Gain and Loss: How the balance of life comes in waves.

Things are pretty steady along. I’ve been finding myself thinking more about my physical health, and what I want to see in myself. In the past, I had exercise goals of cycle x km or lift x kg. Chasing numbers that in hindsight have very little meaning to me. I remember the few times that I attempted to consistently weight train, I had my training journal, had my sets and reps and kgs all written out. At the end of the week I’d see that 1kg extra I could curl or that 0.5kg extra that I could press. I think one of the reasons I wasn’t making progress is how meaningless a fixation on those numbers was. I wasn’t competing, didn’t have a set goal (apart from always lift more) and I was judging my progress based on numbers and not how I felt. This idea of gain and loss in exercise: gain muscle, lose fat. Gain strength, lose waist size. I am starting to stop thinking about exercise in this way and now focusing on how it makes me feel.

I suppose a comparison can be drawn to materialism here. It’s about losing and gaining “things” like muscle and fat. Not about how it makes you feel. Too often I see others judging themselves based on the numbers rather than how they feel after a period of training. I’m purposefully now not counting my reps. I’m going to try it by feel. When I can’t do anymore, then I tell myself I’ve got another rep in me, and maybe another after that until failure. Every time. No need to track statistics, weights, etc. If I’m spending too much time on an exercise, then I add weights. If it’s over too soon, remove weight. With this I’ve found myself more relaxed with my progress, every session feels like it wasn’t a waste of time, and I feel I’ve given my all at that point.

“What, then, makes a person free from hinderance and self-determining? For wealth doesn’t, neither does high-office, state or kingdom-rather, something else must be found … in the case of living, it is the knowledge how to live.”

Epictetus, Discourses, 4.1.62-64

Nice quote but I would say it may be easier to find crazy wealth and high-office rather than finding out how to live. The nice thing about this is we have a pretty good base to build from. We all need to breathe, eat, drink and sleep. That’s the minimum of living. Anything more than that, difficult to say. Epictetus is well known for an almost brutal minimalism when it comes to living, sending many potential students away stating that they could never commit to a life that is expected for a Stoic. Once again it makes me think that it’s pretty easy to be a Stoic once you don’t have to think of how to live at its most basic level, when you’re not fighting for water shelter and food. However I don’t believe that you can’t be a Stoic when you have a foundation of security, it just means that you have to move up the ladder and find knowledge on how to live that isn’t just base necessities. In fact, it is in the power of the privilidged individual to spend whatever resources they have to ensure they are living a just and virtuous life. In my view, a necessary part is striving for good physical and mental health, if you can’t be good and just to yourself how are you expecting to help others.

Ivan Written by:

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