Are You a Slave to your Program?

Are You a Slave to Your Program?

‘Oh no I can’t catch up today because I need to go train.’

‘Oh no I can’t have this food group today because of my new diet.’

‘Oh no I can’t do this sport because it’ll affect my training program.’

Have you ever been one to utter these statements? I know I have. What can begin as genuine enjoyment for a particular training program, can engulf you to a point such that you become a slave to it.

Allow me to explain.

There is a difference between prioritising your health versus your training program. When you prioritise your health, one can assume that you are making the best choices available relevant to your definition of health. In the context of this article, let us say that health is the aggregation of biopsychosocial factors such that the net score is positive.

A training program is one of the cornerstones of the biological side of health, although it also has effects on the psychological, and sometimes, the social aspect. In an ideal world, your training program would be performed with your training buddies, such that you fill the biopsychosocial buckets that define health.

However, if the training program begins to negatively impact the biopsychosocial aspects of your life, then careful appraisal of the end goal must be performed. Apart from the elite athlete, where high performance is correlated with important aspects of living such as income, it is hard to justify a reason why you would pursue a training program to the point where it becomes detrimental to your health.

Why do you continue to pursue the training program if it has hurt you?

Why do you continue to pursue the training program if you have to spend less time on the good relationships in your life?

Why do you continue to pursue the training program if it leaves you in psychological distress?

Again, apart from those associated with elite performance, I can hardly think of a reason why this is justified.

Actually, I can, but they are easily rebutted. Perhaps you want to be the ‘best version’ of yourself. But where do you draw the line? To the point where you cannot lift another kilogram? To the point where you cannot run any faster? Perhaps you have become a slave to the idea of being ‘the best version’, as opposed to the spirit of idea, which is simply to become a better version of yourself (and that usually means not hurting yourself).

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that you should give up if you get hurt (things just happen sometimes). I’m saying that continued pursuit of an arbitrary immeasurable ideal that is causing you long term harm is probably not a worthwhile long term goal.

When all the signs of your training regime show that you are being harmed, that is, the aggregate net score of all biopsychosocial factors is negative, then we can assume that your program is unhealthy. Persistence at such a program then, could indicate that you have become a slave to the program, as opposed to being in control.

We must always remember that agency is a key component of health. If you find yourself drawn to a program despite all the signs that it is causing you harm, then you have truly become a slave to the program.