Change, Adapt, Survive. Repeat as needed.

Juliane Koepcke was flying with her mother and ninety other passengers on Christmas Eve, 1971, when lightning struck, causing an extensive structural failure of the Lockheed Electra. Juliane fell out of the broken airplane into the Peruvian jungle. She was seventeen years old, wearing her Catholic confirmation dress and white high heels.

A dozen other passengers survived the midair disintegration of Juliane’s plane, but died waiting to be rescued. Juliane walked for eleven days through the dense jungle while being literally eaten alive by leeches and strange tropical insects.

Who lives, who dies and why is the study of Laurence Gonzales, author of the book I recently read, “Deep Survival” (W.W. Norton & Company). He says, “What saved Juliane was an inner response, a state of mind. A lifetime of experience shapes us to meet or be crushed by such challenges as a bad divorce, the shattering of a career, a terrible illness or accident, a collapsing economy, a war, prison camp, the death of a loved one, or being stranded in the jungle.”

Life is perpetual change. Throughout the 80s and 90s, those of us who worked for IBM affectionately referred to our life there as “Ive Been Moved.” Mostly relocation was voluntary, but not always. This frustrated my son. He didn’t like being the new kid at school. He did not like change.

I once read the reason children choose the same nighttime story over and over is that they know the ending. In their young lives, change is constant as they are immersed into life. It is my theory that as teenagers, and through their early 20s, they are obsessed with becoming the masters of their domain. They suck the energy out of everyone around them to create this perfect, predictable environment. It is only when we give them that gentle push on the fanny that knocks them out of the nest that they find their wings. Their survival instinct is aroused, they adapt and finally grow up…. they change.

This past weekend we saw the same story play out with our baby, Mr. Boggs. He has become the master of his universe…. our home. If he hears or sees anything out of the ordinary, he does not hesitate to make a fuss. It was on Saturday morning that my husband installed a simple arbor by the rock wall that has finally been cleared of all the unwanted ivy. For the back corner just past the arbor, we found the perfect statue of St. Francis.

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When Mr. Boggs came strolling by to inspect our work, he hardly noticed the arbor but St. Francis made him looney. He barked at it for 30 minutes and finally perched himself high above so he could pounce as soon as this strange little man made a move. His world had changed and he was not happy.

Mr. Boggs
Mr. Boggs

Bill is my track buddy. He has run for so many years, he can’t imagine not running. The problem is he enjoys swimming more than running these days, but he can’t let go of the running. He swims for 3 hours one day and runs for 2 hours the next. Every other day, he complains it’s too hot, too cold… too windy. Running has changed right under his feet, but he can’t allow himself to adapt.

My body has undergone adaptations during the rapid-progression base building I have been pursuing. Just as I adapt to the mileage and feel strong, the mileage increases. I get tired and sore, adapt, grow stronger – only to go through the process again a few days later. The 7-day training schedule means I’ve had to adapt to my new routine, make compromises…. change.

In life as in training, if we aren’t moving forward…. changing, we are loosing ground whether we realize it or not.

Runners who resist change stagnate and fail to improve. In weight lifting, there is the dreaded plateau – that is, the moment your body stops getting stronger or losing fat because it’s adapted so well to the workouts.

“Adaptation is a good thing – after all, it means you’ve been working consistently enough that your body is stronger and able to handle the workouts. The bad side is that you’re likely to hit a plateau, a situation you can avoid by changing your workouts regularly.” (About.com Exercise by Paige Waehner)

When lifting weights, we teach the muscles how to be stronger. For your muscles to grow, however, you have to challenge them with more than they can handle. This idea of overloading is one of the most important principles of strength training and the guiding force behind any good routine.

If we apply our training principles to life, variety is good. And, a temporary overload may very well be one of the most important principles to becoming a stronger person.

Change, adapt, survive. Survive, adapt, change. Repeat as often as necessary – in whatever order seems appropriate.

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