But What’s Your Intention? (Part 1/2)

My specialty and doctorate degree is embedded in and around the musculoskeletal system of the body. A.k.a. your muscles, bones, connective tissues, mechanics, injuries, neurological tissues, flexibility, mobility, strength, power, cardio health (indirectly), performance, physical function, etc.

My 40+ hours a week of work, my conversations, my world, and my free time is spent taking the health information that’s out there, disseminating it, and breaking it down in digestible ways for you, the individual. More importantly, my actual role is to apply it safely and uniquely to your life if we work together.

If you follow me on Instagram or Facebook, you’ll see a variety of posts. Some of them are about my experiences as an entrepreneur (which is an intentional storyline of struggle towards anything challenging, not just business), but many of them are focused around intention in anything we do, whether it’s in fitness, physical therapy, or communication with a partner. You’ll occasionally see my hashtag, #ownyourintentions, because I care a lot about living a life that is aligned with our desires.

To get a bit more specific for you from a physical health perspective, I will break down two examples in this post:

Example #1: Flexibility.

Many people looking to get more flexible , or a sensation of looseness in their bodies, stretch regularly or say they should stretch more regularly, at least. In the world of scientific evidence and studies, however, stretching has actually not been proven to be the most effective tool for flexibility. It’s certainly something that can be done with some results (though, not always, depending on the person’s underlying cause of their tight sensations), but a more effective approach to sustainable flexibility is to build strength in the ranges and angles someone is trying to feel looser in.

So, if flexibility, or a longer muscle length, is someone’s actual goal, then the choice to stretch would not be the best. Strategic strength exercises would be. If his or her goal is to feel relaxed, more decompressed after work, or a temporary sensation of looseness, then I’d say stretching is a great choice.

Again, this can be nuanced and dependent on the client and what they’re presenting with. But the point in this example is to illustrate that if we want the results we claim we want, like flexibility, then our choice should be the more effective tool. If we do not use that tool knowing that information, then what is the actual intent when choosing stretching?

There is nothing wrong at all with going for something less effective, but owning our choice and our reason for choosing it is important!

Example #2: Weight loss.

Weight gain or weight loss is essentially a balance shift between expending less or more energy, respectively, than we consume. “Expending energy” means basically anything that uses energy in our day-to-day, from basic physiological processes like beating our hearts to pump blood, to fidgeting at our desks, to hiking Mount Kilimanjaro. “Consumption” translates to the things we are eating, drinking, or putting into our body.

To lose weight, we must expend more than we consume. There are very many ways to do this, from gardening, having a manual labor job, to deadlifting 600lbs. But those activities alone aren’t enough if we are eating a lot every day. Or maybe they are if we aren’t big eaters. Or maybe we’re emotional eaters, unsure of the impact of those binge-eating moments. All this says is that there are multiple factors we need to look at in our unique life that might hinder or support our ability to achieve certain weight goals.

More often than not, people go too extreme in weight loss measures, such that they are burning the candle at both ends, making their efforts unsustainable or ineffective. This can look like yo-yo dieting, burn out, chronic fatigue, cravings, etc.

There are ways to make your energy expenditure more effective with better “bang for your buck” approaches, but that’s for another day. And while I’d like to give you a perfect formula on how to efficiently lose weight or gain lean weight, it’s not entirely possible without knowing your whole life picture. This is, again, why my job is about taking the information, simplifying it for general knowledge, and then applying it uniquely to you as your coach.

With regards to intent in this example, if you truly want an outcome you desire in weight loss, then taking the steps to find the right strategy for your situation and then choosing those approaches consistently is how you’ll get results. If you don’t choose those approaches after knowing them, then your intent or goals may not be aligned with your actions so something might have to change. That is fine, too. Just be aligned, or have someone help you get more aligned when you’re not sure.

 

Health is complex. It’s not necessarily complicated all the time, but it does have a lot of factors to consider. If we can become more aware of our goals, or the feelings we want experience when achieving these goals, then we can apply the best plan of action to reach them in a sustainable way. Ways that are specific to you.

That is my job as Physical Therapist and coach. Ultimately, I’m meant to be temporary in your life. You’re meant to be forever in yours. It’s important to learn how to live it the most aligned way for you, which is where Part 2 of this post comes in. It is more focused on doing just that as individuals, in general, through building the skill of awareness.

Dr. Meg