Why Health is Counterculture

This morning I had a REAL conversation with a client.  She’s been digging into understanding/exploring her own body — asking the right questions and putting in the work.  This brought her to a very interesting conclusion that she was excited, as well as distraught, to share with me.

“I realize that everything in my life is set up for my body to fail me.”

What she meant — “my environment and lifestyle doesn’t promote the health of my body.”  She was not saying that she realized she was choosing an unhealthy lifestyle…  She was implying that most of the things she regarded as “normal behavior” are things that are unhealthy for her body.  Subtle yet, huge difference; she wasn’t choosing anything, lifestyle had been chosen for her.

She proceeded to shake off with a smile how it’s a bummer that in order to be healthy, you have to step outside of the “normal” box.

In order to be healthy, you have to step outside of the “normal” box

Let’s take a step back and discuss what she’s getting at here.

Let’s start with technology — simply stating what IS.  What is technology?  Technology is anything that makes the life of a human easier or more efficient.  Yes there are other definitions, but this is certainly an accurate way of describing the functional use of technology.  Currently, most of this is digital: cell phones, apps, plug-ins, weapons, space ships, etc.

At one time, technology was the steam locomotive, cast-iron plows, sewing machines, sofas, cars.  What do all of these have in common in regards to this article?  They remove movement from our lives.  And the new forms of technology?  Uber, Door Dash, dog walking services, Amazon… We no longer need to even leave our house for many things.

You can think of technology as outsourcing movement.  Creating something to do the job for us so that we can do less and accomplish more.

We know how great this is, but it’s important to consider the cost that comes with it.  Lack/Loss of movement.  Katy Bowman refers to this as a ‘tax.’

You take convenience, you pay your loss of movement tax.

You take convenience, you pay your loss of movement tax.

Seems nice, right?  I’d take that any day, you say.  (Don’t lie, you say it, we all do.)

Two problems… One precedes the other.

Problem #1: Lack of movement = dysfunction in the body.  Think of movement as a nutrient.  When you often move through the whole spectrum of ranges of motion at all joints, you are essentially feeding your joints they’re vegetables.  They will continue to function well in order for you to continue to function as you need.

When there is a deficiency in movement, not just in quantity but in that same spectrum of ranges of motion, your joints are not eating they’re vegetables.  More like hot pockets and Cheetos.

Problem #2: Technology prevails.  It’s convenient.  It’s comfortable.  We want it.

All of which leads to the normalization of technology.  We have all of this convenience at our fingertips — we need to use it.  The comfiest chairs, the delivery apps, the heaters, the instant communication, the social media, the biggest TV’s, the big game, the phone, the phone, the phone.

What is meant by ‘normalization.’  Not only that it’s common, but that it’s socially unacceptable to disengage from these behaviors.  What happens if you remove your chair?  You don’t watch the big game?  You step away from social media?  You stretch in your work space?

People react in one of many different ways including disbelief, scowling, bullying, talking down, looking away.  The reaction is one of non-acceptance of the behavior.  Outcasting.

You are weird.

An outsider.

No, you won’t always get these reactions…  But often, yes.  (experience talking).

In order for my body to be healthy, I have to choose to step outside normal.  To be weird.

So we have an interesting dilemma here…

In order for my body to be healthy, I have to choose to step outside normal.  To be weird.  It is literally counterculture.

I have to choose less convenience in order to move more.  I have to choose to move through the spectrum of range of motion in many different settings.  I have to remove some furniture to remind me to sit on the floor (use more range of motion of the hip, knee, and ankle).  I have to stretch and move during my breaks at work.

Societal pressures are working against the health of your body.  How do you win?

Step outside normal.

Is it easy?  No.

Possible?  Yes.

Here’s what will definitely make it easier…  More people choosing their health over social standards.  The more people who do it, the more normalized it becomes.

Normalize movement.  Normalize health.

 

With Love and Curiosity,

Mitch

(sitwithmitch@gmail.com)

 

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