And again, why are we doing this?

Attitude is everything. Exercising is hard enough, and if you don’t have the right mindset, then odds are you will never achieve what you desire. Choosing to exercise for the sole purpose of hoping you look better in the future does not inspire most people long-term. Focus on now! Workout today to make today better.
-Tony Horton

We all want to look fabulous. Even if you say you don’t care what you look like, you’re probably lying, or at least exaggerating. If you were a hermit living in a cave you might gradually cease to care about superficialities, but if you exist in the real, modern, overly image conscious world I live in and you’re being 100% honest with yourself, you care.

I remember one time, many years ago, making a comment to a co-worker about someone else in our office who was just an epic mess. This was a woman who looked like she combed her hair with a blender, dressed in the same sweatpants/sweatshirt/dirty sneakers ensemble every day. My comment was something along the lines of, “Doesn’t she care at all?” My very wise and astute co-worker responded with, “Of course she does. Her look is just as cultivated as the CEO’s is.”

In that one moment my mind was blown. As an aspiring music writer I’d often talked to other critics/writers about bands whose image was not to have one. R.E.M. was one of the first bands to get a lot of press out of not having an image – in spite of the fact that their look was as coherent and cultivated as The Cure’s. Nirvana and Pearl Jam were the next groups to get lots of ink for being anti-image (at which point this writer guffawed loudly over the people who had been duped yet again). It had never, though, occurred to me that people who look a mess might actually be working pretty hard at that. That when a CEO dons a suit that cost more than my first, second and third cars combined she/he is trying to obviously project power, authority and success, which is supposed to make other people take this individual seriously, is all equally true of the person who cultivates an image of unapproachability and personal randomness by dressing concocting a look for themselves that is deliberately shaggy, whether consciously or unconsciously so.

So, yes, you care about how you look, whether you realize it or not. As Mr. Horton says above though, if superficial desires to “look better” at some unknown point in the future are your reason for dialing in your nutrition or exercising or both, your odds of following through are pretty poor. For one thing, if you’re like I was and you’re significantly overweight, impressively out of shape and getting advice from your doctor that goes something like, “change or die soon,” you’re going to get frustrated by how little your outward appearance is going to change in the short-term.

Our body’s prioritize their work, just like we do ours. As you’re cleaning up your nutrition and reintroducing your muscles to actual exertion, it’s the parts of you you cannot see that will change first. Your heart and lungs are going to get more efficient. Other vital organs will also clean up their act. Your neurological connections between your brain and your muscles are going to re-familiarize themselves with each other. Your digestive system is going to reacquaint itself with actual nutrients and how to process them.

Oh, and when your metabolism gets around to burning your excess stored fat, it’s going to do it in an order that probably has little to do with how you’d plan that work if you had a choice. My point is that if you’re a real mess, like I was, that mess is going to get cleaned up based upon the areas most critical to your health, not most critical to your impending vacation in the tropics.

I got very frustrated by this early on. On the verge of giving up I got a bit of advice from a wise Beachbody coach who told me two things:

1) Just stick with it. Make a commitment to yourself and stick with it.

2) Focus on what you are able to do. Can you lift heavier weights, do more reps, run father, run faster, jump higher? Pay attention to those thing and keep track of them so you can see your progress.

Since then I’ve coached a number of people this way – Form will follow function. If you know someone who can do a lot of pull-ups and push-ups I’m pretty willing to bet he/she looks pretty dang good.

You know though, since I started focusing on function, I don’t care about the form.

6 Responses to “And again, why are we doing this?

  • So we look good naked.

  • Love the article, you hit on a few key points. Thanks for taking the time to share, we appreciate what you do!

  • A great explanation of focusing on the now and the importance of doing your best and forgetting the rest. Thanks.

  • Great article. We all want to look our best, and our best is how we interpret it, not somebody else. As long as we are doing what works for us to live and be happier, that is the true importance. Thank you for sharing.

  • Linda Quakenbush
    7 years ago

    This is a great article. So true and helpful to keep me on track. One day I will get there.

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