Believe in the power of your body

Have you ever heard the term ‘anti-fragility’?

This is a concept describing things that can adapt positively to stress.

And, you guessed it, our bodies are ‘anti-fragile’!

There are many factors that contribute to how robust or fragile we feel. These can be physical, mental and social.

In this short little blog I’ll explain how we can re-gain confidence in our body, even if you have, at times, lost it.

 

We’re not a car engine…

Think about a car engine. You might not describe that as fragile either! However, it is brittle. With more and more use it slowly wears down, bits chip off, its metal slowly loses tensile strength.

It might be super strong to begin with, but constant use does, eventually, lead to it needing to be replaced.

Another example is a piece of pottery. This is much more obviously fragile. Once broken, it needs to be glued together, and will never be as strong as it originally was.

Our bodies are NOT like a car engine or a piece of pottery!

We are made of living tissues, so our body is constantly re-modelling itself. Yes, this re-modelling process does slow down a bit with age, but it is STILL happening!

So, unlike an engine or piece of pottery, when our tissues get a little bit damaged, our body gets to work, repairing itself.

 

Stress can be positive!

Stress gets a bad rap. That’s because we only associate it with being stressed-out mentally.

However, any use of the body exerts a physical stress on our muscles and bones (and all other tissues of the body).

Exercise is therefore a ‘stress’ to the body. But it is a positive stress! The more intense the exercise the more stress it generates. At extreme levels this stress can, of course, become not-so-good. Although if you build up to it, the body can take a huge amount of stress!

The ‘good’ stress that exercise puts on our bodies does actually cause micro-damage to our muscles and bones. This is what happens when you get a muscle-ache. However, this sends useful signals to our body that go something like this:

“Hey body, I can see you are being used for some strenuous movement. Just in case it’s going to happen again, I think you’d better re-pair this little bit of damage and make it stronger for next time!”

And then that’s exactly what happens. Your muscle cells get repaired and made a little bigger and stronger. Your bones get repaired and made a little denser. This is why ‘weight-baring’ activity is advised for anyone prone to osteoporosis (bones becoming less dense).

Ooooobviously, exercise-stress needs to be increased in small(ish) steps. That’s why people need to train for a marathon! Doing a marathon without training would be too much stress. But running one after the correct training regime is juuuust about within the ‘ok’ range of stress.

So, be sensible! (Is all I’m saying.)

 

‘Comfort’ isn’t always your friend…

When there is a LACK of stress (if you’d sit down or lie in bed all day), that ALSO sends a message to the body. That would sound something like this:

“Hey body, I don’t think these muscles and bones are being used for anything important. Why don’t you stop wasting precious resources and stop maintaining their size and strength. It won’t matter that they’ll get weaker, you seem to be sitting down all day anyway.”

That might make you feel a bit shocked. But it’s true! And that’s why a sedentary lifestyle is not good for anyone.

Buuuuuut, let’s stay positive here…

The body is AMAZING!

It will adapt and become STRONGER when you do difficult things with your muscles and bones.

 

Language matters

The language we use around our bodies also matters in how we feel and act. This is relevant for how others talk to us, and ALSO how we talk to ourselves (self-talk).

It has been shown in research that there is a powerful thing called a ‘no-cebo’ effect. This is the opposite of placebo.

We all know that a placebo effect is something positive that happens from taking a ‘fake’ medicine (or other treatment or behaviour). It happens purely by the power of our positive thinking about the value of what we’re being given or made to do.

Well, the same is true in reverse.

A no-cebo effect happens when we believe something will have a harmful effect on us (even if it usually doesn’t), and then by the power of these thoughts we actually see this harmful effect.

For example, we might experience actual pain from exercise movements if we’re told these movements are dangerous or if we’re told our bodies are weak and prone to injury. We might feel actual symptoms of being ill if we’ve been told by someone with a white coat that we have a serious illness.

So, I’m very conscious of using positive language about everyone bodies when I teach a yoga class. I’m always mindful of reminding my students that they body is strong and capable (as they may not believe it themselves).

 

What about you?

Have you underestimated your body so far?

Does knowing your amazing ability to adapt to stress help you feel that exciting, active pursuits are within reach for you?

I hope so.

I hope that this mini blog makes you feel a sense of positivity about your body. With regular practice and your body’s capacity to adapt, there is almost no physical pursuit that is out of reach!

Yoga homework!

This week, I invite you to do a difficult workout. Whether that’s a run, lifting some weights, a yoga session or anything else.

Obviously, stay within a range that pushes you without being a ridiculous leap.

(Just be sensible)

But try to do something that will give you a muscle ache. And when you feel that 1 or 2 days later, think of it as a positive message to your body, and visualise those muscles getting re-built stronger for next time.

 

Ps. Also do one of my yoga classes… 😉

(The strength theme will be great for this yogi-assignment!)

I hope you enjoyed this mini blog. 🤓

Please share your views in comments below!

Jolanthe x

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Love, Jolanthe x