Your body is a machine like a car. It runs on food like gasoline. Put cheap gas into it, it doesn’t run as well. Push it past the speed limit, and you become a better driver for other times (not condoning reckless driving). Loading it up with a lot of extra cargo will keep you under the speed limit.
To our bodies, intensity is our “mph.” Most of the world is driving between 0mph and 10mph, whether they are choosing to carry excess cargo or not. Most people who exercise regularly are driving between the 25mph residential street limit and the 65mph highway speed limit and still struggle with either keeping the excess cargo or learning how to drive faster with it. You might say that attempts at formal home workouts (videos and the like) are the street (the dependence attached to this method is what limits a person or “confines them to their street”), and gyms are places where everyone has accepted the 65mph norm as a way to accelerate progress, better known as highways. Some people are attempting to show greater effort at gyms and going over the speed limit. They are either ridiculed by others- “watch that guy get into an accident,” tailed by the cops or concerned citizens (trainers, gym staff, and other gym patrons), or followed by people who want to also get to their destination faster.
Then there’s me, and all the people the world might consider “fit” or “not overwieght” or “in decent shape” or active enough to mostly eat what they’d like. We live above the speed limit. We carry no excess cargo regularly. We drive everywhere, on any terrain, at any speed we choose, but that speed is mostly above the speed limit.
Personally, I’ve experienced all speeds at all levels, and in the last seven or so years, I’ve tried to have more days above the limit than below. I still have days when I don’t drive, but I have learned to truly hate them. I’ve been to gyms to go the highway limit. I’ve done a home yoga practice every day at 70mph for a short strecth. I’ve done daily running when I first started to run at 80mph a day for a while. I’ve trained for road races at 90mph and even longer road races at 100mph. I’ve done extreme calisthenics (or what was extreme to me at the time) like 3,000 sit ups in a weekend at 110mph, This is when you’re sore in places for weeks after not days. I’ve done ninety straight days of Bikram Yoga at 120mph. I’ve trained for a marathon, and failed, at 130mph. I’ve even been to 160mph, doing hot vinyasa yoga and running on the same ninety-five degree day, leading to extreme dehydration and my first true near death experience.
My point in sharing my own history? You can do more, and embrace doing more. It can get dangerous, but danger that you come back from can be affirming, even make you brave enough forever. Our goal is not to park our car forever, it is to race our car against others, or find out our car’s limits on our own. These two goals encompass all of the trivial things most people want like a sexy body and that mental clarity that comes from rigorous physical activity, even if you never make it to the goal. Do not be afraid to push yourself. Do not be afraid to do that without dependence on a system or facility. Drive on whichever road you like, feel free to speed, finding out how much faster you can go every day is the key to getting there on time.