There is a species of gym-goer that must be addressed, and this article is meant for exactly that person. Is that person you? Are you a mom who has tried to be fit mom, a man who has tried the fitness workout of the week in your muscle mag, or that chick that diets and cardios herself like crazy to be the ultimate fit chick?
For years and years you have been told by many fitness articles, hot fit workout pictures, instructional workout videos, and so on, not to be that gal/guy who will work out hard, but not smart. You are taught to grind out workouts, but never really made to understand a pragmatic approach to your personal fitness to make any progress. The saving grace of that gal/guy is that she/he does workout hard and keeps at it. Being that gal prevents people from ballooning up to a bloated version of no energy, saving us from our own DNA, yet, it does not teach us how to be optimal with even less work than the “that gal/guy approach.”
The gyms of the world are not only filled with that gal/guy, the gyms of our world, especially in American fitness culture, they are filled with the blood and money-sucking fitness vampires whose biggest concern is customer retention rather than your best and most practical approach to fitness. Their advice is more of a strategy most often delivered with the intention of giving you the most impractical approach to fitness advancement, so that you will be chasing your tail and ever-spending as you chase your quest for the better physique. On top of it, society is telling us women, “Hey, if you’re too muscular, you’re too manly.” Hence, “that gal” syndrome ensues.
That girl says “I don’t want to get too muscular.” The key word being “too.”
What that girl (which describes 90% of the women who own gym memberships) doesn’t realize is that muscle burns fat, and you won’t gain it doing 2 hours of cardio every day. I’ll return to this point and complete it shortly, but keep it in mind and read on.
First off, when you go to a gym, the sales people are not trainers, and the trainers are salespeople. Remember that. Most especially in corporate fitness facilities, you will see this business model because it is the foundation and driving force of fitness industry revenues in a gym. Gyms are businesses, and the people who run them have to do good business to keep up with the competition.
Now I’m not saying you should view corporate gyms with a paranoid perspective of conspiracy, but what I am saying is that it is important to learn to think for yourself when it comes to advancement of your own personal fitness. It is important as fitness consumers to stay informed on not only the latest or oldest tried and true technologies, but it is just as important to improve with what TRULY works for each of us individually. Everyone is different, but yes, there are some rules of thumb for everyone in fitness that are universal. As well, you will notice that those universal fitness truths are contrary to a lot of the workouts that we are instructed to do in the “business” of fitness.
Again, fitness industry business moguls are not the enemy. They are what they are. We need to be responsible fitness consumers and practitioners and actually learn what works for us and work smarter to get there. For instance, men, there is more to life than that pompous trainer who insults you during workouts happens to state. Ladies, no, there is no such thing as a woman being “gross” or “masculine” because she has muscle.
In fact, when women see me in a fitted dress, they all compliment the way I look. No woman likes having cellulite or flabby arms. Women love backless clothes and pretty dresses, but we loathe back rolls and bra roll fat hanging over.
We want to be fit moms, fit chicks, fit hotties. We all want something like this. It’s inviting, energizing and we live a fuller, more expressed life in a fit state. We have the energy to.
When you have a leaner physique (yes, with muscle) you do not struggle with these things. Muscle on women is good, “too much” muscle is unattractive, but yes, again I’ll say it, muscle on women is good.
There is a great response to that girl. “If you ever get leaner than you want, or more muscular than you want, that is an easy problem to solve. Eat more fat and carbs, cut back on the training a bit.”
The “I don’t want to get too muscular” line is a psychological defense mechanism to justify training and dieting half-assed. It is a method of self sabotage- an excuse to fail and a reason to do it the way that the magazines and fitness DVD’s instruct us to. For whatever reason, we are afraid of thinking for ourselves and taking the alternative routes to test what is best for us.
That girl likes working out. She enjoys going to the gym. She would like to look like a fitness model or just a lot better than she appears now, but she is not sure how to do it or even if she can do it. So, she constructs an internal monologue, “I want to be in-shape, in better shape than most women, but I don’t want to get too muscular.”
The fear is not in becoming too muscular, the fear is aimed from and at a disappointment in herself. But, if she makes it okay to fail, if she makes okay to not achieve her goals, then she will not be disappointed in herself. Sound twisted? It is, and it’s confusing. It’s so bamboozling that we just give up altogether whereupon we can escape back to our so, so health with the reasoning that justifies it. On top of that, we can feel better doing it like our co-workers who bring bagels to work and drink beer after work. We can get “comfortable” again, sitting in the bowels of mediocrity and non-compelling drive that requires us to think more. After it is said and heard enough times, it becomes true.
To overcome the psychological self sabotage, you must be honest. I looked at pictures of the top fitness models when I was a chubby girl, and I had to be honest with myself at some point. I was capable of being that fit, but I was just not willing to do what it took to achieve it. That admission of my fitness mindset freed me to achieve a lesser goal, and I then could realize, “Ok, I am being mediocre about my health. I feel like crap, and I am actually willing to half-ass it here, not think for myself, and just sit with my own lame energy.”
Once I admitted it, my journey began. I was actually thinking for myself right then, rather than being a rat following the scent of cheese only to find out it was a foam object set in a trap. Our lack of thought allows us to live in illusions and maintain a level of complacency that will never allow us to be progressive in our health and fitness. We continue relying on the masses (which are driven by philosophies that will have us chasing our tail), and we do the 2 hours of cardio a day and a bunch of aerobics classes, and then we are dumbfounded at our lack of progress, so we eat more, and eventually, we work out less, and ultimately we get worse.
The root of this psychological defense mechanism is the fear of failure. Because we are often afraid to fail, we set an incredibly high standard, determine it cannot be reached, come up with excuses it cannot be reached and don’t even try. The only way to change this is to think for ourselves. Try learning to adapt to your own individual fitness needs by measuring your body’s response to certain workouts. If you want to get more fit, live longer and play with your grandkids in the park without breaking a hip, the key to your best fitness is in thinking for yourself. Study, Do, Observe your body’s response, and Progress accordingly.
Be well, Be You, BE PHENOMENAL.
-Nita Lee Marquez
Fitness Empowerment Author
Miss National Fitness
IFBB Pro Fitness Athlete
Proud Mother of Three