The “Do What You Want, When You Want” Exercise Plan

It may be a surprise for some of you to learn that my days in the office are filled with much more than the typical hands on adjustments of a chiropractor. While I’ve intentionally structured my practice so that I can be more than a symptom based chiropractor, by offering massage, nutrition and fitness coaching, etc., I find it fascinating, and greatly rewarding, that most of my time is spent listening (and refilling the paper products in the bathroom, sigh). It’s during this ongoing dialog, as we build your customized health plan, that I field many varieties of questions and concerns. The most consistent complaint that I hear is, “I have no energy!” I’ve got some news for you, I often feel the same way. I know, as your doctor, you’re not expecting to hear me say that, but it’s true and if there’s anything I want convey to you through this blog, it’s truth.

By now we’ve all heard that exercise is a near fool-proof remedy for low energy. We’re told that if you get more exercise your overall energy and mood will improve. While this is undoubtedly true, what if exercise just isn’t your thing? Are you doomed to a life of couch surfing and depression? This got me thinking about a concept I’ve been hearing more about lately that could make a HUGE breakthrough in the realm of fitness and flexibility. It’s an idea called “intuitive training”. The term basically means instead of following a regimented training program, you would train based on how you feel. For instance, if you were “bringin’ it” with P90X but didn’t feel like doing Plyo today, then you simply wouldn’t. Maybe yoga or a walk around the block is the better remedy for the day. This concept has made its way into professional bodybuilding, and we’re beginning to see it in pro sports. It’s a pretty exciting idea, but I can already hear your inner monologue going through some of the instant issues with this model.

“What about structure? Shaun T says…”
“What about doing something even when I don’t want to? Tony Horton says…”
“What if I don’t feel like exercising at all? This pint of Cherry Garcia says…”

All of those concerns are valid but when you consider that burn out and lack of follow through are two of the major obstacles keeping people from their health and fitness goals, this new model begins to carry some weight (the good kind). Simply put, if you hate working out, there isn’t a traditional program in the world that will work for you. If you love cycling or Pilates, then perhaps that’s where you should focus. Just do so with the understanding that the results are not interchangeable. You WILL NOT see the same benefits from walking as you would from lifting weights, etc. I think that’s an important element of the intuitive training model. Do what you feel, but make sure to do SOMETHING, and do it with realistic expectations.

As a chiropractor, my education and life’s focus have always made it difficult to reconcile what the experts say is best with what my body tells me. I’ve put my body through just about every kind of training there is, from sports to weight training, and so on. All this experience has led me to inadvertently create my own version of the intuitive training model. One day I might feel like doing burst training and push ups, while the next I may just go for a walk with my kids. Then, the rest of the week may be totally devoted to core training. It can get a little messy, but it’s what resonates most with my personality. Don’t get me wrong, structured workout programs are not the enemy, but at this point in my life I want to not only do something I will enjoy, but also something that challenges whatever I think my weaknesses are on that day. And as an added benefit, this method has provided my brain and body with precious rest at just the right times.

We’ll discuss intuitive training at the Fitness and Flexibility Workshop on Monday, June 17th at 6:00pm. Invite a friend or coworker to attend but do it quickly to guarantee your seat.

Blessings and health,
Dr. Powell

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