“I’ll start again next Monday and that’s it, this time, results!” We’ve all said it; lied to ourselves, uttered false senses of hope, even allowed self-brainwash that after this last plate of indulgence, it’s on. Things will change. We’ve thrown away or at least hidden away our fat clothes, cleaned out the garbage from the fridge, purchased amazing new adipose-burning supplements, subscribed to every fitness magazine and even committed to 30 sessions with a trainer.
And then that next fated Monday comes and we haven’t lost a pound of fat, our jeans seem even tighter and online shopping at the fat store may actually become a reality. Our mood is down, our dreams unreachable and a solo trip to the movies coupled with concession goodness seems to be the closest thing to a hug.
Why the two steps back, one-step forward eternal dance? Why the yo-yo syndrome of repetitive gaining and dropping of weight? If indeed the shortest distance between two points is a straight line, why then are we running in circles?
I’m here to remind you that this negated confusion happens to us all. Even the greatest trainers in the world at one time or another suffered from chaos and confusion as to achieving our physique goals. Again, it happens to us all. It has hit even me as your personal trainer/guru and one very prominent example that sticks out in my mind was back in 1995 when I was finished with competitive bodybuilding. Yes it’s true that at 19 I “retired” from the sport that I held so dear. After coming off the high of winning a national title, following my week-long binge of food, I did what I had always done – constructed my plan for next year’s contest season. Weak points were targeted, diets including more quality calories (to build new tissue) were etched in stone and absolute precise workouts based on fact, not theory were my brick and mortar. But then one day, I put a big X through the plan as I realized, competitive bodybuilding and my assault on the Mr. Olympia title had passed me for another passion.
And yet, after all of the years of eating high amounts of protein (to build and hold onto lean muscle tissue), low-fat and moderate low-glycemic carb intake (to fuel and harden my body), the marathon cardio sessions (I’m chafing just thinking about it) and the tons and tons of weights lifted (which I knew would either toughen my skeletal structure like that of Wolverine or crush it like Terminator tanks rolling over skulls – nice imagery, I know), I didn’t know how to carry on, or rather eat. And so I ballooned up.
Yes it’s true; One day I would eat enough fuel to run Los Angeles county and then hardly a crumb the next. My body, in desperate need of homeostasis (a constant state of being) simply made a decision to store the excessive energy as fat and so I was! Looming questions haunted me daily: How do I eat? How do I fit in my jeans? How do I get a date?
And then after clearing the fat section in my closet and looking down at my ongoing collection of published articles, I realized I have control over this situation. In fact, my body is perhaps the one thing I do have command over in this universe. And so, the wheels (previously stuffed with fat) began to turn and I constructed my plan of regaining my body and becoming lean! I decided to up the ante when I put the challenge to my then boss (publisher for 3 fitness magazines) at the time that if I could indeed arrive in condition that he provide a layout in the magazine with me as its subject instead of its author for a change.
It felt as if Master Yoda himself was telling me “You must unlearn what you have learned.” And so a new plan based on less food, circuit-based training and so on was forged. The result was a shirtless body that anyone walking the highly competitive West Hollywood area would be proud to display.
And then about 5 months later, it happened as my boss called me into his office to show off the final product. And indeed the layout was very good, more than generous in space allotted and photographs assigned, and except for the fact that the entire article was bordered with a pink background, I was truly happy.
By now you may be wondering three things: pink – doesn’t surprise me, why stop competing and HOW CAN YOU HELP ME?
The first thing I want each and every one of you to accept (as I once did) is that it is your doing. That’s right, your current state (physically speaking as it pertains here) is a result (or lack of) your efforts in the gym and dinner table. It’s not the magazine’s fault, your trainer’s fault, the economy, etc. All of us are the ones that turn actions into results.
I absolutely love the fact that (barring genetics) we have complete mastery over our bodies and needn’t accept our current selves (if unsatisfied.) Each and every week I encounter new persons who seem to go through the motions in the gym or simply spend too much time there in an effort to tighten up for that weekend’s trip to Palm Springs or Vegas or what have you. And I remind them, though their intentions are good, they are akin to cramming for a big test where chances for a passing mark are, slim.
What follows is my top ten list of actions that are guaranteed to change your mindset and get YOU back on the path toward physique achievement.
1. CHANGE – “If you do what you always done, you get what you always got” says Ronnie Coleman 8X Mr. Olympia. Not happy? Change something!
2. INCREASE – Put maximum effort into each set in the gym, hammer the nail in the wood with just one or two swift and accurate strokes and the job is done. Then do your cardio and get out of the gym.
3. FACT – Get your facts right. Is a banana really the best breakfast for creating long-term energy or will something that burns slower like oatmeal provide more sustained energy for your workout?
4. PLACEMENT – Weights first, cardio after. Why? Cardio depletes too much energy for proper completion of the weights. Cardio should be thought of as elevating one’s metabolism throughout the day, not in burning calories. Weights are used to firm and strengthen the body. Using only one is incomplete and foolish.
5. ROUTINE – Routine is just that. If you’d rather go to Hebrew School or the equivalent instead of completing your workout, at least in my mind, there’s a problem. A new body part split, new exercises, new equipment, and new ipod track list will help prevent stagnation. In short, your physique efforts must not be routine.
6. SINK THE TITANIC – That’s right, stop lying to yourself and over promising only to ALWAYS come up short. Set short-term, realistic goals for yourself AND add a cheat meal here or there or purposeful indulgence will be guilt-free and much appreciated on your body and mind-set.
7. ROSES NOT WEEDS – Surrounding yourself with good food, good equipment and good people will support your gym efforts infinitely.
8. FIND YOURSELF A HOBBIT – As a child, the animated Lord of The Rings movies spoke to me for one line of dialogue in particular. As Samwise desperately seeks to reunite with his master Frodo, Gandalf the Wizard over voiceover tells us, “He would try over and over, 1000 times if necessary to free his beloved Frodo from the tower of the Orcs.” Another phrase that motivates me is a line taken from a 2Pac song, “If you choose to apply yourself, go against the grain and you’ll get the riches and the fame.” And lastly Rocky himself who uttered in the last rendition of the famed series, “If you know what you’re worth go out and take it.” The power and motivation embedded within those quotes flow through my body like blood, providing everlasting strength and clarity.
9. TELL THE TRUTH – Is your methodology truly working? Have you arrived at the pearly gates of physiquedom? Listen not to what you may falsely tell yourself or even loved ones who mean well, but rather the mirror-mirror on the wall who is compelled to always reveal the truth. Are you using too much weight such that ancillary muscles take over the lift? Is your range of motion shorter than A Hobbit? Tell the truth.
10. FIND A CASINO – For me a viewing of this 1995 De Niro/Scorsese collaboration was literally an epiphany and my answer to what to do after my bodybuilding career was over. I’ve been penning movie scripts ever since and am now on my 8th feature. For those of us lucky enough to be blessed with a passion, you owe it to yourselves to go after it. As I’m sure many of you can relate, I’ve been lied to, stolen from, used and the like but no matter what, I will achieve my lifelong dream of one day having my screenplay produced!