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The Bodybuilding Lifestyle - Barriers to Fitness
I had a good conversation with a friend a couple of weeks ago. He kept going on and on about how easy it is to workout frequently, eat enough, sleep enough, and all the rest. He just didn't understand when I told him how much harder it is to do all of that when you're in school in a hard program with all of those extra responsibilities, or working at a stressful job or worse yet - doing both! I find it tragic that so many motivational speakers say that we can all achieve everything all the time, everytime. It's just so unrealistic. Why not just be honest? So by April of 2004 I'll have a degree. I could have been in better shape if I took the last three years off of school like my friend did and spent the time working more often and working out. Sure, I wouldn't look like him, but I would be ahead of where I am now for sure. Progress is possible regardless of the situation, but let's not deny progress is a lot easier said than done if you have a busy schedule to go along with your training and nutrition program! I will concede it's possible to maintain fitness while in school or while working, or even doing both, all I'm saying is that it's a helluva lot easier when you aren't.
Requirements of Fitness
It isn't a perfect world and I'm sure we all know that, but if it was, what would we all do to achieve our fitness goals? Working hard in the gym is one requirement, but the other requirements (and possibly much harder ones) come outside of the weight room.
What's the goal? Eating six times a day and keeping track of micronutrients and calories is important. Yep. Six times a day - not three. That makes breakfast, lunch, supper and two more meals along with a health shake before going to bed. Crazy. Now how much water? We keep hearing the same thing over and over again - Try for one gallon a day - two is better, but somewhere in between is probably best. Drink water all day long basically (not all at once). Sleep? Oh - about 10 hours a day would be good. Now for the easy part - gym time. How much? Four sessions per week at the length of one hour each should be more than enough for a beginner (you could probably get away with a three day per week split. For someone at the intermediate level, you can push this up to as much as five days a week for one hour per session. Any more than that would probably be too much unless you're using anabolic steroids. So what does all of this equate to? Only around four hours or so of exercise a week and good attention towards diet and nutrition, a lot of water and time management (you need to manage your time if you're sleeping 10 hours a night!). That's it right? Maybe not...
So what holds everyone down from going out there and doing and achieving their goals? What's stopping us?
So many people became interested in working out and weight training while in high school or college / university. How easy is it to consistently weight train in the middle of midterm tests, essays, presentations and all the rest? Sometimes, one course alone is enough to cause me to miss a workout every now and then, let alone the other courses. Not a simple task, that's for sure. Possible? Yes. But planning and doing are two completely seperate issues.
If we could all just live free of expenses things would be great - in fact I bet a lot more of us would be in the gym regularly, watching our diets and doing everything else if it were possible not to work. Some of us would do a lot less, but many of us would be very grateful and manage our time well if we had the chance to keep living our lives as we are now without the added responsibilities a job brings us. It's pretty hard to workout from 4PM to 5PM when you are scheduled to work at that time, isn't it? It's not easy, or very practical either.
Of course it's easy to stop volunteering since it's totally a choice, but part of being an athlete should also include being well rounded and balanced. If you want to volunteer, it would be a shame to have to give that up solely for the purposes of weight training more often or spending more time counting calories. Also, anyone who has volunteered for any length of time is aware of the fact that the only difference between volunteering to do a job, or getting paid for it is just that - pay scale. Quality is expected from all volunteers and dedication of time is a necessity. Volunteer work is great - I know the feeling and I love it, and wouldn't give it up for anything, even if that means missing a workout every now and then.
You see, I wouldn't mention the internet if this article were published in a text magazine or a newspaper. But it's online. You're more than likely reading it off a computer screen right this second. The internet is a valuable resource. It's even a social experience at times too, with all of the chat services and online blogs and forums available. I'm getting e-mails from people daily and the site requires a lot of maintenance. My network administrator has been kind enough to maintain the forum for me and help me in other areas, but the e-mail communication takes up a lot of my time. Keeps me busy, but it's something I definitely have a great time doing. Busy work that I enjoy is good work. I like helping others and I love the internet in general. I need to have it around and so do a lot of you. It's a part of my life, and I'm sure it's a part of yours as well.
This list is far from complete. I would be doing you a disservice if I told you that it was. There is more to interrupt you - much more. You know that and I know that. If it weren't the case, maybe we would all be pro bodybuilders while working and going to school. Obviously, it's not that easy.
So, everything together, we have to realistically ask ourselves if we have the time available to even think about working out. The question is - what is more important - living your life or dedicating yourself to the level required to maintain maximal muscle gains throughout the year. Great muscle gains for a natural bodybuilder would be two pounds of lean mass a month - that equates to 25 pounds in a year, and that number is incredible. Not easy to do, either! Even though one pound every two weeks seems to be an easy goal, it really isn't. Work out and give it a shot. You will be surprised how difficult it can be. But if you do it right, 25 pounds in a year is certainly realistic, and you would be surprised just how much 25 pounds looks like when it's all said and done. Try to envision 25 pounds of beef on your chest - that's a lot of weight! Of course I know the goal is to gain it as proportionately as possible, but I think you get the idea!
I'm busy, you're busy - we're all busy, and we're all in this boat together, although no doubt some people do have a lot more free time than others. You want a lifestyle which allows you time to workout, eat right, and time for everything else - So what are you going to do about it? I know what I'm going to do.
Try Your Best
This has been ingrained in our heads for year - just try your best. Stay motivated and keep on going. Well - I for one am just going to try my best! Being VERY GOOD at something would be easy if I had fewer things to do. With the list above, as well as focussing on fitness, friends & family, I have many things to do and being VERY GOOD at any of them is unrealistic. Being pretty good at all of them is possible, though. Being VERY GOOD at two of them if I only had two things to do would be possible, too, but unfortunately, given my responsibilities, I just can't expect too much. How many people are there who work, volunteer and go to university? LOTS. I'm no different than any of you and that's why I would like to pass on my gems to you. No false promises. No hype - just reality. It's possible to do what you want to do and do it well if you're willing to work at it.
Setting a Minimum Standard
What you should be asking yourself is what you want from this point to the next. Do you want to gain ten pounds of muscle? Lose ten pounds of fat? Both? It's important to set realistic, attainable goals and then decide on a plan to achieve those goals. Just wanting something won't get you there - I know a person who always talks about how much he wants to get out of life and never once thought he should devise a plan to achieve any of this. I guess he expects results to fall out of the sky onto his lap. Why let yourself down like that? Decide on what you want to do, and decide how you want to do it. Believe me - there is no other way.
Keep an Open Mind
Always keep your mind open - be willing to take advice and listen to new ideas. Always be willing to learn more - the second you close your mind and tell yourself you've learned it all - that's when you become a fool. Don't believe me? Well, the choice is yours - if you're open minded - great. If you aren't, stay close minded or open it (my suggestion). It's your life and your decision, but years down the road after keeping your mind closed to new ideas, don't be surprised if I say "I told you so."
Do you see what I mean?
No? Well, you will - trust me.
So, you think you can make progress in your life just thinking that you will? It's possible I guess, but in every case I've ever seen, those people who made progress without an active effort did so merely by coincidence. After spending a long time in a rut, if your problems magically go away without any active effort on your part, don't expect things to stay that way, because more than likely - they won't! Things don't just magically improve through no active effort. Within no time, don't be surprised if the same misfortune hits you again. If you want to improve your current situation - do something about it. Decide what you want to give up for the sake of something else. If working 40 hours a week is stalling your progress, but working 20 hours a week is perfect for you, you have several choices - Work 40 hours a week with no progress, work 20 hours a week with lots of progress, or change another aspect of your life to get the results that you want. This is very important, and it brings us right into our final point.
This is an easy one. I love it - Suck it up! If you aren't willing to make a little sacrifice to achieve your short term goals, then kiss your long term goals goodbye (better sooner than later to save yourself the disappointment).
I say, it's better to be realistic and honest than it is to get your hopes up and be let down sometime down the road. It just makes sense. Or do you thrive on hype and false promises? That is up to you. All I'm here to tell you is that you can do a lot if you put your mind to it - I know you know yourself best, and I wouldn't doubt if even you underestimate yourself. Go ahead - give it a shot, and let me know how it turns out.
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