I had a really interesting conversation with one of my clients last week, who was telling me about his reasons for wanting me to cook for him.
He wanted to focus on eating well, and eating enough, so that he could keep getting stronger. After spending years fighting his genetics and trying to maintain a physique that simply didn’t tie into his lifestyle, he told me that he wanted to just train to get stronger and fitter rather than think about a six-pack.
Now, while some people would argue that anyone can transform their body (and believe me working at Ultimate Performance I saw a lot of INCREDIBLE transformations) I had to say I had a lot of respect for his decisions to stop fighting his more natural body-type, and set goals that improved his health in a way that fit into his lifestyle.
Let me explain a little deeper.
There’s no denying there are different ‘body types’ – we all have that friend who eats whatever they want and has never gains a pound, and likewise we know that person that’s always on a diet and yet always trying to lose weight.
I’m not saying everything comes down to genetics. But with regards to this particular client, his point was that rather than striving to be lean year-round, he would rather play to his strengths and focus on getting stronger – something he found enjoyable and more natural for his body.
As someone who is naturally well-built and strong, in picking a strength-based goal over an aesthetic goal, he is more likely to stay motivated, to enjoy his workouts and overall to be fitter and healthier because of it. He wants to lose weight, and he inevitably will through his consistent training and improved diet – but because his motivations aren’t ‘to see my abs all year round’ he is more likely to achieve his goals and maintain a healthier lifestyle long-term, because he will stay motivated and positive as he gets stronger and stronger – hitting the goal that he set for himself.
For some people, being lean all of the time is just not the way their body IS. That’s not to say it’s not possible – but for the average person with limited time and motivation to eat well and workout, a better goal would be to run a faster mile, or to eat 2 extra portions of vegetables – as opposed to seeing a six pack twelve months of the year. For a lot of people, that requires a lot of dedication and discipline and if you just need to lose a little weight, or move a little more – this probably isn’t going to be the right goal for you.
Anyway, this conversation made me think even deeper. Why do we constantly want what we don’t have?
Whether we are short wishing to be taller, fair wishing to be dark skinned, curly haired wishing to be straight, brunette wishing to be blonder, lean wishing to be strong and built, or stocky and strong and wishing to be lean… The list is endless.
Isn’t it mad to think that whatever you are, however you were born – someone else in the world wishes they were a bit more like you. That thing you’d love to change, is something the someone else desperately wants.
When I was growing up, the world was obsessed with ‘size zero’ models and being petite was the trend. I never have been and never will be ‘skinny’, and I remember from a young age wishing I was naturally slimmer.
Now everybody wants to be curvier! Today everyone wants a humungous bum, whereas five-ten years ago women were desperate to lose the weight around their rear. The ‘trendy’ role models of today set the standard for what look is ‘in’ and so many of us aspire to fit into that.
But here’s the problem – trends come and go.
Kim Kardashian and Kate Moss are two very different body types, and both have had their time as the most ‘on-trend’ – so if we constantly aspire to fit in with what’s trendy – how will we ever be happy? When the trends are so completely different from one another, it’s never going to be achievable.
So, here’s my solution.
Just be yourself. The next time you set a goal, aspiring to be better – make sure it suits you.
We need to play to our strengths and learn to love what we have – because I guarantee you someone else loves you for you!
Whether your slim friend wishes they had your curves, or your curvy friend wishes they had your waist – your strong mate at the gym wishes they could see their abs and your lean mate wishes they had your muscle mass. We will never be happy constantly comparing to what other people have or trying to follow the latest trend – so take a long hard look in the mirror and start loving what you were born with!
If we can learn to love what we already have, and work on celebrating that as opposed to fighting it all of the time, perhaps we can start to be happier.
Set the bar appropriately. It’s great to aim high, but only if it’s a realistic and sustainable goal.
There’s no point in me aspiring to be skinny, because I will be miserable forever. It would require going against my instincts, my genetics, my natural body type and my lifestyle in general. I’m a chef so I need to taste food, I’m strong and I like to train and aspiring to go against my genetics will only lead me to be miserable, damage my mental health and my self-esteem.
If I’m too busy wishing I had a better hip-to-waist ratio, I’ll forget to love my strong legs. If I’m too busy striving to eat less and see my abs, I’ll never have the energy or strength to go five rounds on pads. If I’m too busy getting jealous about the girl in great shape on the beach, I won’t hear my boyfriend tell me how beautiful I look.
Negatives are always louder than positives, and one nasty comment will overshadow one hundred compliments no matter who they’re from. So, stop playing a negative narrative in your own head, start loving the body you were born with and start setting goals to improve yourself rather than to change yourself.
Be happy with your gifts and embrace all of you – the stuff you love and the stuff you love less.
Change what you can if you really want to when it comes to your health and wellbeing – but don’t try to be something you’re not for the wrong reasons.