What’s your weakest link?

A chain is only as strong as its weakest link.

When it comes to any physical activity like any kind of sports training, exercise or physical work you are only as strong as your tendons and ligaments allow you to be. You are only as strong as your core strength allows you to be. You are only as strong as your flexibility allows you to be.

Think of it. You must have heard this phrase countless number of times and guess what? Yes, it is true! Imagine a very strong chain made of titanium with only one link made of silk.
What happens when you apply forces pulling on each end of this chain?
Yes, you got it right, it will snap of course.
Because that one silky link is neither strong nor flexible enough to withstand those pulling forces.
Now you are really getting the point.

Very similar rule applies to your own body although there is one great difference. There will be a few more planes of movement for your body to cope with. It will be pulling, pushing, swinging, bending, squatting, jumping, twisting and most likely doing few of those moves at the same time.

Even if your muscles are strong you need a little more than that to actually be strong.

You need those tendons and ligaments to be strong and flexible and you need your core to be strong as well so they all working together can give you the support you do need while moving in so many planes while exercising or working physically. So to speak in everyday life.

How do you build that overall strength in each link of your chain (body)?

Multiple strategies are available. One I do believe in is a combination of weight training, calisthenics and stretching, or even better yoga.
Of course all structured in a well periodized training plan.

Actually combination of calisthenics workout with real yoga practice (NOT talking about those “yoga based” gym programs!) is a fantastic way to give you amazing results in overall performance.
Let’s see how this happens.

Ania Stan dragonfly

Calisthenics training engages your core at all times. It also makes multiple groups of your muscles work together which in turn improves greatly intermuscular coordination. This simply means that your muscles become accustomed to working together and become more efficient working as a team. That alone is one of the things your strength depends on.

Yoga, like any other body weight practice, does similar thing for your body plus allows you to increase flexibility to.
Not to mention that mental health will benefit from doing yoga to a great extend allowing you in turn build strength beyond the physical level.

If you follow well-designed (periodized) training plan and include calisthenics routines and yoga practice into it you will grow some serious strength within your body. And your mind.

The plan should be based on principles of periodization to allow you build strength foundation gradually and making it possible for the body to adapt to increments in loads and training intensities. That is achieved through improved: neuromuscular coordination, joints flexibility, tendons and ligaments strength and core strength. The body grows stronger and injury is less likely to occur.

Periodization of training plan also allows both progress and adequate recovery. In terms of any exercise regimen NO progress is possible without adequate recovery.
If you are a self- disciplined person and you know how to work hard you also apply same rule to resting.
I’m not talking about being lazy and finding excuses “not to do it”, I’m talking about understanding that your body needs to recover- needs time to rest, sleep well and it does certainly needs you to feed it well. We will look deeper into a proper nutrition in a separate post, click here if you want to find out what are the basic rules.

One of the myriad benefits of yoga practice is you learn self-discipline.
You learn there is a time to be strong and there is a time to let go and just relax or be softer.
You understand that rest is good for your body. It is essential for you in order to heal and grow stronger.

Keep all that in mind and remember this is your training!

There is only one way you can walk your life. It is your way.

There is only one way you can walk your life. It is your way.

Stress overload and weight management.

If you have trouble with weight management then you may like to read the below article.
Make sure you also read about the weight loss basics here.

This article is meant for you
if you’re ready to start a happy (not necessarily easy) journey to a better life.
This comes through building (re-building) stronger connection with your body.

What you feed your body with matters. No doubt about that.
The stuff you consume impacts not only your weight and physical health.
It also largely influences your mental and emotional well-being.

Healthy body sustains healthy mind and vice versa.

The path to a healthy body leads through balanced diet and movement, both done mindfully and hopefully to your enjoyment.

Is balanced diet and exercise the only key to successful weight management?

Let’s take a closer look.

You know that you need to eat well and exercise so you do it as if there was no tomorrow. You have your work life, family life and other affairs to attend to and at the end of the day you feel tired but still wired.
You are stressed.
Stress is any force that puts pressure on your mind or your body and may also include positive events like a birth of your child.

Modern stress factors seem to be present in every aspect of your life.

If you don’t know how to cope with modern stress you are likely to lose the perspective and become very tired yet restless and you can’t even sleep well.
Persistent, prolonged stress is quite serious condition.

Persistent stress causes your adrenal glands to constantly produce stress hormones- adrenaline and cortisol.
If you are feeling tired but wired it probably means that your stress hormones levels had already travelled too high.
Way beyond the point your body can utilize cortisol to balance your energy levels, body weight, emotions, your thoughts and pretty much all the physiological processes in your body.

What actually happens in your body during a stress response?

During a stress response adrenaline kicks in first. Its release into the bloodstream causes reactions such as an increase in your heart rate, blood flow to your muscles and sugar metabolism.

When adrenaline levels start to drop cortisol jumps in and continues to elevate blood sugar  levels so that your body has the energy to handle a stress situation.

As a response to elevated blood sugar levels your pancreas releases the insulin to break down the sugar in your bloodstream.

If your adrenal glands remain in the state of heightened alert and continue to produce adrenaline and cortisol  the whole process repeats over and over again.

Your immune system becomes suppressed and the chronic inflammation runs in your body.
Your whole system gets well out of balance and after some time you may notice plenty of side effects including fat build-up around your stomach which comes coupled with fat build-up in your blood vessels.

The stress response system was designed  for a human to cope with actual threat such as fighting the tiger to survive.
It was not meant to fight the tiger (or rather run away from it) 24/7.
Living 24/7 in a state of heightened stress equals continuously elevated blood sugar.
In simple words it’s too much sugar for the body to consume so it stores this energy excess as fat.

Quite often the fat build-up around waist in people who exercise is a clear sign that they overdo exercise.

If you have a trouble with weight management you need to keep in mind that excessively exercising equals exposing yourself to another form of stress overload.

Let’s look at an example.

Jess was eating pretty healthy and exercised like a madman. The fatty belly she wanted to get rid of persisted to stay around her waist. Jess was suffering from an adrenal fatigue and actually that belly was the smallest of her trouble…

Jess needed to slow down. Neither Jess wanted to slow down nor she knew how to. However, she really wanted to lose that belly. Jess is goal orientated and determined person. We made an agreement.  I agreed to coach her only if she cuts back her exercise until advised.
Jess’ program didn’t start with fat loss plan. Her program started with breathwork.
Jess learned to become aware of her breath again and use range of breathing techniques to restore balance in her body.

Jess says “This slowing down thing was the greatest challenge in my life! Everything in me wanted to get up and run while I had to just sit down and pay attention to my breath!! Did I like it? Not at all! At first at least. Yeah, it took a while to bring results. But the funny thing is it worked! This stuff really worked!! And I finally lost that fatty belly without running so much” Jess laughs.

What is the recipe to recover from stress overload and learn how to manage stress in life?

Step out of your own everyday-everyweek-everyyear Matrix.
Learn how to rest and have at least a little bit of a quiet time.
Learn how to be present in whatever you are doing at the time and stop chasing the future. Future will come anyway.

What you must do is to stop running for a while to regain clarity on where are you running so fast.
What do you really want and what your goals actually are? Have they changed while you were chasing them?

meditative swimmingThere is plethora of practices that can assist you managing stress.
Yoga, meditation, Tai Chi, Qigong or just simple stretching combined with breathing (which also can be taken to a meditative state), I even use swimming meditation.
Anything that works for you to lower the stress level and restore physical nd mental health is good as long as it leads you to the inner stillness.

Only when still and content you can  connected with yourself again and regain the ability to manage high levels of modern stress more skillfully and efficiently.

Maintaing healthy body and healthy mind and understanding of the connection between them is crucial to your survival in a modern world.