Invest In Yourself

The Gains and Losses of Personal Wellness

By Tessa Thomas

 Stocks | Photo by  3844328  

Stocks | Photo by 3844328 

If you’ve ever tried buying and selling stocks on your own, just the thought of capital gains and losses is probably enough to give you heart palpitations. Simply put, capital can be defined as the accumulation of assets that can be used to generate income. In any business, avoiding capital losses is key to the health and growth of the company. What if we applied this concept to our health and our growth as a model for wellness?

In Never Let Go: A Philosophy of Lifting, Living and Learning, author and strength coach Dan John defines physical capital as the sum of all your training, nutrition and recovery tools. If your physical capital is an account that you can contribute to every day, then your assets are your knowledge and experiences in training, nutrition and recovery. They can also extend to emotional, social, financial and genetic factors as well – if you are 6’8” and love basketball, consider your height to be a genetic asset.

Ideally you want to increase your capital over time. Regardless of your chosen training discipline you can add to your physical capital holdings at any time in many ways, such as: practicing for your sport, improving program design if you are a strength athlete, attending your weekly yoga class, integrating mobility work into your warm-up, focusing on technique when lifting, critically reviewing past performances and bringing a champion’s mindset to your training. There are countless opportunities to accumulate training assets – all physical practices are equal.

 Meal Preparation | Photo by  Janeb13

Meal Preparation | Photo by Janeb13

There are just as many, if not more, opportunities to accumulate nutrition assets – if you planned your meals for the week, you have added to your nutrition assets. The same can be said for reading food labels, drinking water, eating breakfast, reducing the intake of processed sugar or consulting a nutritionist. Diversify your nutrition investment portfolio.

 Sleep | Photo by  Unsplash  

Sleep | Photo by Unsplash 

Sleep is the foundation of your recovery assets. Do not underestimate the importance of sleep in your ability to build muscle and burn fat. Investing in sleep is like investing in low risk government bonds, they’re not sexy, but having a predictable income stream has the potential to positively affect all other capital activities. Do you have a newborn? Maybe experiment with polyphasic sleep.  Looking to recover more quickly between training sessions? Nutrient timing can go a long way to aiding with that. Investing in your recovery tools, or recovery assets, will likely provide the highest dividends over time because they support all other physical capital activities.

With physical capital, we can view our shortcomings as capital losses, such as lack of mobility, propensity to over-train, poor discipline regarding nutrition, and lack of sleep. The goal is to turn capital losses into capital gains by investing at the right times. For example, if you know that you have a tendency to stay up too late during the week, conduct an experiment for a week of avoiding computer, phone and television screens after 10pm. Invest in the process, not the outcome. Ignoring the shortcomings of your physical capital can lead to falling short of training and performance goals, missing weight loss milestones, or worse, injury. 

The easiest ways to grow your physical capital are to share it with others and to self-experiment. Share your knowledge and experiences and learn from the feedback that you receive from others. Attend workshops or seminars, participate in forums, and read books; these activities are guaranteed investments. Even trying something new for just a week is enough to provide a unique insight – if it feels like you’re onto something, it is an opportunity to double down and increase your physical capital.

“Taking a few minutes aside every so often to account for your physical capital – your shortcomings and your assets – is like finding a vein of pure gold. Mine it.” – Dan John


John, Dan. Never Let Go: A Philosophy of Lifting, Living and Learning, On Target Publications, 2009.