The Perfect Body: A Lifestyle
Expectation vs. Reality
Picture your “perfect” body. How do your clothes fit? What do you feel when you look in the mirror? Which activities can you participate in? I bet when you pictured your ideal image, you didn’t consider all the contributing factors to building and maintaining that body. Did you think of the training time commitment? How about the dietary habits necessary to support this body? Or did you even know about proper recovery methods, including sleep requirements and skipping social gatherings and activities to recover from workouts?
Bodies advertised in magazines and on social media are often those of competitive bodybuilders and other high-level athletes. Bodybuilders are photographed at unhealthy, extremely low body fat levels, that even they do not maintain outside of the few weeks around competitions. Professional athletes typically carry more fat than bodybuilders, but they also experience stages of lower or higher body fat levels, depending on where they are in their competitive season.
Here’s the real catch, bodybuilders and athletes center their ENTIRE lives around training, eating well, and recovering from training. Outside commitments to family, friends, children, work, social obligations, etc. are minimized or eliminated so more time can be devoted to aesthetics and performance. They often have coaches and dieticians advising them on training, eating, and recovery. Further, they have most likely been practicing these habits since they were adolescents.
Now I ask you, is this the kind of life you want to live? Are you willing to make the same sacrifices to look like someone in a magazine? Does a life of isolation and time spent mostly at the gym, cooking, or at home sound appealing to you? Are you willing to pay for a coach or dietician’s guidance? (Check out this infographic for some examples of the lifestyles and dietary habits of those who are extremely fit).
Marketing and Social Media
Misconceptions around weight loss, safe workout methods, and attainable results are rampant because of advertising, social media, and their associated photos. Fitness industry marketing uses photos of professional athletes, targets the public’s misunderstanding, and works to make money from workout programs, bootcamps, and supplements they KNOW aren’t going to create long-term results. Why? It’s not easy to sell the truth: fat loss that sticks and a strong, capable body that moves well are the result of regularly working out (including both strength training and cardio), eating a diet of quality foods most of the time, sleeping well, and minimizing alcohol or other unhealthy lifestyle choices—over a lifetime.
Marketing promises of “quick results” and suggestive ads featuring bodybuilders and professional athletes feed into individual insecurities and prey on people who are unhappy with their bodies and looking for easy solutions. Cheaper, easier answers are sold instead of truths around how these athletes achieved their bodies. Gyms and trainers who know the truth will continue to sell enticing short-term "solutions" in order to keep people coming through the door.
Truthfully, each person must consider trade-offs they are willing to make to achieve their goal body or level of performance. Instead of hoping the next popular diet or fitness trend suddenly improves your body, be honest with yourself about the lifestyle you want to live. Assess your current routines and habits. What are realistic changes you can make to start moving more and eating better? How can you be more consistent in your efforts? What practices are you are willing to implement for the rest of your life? You can achieve your dream body—just make sure you know what you’re getting yourself into.
Still not sure where to start? Check out my Services page for more information on personal training (Austin, TX) and online personal training or customized training programs.