very important piece to understand when it comes to building resilience in training: You are not inherently broken.
In the example mentioned above with an individual experiencing some continued discomfort in the knee, one often takes this as an indicator that something is going very wrong in the knee. The client might see this as a sign to visit a doctor that can hopefully diagnose the “serious issue” that’s presenting.
The reality of the situation is that in the vast majority of cases like this, simple interventions in training are all that are needed. The body needs to be stressed in order for it to recover and adapt. If we expect to feel 100% free from discomfort in training, then we should also expect to see progress at an extremely slow rate.
In order to be more resilient in training, we must understand that world-class treatment isn’t usually needed to treat very small issues. By honoring the body and listening to what it’s saying in training, we can avoid the pitfalls of paralysis by analysis and cultivate long-term resiliency in training.
The Mental Side of Resiliency
The final aspect of resiliency to discuss this week deals with the mind. How can we cultivate a more resilient mindset?
A mentally resilient individual will typically subscribe to the following ideas:
- Failure is simply an opportunity to learn and evolve.
- We live in the reality that we create.
- It is the journey, not the destination, that is fulfilling.
In life, failure is inevitable. We can’t expect to hit the bulls-eye in every endeavor, every time. If people confine themselves to this expectation, they are setting themselves up for a lifetime of feelings of defeat and eventually a sense of purposelessness.
If expectations are more carefully and realistically defined, then one cannot only accept failure as inevitable but also view it as an opportunity to improve. Humans need a balance of challenge and support to grow and develop. Failure presents us with a great opportunity to challenge what we currently are in order to become what we are meant to be.
This perspective on failure only adds to the idea that people live in the realities they create. For example, some may view failure as merely a negative and painful experience; if so, that is the reality they will experience when they fail at anything. However, if we choose instead to frame failures or various challenges and experiences in ways such that we can’t lose, then we will always be winning, learning, and evolving. By cultivating a more growth-oriented mindset, one can avoid the pitfalls of a negative attitude and a fixed reality.
Finally, it is incredibly important to understand that fulfillment in life often comes from the presence one has in the journey, and not the glory in arriving at a destination.
By being present and intentional in the journey, people can control the daily inputs they have control over, which can eventually lead to the outcomes they desire.
By learning from failure, living in a reality that allows for indefinite growth, and being present and intentional in one’s own journey, resilience will be cultivated into everlasting growth and evolution.
At Central Athlete, our coaches are here to help clients cultivate resilience in every aspect of their lives. If you are in need of some guidance in your own life, schedule a FREE strategy session with a Central Athlete coach today, and see just how far you can enhance your own ability to evolve.