Friday, December 28, 2012

Easy Does It

What's with all the experts making everything seem as difficult as possible? -- so that we need their expert guidance to make it through the tortuous maze of doing anything?

That reliance on the "experts," is behind the lack of competence and confidence of most contemporary people now to do anything for themselves -- or to feel confident doing anything for themselves anymore.

But it's as simple as whether we "buy into" our own disempowerment -- or we continue to think for ourselves, and increase our own competence and confidence to do so.  That seems to be the "service" offered by most news and information outlets these days -- certainly the mainstream mass media as has always been their reason for being, but especially so lately, with those who confuse their own self-interests with those of the public interest -- and can see no difference.

There is only a world of opinion -- and so everyone's is as good as any other, and everyone is "entitled" to their own, no matter what the consequences or realities.  All one has to do is assert it, to make it so -- since their opinion can never be tested in any real world conditions, which makes it possible for the world of their opinions to coexist in perfect contradiction to their actual experiences and results.
But in most things, truth is in the doing -- and not what the experts say should be so, even though they've never thought of it before, or tested it -- before a reporter with a story already written, seeks corroborating "opinions " --   to confirm their preconceived story line.  It is possible that way, to only hear what one wants to hear, and answer only the questions one wants answered -- which may not be all there is to know.  But they will insist, "That is all one needs to know."

And so in the vital discussion of health, what is frequently discussed instead -- are the best health care mandates in the absence of it.  But it is becoming increasingly clear, that in the distinctions between the rich and the poor, the haves and the have nots, the division is not between who has good health care insurance and who doesn't, but those who actually have/are healthy, and those who are not.  That is what it means to be rich and poor in today's world -- because that defines every other experience one has in life.

If one has very little money, but one is the healthiest person in the world -- you are the richest person in the world.  That is what matters.  That is what it is all for -- and about.  And more than ever before -- that means the total package of physical, mental, emotional, social health -- and not merely one sacrificed at the expense of all the others.  Maybe in previous times, that kind of specialization was all the resources that was available to most individuals -- rather than total access to all the resources, including and especially information -- and the ability to discover the truth in the actuality of our own lives and experiences.

That is the "new school" -- and no longer the "old school" of specialists finding out for everybody else in controlled laboratory conditions -- and then telling it to the media (middle men), to tell it to somebody (everybody) else, and in that manner, the message (truth) being horribly garbled and distorted by the time it returned to the original observer to note, "That's not what I said."  But whatever has caught on, has taken on a life (and truth) of its own.

Nowhere is that more true than in one's "conditioning" activities -- in which one actualizes everything one knows -- or thinks they do. Yet that is why most people are in such poor conditions and shapes -- because that is the reality of their understanding, but when that understanding is clear -- the problems go away very quickly, including all the pain one is inflicting upon oneself -- under the mistaken notion, that one shouldn't trust one's own senses -- but listen to the "experts" instead.

Rather than daily exercise being what most want to avoid, it can and should be designed to be everything one wants to do -- and not what they dread doing.  For many people, that is avoiding running or even walking -- as not their best activity and movement, rather than being convinced that it is unarguably "the best exercise."  There's a good reason a lot of people don't like to walk or run -- or swim or pole vault for that matter.  And it should be the task of the instructor to help a student find what it is they were designed to do -- which they will love doing, and not the absurd notion that they will come to love doing what they hate -- and know to be wrong for themselves, and so they won't do it.

There's a reason there are hundreds of exercise machines and variations -- which some will enjoy and do better on some rather than the others -- but for the misguided experts of the world to mandate that they know best what is right for everyone, is the beginning of the downfall for any society since the beginning of "time."  Evolution is much smarter than that.  It requires that there be as much diversity to a wide range of challenges the species must face -- to ensure its own survival, which is fitness and the fittest.

In an age in which many reach a ripe old age, the difference is obviously those who do so in good health -- and the evolving better health that long lives and better information/technology makes possible.  The greatest beneficiaries will be those who pioneer that evolution -- because they will be the ones who enjoy robust good health, while the expectations are still of inevitable and invariable decline and deterioration -- and so to have what virtually no others have, is to have great wealth.

Yet rather than being an impossible thing, or even a hard thing to accomplish -- it is actually the easiest thing to do and realize -- once one breaks through the old conditioning -- that everything has to be hard, difficult and tortuous, but is easy and self-evident, and in fact, they can follow their own good senses -- and hone them, in preference to the old conditioning of distrusting one's own good sense and judgment.  That really is the revelation of these times -- in a post-mass culture and broadcast information age.

To the "Old Guard," such a world would be total chaos and disaster -- without their control.  But is the world so problem-free under their control and guidance now? -- or are we on the edge of a major collapse, and must find another way -- even questioning the very premises of life itself?  "Easy" means acting on the information and wisdom people already have -- rather than being discouraged and unconfident of doing so, because they think some "greater intelligence" should be telling them what to do -- and rewarding/punishing them for doing so -- and not that they should/must be doing it for themselves, as the ultimate objective in any meaningful life.

The whole objective of "fitness," is to discover what life can be -- for each individual, rather than presuming that we know what that is, for everyone -- because we know better what that is for everyone.  That is the true source of all the problems in the world.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

The Simplicity of Movement (Action)

There are only two things one needs to teach (condition) one's muscles to do: Achieve fullest contraction, and achieve fullest relaxation of that (any) muscle -- and every movement, will fall between those extremes.  

That lesson is best taught by the premier muscle of the body -- which is the heart, because it always works so unfailingly, or life is no longer possible.  But the objective of exercise (conditioning) is not simply to make the heart work harder and faster, but to enlist the other voluntary (skeletal) muscles of the body in aiding that critical function of circulation -- because the flow is only meaningful when one considers the end destination, and the complete circuit -- and not just the action at the heart, without any movement anywhere else.

However, such action is frequently seen in people kept alive by extraordinary life support technologies as is now possible -- initially conceived for temporary usage to make a full recovery possible -- but now also employed when recovery is not possible, and often to prolong vital signs to extraordinary lengths beyond the consciousness and enjoyment of life -- which a few insightful pioneers regard as the definition of a viable, sustainable and meaningful life -- which undoubtedly will be discussed at greater length and depth in the forthcoming years.

But way beyond that, one can ask the question, what meaningful actions (movements) can one take, that significantly enhances the optimal functioning of the human body -- not just to do trivial things, or the obvious things -- but to enhance functioning at its most critical level that underlies everything we are, and everything we do (health) -- that is largely taken for granted that we already do, when in fact, we have never even begun to carefully consider them.

Thus, we still have the arguments between those who should know better and those who don't, of whether exercise is good or bad, and moving beyond that (if possible), what would be the nature of the most productive manner of exercise -- not just to run faster, jump higher, and lift more weights, etc., but to do all those things -- when the brain functioning on its highest level of challenge, deems those maximal attempts and resources need to be employed appropriately, efficiently and effectively -- and not merely squandered as though it is an unlimited resource, and the more one uses, the more one gets.

Nothing in the real world works that way -- of unlimited use, leading to a further expansion of the resources, rather than its (premature) exhaustion -- so that in the learning (conditioning), one has to also calculate the proper reward-to-risk ratios.  Preferably, that would mean jumping out of a plane with a parachute rather than without one, and cycling with a helmet rather than without one, following the advice of those who boldly proclaim, that what one does that doesn't kill them, will make them stronger.

So the problem of beneficial movements, is not whether one can achieve one extreme of muscular state (contraction or relaxation) to the exclusion of the other, but in one's ability to enhance the greatest articulation (expression) of that full range, while also increasing that range at its accustomed limits (extremes) -- as the fundamental measure of that change, and ability to produce it -- as deemed appropriate and necessary.  

There are some who teach that the only action of the muscle, is to produce a relaxation response -- as in yoga, chi gung, relaxation and stretching (only) techniques, while others believe, that all one aims to achieve is muscular contractions at all times, not surprisingly accompanied with hypertension -- because the heart must pump into that unrelenting resistance. On the other hand, the perpetually relaxed muscles at the extremities particularly, do nothing to aid the circulatory process with its own alternating rhythmic contraction-relaxation phase -- that would effectively push the fluids back towards the heart more expeditiously, which is the beneficial health effect.

So it is not enough just to make the heart alone work more vigorously while the skeletal muscles remain largely inert, but more sensibly, to get the muscles that are not engaged, performing the most useful actions they can contribute to the basic maintenance of the healthful operation of that individual -- which is enhance the flow of nutrients to the extremities of their critical functioning at the head, hands and feet, while also removing the waste products that are the results of such exertions, in the release of that energy to move.

The problem in exercise, is that while moving, one may not be aware that the ultimate objective, is to achieve that awareness of that state of muscular contraction one is in -- because the state is not only determined by position, but also resistance.  That is to observe, that even when 500 lbs is resting on one's chest rather than at arm's length -- that is not a state of relaxation and rest, because the resistance doesn't go down to zero -- but has to remain minimally, at 500 lbs.  "Resting" at the top, is also 500 lbs.  The difference between those two positions, is the power needed to move from the lower to the higher position -- but the lower position is not fully relaxed, nor the top necessarily fully contracted.

Despite the apparent movement, there is very little change in the muscular state -- usually beginning with contraction, and maintaining that contraction throughout -- despite apparent movement -- which is not the desired change of desired states from full relaxation to full contraction -- and back again, for a sustained period indicating that aerobic nature.  That is the problem with doing benchmark movements such as chinups or parallel bar dips even without additional weights; that weight never goes to zero -- at any point during that set of repetitions.  There is no resting (relaxation) phase -- but rather a prolonged anaerobic effort until one fails -- not because of muscle failure, but first because that lack of circulatory effectiveness is detected first by the brain, that will cease all further operations and efforts, until a healthful reserve can be restored to the brain -- which overrides every other functioning, movement and activities.

That was the rationale in the development of the Nautilus and other variable resistance machines -- that they would allow one to go from zero to 100% (and back repeatedly) -- but it also has to be used with that understanding, and not defeated by exerting twice as much effort against that natural relaxation phase -- which then prevents any relaxation from occurring and predictably, making failure inevitable and faster -- which is the last thing one would actually want to do, in any real world challenge, or more importantly, in real life -- which is also the problem of aging.