“You mean do I have a picture saved in my phone?” I ask.
“Yeah, for motivation to get there.” He replies.
“Well, a couple years ago I did… but I found it causes me, and a lot of my clients, to have anxiety, so I deleted them. I also “unliked” the fitness models I had on my Facebook. I’ve been trying to get people to take their mind off of what others look like... and to focus on becoming the best version of themselves.”
He nods, but I can tell he does not really understand where I am coming from. He is a model, and our goals for exercising are very different.
I go on to say, “ I understand that if I set athletic goals for myself and achieve those goals, that I will have an athletic body to match the activity I do. I do not think it is healthy to look at model and then to try to make yourself look like that person. It can take years for a regular person to transform into a model. It has taken me over 2 years to get where I am right now.”
“You don’t think you could have gotten there faster?” He asks.
“I know I could have gotten there faster… but I am going for permanent. I am going for a level of fitness that I can maintain naturally because it fits in my life. Many models and bodybuilders are not able to look picture perfect year round. They prepare for those shows or photo shoots… and you never know if someone is photoshopped.” I reply.
“Well I am photoready year round… but a lot of mine is genetic.” He says, as I see him starting to understand where I am coming from.
“Right, but you didn’t look like you do now when I knew you 3 years ago. It took you time to get where you are.” I say.
“That’s true.” He says.
We drop the subject and move on to lifting. But during the workout, my thoughts went to a conversation I had with a close girlfriend a week earlier.
“I think you are a little too focused on how you look.” A close girlfriend says.
“You think I’m focusing on how I look too much?” I repeat back, to make sure I heard her correctly.
“Yes… sometimes I do.” She says.
I paused briefly, as I tried to figure out why she felt this way. I had been talking to her about how I had a goal to look “crossfit” but without participating in crossfit. I had also told her I felt like what I looked like directly affected my income as a trainer. I also remembered that never knew me as an athlete…and that the changes I had been making the last couple years may lead her to think how she does.
“Well, I am focused on my looks...but my current goals are athletic goals. I want to be able to squat and deadlift a certain amount, and to be able to do a certain amount of pullups and pushups. I also want to learn how to olympic lift. For the first part of my life I was an athlete. Being an athlete is my identity, and Iost that in my last 2 marriages. I want my outside to reflect my inside. You will probably see me lose at least another 10 lbs...and my looks will continue to change with the training I’m planning to do.”
She said she understood, but I know she still feels it is too much.
Both conversations remind me of a member who walked into my office looking for my help earlier this year. She is a beautiful woman...very fit. She was looking to me for help in developing certain areas of her body. She went on to show me on her phone pictures of different fitness models and competitors. She wanted the glutes of one woman, the abs of another, the legs of another, the arms of another. She didn’t know how to get to that level, and she wanted my advice. I could see the stress written on her face and in her voice.
That day in my office has not left me in almost a year. Sitting across from a beautiful and fit woman, who had picked herself apart (by comparing herself to competitors), solidified my mission to help people get their focus off of others and on to themselves.
I do have a picture in my head of how I’d like to look. But it’s a picture of me. It is not someone else’s body, it is my body. Everyone’s body is different, and everyone’s body responds differently to exercise. My body responds somewhat quickly. Other people (with different genetics) may respond even quicker, or may respond months later than mine.
Research suggests that there is an “obesity gene”. These genes can make it harder for people to lose weight, and easier for people to gain weight. The genes will actually cause changes in metabolism to prevent you from losing weight, as a response to healthy habits you might be practicing. Also, it has been shown that some individuals are born with more muscle than others, and some are born with more fat cells. If you are born with more muscle, your body will be ahead of the game when it comes to fitness.
We simply cannot compare ourselves with other people. While hard work and dedication can lead to great athletic achievement, not everyone is physically made up to be a professional athlete. Not everyone can be a “model” by industry standards and have a “healthy” lifestyle at the same time. We are not all equal when it comes to genetics. Most of this understand that intellectually, but when we see someone “better looking” or more “physically fit”, it is easy to compare our self with that person. It is easy to feel less than… to be critical of ourselves. But, we do not see the hours, days, weeks, months, and years that person may have spent in becoming who we see.
I was at my step-son’s basketball game last week. Two women who know me, but hadn’t seen me in several months noticed the change in my physique. They complimented me, but then they went on to look me up and down, and compare themselves. They started to talk about how much weight they had gained while I had been losing it. One of them held their arm up and grabbed their fat to show me the excess from the last time I saw her. From a business standpoint maybe I should have used that opportunity to hand out a business card… but I just couldn’t do it. I could tell they were comparing themselves to me, and I didn’t like the tone in their voice or the look in their eyes.
My response was simply to thank them, and to say, “It is my job to look the way I do. I have been working on it the last couple years.”
The New Year is coming in 3 weeks. Do you have fitness goals to achieve in 2015?
I have some pretty lofty goals for my business and my fitness. However, I have to be realistic. How much time do I realistically have in a day?
For example, I want to take the NSCA- Certified Strength and Conditioning Coach exam by March 1, 2015. First I had to see if I had the time to study for it. I had to see where in my schedule I could set study time. I chose 2 hours on Tues,Thurs, and Sat. This means that no matter what else comes up (barring injury/sickness of myself or my son) I will study for those 2 hours. I have notified my close friends and family of my plans, so that they understand if they do not see me as much for the next 3 months. It also means I will not train new clients during those times, even if extra money is tempting. It also means that my plans to launch my online training business will be on hold until later in the year. There is only so much I can focus on at a time.
But the goal setting process goes even deeper. I had to figure out what I’m going to focus on in those 6 hours a week. I had to create a plan for each study session, that will lead me to passing the test. Now that I am armed with the plan, the best thing to do for my mental health, is to forget about the test. I don’t need to agonize about the test. I will follow my weekly plan, and take the practice tests to monitor my progress. I have to trust the process. I have to trust I will do everything I can to pass. If I do not pass, I will reevaluate and make a new plan...and try again.
The same goes for your fitness goals this year. Do not fixate on the goal once it is set. Fixate yourself on the process. My hope for this series is to lead you through developing your process, and committing to your process over the next couple of weeks.
Start thinking about your fitness goal now!
Get your mind past what (or who) you want to look like, or what result you want to achieve, and onto the process it will take to get you there.
Do you feel stuck on what the process should be to achieve your fitness goals?
I’ll be back next week to help you develop that process!