Dysfunction is for Dorks
And let’s face it, who wants to be a dork…
For many of us being fit and healthy is a matter of working out, and eating a varied, whole food orientated diet, and thinking our thoughts as they arrive in our heads.
But how many of us take a second to think about whether the exercise we perform, food we eat or thought that runs around our head enhances how we function as humans?
And anyway, isn’t life difficult enough already?!
Function: what it is and why you need it
Function is a pretty abstract term, so let’s try to clarify what we mean by thinking about dysfunction for a second.
Clearly, given the shockingly high rates of heart disease, obesity, cancer, arthritis, diabetes, mental illness, depression and other chronic ill health issues, not to mention the number of infections, injuries, aches and pains we suffer, something pretty dysfunctional is going on with us humans these days.
More than that, these afflictions generally aren’t just magicked out of thin air.
They’re caused or are significantly contributed to by the underlying dysfunctional choices we make in our lives, and even those of our ancestors and predecessors.
These might include smoking cigarettes, eating processed food, foods high in sugars or foods you’re intolerant to, not moving enough or moving in ways that create imbalances in your body, and thinking in ways that cause stress, low self esteem and maybe depression too.
In reality though it’s difficult to avoid dysfunction.
The real world we live in has a habit of throwing it at us every day whether we like it or not, and dysfunction can be a sneaky little sucker too, appearing in ways that seem so easy and comfortable to get along with…
If you have a desk job, sitting in a chair for long periods is quite dysfunctional, as is hammering on your keyboard all day staring at your screen.
Never mind the drive to work beforehand and getting home, which counts as sitting too.
Breathe air? Unless you live on an isolated island in the south pacific, the air you breathe probably carries dysfunctional pollutants.
Eat food? Watch out.
Not only is processed food dysfunctional, but there are foods like wheat and cow’s milk which can often be dysfunctional due to the reaction they provoke within your body.
And the amount you eat, not to mention the very personal ratio of fats, proteins and carbs you need, can be dysfunctional if you get it wrong.
Do you have family, colleagues, a partner, a job, and watch TV?
Well you’d better watch out for dysfunction, because anger, impatience, low self esteem and general downright unhappiness are often results of what we’re exposed to every day.
What goes in is what comes out.
Do you take pharmaceutical products, even every day ones?
Say hello to dysfunction.
Sure, they’re functional in that they get rid of the headache or other issue, but they can also have undesirable and dysfunctional side effects even if you don’t feel them.
If you’re feeling pretty dysfunctional about now, don’t. Most of us live this way, to a greater or lesser degree.
That’s the reality we face.
How we manage that reality is our own choice.
Function is a way of living that promotes a strong immune system, movement full of strength and flexibility, free of restrictions and injury.
Function promotes optimum energy levels and a feeling of vitality, a positive mind which grasps opportunities and makes the most of relationships, and deals effectively with stress whether mental, emotional, or physical.
That’s function, and that’s why we think it’s a very handy thing to have in your life.
The path to function
So we know what function is, how do we get there?
The answer to that question depends on where you’re starting from.
In our practice, the very first thing we do with a new client is perform a functional assessment so that together we can plot the path back to function.
If you can’t get to see an Optimised practitioner or personal trainer it’ll be worth your while making your own list of ways in which you feel you’re dysfunctional (be hard on yourself, but don’t beat yourself up!), and then go about remedying the situation in the ways you have available to you.
The bad news is the path can be an uphill one for many of us, and can involve significant effort. Just remember that the view is always better from the top.
At Optimised Headquarters we often see clients who are starting from a base of quite serious dysfunction, and there are a range of tools we’ll use in working together.
Let’s take a walk though some of them so you can see the practical steps we often take in leading people towards health and vitality across the board.
Our assessment always includes movement, nutrition and happiness, and we often start by asking our clients a number of questions to get a picture of where they are right now.
Practically we’ll start with a functional movement assessment to gauge how much joint movement we have, where muscular and skeletal restrictions and imbalances lie, and in the case of injury, where the culprit is.
For instance many of our clients are surprised when we show them that their shoulder problem is due to a restriction in their pectoral, or that their knee pain is due to a restriction in their hip.
And even more so when we can tell all this from a quick expert assessment that uses no fancy equipment at all.
So to restore functional movement our first session might be a mix between some deep tissue massage work and some functional movement patterns.
When you’ve made good progress towards moving functionally and getting fitter, your body demands good nutrition and you’re less likely to undo the hard work you’ve put in through poor nutritional choices.
Plus when your body is functional your mind has greater scope to achieve what it wants because your body can respond.
We think functional movement and exercise is pretty cool.
Dysfunctional nutrition involves eating all the things you know are bad for you, plus a few more things you might think are ok but aren’t.
This often leads to a whole host of very unpleasant health conditions, diseases and infections. And it hastens the onset of the Ultimate Dysfunction: Death.
In terms of how we work with our clients, we go into some detail regarding current dietary habits, and again if you can’t get to see us, asking yourself some questions and writing them down is a great first step.
Eating right enhances your function – your levels of energy and levels of vitality, your chances of succumbing to infection or disease, your ability to move, and how you look and feel.
For most people following a clean diet 100% is a huge step on the path to enhancing function, no matter your starting point.
With many clients we’ll enhance our nutritional strategies by using testing to pinpoint problems, for instance hormone profiling to see what’s happening at a deeper level.
Another step on the path to feeling and looking great is not only what you eat but how much you eat of certain things – some people are suited to burning large amounts of carbs, some to fats and proteins.
The consequences of getting it wrong can be far reaching, and dysfunctional for both body and mind.
We employ the concepts of biochemical individuality and metabolic types to ensure our clients start getting the right ratio of fats, proteins and carbs at every meal.
Listening to your body and using a food diary is a very effective way of pinpointing what ratio of fats, carbs and proteins enhances function for you.
A word about detoxing too – when your cells are under attack from toxins and pollutants they can’t respirate, absorb nutrients, repair themselves or produce energy efficiently.
Carrying a toxic load is definitely for dorks.
Wherever you’re starting from, these steps will enhance function, and while that can mean remedying some pretty nasty health issues for some people, it means looking great and feeling even better for everyone.
Achieving your optimum weight is one benefit.
Muscle growth and functional movement are also enhanced by functional nutrition, not to mention much better hair, nail and skin condition.
And when you’re looking and feeling great, and your brain is fed with functional fats and vitamins, you’ll feel sharper and happier mentally and emotionally.
A Functional Mind
Stress, unhealthy relationships whether personal or professional, bad diet and lack of movement can lead us into a frame of mind that is less than happy.
How you feel mentally and emotionally can have a huge impact on your health, from creating hormone imbalances to impacting how effectively you absorb nutrients and how much fat you hold on to.
That can lead to real, physical long term health problems.
A dysfunctional mind also robs you of motivation to eat right (comfort food usually isn’t packed with essential nutrients) and work out.
And that can compound issues through creating low self esteem.
Luckily a functional, happy, positive mind can be maintained through some quite simple measures.
Adequate and good quality sleep, good nutrition, moving your body (which delivers nutrients and takes away waste products and toxins from cells) are all great.
Going for a walk on your own, or taking some peaceful time for reflection at least once a week will allow a sense of perspective on life’s stresses and can help you reach some decisions.
We need to move our mind and emotions just as much as we need to move our bodies, and to do that some ‘me’ time is essential.
Just like working out on a crowded gym floor can limit what we can achieve, being around people all the time can limit your capacity to express yourself mentally and emotionally.
Meditation, yoga and tai chi can all be excellent tools in letting your subconscious thoughts rise to the surface to be recognised and dealt with, while a massage is good for mind and body when done by an experienced practitioner.
These quiet times can also help you to assess unhealthy relationships, whether they’re personal or professional. People who create or reinforce negativity in your personal space need to be dealt with or marginalised.
Certain approaches from Buddhism can also radically change your perspective on the nature of happiness, and personally we find them useful.
A functional and happy mind can achieve things beyond our expectations, it can help to realise our ambitions, make the most of all our relationships and opportunities that come our way, and affect others positively too.
Detoxing and moving your mind is as important as detoxing and moving your body.
A typical session with an Optimised Personal Trainer starts by recognising that how you move, how you eat, and how you think and feel all need to be evaluated and treated with respect when designing your personal path to function.
That’s why our approach is holistic, and we suggest you treat yourself the same way.
We think a functional life is pretty cool. Hands up who wants to be a dork.
To your future success,
Matt & the personal training team