The Four-Twenty Five
Five Fitness Focuses for Mental and Physical Freedom
- Mysofacial Release
- Temperature Regulation
- Body Chemical Control
- Strength Training
Something new: Fitness!
If you’ve followed me for a while you know how all over the place I am, but one thing I’ve yet to do is wade into the world of fitness. That changes now!
I’m no exercise guru. I’m not going to try to invade that space. I don’t have a workout plan for you.
But what I do have is a philosophy. Not one I’m recommending, just one I’ve found works for me and I want to share in case it can work with you too.
If you’ve ever seen me at the gym you probably think I’m nuts. I spend over half my time looking like I’m just stretching.
The reason? My fitness plan is oriented around a very different goal than most: physical and mental relaxation.
Managing my anxiety is my top priority, and that’s why my fitness is about that, first and foremost.
Yet it also has worked to help me achieve the physical body I want. It’s not perfect. I don’t have sick abs like I’ve always wanted. I always stay a little thic. But I’m good with that.
What I’m going to describe to y’all in the next series of posts (and possibly a little e-book to follow), is a wellness plan.
The idea is to make your body healthy and relaxed in order to maximize the *efficiency* of your strength training and build your body without overworking it or injuring yourself.
I’m calling it “The Four Twenty Five”.
Yes, the idea is build in part around weed (naturally). I use it as part of my wellness plan, but moreso, it represents a lot of the concepts around which this plan is built.
If you’re a stoner, or someone with anxiety (or likely, both), you may just appreciate what I have to offered. So follow along and enjoy! (Turn on post notifications now!)
Note: I am not a medical professional. While my research does come in part from things I have learned from my brother (who went to med school) and my dad (who is a professional physical therapist and writer on pain management), I do not claim to be an expert myself and I’m only going to be showing what I do and what works for me, not recommending anything. Make sure to talk to you doctor and other medical professionals before radically reworking your wellness routines.
Flexibility and range of motion are key ingredients for me in creating a physically healthy body, primed to build muscle without injury, and ready to do so as efficiently as possible.
If muscles in your body are to grow, they need room to do so. Joints and ligaments that are tight and immobile are bound to be strained if your growing the muscles inside your skeletal structure.
Loosen them up, constantly. Make getting that deeper and deeper stretch part of your routine, so they’re ready to accommodate larger muscles over time.
Expanding your range of motion also means activating more of your muscles, so they grow evenly, not just in certain directions based on your repetitive lifting routines.
Yoga is how you do all of that. Whether it’s taking classes, or just incorporating poses and concepts from yoga into the way you move your body throughout the day, the physical aspects of yoga offer tremendous benefits.
But yoga is also mental. It’s built around the concept of meditation.
While I’ll give deeper into this later, keep in mind that meditation, that can be achieved in part through yoga practice, is a huge part of the goal here, in that it achieves the mental relaxation needed to complement what your doing with your body.
[This is part 1 of a 5 part series. Make sure you have post notifications turned on if your interested in following along for the rest. When I’m done, I plan to flush this out a bit more and make it available as a short e-book.]
The next key ingredient is yoga’s more passive counterpart, massage.
Your muscles build up tension over time both from working out and from the normal stressors of your day.
Massage, and a lovely thing called “Myofascial release,” are a way of working to excise that tension.
You don’t need to spring for a professional massage, unless you want to. I don’t. There are so many ways to do this yourself, and it’s worth trying them all.
It can be as simple as spending some random times throughout your day rubbing that knot you can reach on your back.
As a next step, I’d suggest getting a foam roller, or using the ones at the gym. Myofacial release is a form of massage that focuses on loosening up the fascia, that connective tissue found all throughout your body. If you have it at home, you can use it whenever you have the time. Even just sitting on it or standing on it can help. Be careful not to roll on your spine, but a deep roll on your muscles will go a long way. I find that it’s especially nice rolling out on your chest, an area that most people don’t think of when they think of muscle tension, but it’s there.
There are TONS of other additional ways to keep that tissue loose and get that blood following to your muscles. If you are interested look into a TENS (Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation) Unit, or try cupping (I do it myself at home with a simple kit).
You don’t even need any of these tools. Sometimes, I’ll simply lie back on a hard surface like concrete at the pool instead of a chair. It all adds up.
I’ll dive into this a bit more in my forthcoming short e-book.
Massage, in any form, is a critical part of this relaxation-focused wellness regimen.
Remember: our goal here isn’t foremost aesthetic or strength building—it’s focused on mental and physical relaxation.
So go get a massage and stay tuned to part 3 (don’t forget to turn those post notifications on!)
- Temperature Regulation
So the first two might not seem that shocking as part of a wellness plan, but I doubt you saw this one coming.
Temperature, for me at least, plays a huge roll in my comfort level. When I’m too hot, or two cold, my body reacts. And my mind follows.
We generally deal with temperature changes as they come, but I propose taking a much more active roll in controlling the temperature environments we spend our time in, whether it’s just the air around us, or water we’re submerged in, or the temperature of the physical objects we put right up against our skin.
I’m least well versed in the science here, so I’ll leave it to others to help explain why temperatures make me feel the ways I do, but the personal evidence is there.
I started with a move across the country to get out of a climate that severely impacted my mental health. Winters were always especially hard for me, and I know many can commiserate. Now that I have none, and live in a much more stable temperate environment, I can really see how important it is.
When dealing with anxiety, changing temperature can help enormously. Warmth can help relax me, but can also send me into a panic at other times. Cold makes me clinch up and get tense at times, but at others it brings me back down to a calm state.
So I am constantly switching it up. It’s tanning outside in the warm sun or dipping in the cool pool, sweating in the sauna, hot tub, or steam room, or taking an ice pack to isolated parts of my body even when I’m I uninjured.
Sometimes I sit in a bath or shower and turn the water as cold as it will go, then slowly warm it up. I let those muscles take in that head then go back and cool them off again.
This sort of control helps keep me steady, helps me build toward a meditative state.
Give it a try.
- Body chemistry
Drugs! We all do them. Many of us think we don’t. But unless you avoid everything from alcohol to caffeine, drugs play a key role in manipulating the chemical levels in your body.
You might be inclined to avoid pharmaceuticals, or have your own system for separating “good” drugs from “bad.” But if you aren’t taking a holistic approach to understanding how each different chemical alters your body chemistry, you’re doing it wrong.
The first thing you need to do when it comes to drugs: listen to your doctor. Your doctor is the expert here, and at the very least you should consult her before making any decisions on your own.
If you and your doctor decide it’s best to start you on antidepressants for example, listen. Don’t make your own decisions about whether you need them or not. I’ve gone off of mine both on purpose and accidentally, and the consequences can be severe.
On top of daily pills, though, keep in mind that every other drug is going to have both short term and long term effects on your body and your mind. Too much caffeine can send your heart racing, can prevent you from getting a healthy sleep, and can otherwise keep your brain running just a bit too fast. Alcohol might seem like a pure recreational indulgence, but it’s a serious depressant. For me, a night of drinking can lead to a day of depression.
Once you’ve considered all the drugs you put into your body, also balance this against the fact that all of our bodies are working to produce chemicals and keep them at certain levels, but might not do so as effectively as we need. This is why something like anti-depressants might be necessary. Your body might simply be struggling to keep your chemical levels healthy.
All of this is to say that in order to achieve a health mind and body, you need to be aware that much of what you think of as “in your head,” is actually physically manifest. You need to stop beating yourself up over your struggles and learn to accept that certain aids aren’t signs of weakness.
You need to also learn to find balance. Consider that certain drugs might be having a negative effect and you might want to (slowly) alter what it is that you are putting into your body.
- Strength Training
Ok here we go. I promised y’all a fitness plan and while physical strength and aesthetics aren’t the ONLY part of a holistic “fitness” plan that includes mind and body, it does have a key place.
Body dysmorphia is a huge part of the confidence struggle nearly every gay man I’ve known has gone through in their lives.
It’s a defense mechanism based on a fear of rejection. We all deal with it differently, but at some point in our lives we hopefully learn to accept ourselves as we are.
I’m not there yet. And that’s ok. I still need that boost of confidence that comes from looking in the mirror and being impressed with myself.
To do that, I use strength training to round out my routine and make sure I’m continuing to build on my progress.
Working within the program I built for myself, I’m able to make gains at a slow but steady pace. I rarely get injured and can workout 7 days a week if I feel like it. I don’t anymore, though, because of what I learned from the rest of the program.
My weightlifting looks kind of weird though. I’m that high guy at the gym that’s wondering if everyone is looking at him and thinking “tf is he doing??”
Yes I said high. I used weed, both THC and CBD as part of my strength training as well.
THC distracts my overthinking mind and let’s me zone in on what I’m doing. It makes the workout a meditation for me.
CBD helps curb the anxiety from preworkout supplements and from the stress of the workout itself.
I can relax and focus on what I’m doing.
THC also does one additional very special thing—it helps me feel my body.
My senses heightened, I can communicate with every part of my body. I can engage the muscles I want to engage, I can stretch the muscles I need to stretch, I can work the rested muscles and keep pressure off those that are still healing.
This part may make me sound like a quack, but I swear it’s true.
I’m high, so I stay away from dangerous heavy lifting. But I use weights. A lot. But I focus on slow repetitions, stretching muscles at the same time as I’m slowly moving the weight to activate each piece of the muscles individually as I move along my range of motion.
The longer I increase my range of motion, the more of my muscle has an opportunity for growth.
My muscles don’t grow as fast in any direction as bodybuilders training to be able to lift heavy in very specific motions.
But they grown evenly, if a little randomly, because I’m working out mindfully.
[That concludes this series. If you liked it, please let me know. I would appreciate feedback. I want to spend a little more time writing and possible working on new photos / art but I want to turn this into a short little e-book. If a decent amount of you are interested, it would really help me out as far as helping me grow my larger business.]