Adding and subtracting.

Wasn’t this drummed into you during primary/elementary math class? And for the most part I enjoyed math until algebra and then it was all downhill from there. But adding, subtracting and multiplication, they were my hey days for math. Maybe, heavens forbid the good old days.

I can say that because I am old.

Sorry, couldn’t resist

The older you and I get, the more ‘stuff’ is added to our lives. Jobs, responsibilities, bills, children, aches and pains and other ‘fun’ adult toys and luxuries. Some of this stuff is necessary, some not and some because we like to have it around.

But some stuff we collect isn’t tangible. It’s a collection of thoughts, experiences and habits picked up consciously and unconsciously throughout our time above ground. Some of it good, some bad and some of it ugly. Let me give you a personal example.

Alcohol And Me

My father was a drinker when I was growing up, so I was exposed to some behaviors that weren’t suitable for a young child. But it was the 70’s and times were different. I’m not blaming him for my behavior because you are responsible for your behavior no matter how ingrained it is.

Back in 1999, I completely blacked out from drinking spirits, two times in the space of three months. First was after my team had won the (Grand Final) championship. I was slamming down Sambuca shots every time my team scored. And let’s say my team scored a lot.

I wound up not remembering what happened and had to call a friend to scrape me off the grass before  being arrested for public intoxication. The second time was the millennium New Years. After missing a few New Year’s celebrations, I was determined to make up for it in one night.

Vodka and orange was my drink of choice, and I was slamming them down fast. So fast in fact I blacked out again, But this time it was different because I was aggressive and hostile towards two of my friends. Plus, I was thrown out by hotel security, and I remember none of it.

After apologizing for my behavior (after being told) the next day, I basically haven’t touched spirits again. This was an easy subtraction because to continue down this road would’ve been a dangerous path. Lucky for me, all these people are still my friends today.

Bringing It Back To Exercise

Anyway, enough about me.

Results are great.

When you’re building muscle, losing fat, or increasing strength with your program there is the temptation to add more. More exercises, more sets, more reps and or more training days. While this is not bad because progressive overload and improvement is the name of the game, there comes a point where enough is enough.

But eventually you will exceed your ability to recover from the extra workload and your results stop. This may cause you to lose enjoyment, be constantly tired and sore, and decreased performance in and out of the gym.  

Now there’s nothing wrong with pushing your boundaries of performance. When you find them, it’s time to find the sweet spot between doing too much and staying where you are. Then you’ll know when to add to your routine and when to subtract to keep your results rolling.

Think of it like the porridge in Goldilocks. Not too hot, not too cold, just right.

Granted, this adding and subtracting requires experimentation and mistakes will be made. But it is all part of the learning process that’s needed to support or improve your health. And I’m still learning the hard way.

Can’t Help Myself, Bad Habits

First, a habit is a routine of behavior that’s repeated regularly and tends to occur without you even thinking about it. You just do it, like the Nike slogan. It’s a settled tendency that’s ingrained in your brain. That’s why bad habits are so hard to break and when you’ve developed good habits you hold on to them like gold.

I’ve a few bad habits that I’d love to shake. Like biting my nails, not minding my own business, and blowing my top when I lose control of a situation. These are a few on a long list. Now, some bad habits only hurt you like biting your nails, but some will hurt others around you.

Realistically, we’re not going to get rid of all our bad habits but the ones that hurt others, these are the ones you must start subtracting. Think for a moment the habits you have that may hurt others. Okay, my turn again.

For me it’s my aggressive anger. This got me in trouble with my marriage and my relationships with my boys. And when I realized it was a problem, it was time to subtract this from my life. But I couldn’t do this on my own and I enlisted the help of a therapist who I still see once a month.

The therapist got to the source of my anger and gives me the tools to control it when I’m in danger of losing control. As of today, my anger is under control.

But bad habits are like addiction because even when you subtract it, it’s easy to slip back into these habits like a comfortable pair of pants. You must stay vigilant because there are only so many times your loved ones will forgive you if your bad habits continue.  

Wrapping Up

Adding stuff is fun like toys, money, friends, and more TV shows to your playlist. But some stuff you add to your lives isn’t always useful and can be detrimental to your health and wellbeing. This is the stuff that needs subtracting so you can keep being awesome.

Now only if I could be awesome at math.    


  1. Curtis

    Great article, Balance Guy

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