Old Pesky Patterns – A Lesson From My Snatch

First of all, the snatch I am referring to is an Olympic lift, as in weightlifting. If you’ve never seen one here’s a link to this beautiful, stunning, artform. Enjoy!

When I’m in the gym snatching, my technique usually stays pretty good until the weight gets heavy. See, the heavier weight always causes older movement patterns to emerge and typically they’re not the patterns I want. They’re the patterns my body did before I knew the best way to perform the lift. Those old patterns began when I was simply strong-arming the bar from the ground to over my head. Basically, what my body did innately for survival.

What to do then? How do I “fix my snatch” to lift the heavier weight?

I lighten the load.

You see, to “fix” old, unwanted neuro-muscular pathways of movement, I have to drop the weight and practice and practice and practice to establish new muscular patterns with a lighter load. The hope is that when the weight does become heavier, the new patterns I’ve established at a lighter weight will continue and my capability will increase.

So let’s put this into life. 

You might have new skills or habits like eating well or exercising regularly or getting enough sleep, that, periodically, when life gets heavy (can you say HOLIDAYS??) fall to the wayside. Old patterns (habits) of survival emerge and so do unwanted results (can you say tight pants??).

Here’s a perspective for you: Stop beating yourself up. The weight’s just a little too heavy. Lighten the load.

Drop back on the weight. Correct your patterns by practicing and practicing and practicing. Later, you will be more capable to keep desired, newer patterns – even when the load is heavy.

What does “practice at a lighter weight” look like for you this holiday season? You can:

  • Practice your food choices
    • at a lighter weight by eating all the holiday foods that bring you joy, love and tradition at half the serving
    • at the heavier weight of avoiding them entirely. 
  • Practice your exercise habit
    • at a lighter weight by setting a goal of hitting half your workouts
    • at the heavier weight of trying to complete your normal workout schedule – then suffering with negative self-talk when you inevitably skip exercise
  • Practice your sleep adequacy
    • at a lighter weight by making sure you schedule in nap time the day after holiday parties
    • at the heavier weight of creating a sleep deficit and still trying to “power through your day”.

Remember, it’s all practice. Lighten the load, get some reps in, and lastly, allow yourself some space. Get some wins at the lighter weight – in January we’ll look at how much our patterns have improved. Happy Holidays!

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