Webster’s defines health as, “the condition of being sound in body, mind or spirit; especially: freedom from physical disease or pain.” In just a few short days, gyms across the country will be flooded with people (many of them for only about a month or so) engaging in the annual New Year’s quest of creating a new, happy, healthier-looking body in 2014.
First, let me say that health, wellness, fitness, etc. are all relative terms and depend solely on an individual’s perception. What is healthy to me may not be healthy to you. Further, health and fitness are not the same by any means. If you have no health issues or pain of any kind but cannot get up off of the sofa without grabbing your own head to lift it off the pillow – you are not fit. By the same token, if you can dead lift 600 pounds, run a sub-5 minute mile, and perform 50 consecutive wide grip chin ups on a 4010 tempo, but you have cancer – you are fit, but not healthy.
My personal definition of health is as follows: an individual can be deemed healthy if s/he is capable of living his/her life according to his/her own truths and principles; as well, one must view his/her life as one with meaning and purpose while optimally integrating the elements of mind, body, and spirit. That is my definition and it may or may not be a far cry from what your definition of health is.
What Do People Want?
Being in the health, fitness, and rehabilitation industry since 1999, I have been fortunate to learn a thing or two. One of the things that I have learned is that most potential clients and people in the general population are solely after improving the way they look. In other words, people want to look better naked. It does not matter that they have headaches, chronic sleep deprivation, disc pathologies, blood-sugar problems, joint instabilities, gut dysfunction, parasite infections, blown shoulders, torn knee ligaments, cranio-facial pain, neuropathies, central nervous system problems, etc., etc., they simply want to feel great about what they see when they look into a mirror. I have mentioned in previous posts that I am all for being motivated to make radical body transformations, as most people think that if someone is “fit” that s/he is also healthy and that they must be “fit” in order to be “healthy.” The issue at hand here is whether or not people know what it really takes to make the type of body transformations they seek?
What It Really Takes
When I ask audiences that I speak to what they believe the number one contributing factor to successful body transformation is – I typically get one of two responses: (1) Discipline or (2) Consistency. These are great answers, but in my opinion they only scratch the surface of what it really takes to make a real body transformation successful.
Most feel that in order to create that new body, they have to have a great training routine that they religiously stick to week in and week out. Though this is true, training is only one piece of the body transformation puzzle. Training is definitely important, but along with the training routine, someone requires proper hydration, the correct nutrition and supplementation, adequate rest and recovery, proper stress reduction techniques, and perhaps above all of that – living a lifestyle that is actually conducive to building muscle and losing fat.
Not to make it sound more difficult than it is, but creating a new body is not something you can focus on for a few training sessions in a week, or for a few meals per day.Creating a new body is literally a 24/7 commitment. Why? Because everything you think, say, and do, impacts how your body is going to look. There is no aspect of your life that does not have an effect on what you see in the mirror. I will say that again – there is no aspect of your life that does not have an effect on what you see in the mirror.Therefore, yes – mindset and discipline are important, but we are still on the surface of what it really takes to make real, lasting body transformations.
Discipline is Outdated
If you peel the layers of the onion back a bit, you will find that there actually is no such thing as discipline. Yes, you read that correctly – I said there is no such thing as discipline. Rather, there is only Love. World renowned strength coach Charles Poliquin wrote an article entitled The Myth of Discipline where he explains this concept very eloquently. Basically, it all boils down to what you truly love. Either you are in love with your Self and the new body that you desire, or you love cupcakes, donuts, lattes, etc. more. That’s it. It is really not that complicated. What you love is what you are going to be truly willing to work for.
In my experience, most people love lots of things and the majority of those things are outside of themselves. They struggle with making decisions for themselves because of that. As an example, how many mothers do you know who have completely lost themselves in their role as mother? I know a lot of them. Every decision they make is based on the wants and perceived needs of others (their children, a spouse, family, co-workers, friends, etc.) and this has them sacrificing themselves as a result. They are always at the bottom of their own priority list. This will produce a progressive energy drain on the vital systems of the body leaving the mother with no energy left to invest in her wants and her needs. This kind of behavior can lead to an individual who harbors a tremendous amount of resentment towards Self and others. They want to invest the time and the energy to train and eat properly to create a new body but they “don’t have time because of my kids.” This is usually where I share with them the simple truth that you can only be as good to others as you are to yourself. How can you take a gallon from a 10-ounce cup? The answer is….you can’t. Now, before I get slammed with e-mails from parents – no, I am not a parent, so I have no practical experience to speak of when it comes to children. My lack of parenting experience has no bearing on the fact that you cannot give what you do not have. How effective of a parent can one really be if s/he is tired, irritable, angry, resentful, depressed, never invests in themselves, and is generally unhappy all the time?
So What is the Real Question
What is it that you really love? Ultimately, as my mentor Paul Chek has taught me, self-esteem equals changeability.The more self-esteem, or Self Love someone has, the easier they are capable of making changes, particularly when those changes have them doing things that go against “herd” mentality. The less Self Love someone has the less apt they are to make positive and loving changes for themselves – so they stay in relationships that they hate and keep jobs that make them miserable for years and even decades. That, by any definition, is not healthy. This is an important point that has immense carryover into being able to create a body transformation of any kind.
So when you go to a restaurant and decide to order a steak with grilled vegetables and request that your vegetables not be grilled with some synthetic, genetically modified oil in favor of real butter and you request your steak to be cooked without seasoning so that you can add your self-brought organic Celtic Sea Salt and cracked black pepper to it, while everyone else is ordering fried chicken fingers with mashed potatoes and gravy with extra gravy, French fries, and a diet coke, do you Love your Self enough to not give a rat’s ass about all of the flack that you will likely take from the others at the table? Can you hold to your decision in the midst of ridicule, or will you fold like a tent and give in to the pressure of the “herd.” In accordance with my personal definition of health given in the first paragraph, a “healthy” person can easily “stick to their guns” and will let the “herd” think what they want.
Being honest with who you are and with what you really want is what it will take to transform your body. If your desire to create a new body is backed by Love, nothing can stop you from creating it. Love is the most powerful and transformative energy in the Universe and it dissolves any fears or roadblocks to success. It is a lack of Self Love that has so many people running from diet to diet, seeking the next miracle supplement or fitness gadget that will melt the fat off of their body with “no change in diet or exercise habits” – I love that one (pardon the pun). Bottom line – they do not love themselves enough to make greater loving decisions for themselves.
Always ask the question – “What would love do?” If you are trying to create a new body and you go to the gym and are debating whether to do chin ups or lat pulls downs, what would a loving and compassionate expert tell you to do?Chin ups of course. Front squats or leg extensions? Front squats – without question.
Success Through Selfishness
Caroleen Jones has coined something called the 15% Rule. I am a huge proponent of this rule. She states that 15% of the hours that you spend awake in any given day should belong to yourself. Therefore, if you typically wake up at 6 a.m. and go to sleep around 10 p.m., a little over 2 hours in each day needs to be devoted to your Self and doing things that you love and that will bring you joy. These are to be activities that are to be solely for your benefit and no one else’s. I can share with you how I spend my 15% – in the gym, meditating, and reading/learning. Those are the things that I enjoy that are for me and no one else (though it can certainly be argued that my clients benefit from my learning, but hey, hopefully you get my point).
Personally, I feel that devoting 85% of your time to others and only 15% of your time to things that make you happy does not even qualify as being selfish, but so few of us adhere to the 15% Rule that when we come across someone who actually does – s/he is labeled as selfish. It is only out of a Love for Self that Love for anything else can really manifest. Sadly, many people feel that making themselves a priority is somehow “wrong.” Nothing could be further from the truth.
So How Do You Change Your Body?
If you are looking for a new aesthetic appeal, you will need to feed the cells of your body thoughts of Love and gratitude, in addition to clean, organic food and clean water, along with a properly designed exercise program, the right amount of sleep, blah, blah, blah. Getting in touch with your Self will also help you find your weight loss solution. You can begin the process of loving your Self in the following ways:
Figuring out what makes you happy. Many of us struggle with this. An easy way to do this is to sit quietly in a room alone and meditate on this question, “What would I do if I knew I could not fail?” Or, “If money were no object, what would I do?” In many cases (but not all) the answer to these questions is usually what will make you happy. Do more of the things that would have you reach that goal and you are on what Taoists call “the way.”
Accept the truth that your decisions and actions have created the body (and Life) that you have today. This is difficult for many because there is nothing more exquisitely pleasant than to place blame on something outside of yourself for the way you look (genetics, thyroid problems, etc.) Caroline Myss, PhD, states that a truly healthy individual is one who can look back on all of their past experiences with gratitude. By that definition, not many of us are truly healthy, but it calls for you to be grateful for your past actions and accept that these actions happened in your past. It all happened for a reason – to teach you a very important lesson and to bring you back into your Self and to help you progress to your next level of development at the appropriate speed. You would be well served not to make decisions based on your past. What is important is what you do with the energy of now.
Next, you must forgive yourself now that you have accepted what has happened. Until you can forgive yourself for your own actions and reactions, there is still a “thing” in your way of achieving that ideal body that you want. This “thing” has energy; it still attracts consciousness and will continue to create a reality until it is resolved. You must decide that your past has no power over you. Today is new, a day for new decisions, new thoughts, and new habits.
Be grateful for the wonderful positive people, circumstances, and objects in your life today. Every night write a list of 10 things for which you are most grateful. You can call this a Grateful Log. Read this first thing when you wake up as a reminder of all that you are grateful for. It is also helpful to find something that you do like about a body part that you desire to change and focus on the love that is there.
Love how you look. Realize first that the body you currently have is the only vehicle you get to navigate this physical journey we call life. Since it is the only one you get, you would be well served to love it now – in its entirety – exactly as it is. Your physical body does not even belong to the “you” that you know. Try this little exercise: Hold your hand up in front of your face. Now ask yourself, whose hand is this? Meditate on your answer for a while and see where it takes you.
The people around you, your spouse or partner, friends and family do not interact with your physical body. They interact with your Soul. As Pierre Teilhard de Chardin once said, “We are not physical beings having a spiritual experience; we are spiritual beings who are living a physical experience.”
BE SELFISH ENOUGH TO LOVE YOUR SELF! Realize that loving your Self – contrary to popular belief – is the most unselfish thing you can do! As stated earlier, you simply cannot give what you do not have. As you learn to love your Self, you will also serve as a shining example for others to be able to travel that same journey to Self love and release their shame about their own bodies and come to peace within themselves. As Gandhi has stated, you must, “Be the change you wish to see in the world.”
By having more love for your Self, I have no doubts that you can create whatever kind of body you so desire. So…………..how much Love do you have?
Yours in Health and Happiness,
Brandon J. Alleman