The featured image is a picture of me from fourteen years ago. What you might see on the outside as a well defined and moderately muscled body, doesn’t speak to what’s inside.
I was at my heaviest (240 lbs) two years after this picture was taken (and I wasn’t doing so great six months before the picture either). Running around the block eluded me. I trained with weights and built strength and muscle because I wanted to look like Arnold Schwarzenegger.
So often people think having a great looking body will make us happy, but that’s not why I tell people to eat right and train smart. If you wait for happiness to hit you when your body looks a certain way or when you earn more money, you are going to live unhappy. You might be able to go on a trip and have a good time, but that’s not the same as a lifetime of happiness. Waking up every morning with a smile and always having the hint of a smile on your lips through the day is real happiness. But it won’t come with a tight butt, abs and a wallet full of money. Just ask all the people in Hollywood who are on drugs still searching for that elusive happiness.
It’s not about being beautiful and ripped – it’s about healthy internal organs, ligaments, tendons and bones
A good body is a by-product of good everything else. Looking good is not the reason I think it’s important to be lean and have some muscle, strength, flexibility and joint stability. It’s about your age. As you get older your health slowly declines. How long it takes for your bones, joints, ligaments and internal organs to decline is a direct result of the effort you put in when you are healthy. You don’t want to wait until things go wrong to do something about your health. You have to do it now. That’s what’s important.
It’s great to have goals along the way and I’m completely supportive and enthusiastic about that. I have plenty of goals of my own. I’m more addicted to endorphins than most people. Just don’t forget that aging is a part of life that we all face and you don’t have to accept aging before your time – you can put it off for a while.
If you are forty pounds overweight the reality is your body is going to suffer more than necessary as you get older. You owe it to yourself to work toward being functional and happy because that’s what really matters. You might be able to look back in your life and say you were able to snatch a 50 kg kettle bell. That snatch won’t mean a lot to you if you haven’t addressed your spine issues and your back bothers you every day. Remember, the more athletic you are, the more likely you are to live longer and stave old age.
The exterior is not always congruent with the interior
While I might look okay in the pictures, I am dying on the inside. I did not drop my weight properly and sacrificed a lot of sanity and happiness to look that way. When I got down near competition weight (preparation for a natural bodybuilding competition) I had friends that were encouraging but it didn’t matter to them if I looked that way or not. When I put weight back on it didn’t change anything with them. And the way I lost the weight is a lot like the Paleo fad diet. It’s great to help you lose weight on the outside temporarily but does nothing for you long term. You can’t maintain a diet like that. There is so much more to a long life of happiness than your cosmetic makeup.
Your true north
Make sure you are searching for, or have found, your true north. Link your motivation to your values. If you value a long and healthy life you have to train for it. Take care of all of you. Have fun, making sure it’s healthy fun and not destructive, and wear a smile.
Today I am healthier than I have ever been in my life. I eat well. My family is awesome and more than I could ask for and I try to set the example for my kids with good lifestyle choices. Competing in Obstacle Course racing is my passion and I have a great mix of flexibility, cardiovascular strength, muscle strength and power, mobility, etc. I don’t excel at one thing. I plan to break plenty of world records when I’m in my nineties. While I care about the way I look, I don’t feel the need to obsess about it. For years I have maintained nearly the same healthy weight because I made smart choices over time and I love training.
Find your true north and I think you’ll find the same success.