eta week Oct 4

“If your ship doesn’t come in, swim out to meet it!” | Johnathon Winter
Pandemic continued
You may be tired of the virus but sadly it is not tired of you.
I found this paper on the role of improved cardiorespiratory fitness in providing some protection after infection by this COVID virus useful to us in the fitness industry. Did you?
Does High Cardiorespiratory Fitness Confer Some Protection Against Proinflammatory Responses After Infection by SARS‐CoV‐2?
Hermann Zbinden‐Foncea, Marc Francaux , Louise Deldicque and John A. Hawley

(Professor John Hawley was a regular lecturer and contributor to the academic capital in eta College.)
First published: 23 April 2020

Recommended reading
Surviving to Thriving – Mental Toughness (Steve Harris)
Chapter 1. WHY SURVIVING TO THRIVING? (Continued from last week)

The mind, not the muscles, regulates fatigue
I mentioned Professor Avis’ light-hearted claim, that I could become an expert if I qualified with a PhD and be able to claim: “Trust me, I’m a doctor.” Well, I still don’t subscribe to being an expert. But someone who is an expert in sport science and a medical doctor is Professor Tim Noakes. You may remember the publicity he received associated with his contribution to nutrition.
Years ago, I was inspired by a talk given by Noakes claiming that the mind, not the muscles, governs fatigue. “The symptoms are utterly, completely illusory. They are generated by the brain and they have nothing to do with the state of the body at that time” (Noakes, 2016). He based the talk on research that indicated the brain as the governor of fatigue, even though he acknowledged that muscles were the final arbitrator. The Internet site, UCT Open Content, refers to Noakes’ research as follows: “In the past Professor Tim Noakes was convinced that physiology could explain performance. After 38 years of studying the human body, he now believes that the mind and the role of self-belief are crucial factors in human athletic feats” (Noakes, African Health, 2011).
My understanding is that the signal one receives from the brain informing us that we are fatigued may be misleading because it is based on a mental estimation of reserves. I feel this signal can be likened to the one from a motor vehicle’s fuel gauge. A warning light comes on indicating that the fuel level is on reserve, but it is not empty. In the same way, we receive a warning signal that we are tired and tend to interpret it as a sign that our energy is depleted. Consequently, we may give up too early. I fully appreciate that a vehicle cannot operate on nothing. However, I have seen a few people create a competitive advantage by operating on reserve and some even seem to perform on metaphoric fuel vapours.
Before hearing about Noakes’ research on fatigue, I had reviewed a wealth of literature on misleading mental signals and their role in limiting aspects of performance. By extension, I believed that Noakes’ research could apply to these signals as well. It occurred to me that many of us could experience better outcomes in our lives if we interpreted other communication with greater accuracy. For example, if in negotiations we maintained our bargaining position a little longer, or, if in relationships we maintained our composure a little longer, the outcomes might be more favourable than initially anticipated.

The lingering habits of cave dwellers
These signals have their origins in a wide range of embedded, unconscious intuitions. They manifest as sacred beliefs that express our identity and guide our inclinations. Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson calls many of these signals ‘neurological baggage from our evolutionary past.’ Our minds have primordial ‘flotsam and jetsam’ against which we regularly collide.
Peter Breggin adds in Guilt, Shame, and Anxiety: Understanding and Overcoming Negative Emotions: He writes, every humanlike and human child has been born with enormously conflicted capacities for close-knit social relationships and for incredible aggression. (Breggin, 2014).
Through our genes, we inherit safety reserves that are hard-wired into our brains to keep us out of harm’s way. However, these reserves can go beyond the call of duty. They strongly regulate our ability to take risks and manage pressure. In terms of going from surviving to thriving, this will be a substantial restriction. Remember, our genes predispose, not predetermine, who we are.
Secondly, we seem to inherit limiting beliefs from the environment in which we were socialised. We acquire a strong and pervasive sense of limitations set by cultural conservatism, social norms, taboos, as well as the expectations and behaviour of family, peers, powerful role models, and mentors.
We reinforce these beliefs by our habitual behaviour and the examples provided by the people around us. This perpetuates a cycle in which these limitations are naturalised. One of the ways to go from surviving to thriving is to learn to become aware of these signals and, when necessary, develop the willpower to override them. Top-level athletes can override pain and fatigue, and they can sustain a high workload tolerance. In this way, they become stronger.
Do your sacred beliefs or the cave dweller lodging in your mind dominate your inclinations?
Write to us and let us know.


Dr Steve Harris | eta College CEO


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