No pain, no gain? Does fitness really require suffering?
by Jan Hutchins.
Everyone is beginning to realize stress kills. I created an exercise system, PleasureStretch to save lives and prolong pleasurable living. During almost 40 years of teaching yoga and giving massage, I’ve noticed the negative effects of the technology boom on the bodies in Silicon Valley. I’ve seen an increase of tightness, clenched jaws, furrowed brows, people walking with their heads down and imagine these are indications of striving to the point of becoming imbalanced.
It brings to mind Thoreau:
The masses lead lives of quiet desperation. What is called resignation is confirmed desperation. From the desperate city you go to the desperate country, and have to console yourself with the bravery of minks and muskrats. A stereotyped but unconscious despair is concealed even under the games and amusements of humankind. There is no play in them…
Jane Fonda’s exhortation “no pain, no gain” to intensify effort to the point of pain in order to get the body shape you want, turns out to have been both financially successful for video sales and, a symptom of her anorexic illness.
Striving, the seeking of something outside this moment turns out to produce chemicals in the brain that diminish the pleasure produced by the activity. Holding the very same goal, but savoring the process required to move toward the goal, in other words, actually feeling joy, accomplishment and satisfaction in the doing of it, produces brain chemicals that increase the pleasure. You pick.
Feel bad now, “No Pain, No Gain” and set up an addictive pattern of increasing dissatisfaction chasing carrots and getting beaten with sticks… Or… feel good now savoring the process separate from the goal and appreciating the miracle of this moment and experience joy and fulfillment.
Both ways achieve results, one full of the stress that kills, the other like PleasureStretch is blessed with bliss that leads to longevity and inner peace.