As I said in my blog many times, for years I was aggressive with my training. If I wanted at all costs to be able to do a certain thing – run faster, get leaner, jump higher- I just had to get it, whatever it would take. I was also in my twenties and my body NEVER hurt. If I had some aches, they were gone in couple days. I had tons of energy and I was squeezing it all out for my activities, from sunrise till dawn. I thought I would never change.
When I started contortion I was 27, still in top shape, mostly strong and little flexible. I stressed my body a lot in the last 10 years (eating disorders, OCD, ton of training) but it amazes me how it always kept up with my restless and demanding mind. I’ve always been attracted by extremes – initially it was being extremely skinny, which also happened in my youth, a very immature time of my life. Then it happened with fitness, I had a healthier approach to it ( at least I was eating!) but still a lot of control and discipline because of course, I didn’t just want to be fit or “toned”, I wanted to be shredded and muscular to the max. When I discovered contortion, I had some doubts (I didn’t think I was going to be a contortionist at such late age but I liked the challenge and to see how far I could go with it). I knew right from the beginning that this new discipline would have required a lot of work from my body, and I prayed it was ok and ready, one more time, to give its all. It did, and here I am, 4 years later, still going strong. I don’t know how, but my body followed me in this crazy journey too. I have a lot of respect for it. But I know the limits I kept pushing and thought I was never gonna find are eventually somewhere. And yes, age is just a number, but time is real. Our body is aware that time is passing, and the load of work through the years adds up. So what’s up with the title, “respect your bad side”?
Realize this: nobody that trains has a perfect, full functional body. If you use it, you will inevitably “consume” it. And for bad side (usually in flexibility it’s referred to the least flexible side of your body) I mean the side of you that is human, imperfect and fragile: it needs to be respected and loved too, because simply it’s part of you. The golden rule for a long, happy training life is acceptance and care. You can’t hate your body because one day is stiff, or you’re not improving fast enough, or your bad side is not catching up, or you’re aching, or one day you don’t have energy.You have no choice but accept, and better yet, embrace the changes. I know I’m guilty of getting frustrated instead, that’s also why I’m writing this, to remind myself. To ease the pain of being human and imperfect -lol- You might find beneficial to:
Add more rest
Alternate intense sessions with easier ones
Eat cleaner, healthier food choices
Work on strengthening and protecting certain joints (shoulder, knee, hip etc)
And so on.
You might wish you could have 10 years less, but remember how you were 10 years ago? You didn’t have – this drive – this motivation – this knowledge – this experience. All those factors you gained with TIME. So understanding that, helps me in my quest for balance, the Holy Grail of life, so hard to find – because too often we identify balance with “mediocrity” or “average”. No. Your balance will keep you healthy, body and mind.
Another important reminder: focus on few, important priorities/goals. Don’t waste your energy trying to be the best at everything. Do what you need to do without getting distracted, nor have regrets or thoughts that brings your mind to dark places. How you spent your life in the past is how you thought was the best way at that time. Time is now and is more precious than ever. I know sounds cheesy, but that’s what you need to do 😉