Man up or man out

Man up or man out

It’s amazing how many excuses people have for being overweight and unfit: “I don’t have time”, “it’s too hard”, “it’s too cold outside”, “everyone else is lazy so why bother?” When you make one excuse after the other, you’re not letting anyone but yourself down. The fit people don’t care if you’re still overweight and unhappy. The only way to move forward and incite change is to cut the crap and just do it.

It takes supreme dedication to have the bodies of celebrities or bodybuilders. Last weekend my trainer finally competed in the ANB Asia Pacific International. In the weeks leading up to the comp, he ate nothing but chicken, green beans and sweet potato. All while doing four hours of cardio a day plus two hours of lifting.

As you can imagine, it takes a crazy amount of discipline to never stray from such an extended restrictive diet. When I asked him what he did for fun during pre-comp prep, his reply was “well, sometimes I eat while I do my cardio”. Of course, this kind of lifestyle sounds miserable for most to enter into voluntarily, and I’m not suggesting that you live like this starting tomorrow. The point I’m trying to make is that next time you’re complaining that not having chocolate every day is too hard, think of this man who inspires the hell out of me.

Excuse 1: I don’t have time
You do have time. I go to the biggest gym in the Sydney CBD, which has thousands of members. After work it’s impossible to move in there but in the mornings there are only ever a handful of people working out. More people need to be getting their workouts done first thing in the morning. Get over the fact that you have to get up early and don’t even give yourself the option of hitting the snooze button. Consider the gym as essential as going to work, and you will never miss a workout.

If you have to, work out after work. Be mindful of the fact, however, that it is much more easy to skip out on an evening workout for more of the same meaningless excuses: “I’m too tired”, “I have more work to do”, “I’ve had a hard day and I just want to go crash on the couch with a block of chocolate”. Your health is one of the most important things in the world and should be a non-negotiable priority.

Excuse 2: It takes too much effort
People I meet often call me a freak for doing so much exercise. I lift weights five times a week for an hour, walk to and from work every day (35 minutes each way) and do either a yoga or a dance class three times a week. On the weekends, I do about 90 minutes of cardio each day.

Personally, I think that’s pathetic. Human beings spent thousands of years learning how to walk, only to spend eight or more hours a day staring at a computer screen. We used to spend most of the day on our feet, and yet people are in awe of me because I get off my butt for just two or three hours a day?!

Many people get disheartened because they jump headfirst into a workout programme, going from zero to slamming themselves in the gym five days a week, lifting as heavy as possible or running as fast as they can. When their body is aching and in shock, of course the natural thing to do is to pull away from the source of that pain. Be sensible: start with 30-40 minute workouts three times a week and build up from there. Take it easy and allow yourself to make progress without burning yourself out.

Excuse 3: It’s too expensive
There is a big misconception that eating healthy is expensive. Junk food may be cheap, but that’s because it is junk.  Fill your trolley with in season vegetables, meats, eggs, oatmeal and brown rice. I promise you it will be cheaper than your average bill, and a lot better for you too.

If you can’t afford a gym membership, buy some dumbbells to use at home and take advantage of the footpaths outside. My gym membership is $25 a week, which is definitely on the more expensive side, but I’m willing to make an investment in my body and I encourage you to do the same.

Excuse 4: My family won’t want to eat healthy
I’m lucky that I have an extremely supportive husband who is 100 per cent on-board with my health and fitness and inspired me to get into it in the first place. I hear so many women say they want to be fit, but their husbands don’t want to eat ‘rabbit food’. That is complete crap.

If you are the main chef in your house, anyone who eats your cooking will have no choice but to adjust to what you’re eating, make their own food or starve. And if you really love them, you’ll stop letting them put bad food into their body. Stop looking at food as something pleasurable and view food for what it is: fuel.

Excuse 5: There is too much conflicting information
This is the only legitimate excuse of the above, and yet it can still be overcome. What people need to understand is that results take time; there is no quick fix. To look the way I want, it’s going to take years. When I tell people that I’m currently on a year-long training plan, their eyes widen in horror. They are too impatient to realise that eating healthy and being fit is a lifestyle – not a temporary band-aid. The problem is that the industry exploits everyone’s desire to lose weight quickly, designing  an ever-expanding range of pills, shakes and fad diets.

It will take the average person years to look like this!

The second you return to your ‘normal’ diet, I guarantee you will regain all the weight you lost and, most likely, a few extra kilos. These diets cannot be adhered to every day for the rest of your life. There is no secret. I follow a simple rule: if it isn’t something that grows from the earth and is left in its natural state, don’t eat it. I see girls eating Weight Watchers cookies, muesli bars and even ice cream. If you are serious about losing weight there is no place for these types of foods in your diet.

It’s not complicated, but I agree that it can sometimes be confusing. There is a new trainer at my gym, who I recently overheard giving very bad advice to two young girls. She told the girls that all they needed to do was cardio (which they have been doing for months without losing any weight, by the way). Her nutritional advice was as follows: Listen your body and eat what you want. If you’re hungry, eat. If you want McDonalds, have it – just try not to have it every day. Take the weekends off and eat and drink what you want. Um, really?!

A word of warning: if you take any of this advice, you will most definitely gain weight. Don’t look at a lifetime of eating healthy as a lifetime of deprivation. So many people find any excuse they can to eat junk food, claiming that life is short and such foods should be enjoyed. Life is short – too short to be filling your body with crap. You can do anything you set your mind to.

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