The Undercover Bully in Fitness and Rehab


We’ve all been there at some point.

Whether it is trying to lose a few pounds, making efforts to improve our health and wellbeing, or recovering from an injury, all of us encounter this undercover bully. It hides subtly in the subconscious of our minds and of our culture. We treat our bodies unkindly by adhering to its regulations. We spend our money, our time, and our energy chasing after its promises without realizing that it will not satisfy us and that there is actually a lighter and kinder way.

The undercover bully that we all face is the thought that if something is good, then more must be better.

We think if we just could restrict our food a little more, then maybe we would improve our nutritional health. If we could exercise two or three more times a week, maybe we would improve our cardiovascular health. Or if we could just lift more weights and do more repetitions, maybe we would recover from an injury faster.

Yes, it is good to set up good health practices. These are necessary for our general health and wellbeing. But I am talking about the “extremist” mentality, the “all or nothing” thought process. I am referring to the repetitive patterns of striving that we can fall into and the craving and obsession for more.

In the words of some of the best leaders in the industry,

“More is not better. Better is better.”

(Alisa Keeton, CEO and founder of Revelation Wellness®, and Shante Cofield, The Movement Maestro).

This simple phrase brings good news.  It’s not about killing yourself in the gym with every workout. It is not about restricting and restraining from food. It is not about slave driving your body into submission. These extreme behaviors will produce results, but they will most likely not be long lasting.

“More is not better. Better is better.” My advice for you echoes what these industry leaders are saying, which is to move better, eat better, live better and rest better. Stop striving. Stop listening to the bully. Start treating your body kindly. Consistency in these practices over time will produce long-lasting change.

The same is true for rehabilitation. This concept is something that I share with my patients regularly. I frequently find myself disputing the misconception that physical therapy, aka PT, equals “pain and torture”. Many have bought into the “no pain, no gain” mentality. I often tell them to push themselves kindly but to avoid the things that are producing pain in the body. A sure way to aggravate tissue is to put more demand on it than it can handle.

My patients are learning to listen to their bodies when it comes to their recovery. They listen during exercises and with their activities throughout the day. They are starting to acknowledge and heed when their muscles say “pain”, when their joints say “no” and when their body says “that’s enough.” In practicing this kindness, they are avoiding further damage and learning to prevent injuries to their tissues in the future. They return to the activities that they love more quickly because they know how to listen to their bodies.

I will say it again, “more is not better, better is better.” Consistency over time will produce lasting change. It’s time to throw out the “all or nothing” mentality. The “quick fix” solutions aren’t working for us. We may achieve momentary results here and there but the gains are not sustainable. So expose the hidden bully of striving for what it is and practice the way of kindness. Be kind to yourself when pursuing your rehabilitation goals or health and fitness goals. And remember that “more is not better. Better is better.”

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Marium Groth