The Importance of Adaptability

Posted by Andy Chapman on Jul 14th 2019

The dictionary defines adaptability as "the quality of being able to adjust to new conditions." and "the capacity to be modified for a new use or purpose." Since this is a fitness blog, you might be wondering how or what the importance of adaptability would have to do with fitness or how it could be useful to you. The short answer to that question would be... everything. 

Not just in fitness but in life as well, if you are unable to adapt, you will fail. Everything in this world is constantly changing. The people around you, the weather, the world, culture, even your body. The problem with this is that many people naturally struggle with change. Many of us want things to remain the same, to go through each day comfortably, without anything we see as "bad" disrupting our schedule that we had laid out for the day. No interruptions, no deviations, nothing blindsiding us, nothing getting in the way of things going exactly how we think they should go. It seems as though everything in this world is always adapting and changing except for us. Which is extremely ironic since, whether you realize it or not, you are adapting and changing from the moment you are born until the moment you die.

Adaptation is the key to growth, both in fitness and life. When you first begin exercising or eating healthy, all the changes that occur and all the changes that you want to happen are due to your body adapting to the new stimulus and stressors that you have subjected it to. Once these initial adaptations occur and your body can handle everything you're throwing at it, the dreaded "plateau" happens. You stop seeing results. You get discouraged. You might even think about giving up and quitting at this point. These moments, however, are actually the most important times to not give up and keep going. It can be really easy to let changes in your life quickly derail your efforts of pursuing your goals. Maybe you get off of work later than normal so instead of working out like you normally would, you decide to pick up a pizza and go straight home. Maybe someone brings donuts into work and instead of having one and moving on, you decide you blew your diet from one so you might as well eat junk food the rest of the day and proceed to do so. Maybe you started and a new job or a new relationship and your efforts to get healthy have taken a back seat. The list of reasons we are all given every day are nearly endless, but there are really only 2 choices to make. Give in and fail, or adapt and succeed. Life can be chaotic at times, I'll grant you that. And there will be times when you'll miss your workouts. There will be times when you blow your diet. There will be times when you slip and fall, that's life. But you've got to get back up and dust yourself off. You've got to adapt to your conditions and try again. That's the point of this blog post after all, ADAPTABILITY. 

From Bear Grylls to the United States Marine Corps, the mantra of "Improvise, Adapt, Overcome" has been used countless times and with good reason. Adaptability is a major key to success. Things you don't see coming are going to happen. Your life will take some unexpected twists and be a wild ride, sometimes for the better and sometimes for the worse. Regardless of what happens, you've got to be able to adapt and keep moving forward in order to succeed. Not enough time to cook a healthy dinner? Meal prep for the week on a single evening. Not enough time to workout for 60 minutes five to six times a week? Shorten your rest periods and combine your workouts to 30 or 45 minute intense sessions three to four times a week. Not enough time to work out in the evening? Get up early and workout before work. Not gaining strength in the gym? Change your workouts. Not losing body fat like you planned? Change your diet. Having a plan is great, but always be ready to adapt to changes in your plan because life comes at you fast. BE ADAPTABLE.

I leave you with a quote from the unmatched Bruce Lee...

“Empty your mind, be formless, shapeless, like water. If you put water into a cup, it becomes the cup. You put water into a bottle and it becomes the bottle. You put it in a teapot it becomes the teapot. Now, water can flow or it can crash. Be water my friend.”

- Andy Chapman

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