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Mean In 15

| By: Dr Robert Stevens

“Every champion was once a contender that refused to give up.”  –  Rocky Balboa

Props to Joe Wicks with his Lean In 15 business, packaging a simple idea and making it a commercial success.  Isn’t that true of a lot great ideas?  He’s shown people what to eat and how to exercise, so that they can lose weight and stay healthy in a simple, understandable manner, obeying some simple easy to follow rules.  He’s done a remarkable job and is reaping the rewards of all his hard work.

We all know we need to eat healthily and get regular exercise, but without direction those words are essentially meaningless.  The human mind thrives on structure, you can still be spontaneous and innovative mind, but it’s best done against strong foundations.  Thinking outside the box can inspire change and progress, but you need a solid platform to work from.

Despite there being some men on his website, I’m sure his target audience is primarily females.  I can’t blame him, they are definitely the bigger market.  Dare I say females are also more susceptible?  …to change that is.  Being Lean In 15 is not something that appeals to me, I want to be MEAN in 15!

The bad news is that you can’t be Mean in 15 overnight, this week, this month, or even this year.  It’s a never-ending quest.  Most will falter and fall at the first hurdle, some will make the finish line believing the race is over.  Those that understand what it really means to be healthy have already been preparing for their next race, and even the race after that.  You see, the destination is irrelevant and that’s something most people struggle with.  All that matters is this moment right now.

If one of your New Year’s resolution was to join the gym and you’ve made it all the way into March, congratulations!  If you have already quit or are thinking of quitting, just remember why you started.  Hopefully the major reason for starting is improved health, but it can mean very different things to different people.  Lose a bit of weight?  Get a bit stronger?  Get a beach body for summer?  Walk up the stairs and not be out of breath?  Wobble less?  It doesn’t really matter in the grand scheme of things, you are on the right path and that is what is important.

Our differences are what make us interesting, I think I’m a reasonably cool guy, but a room full of me’s, I’m not so sure!  So, your goal doesn’t really matter as long as you are on the right track and you’ll find that if you achieve that goal, you’ll naturally seek out another one, it’s simply human nature.  But, wanting or wishing to be ‘healthy’ is too vague and therefore unachievable.  Also, if you’ve managed to get down to the gym, or wherever you exercise, and you do the same thing week in week out expecting things to change, then you are deluding yourself.

“The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting it to come out different”

You need to take ownership of your health.  You also need to remind yourself that the diet and fitness industry is ultimately a business, it profits from your hard-earned cash.  If you want to continue to make positive steps and understand this, then you are further ahead than most, there is no quick fix.  Humans thrive on purpose and direction.  We need to set goals, both short term and long term ones.  Realistic and achievable goals.  If something seems ‘too good to be true’, it is more than likely ‘too good to be true’, that doesn’t stop us trying to take the occasional short cut though does it?  How many times has that short cut worked for you?

The number one reason people give up is that they really weren’t that motivated to change in the first place.  Becoming healthy and remaining healthy isn’t a 12 week program, it’s a lifelong endeavour.  It’s a 12 week program followed by another 12 week program, followed by another, and so on…  The health and fitness industry would have you believe otherwise, it appeals to the ‘quick fix’ generation we live in.  The ‘I want everything now’ society, the ‘entitled takers’.  Millions buy into the latest celebrity diet or fitness fad, but there is no substitute for hard work and dedication.  You need to understand that good health isn’t a fad, it’s something that you need to work at every single day.

The commercial diet industry is a multi-billion dollar industry, but not because it improves your health.  It’s an industry that thrives on your failure because it first gives you the illusion that it works, and then that you’ve ultimately failed when you come off of it and go back to your old ways.  It makes you believe you’ve failed.  It is genius!  It’s a wonderful business model.  The psychology behind it is brilliant.  Thanks to the help and support received from these commercial diet industry giants, you lost the weight you had hoped to, but then you come off the diet and put it all back on, despite best intentions.  Perhaps you didn’t revert back to your ‘old’ dietary ways?  Perhaps you just ate a bit more because your body craved more food in order to function?  Either way, your body out-witted you, and so did the diet industry.

Here we go again, a recurring theme in all of my blogs… The body likes balance, it doesn’t respond well to extremes.  Complex physiological processes ensure that balance & homeostasis is maintained.  Interrupt this system and your body will adapt.  You see, the body is brighter than you could ever comprehend.  It will ultimately protect itself so that it can function.  It doesn’t understand that you want to show off your six pack on the beach, it doesn’t understand you want to fit into those skinny jeans… (By the way, skinny jeans on a man is just wrong…  If you train and you can fit into skinny jeans, then you DON’T train, you only think you do!)

You need to take ownership of your own health and what it means to you, don’t leave it in the hands of someone else.  If you work with someone else, say a Personal Trainer, make sure you are driving the changes.  YOU are the boss, they are just there to help and support you in achieving your goals.  They can help you identify what your goals are, but they are ultimately there to support you, not do the hard work for you.  They are YOUR goals!

If you recognise that an aspect of your life needs attention, then there is no time like the present to make those adjustments, you don’t need to wait for the New Year.  Modern society is lackadaisical, it has no backbone, there are no awards for 13th place!  I understand why some liberal vegan pacifist has insisted that little Tarquin doesn’t feel excluded because he came last, but it isn’t going to help in this hard cruel world.

We still live by the principal ‘survival of the fittest’, it may seem very diluted in this the modern ‘civilised’ world but it’s still at the core of everything we do.  It’s a concept that on the surface means every person should have a sense of worth, but it’s not something I subscribe to.  In fact, I think this acceptance of mediocracy, so that no child feels inadequate, is actually damaging society.  Failure should hurt, it is a negative feeling that you should learn from and force you to adapt.  True strength comes from within, it’s how we deal with this that defines us.

“If you can meet with triumph and disaster and treat those two imposters just the same…”  –  Rudyard Kipling

Admittedly, winning isn’t everything, but the sense of fulfilment you get from achieving your goal after working hard to achieve it releases Dopamine, the pleasure hormone in your brain.  That is your reward.  The brain is a computer, a highly-sophisticated intricate computer that we have only a very basic repair manual for.  Sure, we know a lot, but we don’t know enough, especially when it comes to psychological problems, but in essence it all boils down to the chemicals floating around in our brain.  What makes one person happy does not necessarily make another person happy, but the same chemicals are involved.

The brain has been learning since week 12 in the womb, taking on information and assimilating it.  I’m always talking about balance when it comes to health, that means psychological as well as physical.  All too often we ignore the psychological… we are all strong, we are all invincible, we are special.  We’ve been conditioned to not accept failure, yet our failures are what make us strong.  As with most things, it’s all a matter of perspective.

“I can accept failure, everyone fails at something. But I can’t accept not trying.”  –  Michael Jordan

The thing is, you need to earn that feeling, to want to just be ‘healthy’ is too vague.  So, you’ve made it into the gym…  Checking in on Facebook that you are ‘at the gym’ and somehow wishing health can be obtained through osmosis just isn’t going to cut it.  You need a program.  What are you trying to achieve?  All round athleticism?  Sports-specific training?  Strength?  Power?  Speed?  Endurance?  I’ve amassed a lot of knowledge over the years, yet I’ve still made some mistakes.  Hell, I’m still making some!  You are never an expert, if you proclaim to be one, you’re almost certainly not.

The second most common reason for failure is nutrition, whether it be too much, too little, the wrong foods etc.  You really can’t out exercise a bad diet, believe me I’ve tried.  An obvious analogy would be ‘you wouldn’t put diesel in a petrol car now would you?

The third is lifestyle.  If you’re burning the candle at both ends, you are probably doing more harm than good, the hormone Cortisol is probably breaking down all your hard work as we speak.

Last but not least, there may be a medical reason you are not progressing as well as you’d hoped.  The primary focus of The Men’s Health Clinic is addressing low testosterone, but we also look at overall health and tailor our treatment plans to your individual needs.  We WILL help you attain health, and support you on your journey.

“No man has the right to be an amateur in the matter of physical training. It is a shame for a man to grow old without seeing the beauty and strength of which his body is capable.”  –  Socrates

Dr Robert Stevens MBChB MRCGP Dip.FIPT