DeAnna Dimmitt Mind Body Fitness


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The Wellness Triangle: Priorities Of Progress

DeAnnaDimmitt_TrianglePose

When discussing the concept of well-being with my personal training clients, I always explain to them that there are no isolated problems just as there no isolated solutions. To maintain a state of well-being requires conditioning and balance in all areas of life, not just at the gym.

The Wellness Triangle is made up of three components: Physical Activity, Nutrition, and Stress Management. Every aspect of your self care regime falls under one of these headings and no one part is more or less important than the others. For instance, physical activity can become a source of excessive stress if it is not supported by a foundation of nutrition, periods of relaxation and perhaps most importantly, the ability to diffuse stress. Nutrition is critically important but the body is not able to make optimum use of it’s fuel if it is sedentary and stressed out. And finally, I don’t believe it is possible to have any kind of real stress management in the absence of physical activity and nutrition.

When all three legs of the triangle are being tended to equally and the body comes into balance an interesting thing known as synergy occurs. With synergy we are able to become more than just the sum total of our parts. We are able to excel at an astounding rate. We are stronger, faster, smarter, happier and more capable than we ever imagined.

So why then do so many of us only attain synergy in small amounts, and for limited durations? Why do we work so hard to get up only to crash back down and start over again? Have you ever noticed that when life is going well, you start to attract more activity around you and then BAM! you get really sick and everything falls apart?

There is only one underlying reason for this and that is failing to understand the importance of balance. Can an F-16 jet break the sound barrier if the engine is ill-maintained and the gas tank is full of Diet Coke and Big Macs? Um, no.

I recently observed this cycle in myself and for the first time actually identified it for what it was. I call it “Too Busy Syndrome”. I was, as I always am, working hard to better myself, to make change, to inspire and help other people to do the same. I was going to bed on time, eating well, exercising (of course), I was mediating twice a day, taking my vitamins and even doing my sinus rinse every evening. All of these things are a practice, a regime that takes discipline to perform on a daily basis.

Things were going well, and because I was operating at a heightened energy level, I was attracting more activity into my life. But then I got busy and something happened. I began to prioritize the busyness. I would say to myself, I don’t have time to eat a proper meal or I don’t have time to meditate this morning after also not having time to sleep properly the night before.

And guess what happened? Yep, I got sick. I was flying too high and too fast with no foundation to sustain that level of activity. I did not neglect my workouts but I did neglect nutrition and stress management which caused the physical activity to become more stress than my compromised state of well-being could support.

While I was sick, I naturally became very motivated to resume all of my practices and, as I felt my state of well-being return, that was when the realization of the cycle and the importance of balance really hit me. Although I have lived through this cycle many times, I was so busy being inside of it that I never saw the big picture. I never saw how my own actions opened the door to illness. I never realized that no matter how busy I may be, progress only occurs in the presence of sustainability.

The American Council on Exercise (ACE Fitness) defines balance as: The ability to maintain the body’s position over it’s base of support within stability limits, both statically and dynamically.

Neglecting any one part of the Wellness Triangle erodes the base of support and creates a structure that is out of balance and cannot stand.

Practices first. Busyness second. These are the priorities of progress.


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Be The Screen Door

My classes have a way of, well, testing people.

“Hey guys, this ain’t a funeral. It’s ok to cheer up.”

It’s not like a test that you have to study for, with a bunch of different questions covering a broad range of topics.  There is actually only one question: if you can’t stay calm in here, how will you stay calm out there?

“You kids are looking awfully serious…”

What is this mind body mumbo jumbo anyway? Isn’t it like supervised nap time?

Emphatically, no, it is not.

You will not find a time during any of my classes when your mind is free to dwell on something that upset you yesterday or to worry about what might happen tomorrow.  We work in the now, the right now, the only time that there is.

Stay with me…

Being present in the moment creates a sense of flow and ease.  The path of least resistance is not necessarily the easiest path, on the flattest ground, with the fewest obstacles, it’s the one we travel without trying to grab on to every single thing that enters our consciousness.

Somewhere along the line we’ve mistaken working out for stressing out. Consider this: the way you do one thing is the way you do everything.  Do you spend your days stressing out about time, money, your appearance, your social status? Is your #1 concern: Am I good enough? And your #2 concern: how will I get the things that will make me good enough?  Let me ask you this: how will you know when you’ve arrived at good enough? Will your biceps be as big as your head? Will you drive a car that can go 3x the legal speed limit? How much energy is allocated to the stress and worry at the expense of the actual doing?  Is the quality of the work diminished if you go about it calmly?

With our highly competitive and stress inducing culture, it’s not the least bit surprising that we’ve turned exercise into a competitive and stressful activity.  No wonder so many people don’t enjoy it; they’re stressed out at home, they’re stressed out at work and the last thing they want to be is stressed out at the gym.

But is it really the gym that creates the stress?

I’ll be the first to admit that I teach the hardest yoga class I’ve ever been to, and Dynamic Body Sculpt – oh baby, we’re not messin’ around! But here’s the thing, I will not let you sink into that shroud of anxiety that most people wear like an iron mask.  I can see it coming on, the way too serious expressions, the shoulders creeping up by the ears, the lack of breathing.  As the level of difficulty increases, the body starts to experience stress.  The heart rate increases, lactic acid accumulates in the muscles creating the feeling of “burn”, the mind is scrambling to coordinate the limbs and maintain balance.  Suddenly we experience a feeling of turbulence and our knee jerk reaction is to hold on, to grab on to something, thinking that the only way to make it through, to survive, is to let our fight or flight reflexes take over and go into stress out mode.

Guess what happens in stress out mode? The workout is harder. You accomplish less and leave the gym with more anxiety than when you arrived.

If you’re trying to take your workout to the next level and are frustrated by a lack of progress, I have three words for you: let it go.  When the stress comes, and it will, don’t grab on to it, let it go.  Breathe through the moment.  Fall out of a pose? That’s alright, don’t get mad. Take inventory of where the tension is accumulating, where the flow of chi is being blocked, and relax. Focus and breathe and try again.  When the waves of tension start to rise up, be the screen door and let them pass through you without the need to hold on. Your mind and body will thank you. 🙂