When Progress Sneaks Up On You
Progress is a tricky thing. Sometimes we can track it with numbers – race times, distance run, weight lifted, number of reps completed, etc. And sometimes it’s more nebulous than that.
When you’re a movement-based person like I am, who doesn’t so much “work out” as much as I go out and try to do stuff with my body that I haven’t been able to before, then it’s trickier. If you’re into Parkour or MovNat, and there are specific movements or tricks that you’re trying to do (doing a Kong Vault in Parkour, for example, or completing a successful Sliding Swing Up in MovNat), then it might be less abstract.
But one of the things that I hope I’ve gotten across in the course of this blog’s progression is that the point isn’t necessarily to learn to do tricks, or just complete races and obstacles, but rather to change your life and truly see the world in a different way.
Case in point: last summer I was helping a friend move with a few other friends. I was standing in the back of his pickup and handing boxes and weightlifting equipment out to the fellows on the ground, and as we finished I put my hand on the side of the truck bed and vaulted out of the truck, hitting the ground in a great squat landing. One of my friends who was also in the truck bed (most of these guys were at least 10-15 years younger than I) had a near jaw-hitting the ground moment as I did it. I wasn’t even thinking about it, I just did it because it was the most efficient way to get out of the truck. Apparently it’s not something that then-46-year-old people do.
But it was one of those “whoa – something changed” moments that I go back to now as evidence that something about me is evolving. And I love those moments. They stick with you more, I think, than just lifting more weight or running more miles. Those are arbitrary figures created by people – I mean, the only reason that 200 pounds means more than 199 pounds is because someone a long time ago decided that a pound was a unit of measure that we’d use, and also that multiples of ten were more significant than other numbers as a benchmark.
Doing something like that jump, though, is purely natural. And to me, it means more than distance run or weight lifted or even reps of an exercise done. All those measures are artificial, but doing a physical feat – particularly if it’s done more or less instinctively – is something you can grab onto and really evaluate the progress you’ve made.
And I think it’s even more important as we age. As I’ve pointed out before, we have this false impression that as we age, our bodies naturally break down. That we need to stop running and start playing golf. And the worst attitude to have is that there’s nothing we can do about it.Sometimes progress in your #movement abilities will sneak up on you! Click To Tweet
Progress like this – the sudden manifestation of a physical skill or aptitude in the way we live our lives – means even more when the world is trying to tell us that we shouldn’t be able to do such things.
That’s one of the major reasons that I do Mudlife Crisis – to help people see just what they are truly capable of if they grab onto a lifestyle and mental attitude of true health, understanding what the human body can and should be truly able to do – no matter our age. There’s a world out there that wants to make us think that we need to do what we can just to get by, and then medicate ourselves with unnecessary drugs, junk food, ceaseless entertainment, just to make all the ability we’ve lost doesn’t hurt as much.
But it’s all bullshit.
I am lucky that I have parents who are defying those notions. My parents are in their 70s now, but just a couple years ago they hiked the Grand Canyon – to the bottom and then back up. My dad runs every day, still, and belongs to a couple of hiking groups with guys much younger than him – climbing in the mountains of southern Arizona and even taking part in trail repair efforts and the like – hard work. My mom also hikes, and volunteers with many organizations.
They didn’t do this with drugs, either – they took hold of their lives and changed their diets to be more healthy, and didn’t let the world tell them that all they could do is play golf and sit on the back porch drinking beer and watching the bug zapper. Then they got up and moved. They had their ah-ha progress moment with their climbing the Grand Canyon.
And I am continuing that legacy with them, hopefully sharing it completely with you, the people I care about and want to see take on the challenges that the modern world throws at us. I want you to understand just how your life can change, or (if you’re on this path already) is changing.
How can you track this sort of progress most effectively?
There are two key ways I know of to keep track of progress like this and make it have an impact on your life.
- Journal. Take time to talk about the movements you do and especially these “ah-ha” progress moments. Highlight them in the journal so you can come back to them when you need a boost. We remember stuff more clearly when we sit down in the evening and take time to recall our days on paper. And then having the opportunity to read about what we did each day at a future date? Priceless.Some people don’t like to talk about their progress because they feel as if they’re bragging. If you’re one of those people, do the bragging in a journal. No one needs to read it but you.
- Join or create groups where movement like this is important or a goal. Having people around you to cheer you on, and perhaps remember stuff you couldn’t do a while back and suddenly are able to do, is also priceless. Sometimes we need other people around us to see our progress in the world.
So take notice of what you’re doing! Everyone can make progress – whether you’re doing a muscle-up into a tree to get your kid’s kite down, successfully squatted down in front of the refrigerator to find something in the back of the veggie crisper, lifted more bags of groceries from the car than you did the last time you shopped, or just threw your kid up into the air and heard that squeal of surprised joy. And it’s the everyday, functional-in-your-life progress that can be the hardest to track, but is the most fulfilling.
What sort of progress have you seen on a day-to-day basis that you’d like to share? It’s not bragging, just let us know in the comments below! And please share this with your friends, family, or anyone who you think needs to take time to acknowledge their progress!