Reframing Fitness

Reframing Fitness – Coach Andrew

This might be the most important blog I write this year. Maybe ever.

For many of us, Fitness has become part of who we are. We do it every day, blindly without thinking about why we are doing it because it is ingrained in us. When we are feeling down on ourselves, we workout. The endorphins make it better. Feeling Stressed? Workout. Feeling tired? Workout. You see for many of us, fitness has become a way for us to escape the reality of our life and that is a problem. It is a problem because it leads to exercise addiction, injury, burnout, and avoidance of the real issues in our lives.

Im not saying this happens to everyone, but it certainly was the case for me, and it very well might be the case for some of you.

This past week I took three days off in a row. My doctor suggested I do it due to some findings in my bloodwork that often hint at over training. Without hesitation, I have done NOTHING for 3 days. If just last year you asked me to take three days off in a row I would have look at you like you had 5 heads. There was simply no way I was going to do that. Even if I got hurt, which was often, I would either train through it or figure out something to do that was hard but didn’t hurt. In the first 2 years working with BAM I don’t think I ever actually made it through a full training cycle without getting hurt or dealing with pain.

For me, It all started with a breakup in college. As dumb as that sounds to me now, I was devasted and the only place I could escape was the gym. Every day I would go to CrossFit, then head right to the gym on campus, do a bodybuilding workout, then run 4-5 miles. EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. And all because I didn’t want to deal with my feelings or talk to someone. Fitness, then became a passion of mine but was molded around this idea that it was meant to be used to get away from reality. 

I didn’t have good friends, so instead of hanging out with them at night I trained.

I didn’t like my job, so I would train before work, on my lunch break, and after work.

I had family members pass away. What do you think the first thing I did was? You probably guessed right.

I was a “Fitness Junky” that got a fix from cortisol and endorphins. Replace training with smoking or drugs in the statements above and you can see I was clearly an exercise addict.

Luckily through lots of education, help from coaches, and shifts in mindset Ive been able to reconstruct my relationship with fitness and what it means for me.

Fitness was simply NOT meant for this purpose. It isn’t meant to be used as a mechanism to deal with stress, because it is a stressor itself. It wasn’t meant to be used as a weight loss mechanism, that is what nutrition is for. It isn’t meant to be done to fill empty time or distract yourself. 

Fitness is strategic stress to your body that drives a specific adaptation. Strength, motor control, muscle hypertrophy (this one is debatable), balance, explosiveness, aerobic capacity, muscle endurance, postural endurance etc etc. All things that add up to living a longer, more full life and doin the things you love to do better and for a longer time.

This doesn’t mean that fitness can’t be fun, or it cant relieve stress, or help clear your mind. But When these things are the sole purpose of your workout you are going to run into the same issues I had: Injury, avoidance, burnout.

This is the same reason we believe fitness trends like spin, running (alone), and other HIIT programs aren’t good enough. They address very few of the adaptations humans need.

Reframing the way you look at fitness may be incredibly important to your mental and physical health. Here are some tips for moving forward if you’re someone who struggles with this like I do.

  1. Listen to your body. If you need a rest day, rest. 1 extra day of rest isn’t going to make you fat, lose strength, or become less fit.
  2. Your training intensity should reflect your stress levels. If you’re stressed out, training intensity should be low. If you feel great, ramp it up!
  3. Have a clear reason for each and every exercise you do. Each exercise should lead you closer to a desired outcome. Use the minimum effective dose.
  4.  A “good workout” doesn’t have to mean laying in a pool of sweat – just ask our personal training clients who have consistently been getting out pain. Those workouts are not very sweaty, but they are good… no GREAT workouts for them.
  5. Clear your mind through meditation & reflection, change your body through nutrition. Exercise is an accessory, not the primary driver.
  6. Reflect on why you feel the need to exercise so much.
  7. Be vulnerable. Talk about the things that are bothering you and causing you to feel the need for an endorphin or cortisol release. 

Since changing my relationship with exercise I have continued to get stronger, fitter, faster and no longer deal with pain on a daily basis. I enjoy things outside the gym, am more vulnerable in all areas of my life. Best of all is that I’ve allowed myself to chase hard after my passion: Helping people like you become confident, feel worthy, and reach goals they never thought were possible.

You can have dramatic change too! I hope this was helpful! If you have any questions or want to talk about any of this feel free to email me at andrew@yankeecrossfit.com or text me!


Coach Andrew