Which Gives First, Mind or Body?

I’ve seen a certain Japanese doctor’s research surface in several talks and articles over the last few years, but had forgotten about it until a recent event where someone mentioned it and renewed my interest.

The man is Dr. Masaru Emoto, and his research involves water.  His doctorate is in alternative medicine and I’m not exactly sure what that entails, but his research I find very interesting.  In the mid 90’s, Dr. Emoto began freezing water and observing it under a microscope believing he would see something like snow crystals.  What he and his team found was that in normal tap water and water from rivers or lakes near large metropolitan areas, beautiful snow like crystals weren’t observed.  However, in water from sources away from development, gorgeous crystals appeared under the microscope.  What he did next gets a little less sciency, but is still pretty fascinating.  Dr. Emoto began playing music, showing photographs, and speaking different words to the water.  Depending on the song, photo, or word, the water crystals varied greatly.  Take a look at some of the various photos here.

Not surprisingly, words like “evil” or “fool” produced crystals in the water that were disjointed, fragmented, and chaotic.  Words like “love” and “wisdom” produced beautiful crystals that really do resemble snowflakes.

Now lets segue to another study.  Published in Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, researchers took a group of 24 people, mean age of ~ 25 years old, and pushed them on a stationary bicycle to the point of limp exhaustion, repeatedly while taking various measurements of their bodily functions.  Their goal, basically, was to push the subjects to the point of perceived failure, then randomly divide the group in half, teach one half how to use some positive self talk while the other half carried on as normal, and then re-test the group and look for differences.

Ahhhhh, a little physiological/psychological testing……please continue Stets (I’m sure you’re saying).

After baseline testing of all 24 folks in the study, half were left to exercise as normal for two weeks, and half were coached by psychologists about positive, reinforcing self talk.  Each candidate (12 people) selected four phrases and practiced the self talk during their normal workouts for 2 weeks.

The total group returned to the lab after two weeks to undergo another push to failure test.  The self talk group repeated their selected phrases to themselves as they’d been practicing during testing, some aloud and some silently.

Not surprisingly,  the half that employed some self talk were able to improve on their test to failure, while the other half pretty much repeated their previous attempt without improvement.

So what do I glean from Dr. Emoto and the above referenced study?  Well, I have a couple of ideas:

  1. What we say to ourselves can have a tremendous impact on how we perform, both in life and in the gym.
  2. Physical exhaustion, to a certain extent, is mental.  This is evidenced through the study because if it were solely a function of our biology, then self talk should have had no effect on those subjects.

Next time you think you can’t do something or you come in for a workout and half way through you’re gassed and want to throw in the towel, try uttering a short encouraging phrase to yourself out loud or in your head.  Repeat it and keep pushing forward, it certainly won’t hurt matters and since you’re about 70% water, Dr. Emoto’s research might have some bearing on how you perform and feel.

Is anyone already doing this?  What are your favorite phrases.  Light up the comments.

The O-Board Says…

A. 100m Sprints & Hollow Rocks
**after each sprint, perform 20 hollow rocks**

B. 400m Walking Lunge