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Jack's Journal: The Power of Symbols

Symbols can be incredibly powerful influencers of a person's mood or behavior. We have so many symbols that we take in, yet probably don't even realize. Symbols are specific images or phrases that promote a cause or a certain group. Think of your favorite Sunday team's symbol. Perhaps seeing that image makes you feel a certain way one month, and then the next month is the complete opposite. Whenever emotions are involved, generally, there are a lot of opinions. With opinions, generally, there are a lot of misconceptions around - you guessed it - symbols.

What are the main symbols that you conjure in your mind when you think of health and wellness? Probably not a whole lot in common with the images you think of for strength training. Probably not a whole lot in common with running a marathon either.

Some of the symbols we think of for health and wellness can be quite accurate, but other misconceptions can be harmful to us because we fail to do the things we should be doing, based on the symbol alone.

For example, a female high school athlete looking to make a Division I school for basketball doesn't participate in strength training because her symbol for strength training is bodybuilders. The downside here is, strength training can help her avoid injury and can even provide an edge in performance if done correctly. The fallout is this athlete has a negative experience from sport or exercise and soon grows tired of it. This may not seem like much, but think back to the last time you got sick from a specific type of food. How eager were you to eat that food again soon after?

Consider a male in his late 50's that was a high school athlete but hasn't done much since and wants to run a marathon. Through his years in high school and college, he was told that "carbs are the enemy." Therefore, his symbol for carbohydrates is a big ol' thumbs down, and who could blame him? When it comes to exercise, it is difficult to do anything without properly fueling your body. It becomes even more difficult to run a marathon without proper knowledge of carbohydrates and how essential they are in giving you energy, regardless of whether or not you wish to lose weight.

It is convenient to continue believing what we already believe and acting the way we always have. However, we learn more by challenging our thought processes and pushing beyond our comfort zone. Symbols have great meaning to us, and they can both make us feel and act in certain ways. Just like your favorite Sunday team's logo, the way you feel about certain symbols can change over time! If you'd like to learn more about carbohydrates and change the way you feel and act toward them, then follow this link. We have an expert leading a talk on February 10th who is going to provide a ton of valuable information that everyone can benefit from hearing at least once. Remember to challenge your way of thinking every now and then. If you don't know what you should do about the symbol you have for a certain aspect of health and wellness, seek out an opinion of a professional. That is what they love to do, help!


Jack is a Tri Fitness Coach, and his credentials include NASM CPT, B.S. in Kinesiology, University of Minnesota - Twin Cities. If you’d like help setting and achieving your health and wellness goals, please contact Jack at to set up an appointment.

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