I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free. Michelangelo
Most of us know of this famous quote. It is a favorite of woodcarvers who see a deer in the wood, removing everything around it which is not a deer. Also, it could be one of honor students who highlight the important line in a paragraph, knowing that the rest can be ignored in preparation for the exam.
How many of us think that this has anything to do with fitness? Probably not many. Most of us believe that getting into shape has merely to do with following a set of exercises recommended in one of the many how to training books It also has to do with taking the latest multi-vitamin which the media says is good (Centrum, for best current example. )And, it has to do with cutting down on our food intake without giving up any of our favorites.
That is how we try getting into fitness. That is what we do in January, resolving to make this year the one in which we will lose the wanted weight. We all know that this good and that it is going to work. But it very seldom ever does. Why?
First, the exercises recommended in the standard fitness book are good for theoretical people, not real ones. They may be good starting points, but they are little more. We all know what we do best. That is what we should do, not what someone else says. But we think some fitness authority knows better, largely because he or she looks better on the cover than we do in the mirror. Second, the standard, much praised vitamin pill (now Centrum) may have close to the minimum daily vitamin requirement for a few nutrients, but lack even minor amounts of others which serious athletes would never be without. Too, it is the standard pill for mildly active people, not highly active ones-those who never miss their daily workouts. Further, the labels do not advise having a test to determine nutrient levels already in the system-something which would expose deficiencies if they were there. Third, the standard American daily diet is not only too many calories to begin with, but in most cases loaded with sugar and fat. In short, cutting down the quantities is but a baby step in the right direction. Really, most, if not all of these favorite foods should be replaced by healthy ones.
These realities are part and parcel of where most of us are at when starting off. They should be the reasons for the basic fear of every club owner-that he or she will lose new January sign-ups by March. But few know that this is what is going on. Most of them are business people and not very fit to begin with. This is the background of their cynicism over people who sign year contracts which they know will never be fully used. Nevertheless, the concerned ones do have at least one trainer on their staff for just this very reason.
Some of the new person's problems can be avoided by working with a personal trainer. Even a mediocre one can generally spot obvious mistakes and make a few recommendations. This is particularly true when it comes to exercises. They can spot poor form and inappropriate resistances. However, when it comes to nutrition they are not as effective. Granted, most believe in low fat, low sugar diets, but expect that we are all already doing this anyway. However, that is generally not the case, because those of baby boomer age are accustomed to what we call real food-FDA approved groceries that will thwart any workout routine. Trainers in their twenties know better though they lack the clout to correct their elders. Lastly, when it comes to vitamins, these young people will not do anything for fear of causing an adverse reactions (prescribing medications without a license. ) However, they may try to sell products that the club promotes. The extra commission can be all too compelling.
This is a very sad state of affairs for the person starting out. Even with this standard help, it is like letting a robotic-lathe turn out an angel from a block of marble. That might be possible in theory, but it is wholly different than being a sculptor, seeing an angel and then personally removing the marble which keeps it captive. Setting up a lathe do this is the epitome of ill-placed blind trust-something which relies on the affect of others who have no direct benefit from our success. That is, it relies on : 1. ) the trainer who gets paid by the club owner merely for his or her time; 2. )the grocery store, which is concerned more than anything in FDA compliance, meeting payroll and staying in business; 3. ) the Centrum people, who care almost entirely about what sounds good on their attractive labels, what will increase their bottom line.
What is better than trusting all of these questionable people? The answer is simple : trust only ourselves. In other words, think and grow fit. That means look first for our angel and then passionately go about freeing it. But that requires thought-very hard thought-about how we ourselves would look living a fitness lifestyle. It then requires resolutely going about it- eliminating everything which is unnecessary, or which stands in the way.
We all know what we have to do and we all have the capacity to see ourselves doing it. But we may not be aware of it because we are too afraid of looking hard within. That is why we trust trainers, national vitamin companies, and supposed doctor-friendly common sense authorities who insist that we have only to cut down if we want to lose weight. Those are the pathetic substitutes for hard thinking about what we can do, what will work, and what we need to eliminate. Is there any other way?
How we should be is entirely pro-active. This can be seen in Sylvester Stallone's Rocky Balboa, the main character in Rocky I. He knew he could be a world champion long before becoming one. He could see his personal angel imprisoned in the marble, desperately wanting to be free. That is why he ran through the streets of New York, ate is daily morning raw eggs and used a slab of beef for a punching bag. Those things were necessary for him to daily bring out the world champion within-to free his angel from his marble. But they were all his thing. He did not read about any of them in a book or hear them from a trainer.
All of us have a Rocky within. That is the angel imprisoned in the marble. What we must do is find the way to free this angel. That will enable us to triumph over anything which holds us back from our highest fitness potential. Mindlessly trusting others to tell us what to do or how to do this will only cause failure.
For further thought on being a champion order my book “Think and Grow Fit.“