Posts for Tag: Musings

The human search for balance, not perfection

Before I started working out, I never thought much about my body, except what I perceived to be my flaws and the inevitable sense of doom that as I got older this body was going to sag and falter. 

In the past year, I started marveling at the human body. I got to know the body I owned much better. I started to know her quirks and weaknesses and strengths, how my lifestyle or past lifestyle contributed, and how it is unique from any other body, how the same kind of training or movement would affect, for example, my partner's body and mine differently.

I learned that for every strength there is an opposing weakness and vice versa, and how life is a journey of gaining balance.

Common imbalances of the human body

Biceps versus Triceps
As most yogis would tell you, yoga works the triceps (chaturanga anyone?) more than the biceps. As a result of that, my triceps are much stronger than my biceps. For the first year of my training I only did some half-hearted bicep curls here and there but in 2018 my goal is to get my biceps to catch up. In general, my back is also stronger than my chest, which means busting out the dreaded reps of push-ups.

Glutes versus Quads
I'm quad-dominant, which is a nice way of saying glute-retarded. For the first 3 months of my training, I barely worked my glutes and didn't even realise it until I experienced knee pain and went to see a physiotherapist. Many people have trouble activating their glutes because the muscles are weak from sitting all day. I spent 6 months super conscientiously doing glute activation exercises and now they have no issue firing up. However, because I'd spent so many years being quad-dominant and walking with an anterior pelvic tilt, I am still doing stretches and exercises to achieve balance for this.

Left versus right
My left leg is both more flexible and stronger than the right. During compound moves such as squats I can feel the left supporting most of the load. During isolation exercises I can feel the left firing up more easily. What I do is to constantly think mind-body connection and try to get the right leg to do more work. I have also started working on doing single legged exercises to encourage the right leg to catch up.

Big versus small muscles
The big muscles of my core are well-defined, but the smaller muscles need to work too. I am working on activating certain deeper core muscles to ensure the big muscles only need to do their work well without overcompensating for the stabilisers- because only the stabilisers can do their job well. I am very core-motivated because I want to be in as great shape as possible for a future pregnancy. 

What happens when you're asymmetrical?

Everyone's bodies are slightly asymmetrical. This is completely normal and could be due to genetics or lifestyle factors. The problem is when the imbalance leads to pain, doubt or compromise. 

Sometimes my hips feel out of place because the dominant quads are pulling on my hip flexors, and this affects my gait. There is a visual imbalance between my legs which will only worsen if I don't work on fixing it. Ignoring my weak core stabilisers means the tightness I experience in my lower back may eventually reduce my ability to do a stiff-legged deadlift.

Facing your weaknesses and making them known

I believe seeking balance is the goal of our lives. We all have strengths and weaknesses; often opposing sides of the same coin. You probably already know your strengths. Now look for the hidden weakness and show that weakness to someone, whether it's your physiotherapist, coach, your manager at work or most importantly, your life partner. Who knows, they may have once had that weakness too, which means they can share how they overcame it. Your weakness may also be a strength of theirs, which means they can afford you help.

I've found that the more forthcoming I am with what I am lacking in and my desire to work on it, the more people want to and can help me. You don't need to be perfect or stellar at everything you do, but you never want your weaknesses to impact your strengths.

Find someone you trust and let them in on your search for balance. When progress comes you will find you have someone to celebrate with. 

"Happiness is only real when shared."

Not a morning person

There is so much beauty in a pre-dawn world. 

For 8 years of my student life, I had to wake up at 4.15am to travel from Johor Bahru to Singapore for school. 

The chill of the air, the darkness punctuated by the last standing streetlight, the buzz of insects and chirping of the birds and the smile of the bus driver who only has a smattering of passengers. All of this I remember fondly.

The insidious violence of those mornings have also stayed with me. The harsh fluorescent light in my bedroom flicking on, cold water and a harsh facial scrub for ill-behaved teenage skin, being forced to gulp down breakfast with a churning stomach and the ever-present threat of being mugged as I waited for the morning bus.

The rising cacophony of car honks and the smell of exhaust -- they assaulted my senses and gave me a sense of safety.

As a young adult, I abandoned the act of waking up early and embraced the snooze button.

The past week, though, I’ve found the same wonder in those moments before the sun creeps up, in the stillness, in opening my eyes and experiencing the cycle of light and darkness human bodies are built to go though. And now, because it is my call, because this is part of a ritual, because it is done with intention, I feel a spark of excitement as I flutter into consciousness. I know that if I get up in the next minute I am going to be rewarded greatly for that one single bit of effort, that this decision will change the course of my day.

The sky is a dark bluish grey as my beloved and I fold and elongate our limbs, as we shake the drowsiness from our bones. The bed creaks as we step out. 

Together, we've completed our first act of the day, one part of a promise to own this life together and for each other.