I want to thank my friend Darren Rueb for the two articles he recently posted that got my creative juices flowing this beautiful Sunday morning. I also want to thank Darren for saying a lot of what I said in my anti-establishment rant about fitness, health and the crap we get fed in society a bit more rationally and calmly 🙂
I figured I’d keep going on those topics and see if I can say what I meant a little more clearly and with less piss and vinegar. Or, at least less vinegar…
Darren’s first article – Fitness Today: How You Measure Up – is essentially a comment on the fitness standards we see all around us and how some of us can have a bit of an inferiority complex depending which side of the spectrum we look toward. If you assume MOST of us sit in the main part of the bell curve we can feel great or awful about ourselves depending which direction we look toward. I’ll argue that those reading this blog and Darren’s stuff will sit a bit further to the right than most, but the vast majority of us will be in that main distribution. If I recall my stats class stuff at all, the hot computer guy and Arnold are going to represent 0.1% of the population EACH and everyone else will be between them with about 70% in the thickest part of the curve – 35% to the right of the line and 35% to the left.
Thanks to JC for the Fat Guy pic!
I won’t go as far as Stuart McRobert and claim that anyone with a bench press of more than 135lbs is a genetic superman who’s also using steroids, but I absolutely will not downplay the genetics thing for a minute.
Regardless of genetics, however, I believe that LIFESTYLE is the single most important – and most overlooked and downplayed – factor in health, fitness, strength and performance. I think a great disservice that occurs in the fitness mainstream – and the media in general – is the downplaying of the importance of lifestyle in building an outstanding, “0.1%” body.
I can vividly recall Flex magazine running pics of Ronnie Coleman in his police uniform – working a claimed 80 hours a week of SHIFT work in the patrol car – while preparing for the Mr. Olympia. Bullshit. Or the old Muscle Media 2000 running pictures of “Dan Gwartny, MD” who supposedly did 100+ hours a week in the ER – while maintaining 4% bodyfat and working out 6 days a week “to relieve stress and stay energized.” Bullshit. Both of those scenarios are obviously impossible – unfortunately, at the time I was reading that stuff I didn’t know better. Some NEVER know better.
While I’m on this topic, I also recall the urban legend that circulated through the science and engineering circles I hung out in during college. Supposedly, there was some guy who worked a full-time job, had a family AND was going to engineering school full time. Of course, he was also pulling straight A’s. Now, no one ever actually SAW this guy. And no one actually KNEW him. They only knew someone who knew him or knew someone who knew someone who knew him… The fact is that MY senior chemistry classes ran pretty much 9-5 Monday through Friday (OK, Wednesday was a light day) and many nights I NEVER SLEPT because I had so much studying to do. Of course, some part of me felt like a loser because I should have also had a full time job and been 250lbs at 3% bodyfat while pulling straight A’s. “All” I managed was a 3.5 GPA with no job, living at home and little weight training and no sleep. What a loser…
I think the frustration of “the guy in the street” is that he thinks he should be able to have that 0.1% body AND do everything else in his life with no problem. This is the image we’re sold in the media. So many people feel inadequate because they think they’re falling short or not working hard enough. Then, they WORK HARDER at EVERYTHING and get even worse results because they get even more fatigued, more scattered, more cortisol, less clear thinking and on and on. I LIVED THIS FOR MORE THAN 10 YEARS.
Seth Godin – who runs THE NUMBER ONE MARKETING BLOG IN THE WORLD – has said over and over again to pick one thing and become the best at it. Here he is saying it in an interview on Technorati.
If you truly are passionate about something, GO DO IT! Don’t believe for a minute that you’re going to be able to do everything all at once. Even Arnold couldn’t do it. He focused on being the best bodybuilder in the world – and succeeded – then he blew up the box office, then he went into politics. He never could have done all 3 at the same time. It would have been impossible. Many have probably tried but we’ll never know, because they never made it…
I think the media likes to promote the “you can have it all” idea for two reasons:
- No one likes to think they might have to give up something to get something else
- Many, many industries thrive on people being frustrated, misinformed and ready for a quick fix or magic pill
If I wanted to be generous, I might even say that many of the hardworking people who make up the mainstream media actually believe that they CAN have it all. They’re functioning under the same delusion. So the delusion just keeps spreading.
Darren’s other article asks the important question: Fitness vs. Money: What’s More Important?
I think this article and some of Darren’s points follow right along with my point on media conditioning. My current view is that you can – and should – have both health and fitness AND money. I think our current society takes an attitude that you can be healthy OR rich. And if you want to be rich you have to work yourself to death in hopes that “someday” you’ll have enough money to do what you REALLY want to do. If you think this way, read “The Four-Hour Work Week” by Tim Ferriss and see why the thinking is flawed. I bought into this flawed thinking for a long time and I’ve already ranted about it a lot 🙂
And, yes, some people are born into money and are able to follow their passion with no worries about paying the bills. But I think that they are few and far between (go back to the Bell Curve above) and that situation comes with it’s own problems.
I’ve read somewhere around 80 self-help/success books to this point and the general consensus is:
- Clearly define your values
- Live by them
- Find what you LOVE to do and figure out how to make money doing it
Tim Ferriss will add to that: Figure out how to make what you LOVE run on autopilot to the greatest extent possible while it’s making you money 🙂