CHAPTER 5 - ADAPTABILITY IS THE ANSWER TO YOUR FUTURE HEALTH.
Michol Dalcourt, inventor, author, founder, speaker, and consultant to Equinox, states that adaptability is the key to optimal health and aging. Humans have evolved over centuries because they have learned to adapt to their surroundings. Here are Michol’s 5 factors that regulate adaptability and my interpretation of them:
Variability - the ability to diverge, distribute, and display multiple skills to cope with changing environments
A multi sport athlete
Resiliency - the ability to endure resistance/adversity/stress and quickly recover from it
A trail runner
A tradesperson - chef, mechanic
Tolerance - the ability to practice patience and maintain composure during times of stress and discomfort
A rock climber
Versatility - the ability to adapt or be adapted to many different functions or activities
Flexibility - the ability to bend without breaking
Are you adaptable? Variable? Resilient? Tolerant? Versatile? Flexible? I believe we obtain each of these 5 factors innately, and have the ability to express them more fully with just a few simple physical activities. Here is how I am improving my adaptability through the 5 factors:
VARIABILITY - Build a 7-day multidisciplinary workout regimen
I have the luxury of exercising in a variety of facilities, hence why I take full advantage of the opportunity to move in so many ways. This forces my mind to be continually stimulated and challenged and never grow stagnant, one that embraces change. Variety is the spice of life! Below are just some physical experiences that display my yearning for variability.
The following is a peek into my weekly physical activity schedule. I typically spend 30-60 minutes a day being vigorously active, then another 60-90 minutes of moderate activity commuting on bike, teaching classes, or training clients, throughout the span of a day. Some classes I teach and clients I train are strictly coaching, so to dispel the myth, I do not exert myself physically all day everyday.
Monday - Swimming & Stretching
Tuesday - Cross Training Circuit: cardio, powerlifting, calisthenics
Wednesday - Endurance: Row, Ride, Run
Thursday - Proprioception, Coordination, Balance: Bosu ball, Swiss ball, Medicine ball, Kettlebell, Vipr, Jump Rope
Friday - Swimming & Shvitz (steam, sauna, intermittent cold/hot shower)
Saturday - Random skill building day: Hip hop, Obstacle Course, Fusion Pilates, Trail run, Soccer, Basketball, Archery Tag, or Hike
Sunday - Restorative day: Massage, Myofascial therapy, Cryotherapy, Float Spa, Epsom Salt Bath, Naps, Stretching, Breathing
RESILIENCY - Suboptimal Conditions Training (aka ‘Just Plain Stupid’ training … not recommended)
Last year, when ramping up for the 125 km Canadian Death Race Ultramarathon (completed in the summer of 2016 in 17 hours), to build resilience, I forced myself to train in suboptimal conditions. Some interesting, ‘just plain stupid’ training sessions included:
Barefoot running in the winter
Trail running in thunderstorms
Fasted long runs (+20km)
Full stomach runs
No water runs (10km)
Underdressed runs in the winter
Overdressed runs in the summer
TOLERANCE - Once a week, commit to an uncomfortable activity you’re not good at, and don’t stop until it becomes comfortable and something you’re at peace with.
Swimming was my achilles heel. It was a deeply seeded fear since childhood. I read the book Fear by Thich Nhat Hanh, and recognized that my fear of water and weakness with swimming was based on my inability to let go and relax. So I started to work on my breathing with the Wim Hof Method, I used mindfulness practice more often during the day, and blackmailed myself with accountability by publishing my goal of racing my first ever triathlon. I invested in an expensive wetsuit, got myself a few training partners, and wrote about the experience. Now I am swimming twice a week, 10 laps straight through without breaks which is a phenomenal improvement from not being able to do 1 lap without being gassed! Swimming is now something I look forward to (on a side note: this feels extremely odd and amazing to type out, because I never would have imagined feeling this way! Yay me!)
VERSATILITY - Learn through different vehicles of content on the daily.
Below is a typical day in the life of my learnings. I am in the investment phase of my life where I have the time and determination, but also the discipline to always be learning. (Click the links to learn more)
Online articles (8am - Brainpickings)
Books - Nonfiction (8:15am - Einstein Biography by Walter Isaacson)
Podcasts - while commuting (11am - Ted Radio Hour)
Conversation - meetings and brainstorms (2pm)
Music - playlist programming (3pm - Spotify browsing, Pitchfork)
Movement - solo workout & experimentation/ class rehearsal (3:30pm)
Cooking - mindfulness and flow practice (8:30pm)
Online Video - research & downtime (10pm)
Books - Fiction (11pm - The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman)
FLEXIBILITY - Stretch the body daily so that you can expand the mind with more ease and less resistance.
Daily stretching has become a recent ritual in my life. It has allowed me to move with certainty and safety. It keeps my mind sharp and clear by quieting the nagging body tightness, aches, and pains. I get to stretch multiples times in a day because I perform them in the classes I teach, and with the clients I train. Here are some stretches I do religiously at home. (Click the links to see the videos)
IN A NUTSHELL #5 - Be a detective in your adaptability investigations. You are more variable, resilient, tolerant, versatile, and flexible than you know. From the smallest displays to the largest, you’ve got to celebrate your actions. Acknowledge them and affirm them. Use physical activity as your source of motivation to transcend these transferable skills. Start with creating a weekly routine that is multidisciplinary. Take in information through multiple vehicles of content distribution to stimulate the visual, auditory, and kinesthetic. And finally, believe in adaptability as a new religion for aging successfully, devote yourself to ongoing self-development, have faith, because you are not who you are going to be, you are always becoming.