Spring Forward, Fall Back
Spring Forward…Fall Back… Here in California that is an easy way to remember which direction to set the clocks when the time changes.
But for me, this phrase pertains to a lot more in my life than just time.
Whether we want to lose weight, build muscles, learn a musical instrument, take art lessons, start writing a blog, or begin a new business venture, we find that we will “Spring Forward” enthusiastically for a time, only to see ourselves “Fall Back” with some failure or hardship.
Why do we do this? And how can we stop it?
In my convoluted mind that loves puns, it reminds me of something else: Set Points!
Indeed, what are Set Points?
Tennis scores or Electric Motors aside, set points often refer to the stalemates one experiences when attempting to lose weight. Our bodies try to maintain a consistent weight and temperature. If we eat less, our metabolism will slow down to attempt to keep our weight the same. If we eat more, our metabolism increases to help us burn the extra calories.
True to one of my previous blogs on The Final Season, I decided to try to be healthier. This decision was cemented when a personal trainer addressed our Rotary meeting. His opener: “How would you like to be younger by this time next year?” That captured my full attention. He went on to discuss the various systems of the body, from the brain, to balance, to muscle groups, to fatty acids to food values.
His suggestion: “Each of you hit the floor. Do pushups until you can’t do any more. Rest a day. Then do it again. Your wonderful body will recall the need and you will be able to do slightly more each time”. It is a fact that our marvelous muscles will remember and give us more, as long as we consistently require more from that particular muscle group. This is referred to as “exercising to the point of momentary failure” which will create new strength set points or personal bests.
I was fascinated! Although personally my upper body strength would have me on my face on the first push-up, I could see the possibilities. And then my mind went on to think of set points in other areas.
What about weight loss? Why is it that I could lose my excess vacation weight from poor road trip eating in a couple of weeks, but as soon as I got 2 pounds below my old set weight, all these barriers and “hungers” came at me from every direction???? Am I doomed to always weigh what I have weighed for the last several years?
(Here is another interesting read on Set Points with regard to weight loss.)
The argument is that it is as much a psychological set point as it is a physical one. We become subconsciously comfortable with the familiar, even though we don’t really like being there. If we are willing to see it as possible to break through, we are more likely to be successful.
We also have an emotional set point.
We all have moments of elevated joy or excitement, and other times of sadness, feeling low or angry. Then we come back to our own norm. My emotional set point falls naturally at a positive, trusting level. Some have a set point that is more negative, less trusting. Each is normal and not a judgment call. Yet, if we truly want to change our emotional set points, we can work on this as well.
Everything we desire or attempt in our lives, every new thing we wish we could do has to start with a thought, progress to a plan of action, and finally become a part of our routine.
I would suggest that we admit that we do have natural set points. We have them, but we do not have to be limited by them.
Two places where limitations spring from are:
1. Personal Fears
We have old recordings in our heads from childhood, unkind remarks from someone we admired, and from junk we told ourselves when we previously had a “Fall-Back”. We believe we can’t change or that the new change will somehow make us uncomfortable.
2. Lack of Understanding
Our muscles are miraculous. They seem to know we need them to be stronger when we exercise consistently to the point of momentary failure. Even so, we need to come to the understanding that in every area, our body and minds are capable of breaking past our natural set points. All it takes is desire, a plan of action and consistently bringing ourselves to the point of “TEMPORARY Failure” in that area.
How exciting is THAT???
Meet Matt Pepe: a young man in his 40’s who decided to quit his job and backpack abroad for 6 months. Six months became six years. He followed his dream. He stretched his mind, his muscles, his set points, not once but many times.
Matt Pepe will never be the same man who left home 6 years ago. If you and I will stretch ourselves to the point of temporary failure in a given area over and over, we too, will never be the same.
There is of course, an opposite. The result of doing nothing: atrophy. Atrophy of our minds, atrophy of our muscles, atrophy of our health, atrophy of our abilities, atrophy of …our dreams.
Stretch yourself! Spring Forward! And every time you Fall Back, which is inevitable, will yourself to get up and Spring Forward one more time.
Would you share your thoughts, perhaps your struggle with difficult achievements that pushed you past your own set points? Others can be inspired by what you write.