The Secret to Body Transformation That Lasts
Stop Focusing Only On How You Look
Changing physical appearance is the most common goal of gym goers, dieters and supplement users. There’s nothing wrong with this. If you are unhappy with your body, it is important that you get to the point where you feel good in your own skin and are healthy. But, many people who are unhappy with their bodies feel that if they could just achieve the look that they want physically that all of their problems would be solved. If they can get abs that they can wash their laundry on or an ass that looks great in yoga pants, surely then they will be happy.
This is rarely the case however. More often than not, chasing a certain aesthetic look for your body will leave you feeling unfulfilled. This usually happens in one of two ways:
- You are unable to make all of the necessary sacrifices for long enough to reach your “perfect body.” The dieting was too strict, causing you to always be hungry and miss out on foods that you enjoy and replace them with more bland options that you have to choke down. The training program was boring, or too much of a time commitment or too painful. You didn’t have the support needed to accomplish such a big goal. Whatever it was, something got in the way of you achieving the body you dream about. This leads to feelings of discouragement that may prevent you from trying again in the future.
- You are able to make all of the necessary sacrifices for long enough to reach your “perfect body.” You stuck to the diet, went through the intense training and centered your life on reaching your goal. You look amazing. You show off your bod at the beach and you go on a selfie spree. You have reached your goal, but now what? The feelings of accomplishment and pride eventually give way to depression because you no longer have the purpose you had before. You no longer have that big goal that you are striving toward and it becomes extremely hard to maintain the level of commitment needed just to continue looking a certain way.
As you can see, having the sole focus of making your body look a certain way is usually very ineffective in achieving long lasting body transformation. Now, I’m not saying that we should just stop caring about the way we look. That would be barbaric. Instead, I suggest a shift in focus from just looking awesome to being awesome in as many areas of health and fitness as possible.
These areas include:
- Improving your physical health. Get your blood work done. Make sure your blood pressure, blood glucose, cholesterol, etc. are all in healthy ranges. See if you are deficient in any important vitamins and minerals. Check for food allergies and intolerances. Tweak your diet to improve upon any of these areas.
- Learn to cook healthy food that tastes great. One of the biggest challenges to eating clean is that the food tastes like flavorless. So, experiment with healthy recipes, try different spices and be creative with your food.
- Improving your fitness. Get stronger by focusing on adding weight to the bar on squats, deadlifts, and presses, and adding reps to your pushups, pull ups, dips, single leg work, etc. Increase speed and conditioning by shaving time off your run, bike, swim, row times or CrossFit workouts. Increase your endurance by going for longer on your run, bike, swims, and CrossFit workouts.
- Learn new skills. Obtain some basic gymnastic skills by learning the kipping pull up, ring dips, muscle ups, toes to bar, etc. Learn to Olympic Weight Lift with the snatch and clean and jerk. Learn proper technique of the powerlifts with the back squat, bench press and deadlift. Give yoga and Pilates a shot. Learn to swim if you don’t know how to swim. Go on hikes or rock climbing. Change it up all the time and learn new ways to use your fitness.
- Play sports. Playing sports is the most fun way to get in exercise. It is important to get a break from all of the stress and responsibilities we put on ourselves and make time for just being a kid again and playing. A little friendly competition is always healthy as well. You could join a softball team, play city league basketball or volleyball, racquetball, flag football, bowling, golf, ultimate Frisbee, skiing, snowboarding, hockey, anything. Learn new sports and mix it up.
- Form relationships. If you are taking exercise classes, playing sports and trying new things, you are going to surround yourself with a lot of badass people. You are the company that you keep and if you surround yourself with people that are likeminded, they will help you be accountable. Not only that, but these people will become some of your best friends.
- Improve your mental health. Not enough is said about what eating right and exercising does for your mental health. In John Ratey’s book, Spark, he talks about how exercise causes the brain to function at its best. This is because humans are born movers. Our ancestors were forced to learn how to find and store food. This relationship between food, physical activity and learning is hardwired into our brain. We were not designed to live a sedentary lifestyle and our brain is not running at full capability if we do. Our bodies need to work hard to keep our brains performing at full strength. Exercise improves learning; affects mood, anxiety, and attention; guards against stress and reverses some of the effects of aging in the brain.
I could go on and on about all of the different motivators you can use to keep you going on your fitness journey, but the big take away here is that training and dieting for looks alone won’t cut it for most people. You have to continually challenge yourself with new and exciting goals that you are working toward. If you put time into developing the areas that I laid out above, you will always be motivated and have something to strive toward, you will develop a well-rounded fitness and you will get a sense of fulfillment by pushing yourself to do things that you couldn’t do before. On top of that, the whole looking good thing will usually take care of itself and you will experience a body transformation that lasts.
2016 11 01