“So let me get this right, to improve my health you want me to stop going to the gym?”
“That’s right,” I replied looking him straight in the eye…
I knew this was going to be a hard sell.
Angelo was a client a mine, a high charging, super successful CEO working at a major company.
He was your typical A type personality, driven, successful and great at everything he did.
He was also secretly suffering with anxiety, insomnia and bouts of depression. He was starting to put on weight round his waist and was angry most of the time.
Like many people in his position he’d get up early, sort the kids out, grab a coffee on the run, arrive like a whirlwind at the office, spend all morning kicking ass and taking names, working at 10 times the pace of everyone around him.
By lunch time he had done 3 days work.
Now he knew that working like this he knew he had to look after himself so during his lunch hour he’d run down to the local gym and beast it for 45 mins before coming back to work, grabbing lunch at his desk and jumping straight back into whatever he was doing that day.
When I asked him to stop going to the gym his reply was, “Look the gym is my way of letting off steam, it’s the only hour of the day I get to myself, its the way I relax.”
And I get it I really do. But here’s the thing…
We’ve all been sold a little white lie when it comes to exercise and fitness.
Exercise is GREAT I’m not going to deny that in any way shape or form, but…
Exercise is also a stressor.
It works by breaking the body down, by placing a stress on the muscles so it has to rebuild stronger.
Now this works great when we give it enough time to recover. When in between those workouts we are lying around in the sun, chatting shit with mates, eating well and getting loads of sleep.
The problem I see with most A type personalities is they are spending the rest of the day in a state of high stress. When they hit the gym they are just adding more stress.
Never giving the body enough time in rest and digest mode (the opposite of fight or flight) so it can chill the **** out and recover.
Add to this that most of these CEO types not only go to the gym but are training for an Ironman or the next Spartan Race and you have a real problem.
Let me lay this out in really simple terms.
Using exercise as a de stressor to a stressful lifestyle doesn’t work. As exercise itself is a stressor!
And this is where we come to the lie. We have been told that exercise is the magic bullet, the cure all for everything. And when we look at professional athletes in glowing health this would seem to ring true.
But you have to understand these professional athletes spend a few hours a day exercising and then spend hours sitting in the hot tub or the ice bath, getting massaged. They have a nutritionalist ensuring they eat a perfect diet, they sleep LOADS.
Normal people don’t live like that and so have to adjust their lifestyle and their exercise patterns accordingly.
If you’re working as a CEO, a dad, a partner and trying to do an Ironman I can assure you, you won’t be far from burnout.
Now in telling Angelo to stop exercising I was being a bit flippant but I was trying to make a point.
Much better if he stopped working 16 hours a day, took some time for himself, relaxed a little to allow his body the chance to recover and carried on doing the exercise.
I’m sure you can see that it wasn’t really the exercise that was killing him it was his lifestyle, but I knew the chances of him changing anything there was minimal. But unless I could get him to reduce the amount of stress his biology was under he would never see an improvement in his symptoms.
(After many weeks of convincing I got Angleo to cut back on a lot of the stressors in his life, so much so he was able to keep on exercising, and it transformed him).
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