Discover more from Steady Beats | Matt Tillotson
Intuition over internet
Exercise studies and data should inform our innate exercise preferences, not overrun them
I’m Matt, and welcome to Steady Beats. If you like to walk for a better life, and also like Dire Straits’ “Walk of Life,” you just might like this newsletter.
Intuition over internet
It’s bothered me, picking at my well-being. Sometimes it even makes me mad.
The Internet—Twitter and Instagram in particular—has unleashed an unending stream of exercise advice. Much of it is well-meaning. Some are absurd outlier positions, staked out to drive engagement.
But the noise can drown out what you know deep down is best for you. That’s a problem.
Stories over science
Thanks to Write of Passage I’ve come across the work of, who writes stories about longevity. Jack feels exercise should be imitative. That we should follow the routines of those who speak to our souls. And in this age of information overload and fitness trackers, science can swamp our intuition:
My scientifically optimized program didn’t grip my spirit or excite me. My passion for exercise and the joy it once gave me had slipped away like the foggy memory of a past life.
Successful workout routines are a reflection of who we are, so we can sustain the habit over time.
Our intuition should be fed by information, not led by it.
My friend, who has grown both his muscles and Twitter follower count beyond the point of swole, exercises to test and extend his mental and physical limits:
Last Sunday, just shy of 11 hours I crossed the finish line of the Ben Nevis Ultra marathon. And only now, five days later, do my legs start to feel normal again.
The race threw everything at me:
mountain goats disguised as fellow runners were racing past me on the uphills
my legs were cramping when scrambling up the mountains
it was wet, windy and very cold
And yet, this big German somehow made it past the time cut-offs and stumbled 32 miles through the Scottish Highlands.
I admire his approach greatly. It’s bad ass. But I know I would quit if I tried to replicate his process.
Listen to your heart to keep it healthy
Many people have asked why I work out. I’ve never been able to answer the question, and have even been afraid to explore it—I might have a crisis of meaning and quit.
But I’ve realized my exercise serves three purposes:
Fueling up to reset from yesterday’s challenges and meet today’s head on.
Feeling and looking good. Consistent exercise cannot defeat aging. But it can give it a hell of a beating.
Winning, for a moment, the unwinnable battle against life’s end.
I don’t exercise to test my limits. I exercise to extend my ability to deal with everything else life throws at me. There are events from the last several years I don’t know how I could have handled without the constant brain and body reset of strength training and cardio sessions.
And then, of course, there is the specter of death.
Every time I hoist a dumbbell into the sky, that dumbbell is shoved into the formidable chest of the Grim Reaper, also. That’s a battle I’ll lose someday.
But not today, dammit.
Not in the gym at 6:30am on Tuesday before daylight has made its first mark. In that moment, in each rep, I win the fight.
That all translates into a lot of moderate cardio and a couple of challenging strength training sessions a week.
Some science supports that. Other studies refute it, saying cardio isn’t important, or that strength training doesn’t drive longevity.
Take action, listen to intuition, and find the ideas and information to support a sustainable habit.
Listen to your heart. Let it guide you to play the long fitness game only you can play.
Three pieces I loved this week (and you might, too)
- , on the absurdity of LinkedIn content creation:
Make sure to leave super genuine comments “Congrats!” and “Well Deserved!” at least 17 times a day on people’s job updates you’re definitely happy about and not at all petty or jealous (plus track it all in Excel) and also be yourself.
But part of the appeal is that the game is meaningless. So is catching a fish. So is making a perfect soufflé. So, according to Oscar Wilde, is art itself. Many great things we obsess over don’t affect our material lives. But they can represent an aspiration to excellence, aesthetic enlightenment, a personal endgame or simple good luck.
Collect yourself. You’ve forgotten how much you know, what you’ve done, to who you’ve helped. Start gathering feedback the world has given you: performance reviews, thank you notes, requests to help, to anything resembling a compliment. Notice what catches your attention and imagination. Pay attention to the books you buy, the people you stare at with envy, to your browser and AI chat history.
Thank you for reading.
Let’s keep the Steady Beats going. 💚
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