Boundary-Pushers Beware: What Doesn't Kill You Might Not Make You Stronger

By , Columnist

I'm a big fan of drawing connections between topics that seem unrelated, so don't be surprised that I'm starting off by citing a recent study about obesity. No, I'm not calling you fat.

But new research on people and animals that carry excessive body weight shows that even though weight gain is often a gradual process, their muscles are not being conditioned by the weight addition. This explains why movement for some extremely heavy individuals is often difficult or painful.

The New York Times article sharing this study says the reason "why there should be such a mismatch between body weight and muscle strength is unknown," but is probably due to muscles ceasing to produce a particular hormone when under extreme stress.

Now, here's the connection: I'm a boundary pusher and a major believer in going big or going home. Whether I'm at the gym, at work, or at play, I will often take on as many tasks as humanly possible - adding weight to the bar -  convinced that I can excel at all of them. Sometimes this is true, and my psyche "feels the burn," so to speak; others, however, my psyche has taken on more than it can bear, and I simply break down, unable move forward anymore until I can recover.

So, why is this?

After all, pushing your boundaries is a good thing. A bit of discomfort now can lead to growth and progress later - just like when you weight train. But push too far or too fast and your psyche - or muscles - can't keep pace with the weight you're adding, and you end up in pain, your mental muscles malfunctioning,  finding it difficult to do normal, everyday tasks, much less progress.

So even if you prefer going big or going home, like yours truly, try to alter the way you approach adding weight to your metaphorical bar: by all means, go big, but know how big is too big.  

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Emmie Scott is an English major-turned-marketing exec, with a passion for writing, humor, sharing knowledge, and "pink drinks." After hours, she started Are Toe Rings Professional Attire?, a blog for college grads and twenty-somethings looking to find their way through that daunting labyrinth called…

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