The #1 Obstacle on My Way to Fitness

I’m really mad. (Accidentally, my father looks  exactly like this when he’s angry)

For some reason, I kept getting more and more mad when I wrote this post. I wanted to post about deliberate practice but then the post deteriorated into griping and complaining.  I decided to publish the post anyway, just to get rid of it!  🙂


This post was originally inspired by Marion’s recent post on how to reach superior fitness. In her post, she asks a good question: how did she morph into someone who can do a 160-lb bench press when most gym goers just tread water year in year out?

What does she do differently?

The answer is deliberate practice. Marion mentions seven practices – like getting feedback from more experienced peers, tracking your progress and careful experimentation- that are necessary if you want to have truly remarkable fitness results. It’s takes much more than just trying harder or doing more to get truly fit.

When I was reading Marion’s list, I concluded I’ve been doing most of the things Marion mentions in her post, though I’ve been more focused on ridding myself of my chronic musculoskeletal pains than trying to get fit. For example, I have loads of books and papers that cover subjects like human anatomy,  manual therapies like trigger-point therapy, Feldenkrais Method, posture, back and neck pain, yoga (from the time when I still did yoga). (My newest interest is the function of the face and neck muscles – interesting stuff!).

I’ve also made progress in my attempts: I’m not completely pain-free, but on the other hand I haven’t spent a single penny on massage therapy or chiropractors for over three years. I have my Feldenkrais practice to thank for that.

However, I’m not happy with my progress at the moment. I’ve managed to become a regular exerciser and my general fitness has certainly improved, but in some areas – like increasing muscular strength – I seem to bang my head against the same tree time after time.

That tree is my lack of core and upper body strength. The pains in my upper back and neck come screaming back If I put even a tad too much load on my upper back.  And the pain is so bad that I can’t keep on doing the moves that overload my muscles (stretching doesn’t help because my muscles are bunched up so hard that they don’t stretch).

I’ve faced this issue time and time again during my journey – with Ashtanga yoga years ago, when I started doing Flavia’s Full-body-licious program last summer and now with Lynn Cosgrove’s Fit Female Breakthrough.

This is the #1 issue that prevents me from progressing the way I’d like to.  It’s hard to accept because I know that if I had money to spare, I could probably get over this hurdle a lot faster with the help of a good personal trainer (not just any personal trainer but one who knows how to work with body issues like me).

Meanwhile,  I guess it’s just back to listening to my body and tweaking the FBB program so that I can keep doing it.  Even slow progress is progress..


Have you had stubborn body issues that prevent your from progressing as fast as you’d like? How did you get over it? Did you need professional help?


  1. Have I ever had body issues?? Hell yeah! LOL

    Being brand new to your blog, I don’t know your history, so I hope you don’t mind if I ask a few questions 🙂

    Have you ever been tested for Lyme disease? Have you ever had your hormones tested? These are/were the two main culprits of my body aches/pains. I am not 100% pain free, but I am doing much better now that I’ve been treated (naturopathically for the Lyme, and with bioidentical progesterone cream for the hormones). I don’t do yoga in the traditional sense, but I do yoga stretches and other mobility work on a regular basis. I am very curious about the Feldenkrais Method!

    Over the years (since 2005, which is when I started really focusing on my health and weight) I’ve been a runner, a DVD workout exerciser, a walker, and a kickboxer. In 2010 I discovered kettlebells and haven’t looked back (although I did take an extended break from all exercise this past winter…kind of a mistake, but I also learned a lot). Anyway, I LOVE kettlebells. They combine strength and cardio and they are ALL about core strength. All of that being said, I have had to learn that my physical health is not an all or nothing proposition. I tend (like most of us) to think that I have to go all out or I end up doing nothing. I am now finding a nice balance, which is quite a relief both mentally and physically.

    • Satu says:

      I haven’t been tested for Lyme’s disease. My mother has Fibromyalgia though and I have a similar physique. I doubt I have it myself (yet,) I just think I have a high-maintenance body. 🙂

      I actually own kettelbells! I think I should learn the technique from someone else to be able to enjoy it more.

  2. Marion says:

    Hi Satu! Well, I would say that you did deliberate practice with the goal of reducing pains, and you studied that, and applied that with quite a bit of success. The reason that is not helping you with gym goals is because your deliberate practice was not geared for that.<<That is why you feel disgruntled. Reducing pains is definitely correlated with fitness, but not at all the same. And I know your big brain knows that. 😀

    If you want to succeed with gym goals, get the cheapest membership to a gym and go there everyday. Go there to do cardio, to watch people, to compliment people, to ask people questions, and to listen to what fit people do and say. Vocally tell people in the gym that you want to do more and get better too. There will be people in the gym, like how I am in my gym, who will help you learn things and improve–for free. You don't need a personal trainer, but you do need to put your feet inside a gym for this to happen. Perhaps the thing I missed in my post is that for deliberate practice for fitness, I first drive to the gym and then walk inside. The best stuff happens inside those doors.<<And I want the best stuff for you, Satu.

    🙂 Marion

    • Satu says:

      I’d love to get into gym, but at the moment even the cheapest gym memberships are out of my reach…

  3. Lori says:

    Slow progress is still progress. No, it may not be where you would have wanted to be at this date, but you are further along than you were.

    Have you tried acupuncture? I don’t know much about it, but it could help.

    I get in my own way a lot. Aside from my herniated disk, which changed a lot for me in terms of exercise – I trip myself up with food a lot. That’s always *my* biggest challenge.

    • Satu says:

      That’s a great way to put it – “I get in my own way a lot”.

      I guess I just keep on going, All kinds of ideas about what I should be able to dy by now are just ideas after all.

  4. Satu I’ve had hip flexor issues over the years that give me hip problems (or vice versa) and have had periods when I haven’t been able to do anything. My hip has never properly repaired itself and so I decided at one point to just do what I can. It means I need to be conscious of what exacerbates it (ie. it gets sore after doing a bit of running). I need to try to keep doing pilates to strengthen my core but I’d also like to do more strength work.

    I don’t really want to lift heavier weights, but I’d like to see some improvement I guess. I’d also like to be fitter.


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