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XPTLIFE

Conscious Adaptation

By Rob Wilson CMT
An XPT Advisor

When I was a student attending the Cayce/Reilly School of Massotherapy I had an instructor, Dr. Mark Haynes, who had an insightful saying, “The difference between toxin and medicine is dose.”  All adaptations ultimately come from a disruption of homeostasis, the sum of what is physiologically “normal”.  It is the dynamic balance of dosage and response that will ultimately determine whether a choice we make is to our benefit or to our detriment.

“The difference between toxin and medicine is dose.”

Adaptation, which is the underpinning concept of all physiology, connects the dots of training in a way that allows us as humans, athletes, and coaches to make conscious choices about how the combination of what we do and how much of it we do ultimately effects the ever unfolding outcome of our lives.  The beauty of being human is that we can consciously effect our own adaptation through choice in literally every moment.  None of our choices exist in isolation and behaviors that may seem unrelated to training and performance outcomes are still nonetheless expressions of ourselves in total.

To be able to apply this thinking fully, we must develop the capacity to feel what is going on in our bodies and minds and be honest with ourselves about how our choices are effecting us.  This seems an obvious part of being an adult on some levels but shifting the turret to a training environment can be difficult.  One issue we come across regularly is how compartmentalized our thinking can become in regards to how we believe stimuli effect us or whether we are evenText Box: “None of our choices exist in isolation and behaviors that may seem unrelated to training and performance outcomes are still nonetheless expressions of ourselves in total.” aware of it all.  Many times there is a cognitive dissonance that creates space between our choices and the timelines of their effects. Repetitions are measured in time and minutes become hours into days, days into weeks, weeks into months and so on.  When moving unconsciously we can arrive at a place and have no idea how we got their or that we were moving at all.  This is akin to a toddler being driven around by a parent.  They are only surprised by their arrival but also have no real memory of the trip at all.

“None of our choices exist in isolation and behaviors that may seem unrelated to training and performance outcomes are still nonetheless expressions of ourselves.”

From a training perspective this means seldom do we take into account the bigger picture of what we are really asking from ourselves and how our training and non-training behaviors tie in to performance when the time comes to culminate our abilities into a given moment.  For example in the performance therapy world an almost epidemic problem among athletes is stiff hip capsules and loss of true extension of the hip (the primary driver of power in most everything).  I often ask athletes when teaching how many of them identify themselves sedentary humans.  Very few raise their hands.  As expected most of us who latch our identity on being fit, capable, and athletic do not view ourselves as sedentary.  However, further examination of the numbers highlights the fact that our bodies through tens of thousands of hours of this behavior to become more efficient at just that, sitting.  Has even a fraction of this time been spent practicing any other given endeavor?  And even though we weren’t making a conscious choice to become adapted to sitting our physiology still responded directly to the behavior.

The disconnect begins when we have an expectation of a result that does not match the behavioral choice.  If we have done nothing to mitigate the effects of this adaptation how can we expect a different result? The more awareness we bring to our actions both during training and during other life activities the more we can direct our own adaptations.

It’s unnecessary to ascribe any certain value judgement to any stimulus or behavior whether training or otherwise, but to instead simply ask, what do I want?  And am I giving myself a dose of the right behavior that moves me towards what it is that I really want?  No one else can tell us this; we can only answer this question ourselves.

When we ask these types of questions it moves us towards becoming educated about the effects of training choices and how we want to spend our time.  Thus, we can shift our consciousness from one of slipshod, haphazard, suffering (the way many of us train) to a paradigm of awareness where we become active participants and choose what we get from any training experience that I decide to engage in.  Then training becomes not just about learning to work hard, but to know why you are working so hard and how to best achieve the result you want.  This type of intrinsic motivation shifts the focus to conscious practice and we then innately begin to move from behavioral dosages that are toxic and deleterious to ones that are medicinal and productive.

Stay Tuned for Part 2 Coming Soon…

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