Food for Thought

Look Within To Find Your Perfect Body

Look Within To Find Your Perfect Body

By Michael Shaw

Twenty-four years. Almost a quarter century of training clients, writing up nutrition plans, listening to excuses, and banging my head against the proverbial brick wall. 24 years of reading, listening, watching, and testing “New and Rarely used Secrets” for achieving the Perfect Body. 24 years of being a bodybuilder, Spartan racer, triathlete, fiancé, husband, father, ex-husband, fiancé (again), father (again), ex-fiancé, fiancé (yes that’s 3x), husband (this time it’s forever!), and the whole time personal trainer, fitness business owner, and mentor… and what have I learned? The institution of ‘Fitness Professionals’ is failing. Do we all have success stories… clients that leave testimonials on our websites and declare us the latest Guru of body transformation? Of course we do. So if we are all so great, and if you can find more information than ever about working out and eating right as close as the click of your mouse, then why is the populous as a whole in worse shape than ever? Why is there a 97% failure rate for overweight people subscribing to weight loss regimens?

It’s not because the information is wrong. It’s not because the Fitness Experts are giving bad advice. It’s not because you’re not trying. After all these years I can only attribute it to two things.

  1. A lack of connection between the “Gurus” and the end user, and
  2. The irrational propagation of the mostly unattainable “Perfect Body”

I have yet to meet the Authority Figure who looks like his/her audience. Myself included. I think that good intentions are sabotaged from the outset by the subconscious lack of connection to the author of the book, star of the video series, professional athlete with the tip of the day, and personal trainer who is standing over you measuring your success in pounds lost and reps completed. At what point are these experts creating a connection between themselves and your unique personal quest to improve your quality of life. The inspiration has to come from within, from knowing there is a higher level version of YOU that needs to be acknowledged. You need to know beyond the shadow of a doubt that you deserve to feel your best…whatever that “best” means to you. I can’t imagine a 5’6”, 225lb, 40-something-year-old desk jockey in Albuquerque identifying with a super ripped Gym God leading his tanktop clad minions through the latest 27-minute-high intensity interval training video. I know this may sound cheesy but think of Rocky. This fictional character has become a staple of American lore because of his indefatigable pursuit to achieve his potential. At no point was he striving to be someone else. He stared his own obstacles and shortcomings in the eye and said: “I will not let you defeat me.” That is what this is all about. That is the source of my biggest frustration as a trainer and life coach. I recognize your potential and believe in you more than you do. Why? Because I have faced my own failures and shortcomings, and I have stared into the abyss after taking painstaking measures to ensure my own demise, and every time I stood at the very rock bottom of my existence I found the same thing. My truth. My naked soul staring back at me saying, “You know who you are. You know what you can do. Do it. Take a baby step, then another, and another.” That inside voice is a bitch, but he never lies. The question is do you have the nerve to find your truth, to look yourself in the eye, to take that first baby step? I think you do…

Here’s the cold, hard truth; THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS A PERFECT BODY. Cutting out a picture of someone else’s body as the impetus for your workout/diet program is a recipe for failure.  After all, do you tape a picture of Albert Einstein or Stephen Hawking on your refrigerator every time you endeavor to learn something new? I think not. Yet literally millions of airbrushed pictures of surgically enhanced and steroid pumped demigods have been held up as the ideal for a populous that has about as much chance of achieving a Cover Page worthy body as they do of discovering the next Theory of Relativity. What we all should hold up as our ideal is OUR PERFECT BODY. Try the following the next time you set out to the gym and all natural grocery store:

  1. Declare your goals in terms of how you feel, not in terms of lbs or inches
  2. Focus on the things you need to do, not the things you need to stop doing
  3. Write a success plan for the first 16 weeks that details:
  • Scheduled exercise and eating times
  • Materials needed
  • Support group to be enlisted (car pools for kids, dog walkers, training partner, etc.)
  • Method of recording your meals and workouts
  • Scheduled rewards for your efforts
  • Daily 15 minute meditation
  • Your “Why” – the undeniable reason you must stick with your plan
  • Anticipated excuses and the action plan to overcome them
  1. Measure your progress in terms of the intangible –
  • Am I smiling more?
  • Do I feel energized?
  • Are people responding to me more positively?
  • Am I excited about life?
  • Do I feel deserving of all the gifts life has to offer?
  • Do I feel capable of delivering gifts to others?

If you can achieve the items on the checklist above, rest assured my friend, you are well on your way to achieving the Perfect You…Regardless of the shape and size of the vessel in which you travel.

-Michael Shaw is the founder of New York Personal Training in NYC, and currently owns BDG Performance Labs.

His greatest pursuit is to provide this example for his children to follow… “I know who I am and who I can be. And I love them both.”

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