There is a problem with fitness… There is something wrong with the programs, the workouts, the trainers, and the nutritional supplements. How do I know this? Look around you. I live in one of the healthiest cities in the country, and it’s still obvious. Almost 70% of adults are overweight, or obese, in this country and 90% don’t like the body they are in. What is going on? We have been getting bigger and more unhealthy for generations and currently sit atop the worst levels of obesity-related health problems we have ever faced.
The trainers, supplements, and workout plans need to step up their game, or at least that would be a convenient way to look at it. Many will stop reading after that last sentence because my words have suddenly stopped enforcing the false ideas they want to believe. Those of you brave enough to face reality, I encourage you to continue reading. As a society, we defer the blame, avoid the responsibility, and fane bewilderment as to why we don’t look and feel as we would like to. “It’s my genetics, it’s my job, it’s my family.” We tell ourselves absolutely anything in an attempt to avoid actually facing the real culprit of our unhealthy population. The answer lies with all of us. It is our mindset that we are not at fault and there is nothing we can do to change our predicament. It is our apathy in witnessing a negative progression, but doing nothing to stop it. It is our sense of entitlement that we should be healthy with no expenditure of effort, or compromise of indulgences. Finally, we fail to recognize our own self worth and the value of taking care of our bodies. We see fitness plans and nutritional programs as luxuries, instead of investments. The simple fact that most of us will regularly spend almost $100 on an oil change for our car, but won’t buy organic, unprocessed food for our bodies because it is slightly more expensive, is a clear example of that.
We spend money on things that get us through the day, but fail to recognize how much easier the day would be if we felt better. I understand that we need transportation to get to work, but do we need rims on the car, or would that money be better spent on quality food and a personal trainer? Instead of struggling through the day, sucking down energy drinks, you could be alert and productive with a smile on your face. In the long run, being able to work more efficiently for longer periods of time will get you all the rims you want, but we reach for the immediate, and fitness isn’t that. So we continue telling ourselves that it’s our genetics, when physical inactivity, essentially not moving at all, is rampant at nearly 30% in some states and more than 60% of adults are not active enough to get any type of benefit from the activity they do participate in. We choose the cheap and easy options because we think we are saving money to help us get through the day, but health care costs related to obesity are estimated at over $210 billion dollars. The average cost of health care per capita is 81% higher for an obese patient than that of a healthy adult. We may not recognize it right when we sit down to eat that Big Mac, but it’s actually far more expensive than the real food at the deli next door.
More than 14 percent of U.S. households (17.4 million) are “food insecure” — defined by U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) as having their access to adequate food and nutrition limited due to cost, proximity, and/or other resources. I empathize with this group, but 14% is a long way from 70%. For the overwhelming majority, we are choosing to hurt ourselves one meal at a time. We have to change our mindset when it comes to health and fitness, from that of a victim, to one of active responsibility, guiding our lives with purpose and integrity.
I have conversations with people all the time about fitness, and I wanted to share the one that inspired this post. This is not to hurt feelings or point fingers. The individual will be forever anonymous, and if he ever reads this post, I hope he understands that this isn’t personal at all. I am using this to educate and identify the type of thinking that holds us back. This isn’t an isolated incident; I receive messages like this everyday. The initial contact was from an individual seeking health advice and goes as follows:
“Sorry man. Just saw these messages. And while I am wanting to change things about my life. I’m not in a position where I can pay for one of weight loss muscle toning exercise plan/diet meals vitamin supplements things. And it seems that that is all there is out there online. It seems lots of people claim to want to help people live healthier but only if they can afford their $150 dvd collection. But, I thought I would inquire anyways. As far as what I want to accomplish goes. I want to lose weight first of all. So tired of being the, “chunky, but he’s funny though” guy. Second I want to tone up not bulk up. I want to be fit, not a bodybuilder. And it follows that I’d need to change my eating habits as well. And it’s not as if I haven’t been on google. It’s just that the tidbits and helpful advice has for the most part been ineffective. But I see your pics. Whatever it is YOU specifically are doing is working. So I took a shot, and reached out to you hoping you’re not gonna try to sell”
I’ll share my response, but first I want to address some of the misconceptions present in his thinking. First of all, we have a natural animosity to spending money. Generally, when someone tells me they can’t, it really means they don’t want to. That isn’t always true, and there are so many reasons we get low in the bank account, but often times there is a common mindset that correlates to financial objections in my business. We think we don’t have enough expendable income, but that is only because we have spent most of it already. We spend it on little things, constant things, like coffees and snacks. We go out regularly, or at least once or twice a week. It comes down to priorities, delayed gratification, and that entitled sentiment that we should get something for nothing. I know this because I used to think that way and still have plenty of bad habits when it comes to money. If your top priority is really getting healthy, the thought of investing money in yourself doesn’t seem so crazy, which brings me to my next point. When you buy a gallon of milk, or a beer at a bar, we fork over the money without hesitation because we are confident in the value of our purchase, or at least we understand the value. I understand that there are a lot of terrible products in the fitness industry, but that doesn’t mean they are all bad, and I promise you that the good ones are worth the money. As I will say in my response, “fitness is simple, but it isn’t easy.” There is a reason billions of dollars are spent in the fitness industry, and it isn’t all on scams. We need help pushing ourselves outside our comfort zones and more than ever, we need to efficient ways to give our bodies what they need. Simply eating healthy just isn’t enough anymore due to soil depletion. If you want to experience how your body is supposed to operate, you need to find a way to fill in the gaps of our food today.
He then proceeds to attack trainers everywhere, implying that we all just want to take your money. I can’t speak for all of us, but I personally know a lot of people in the health and wellness industry, and an overwhelming majority of us actually give a damn. I actually believe we all have amazing potential, but most of us just don’t realize it. It is my passion to help people understand how amazing they can be, and fitness is just one of the ways I am trying to do that. I am not alone in this thinking, otherwise, there is no way we (trainers) would tolerate the inconsiderate treatment we often receive from clients. We are lied to constantly and we always know when. We get flaked on, bailed on, and ghosted, yet we continue to offer our assistance to anyone who seeks it. We are passionate about fitness, but we also have to eat, and even though many do not respect the skills and expertise we posses, they are still incredibly valuable and warrant compensation.
After that, he mentions his motivation, “(I’m)So tired of being the, ‘chunky, but he’s funny though’ guy.” Obviously, he isn’t that tired of it, considering $150 is out of the question. Besides, if you jump ahead, he mentions using Google to find answers. There is an unlimited amount of information on the internet about getting healthy and fit. Search “workout plans,” and you will get over 100 million pages worth, for free! Honestly, if you picked one and just stuck with it, you will make progress, albeit painfully slow and with much difficulty, but that is fitness in a nutshell, prolonged struggle and consistency. That is also where we all stumble. The mental challenge of making the right choices, pushing hard enough to create change, and maintaining motivation seems to be nearly impossible for most of the population. That isn’t a stab at anyone, it really is that difficult, especially today with our busy lifestyles and abundance of food and choice. Even the most elite athletes have trainers and nutritionists to help them improve, and they already have a warrior’s mindset. Why do we think it is any different? The level may change, but it is all relative.
Next he mentions his goals.
-“Second I want to tone up not bulk up. I want to be fit, not a bodybuilder.”-
Let me be abundantly clear, building the physique of a body builder, or even a body with obvious muscles takes dedication. It does not happen by accident! You won’t go to the gym for a few weeks and then wake up one day with 22′ biceps, all of a sudden. “Damnit, that trainer is a dick! He said I wouldn’t get huge! Now my pants don’t fit,” said nobody ever! Our bodies change gradually over long periods of time. As much as many would like to hate on the gym-goers who have accomplished a body to be desired, it is still a very difficult task and deserves some degree of respect. One cannot build a great physique or athletic body without having a pretty good idea of what they are doing. Being “big” isn’t necessarily better, but that shredded guy in the corner doing weird stuff on the Bosu Ball could probably teach you a thing or two.
Almost done. He mentions that he is aware that he needs to improve his diet. This is the hardest part about fitness, nutrition, but it is also where you will get most of your results. 80% of the battle is what you are putting in your mouth. Meaning, you can have a great work out regimen and a mediocre diet and still look like you have no business playing a sport. Where as if you have great nutrition, but never work out, people may mistake you for an athlete. Point is, if you give your body what it needs to grow and repair, all the hard work you do physically will yield great results. You will feel better, which will allow you to push harder and ultimately speed up your progress exponentially, relatively speaking. I say nutrition is the most difficult because there isn’t really immediate feedback, unless you are already super fit. Part of getting healthy is getting in tune with your body and learning to listen to it. Every time you eat a Big Mac, your body is telling you that it hates you and that you are a jerk, but most of us feel so crummy all the time that we don’t even notice. So making the better choice doesn’t seem like it matters all that much, and that makes it really hard to give up the things we crave. At first, we have to fight ourselves, but when we start winning those little mental battles more consistently, there is a shift in cravings. Eventually it gets easier and actually, you won’t want the bad stuff anymore, but that takes a while and often requires guidance and accountability. Yet another reason why products are sold and trainers have jobs.
The very end of his message concerns all of us. I don’t care how fit, or unfit you are, we all look at others with envy. We long for their body, or think that if we could only do what they are doing, we will look like them. To some extent, that is true. If you work out with the person you admire and eat what they eat, your body will improve to a similar level, but it will still be your body. Did you get that? It will be your body, shaped and molded using the same stressors and building blocks, but it will be yours. This bring up a very important point regarding the psychology of fitness. We are all different! My awesome looks different than your awesome and is different still from someone else’s. Perfection is a great goal, but remember that you will never be the best, the strongest, the most beautiful or even the smartest. You may be in your circle, but the point is that there is always a bigger fish in the pond somewhere. This isn’t meant to break your self esteem. On the contrary, it’s meant to free it. When we realize that we don’t have to be the best, we can focus on simply being the best “us” we can. When we understand that “the best” is subjective, not objective, its more of a relief than actually being the best. When you are at the top, you are always worried about getting knocked off, but if you are just trying to be the best version of yourself, there is no competition. No one can be more you than you! Sure, not everyone will always like you, but that’s life, and frankly, that would be boring. So instead of seeing that guy or girl in the gym and wanting their body, see them as motivation. See them as something to aspire to, not to have their body, but rather what your body would look like with the same care and dedication applied to it. Just imagine how beautiful you can be and keep chasing that! (Even though physical beauty is by no means the most important.)
So here is what I sent him in return. I basically covered everything already, but I said I would share it. I may have been a little tough on him, but he needed some tough love. He may get mad and resent me, take it personally and call me an asshole, but hopefully he will release the ego so that he can start getting better. I believe anyone can do this on their own, honest, but even I sought a “tool” in the form of a nutrition system. So for all of those who read this and get offended, you probably have similar issues, and I won’t apologize. Im the type of person that will say what needs to be said, not what you want to hear. Hate me for it, or get better, I can’t make that choice for you.
“So here’s the thing. Everything you need to know is free on the internet, but that isn’t the problem. I can tell you to pick any plan and stick to it, and you will get results. The problem is consistency and motivation. Ppl sell and market tools that help us push our bodies because, without those helpers, most will never have the mental toughness to make the changes happen. Those ppl “selling” stuff do want to help ppl, but we all have to make a living and if its free, the consumer wont have the incentive to stick to the plan. What those people do for others is very valuable and deserves compensation. What is unfortunate is that most ppl want something for free and expect it to be easy. Fitness is simple, not easy, and anything worth having generally takes some sort of investment, be it time, money, or both. So you tell me you want to get in shape and you are tired of being “the chubby guy,” but you are clearly unwilling to invest in yourself. You only want it if it’s free. So here is some free advice. Google workout plans and meal plans. Pick one of each and do them honestly for 6 months. Stop smoking. Drink less, and try to see the value in prioritizing your health over your escapes. After 6 months, you will see changes, have a better mind set concerning the importance of investing in yourself, and finally, you will understand why ppl pay for programs and tools to help them improve. If you want to make it a whole lot easier and effective, I can share with you the program I use and guide you through my work outs, but it does cost money…choice is yours. If you take the first way, who knows if you will be successful. The opportunity has been there your whole life, yet here we are chatting. Be honest with yourself about your work ethic and motivation. My way isn’t guaranteed either, but after a lifetime of helping ppl get healthy, I can confidently say you will have a far greater chance of changing your life using my program and following my guidance. So, a bit of money to radically improve your life, or you can wing it. Just remeber, if you don’t do something different, you will always be the same. You can do it on your own for free, but it’s terribly difficult and like everything else, you get what you pay for.”