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Monday, August 26, 2013

Years ago when I took dance as a college class, my teacher would occasionally make cautionary comments to students..........."you're efforting." I knew what she meant at the time. Basically it means that you are straining You are not letting your body do the movement. You are forcing. You are trying too hard. You are tensing muscles that don't need to be tensed to perform the movement. This comment popped in my head recently when I was trying to figure out why I had so much ongoing soreness. I had determined that the soreness was not really in my joints or my muscles as much as the connective tissues........ligaments and tendons. I now think that straining/overuse through dance classes, tumbling, and cheerleading may have made me vulnerable. (Plus there is the overuse through repetitive movements of yardwork and deskwork). I have always needed to do more stretching than others. Maybe it was the "efforting" while I was making the movement that had to be undone later. Maybe it is because I tended to be naturally flexible in my joints.
Maybe I just have weakened connective tissue for some unknown reason. Maybe it's from years of overuse. I did read that there is less blood supply to connective tissue, so I am working on warming up & cooling down. Maybe I have a mild case of adult onset fibromyalgia. (I made that one up). I really thought everyone felt like I did. I felt like saying.....you mean you don't feel sore and hurt all the time? My friends never said anything about how they ached all the time. I just assumed that they did. I think it is something that is personal to me that I am just going to have to accept and work with.

While I don't think that I really have any disease or serious condition, I do think that I have strained them, in the past and more recently. There are five underlying issues recently that proved to be a problem. It seems to me that clearly stating and understanding the problem almost dictates the solution.

One is that I had noticed that cardio had improved my mood. Although this was true to a point, I had somehow decided that if I did it even MORE, then I'd be even HAPPIER! Well, more and more leads to strain and overuse. And, if a person has previously overused a body part, then they are vulnerable. Pain, stiffness, & soreness makes a person crabby, not perky and bubbly. Instead, it makes a setback and possible depression.

Two is the pressure of competition. Yes, I walked a 5k and felt good about it. Yes, I stayed with in my comfort zone and it was easy. But in the back of my mind there was the sense that.........if I were really fit I'd be running. Or at least walking faster. Or at least walking farther. More....more....more. Also, reading Spark blogs reporting all the successes........
well, I just felt that I didn't measure up. So, again, I pushed myself in the walking.
And tried out exercise equipment at the park and pushed and pushed because.........
well, my friend has a personal trainer and he pushes her. Wow, she's doing squats, lunges, and lifting 40 pounds over her head. I must really be a dud.

Three is the influence of the "Extreme Makeover." I started watching those programs which imply that unless you are an extreme athlete, you will be doomed to being obese. The show that I had been watching is on Tuesday nights. I never watched the show with Jillian because 2 minutes of her snotty, superior attitude had me changing the channel. The one that I started watching is with Chris Powell, a much nicer guy. But I really take exception with the extreme physical demands that he puts on people. He trained one girl to run about a mile and shortly thereafter made her run a marathon. I do understand pushing people off the couch, but this goes way past that.

Four is that, since we all seem to agree that cardio and strength training are a must, if some is good.......MORE must be better! More activity = more calories burned.

Five is a vague sense/awareness of holding large muscle groups in a tensed state as being braced for some type of onslaught. It is as if there is so much out there to be afraid of that one cannot ever fully relax. One must always be on guard. At any moment something might pounce on me and do me harm! Where did this come from? No wonder I am withdrawing
and becoming more and more of a hermit. Wow, that is a bit of a revelation to me as I am writing this. I better work on that. Suggestions welcome on this one.

More is not necessarily better. One size does not fit all. We need to accommodate our own body with it's unique make-up and problems and make choices. We don't have to be athletes to lose weight and be healthy. We need to monitor our behavior and our thoughts to make sure we are looking out for our own best interests.

Right now I am scaling back a little. Soreness, stiffness, and fatigue forced me to do that anyway!

I am working on eliminating the "efforting" both mentally and physically.
The most effective technique I have found so far is to consciously relax my muscles.
If I notice tension anywhere, I relax that muscle group.

I'd better get over my pride. I'd better acknowledge my physical problem and work around it, heal it if I can.

I am modifying and tailoring my activity to my individual needs based on an understanding of who I am emotionally and physically.

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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    Love this concept of "efforting" -- a new one to me, and applicable for me not only to doing too much exercise, but just doing too much in general! How much preparation is enough preparation? What's the point of "diminishing marginal returns"?

    I have taken a good look at the Refuse to Retain website and have read quite a few of her blogs -- it's a better website than the Dr. Judith S. Beck one (and I really like The Beck Diet Solution too). But you reminded me to go back and read some more!

    I do hope that you'll stick around Spark but completely understand that you need to do what's right for you. I can see the pressure to drink 8 glasses of water a day (I don't) and reduce down to a size 2 (I'm not) and get into the 5 k running and then the 10 k and the marathon and the tri and . . . I don't. The best is the enemy of the good, and I've been here long enough to know that those who get excessive tend to fall off the wagon and experience a lot of struggles with regain. I remember that old Bruno Bettelheim parenting book from the 80s (or so) called The Good Enough Mother (what a radical concept!! you mean sainthood isn't requisite??) and that's more or less what I'm aiming for here too.
    1753 days ago
    Interesting blog. I can say that *I* am aching and sore a lot of the time... and stiff. My fysiotherapist just berated me for my tendency to overdo it with yoga...
    1754 days ago
    There is nothing wrong with you pushing yourself and trying new things. I think you just have to know when. I am always proud of you for having the ability to still learn new things about yourself; I love it!

    Soak in Epsom salt and stretch before and after exercising. I learned that the hard way...ouch!

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    1755 days ago
    As I read this, all I could think about was "people pleasing" and the things you blogged about two weeks ago - before your company came. Are you "efforting" there too? I don't mean to cross any lines here and I pray you won't take this wrong. It is simply an observation based on things you have written about. Maybe everything you are searching for lies right there. . . in the not "efforting" where people are concerned. Much love! Karen emoticon
    1755 days ago
    Tension in the mind can cause tension in the body. Progressive relaxation and the warm bath before bed others have suggested can help with both. When my mother was an aerobics instructor, she would always end her classes with progressive relaxation. (Her background in yoga and meditation served her well.) No one ever left her class early!
    1756 days ago
    Great analysis and great plan!
    1756 days ago
    Have you ever tried progressive relaxation? You know when you lay or sit and go from squeezing to relaxing one body part to the next staring with curling your toes to clenching your calves/relaxing. Hold each for a count. Progress all the way up to your forehead. Also some people say wheat causes inflammation in tissues, but I don't have this problem, so I've never experimented. Hubby and DIL have knee pain but it feels better when eliminating wheat. You may have tried both of these, so sorry.

    I like the "efforting" idea. The progressive relaxation would help there, as well as what you said about consciously relaxing.

    Take care,
    1756 days ago

    I think this is absolutely wonderful. There's some keen insight here. I am "liking" it!~
    I hope you feel well.

    Love, Ginger
    1756 days ago
    A before ged warm bath with Epsom salts, 1lb to a bath, will really help with the efforting. Then wrap yourself in a robe, and go to bed.
    You can train your body to relax when you say the word relax.
    I had aches and pains but after about four days of an elimination diet, away they went, seemingly for good. I think it was to do with inflammation....
    Good luck with the efforting. You seem to have a great handle on it!
    1756 days ago
    Excellent! Here's to finding what works for us and integrating it into our journey!
    1756 days ago
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