Subscriber’s Secret Article 2

False Hopes, The Media & Lies

One of the great things about living in this modern age is the abundance of readily available information. If you are looking to make a change to your physique, there are plentiful magazines, books, TV shows, DVDs, websites and no end of gurus out there who want to tell you the best route to success.

However, it does seem to be a double edged sword.

There is so much information available and from so many sources, all saying different things, how do you know what or who to believe?

In truth, you don’t really. Especially if the information is given without conclusive proof to back up its claims.

But that’s OK so long as you approach the information correctly. Never take anything as gospel, just take the information, analyse it for yourself, see if it makes sense and if possible check out the claims from alternative sources. Preferably a source that you have already found to be trustworthy and well informed.

The thing is that information should really be just that, educating, factual based information. The problem is, facts don’t sell. Dreams sell. The unique sells. Quirky sells. And that’s where things get irritating in this modern age.

A magazine isn’t going to sell many copies if the big feature is telling you that you need to get enough sleep and drink plenty of water to stay healthy. That’s not new, it’s not exciting and there aren’t going to be any before and after pictures of someone who lost 20lbs in 3 days by drinking an extra 500ml of water each day before getting an extra 30mins sleep.

So what we end up with are magazine covers telling you how you can lose weight like this Z list celeb and get his or her figure in just 30 days by following their exercise plan for just 10mins per day.

Then the TV hits us with an abundance of programs like ‘The Biggest Loser’ where week after week contestants are shown to have dropped 15, 20, even 30lbs in one week. And heaven help the poor soul who only dropped 3lbs as they fight back the tears and their trainers look on astonished at how ‘badly’ they have done.

If you remember in my first article of this series (which you can check out here) I pointed out that losing more than 2lbs of fat in a week is near impossible and to lose much more than 3lbs can have detrimental long term effects to your fat burning potential. So these contestants who are dropping 2-3lbs are right where they need to be. Just not for this show. Not for the audience. Because it’s not magical, it’s not spectacular and it doesn’t sell the show.

So in this environment contestants are forced to push for unhealthy, unrealistic goals.

There is a plus side to this and that is it may inspire the viewer to get off their couch and go do something to further their own progress. But unfortunately what ends up happening is the recreational trainer with a life, a job and a family can’t match the results of the celebrity with the full time trainer, dietician and 7 hrs per day free to do nothing but exercise and eat their prepared meals. Nor can they match the TV contestants who are all living on a health farm with no job to go to, away from their family responsibilities and again, with their full time trainers, specialists and nutrition experts.

This isn’t real life! And in fact, when these contestants go back to real life, in pretty much every instance they add the weight back on (and then some).

So ground your targets in reality. Your results should make sense and should be for your long term benefit. You may have a holiday coming up in 2 weeks that you are desperate to slim for, but the fact is, if you have 2 weeks, you have left it too late and if you crash diet, as I stated in article 1, you will bounce back pretty quick. You may think it’s worth it, but there will be other holidays, events, nights out, reunions etc. And each time the process is just going to get harder. So look to the long term.

We’ve established the magazines and TV are flawed (for the most part, I’m not saying there is nothing to be gained from these areas, just be careful).

But that is also true of another source of information.

The humble bathroom scales.

Scales Lie! – FACT!

Too often people measure their progress by the scales alone and the information returned is only making things worse.

You see, just like ‘The Biggest Loser’, scales are only concerned with weight. They don’t care what that weight is composed of, whether it’s muscle tissue, water, fat or the gel in your hair and that is of no help what-so-ever. Just like the TV show, your results are punished if you dare to add any muscle weight. And it only takes a tiny amount of muscle to add weight, whereas it takes 3-4 times as much fat loss to offset that weight.

Often, girls especially, will counter this by saying they don’t care, they don’t want muscle anyway. But as I pointed out in This Article if all you did was keep losing weight regardless of the source, you are still going to end up fat. Just a ‘skinny fat’. And fat wobbles and doesn’t exactly look the way most people desire.

If you really want that toned look there has to be some muscle tissue there, otherwise if you did drop all the fat, all that would be left would be bone and that is a look that is only going to get you a hospital admission.

Muscle is what makes you look toned, muscle is what holds you up, it’s what allows you to move and though you might not want to look like Arnie with bulging biceps and thighs the size of tree trunks, muscle is still important. Remember, muscle retention uses energy and so burns calories. The less muscle you have, the lower your metabolism and the harder it will be to burn fat.

So how do you measure your progress?

Well in very simple terms, by your truest goals. If your aim is to fit into a dress or pair of trousers, then measure your waist line. You have to allow for fluctuations to an extent (from water retention etc) especially for women. But if your goal is to be a certain size, then measure your size not your weight.

For most people the target is to either add muscle or lose fat, or both. In this instance you need to know what is happening to your overall body composition. So have your body fat measured.

Stay away from electronic measuring devices as these also tell lies. (the result will vary greatly depending on your hydration levels). There are very sophisticated ways of measuring such as DAXA (which is essentially an MRI scan) or Hydrostatic weighing (underwater scales) but these are out of reach for 99% of us. So the best option is skinfold callipers. Ideally you are looking for an experience professional to do the measure for you. But you should be looking to keep track on a regular basis (around once per week) to ensure you are progressing correctly.

If this isn’t an option, then I’d suggest investing in a set of single site, self measure callipers such as the ones from Accumeasure. They are readily available for less than £15 and whilst they will be a little less accurate, they are accurate enough to determine if you are progressing.

Once you have your body fat percentage you can then work out your fat weight (this is the only time scales are useful) by taking the percentage from your overall weight. What is left is called your Lean Body Mass.

So if your concern is fat loss then make sure your fat weight is going down more than your LBM (ideally your LBM should stay the same or go up very slightly). If your goal is to add muscle, ensure your LBM is rising more than your fat weight (which you are aiming to keep more or less the same).

I could go into this in much more detail, but the main thing I wanted to leave you with is not to be blinded by false truths.

The TV, Magazines, Books, Diet Programs, Shakes, Supplements & Pills will often sell you false hopes and only allow for, at best, short term progress. Be sensible, look to the long term and get yourself into the shape you want.

Things to take away:

  • Don’t take any product, diet or information at face value – Always examine it and think it through. If something starts with the phrase ‘research has shown’, question where the research has come from (the company that is selling the product?). Take all the information you can find and draw your own conclusions.
  • Live in the real world – The media is simply entertainment, not reality. You are not competing for a prize and you have to live with the long term consequences. So do what is best and sensible for you in the long term. If it took you 10 years to get out of shape, don’t expect to fix it in 10 weeks.
  • Scales tell lies – Weight means nothing, so don’t rely on the scales. Use visual feedback, such as photos, useful feedback such as measuring the areas you are concerned about and most of all scientific feedback by monitoring your body’s composition and tracking the results.

In reality the process to an improved physique is a simple one, don’t make it more complicated by adding unrealistic targets or fad diets or routines that are only there to sell a magazine or a TV show.

Your health and success are too important.

The best thing you can do is to change your mindset and make a decision to be better. Be the best you can be.

As ever, it’s OK to be yourself, just be your BEST self.

Hopefully you found this article helpful and I’d love to hear any comments you may have, so feel free to leave them below.

There will be another article with you on goal setting and planning hitting your inbox in the next few days. But, as ever, there are other sources of information already on the Blog page of the website, so go and check-out the archive.

Also, you can follow me on Twitter @DCSfit

And if you are on Facebook and you haven’t already, please head over to Dynamic Core Solutions Personal Training and hit the ‘like’ button to stay up to date with our updates over there as well as helping to spread our resource to a wider audience by opening it up to your Friends.

Have a great day – now go make some ‘realistic’ progress.

Mark.

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