It seems like everyone is chasing a new look these days.
Everywhere you look there are magazines with titles like ‘Slim Down for the Summer!’ or ‘Six Pack Shortcuts!’. We get constantly bombarded through T.V., magazines, movies and websites that we aren’t good enough. That having a little bit of fat is unhealthy, unsightly and unbecoming of the human race.
We get manipulated into aspiring to have different goals and chasing results that we may never have wanted. Healthy and happy is no longer sufficient. We now must look good – transform ourselves to fit into the crowd.
Healthy, in itself, is a confusing word. There’s no definition for good health and people can view it in different ways. Healthy could mean low cholestrol, eating a low fat diet and running 5 days a week. To another it can mean eating meats, vegetables and nuts while strength training. Some people don’t even view it on lifestyle, if you look healthy – low body fat, moderate muscle mass, good skin etc – then that’s enough to satisfy,
I like to view health in terms of how you behave and how you feel. Health is a mental thing as much as physical. If you’re happy but you’re fairly obese then to me, you’re not healthy. If you’re absolutely shredded and look stellar on the beach but you’re depressed, lethargic and hate your life then to me, you’re not healthy.
And that’s what people need to understand.
If you’re starving yourself to look better or to be ‘healthy’ then you’ll never get there.
Being healthy, for me, is being able to keep up with your grandkids when you’re 60 or 70. It’s being able to carry all of your shopping to the car or into your house without any problems. It’s picking up objects with pain. It’s not worrying when your knees or back are going to blow out. It’s waking up and feeling awesome, like you could take on the world and accomplish anything. It’s not letting out a groan when you get up. It’s taking part in physical activity well into your old age without any problems.
It’s about real life events. Not eating certain foods or looking a certain way.
We get told that you’ll only be happy when you have specific aesthetics.
For women it’s a tight butt, shapely legs, thin waist and big boobs. Where as for men it’s a thick back, powerful chest, big arms and chunky thighs.
Buzzfeed did an interesting video comparing the body types deemd ‘sexy’ throughout the ages. See how the shape fluctuates and takes on completely different forms? Right now it’s the ‘Strong is the new Sexy’ promo that people are talking about. Hitting the gym and training ‘like a man’ (what does that even mean?).
People feel inadequate in their day to day lives and embark on a journey towards better health. This is good, in a way. Swapping a few foods around, knowing and understanding the effects of what you eat and improving your physical capabilities isn’t a bad thing to do whatsoever!
It’s the reasoning behind it that’s the problem.
Already, you’re doing something for someone else. You’re doing it to please the crowds opposed to for yourself. You’ll be far more motivated to commit to a change if you’re doing it for you, for a realistic goal and for a goal you actually want.
People begin these journeys without thinking what’s going to happen once they’re there. You can’t go back to eating your old ways so if you’ve done a quick crash diet without implementing sustainable changes then you’ve already set yourself up for failures. Effective and sustainable body re compositions take a long time. Why? Because they’re not a quick-fix or an extreme 6-week challenge. They’re an entire outlook revamp. They’re a lifestyle change, not a cut out from a magazine.
The people you see on magazines are photo shopped and altered to look that way AFTER going on a specific eating and exercise regime before the photoshoot. They’ve already dieted and got pumped up to look good and then their image is changed further to make them look better. Meaning they a) don’t look like that in real life and b) what they did look like at the time of the shoot isn’t how they look year round.
Being a bodybuilder or a model isn’t a job, it’s a life. 24/7 you have to be on top of what you’re eating. Tracking calories, macros and eating certain foods at certain times. On top of that your sleep needs to be on point and your exercise performance needs to be high. With that, in the unnatural world there’s a lot of ‘special supplements’ being taken to help them out.
And these aren’t restricted to bodybuilders either.
Movie stars often use them in films to bulk up or slim down for a specific role. Tom Hardy has been pretty open about his steroid use. The shape that they get into, also, are just for the role. Once again, they are not the whole year round. They get super fit and slim for these roles and then after they go back to normal living because the diet regime and exercise programmes are unsustainable.
The work that it takes to get into low body fat% is tremendous. Going from 30% to 26% is much easier than going from 10% to 6% (6% is higher than what a lot of bodybuilders are in by the way). Realistically, 10% – 15% is a very good range to be in for a man and for females it’s about 20 – 25%.
As people go through their journey the goal changes also. People start out just wanting to “be a bit fitter” or “get into shape” while starting from an overweight and exercise void beginning. Then, they’ll stop eating so many biscuits, cakes and chocolates and start going to the gym 2 or 3 times a week and suddenly they’re looking much better. It was easy! They’ve got into the shape that they wanted without much effort. All they’ve done is eaten more vegetables, kept an eye on what they’re eating and started a few classes.
Yet, now they’re there, they want more.
They want to be “cut and shredded” or get a really nice legs while building up their glutes. They want all eyes on them on the beach opposed to just being able to walk across the sand comfortably. What proceeds is frustration as what they once did no longer worked. They’re eating more vegetables, drinking more water and having less pastries but they can’t look like a cover model. They stop going out for dinner with their friends, they throw off family events for the gym and they cut their calories even further.
John Beradi of Precision Nutrition puts it very well in an article titled ‘The Cost Of Getting Lean’
“The process that helps you lose “the first 10 pounds” isn’t the same one that’ll help you lose “the last 10 pounds”. Indeed, it usually takes a lot more work as you get leaner.”
I would seriously urge you to read that article. Precision nutrition are brilliant people, doing brilliant things. They are completely results and evidence based so you know the information they give out are ethical and true.
I’ve taken these images from that article to show the benefits and trade-offs with each new fitness level.
Notice how the social trade-offs increase as the body becomes leaner. As I said, it consumes your entire life.
Life is too short to worry about how you look. Worry about how you feel and how you act. If you’ve got lots of energy, you’re rarely ill, feeling happy, waking up feeling fantastic and not being obsessive over your gym or eating habits then I would say you’re doing pretty darn well.
Ask yourself; when you’re on your deathbed do you want to remember the times you had with friends, family and the experiences you had or do you want to be thinking about how you looked when you were 26 on the beach with no friends, social life and you hated how you lived?
Everyone is so focused on losing weight, what is your end results? To disappear? Is Caspar the ghost your ideal physique? We’re not Optimus Prime. We don’t need to be constantly worrying about transforming our body.
It’s time to cut the crap in the fitness industry, Let’s stop making people feel insufficient, chasing unrealistic goals that they don’t really want and start pushing vibrant, fully and happy lives.
“Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels” Well you clearly don’t eat anything over the whole Christmas period.
I’d rather die at 60 without regret than at 120 looking like Arnold Schwarzenegger.