Redefining Normal

Redefining Normal

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Redefining Normal

By Greg Dolman 


This excerpt has been taking from Men’s Muscle and Health issue 5. For the full article, make sure you pick up a copy from your local newsagency or subscribe online today!

The more people I talk to about what is normal, the wider the true meaning of normal becomes. Each individual’s opinion of what normal is to them really depends on the type of life that they have lived and experienced.

One opinion I was given during a workshop I was co-presenting was: “The only normal that I know of is the normal wash on a washing machine!” I’ve never heard a truer quote.

What I experience as normal compared to what you experience may be very similar in many ways, but there are still many differences in what normal really means to each and every one of us. A few of the different ‘normals’ that I have come across recently give a perfect example of how my normal is different from another individuals’ normal.

Here’s just a sample of what ten different individuals’ idea of a normal day’s activity may consist of:

  1. Having a smoke when they first get out of bed
  2. Eating a wholesome breakfast before leaving the house
  3. Arguing with the spouse over just about anything
  4. Being a lounge lizard just about every day
  5. Walking to work
  6. Eating fast food regularly
  7. A workout is a regular part of most days
  8. Getting a big hug from the kids when getting home
  9. Starting work at 4am
  10. Being unable to get out of bed due to illness

From the examples above, it can clearly be seen that we can, and do, have many opinions of what normal means to us – and justifiably so.

My normal comes from growing up in a household with my parents and a sibling in a modest house on the waterfront on Sydney’s Parramatta River. My parents didn’t smoke and only my mother had the occasional alcoholic drink. My father was born at the end of the depression and so his values were hard but fair. One of his favourite sayings was “Money doesn’t grow on trees, you know!” So it was quite ‘normal’ for me when I was a teenager asking for money that I would hear his famous money quote. My father was the dollar earner whilst my mother was the home-maker.

My spare time as a child through to adolescence consisted of some form of exercise such as skateboarding, fishing, swimming, rock climbing, bike riding, skiing, etc. Needless to say, my life since those days is still fairly active mainly due to my ‘normal’ younger days of activity.

From these personal experiences we can clearly see that my normal may be very different to another individual’s normal, due to the fact that the other person’s upbringing and life experiences may be the exact opposite of mine.

To look at an individual’s normal which is opposite to mine would look something like this: growing up as an only child in a house with parents who both either smoke or drink; who hasn’t exercised at all through out their life; grew up on a farm; has been plagued with illness; didn’t have a skateboard or go fishing, swimming or bike riding and didn’t ski.

Just because this individual’s normal isn’t like mine, doesn’t mean that it isn’t normal for them. But how does this all relate to health and fitness and your own personal journey? It certainly does. Continue reading as I explain how accepting or changing your normal can be the turning point for new growth.

As exercising individuals, we all have our own version of normal. All you have to do (if you’re a fitness enthusiast) is ask yourself, “Is the way I exercise the same as anyone else?’’

Just have a look around at your peers and observe how they exercise. It doesn’t matter what type of exercise we do, there will always be other individuals who will either train harder, longer, shorter, faster, slower, heavier, lighter, with greater intensity, with less intensity or with an exercise we loathe.

One of my roles as a trainer and coach is to make sure that my clients are aware of their weaknesses, whether it is emotional or physical, and know what they have to do in order to get the desired result. Training at the appropriate intensity to best achieve a desired result as soon as possible is also an important factor.

It is very obvious, as I have outlined, that there is a very big difference between one client’s normal and another’s. Things like medication, injuries, strength, flexibility, goals, stress, height and weight are just a few of the many factors that can decide what normal really is for the individual client. This is why it is extremely important to both clients and coaches to avoid comparing one person’s ‘normal’ with another.


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