The tired old dilemma of trying to either lose fat or build muscle is as old as, well, way before my time.
Let me guess, you set out to change something about your diet, workouts, or both and declare that this is the day/week/month/year it all changes. So you grab your phone and scour social media, the internet, and anything else in the media to find answers.
After several hours or days of “searching” you feel a huge burden of overload, overwhelm, and eventually despair. You want to give up already.
How did you get here? Why is it so hard nowadays to get answers, get motivated, and get going?
The attack of social media
Social media has quickly become a staple in many people’s lives. It’s become the default for news, information, how-to, and anything else needed in life. In fact, I know of one person in particular who uses it exclusively. He told me he never ventures off of Facebook. He searches, confirms, schedules, and communicates exclusively on the big blue F.
Unfortunately, social media has had a massive impact on how many people view fitness. On one hand, it’s bolstered a select few that are qualified, experienced, and trustworthy. I’m talking about educated (formally and informally) strength coaches who dispense timeless, sensible, relatable advice that produces real results.
Then there are the “Others.” These are the snake oil salesman, charlatans, and circus acts that produce viral, ridiculous, and extreme pieces of content with the sole purpose of garnering likes, shares, views, and ultimately popularity. They tend to have no boundaries, scruples, or morals. They chase the buzz of the intoxicating notoriety they can potentially achieve.
Guess which shows up in your feed the most?
Too much media?
I won’t go into too much detail about all that is wrong with social media fitness. I’ll just sum it up like this: As someone who has both formally taught and has real-world experience in fitness for over 30 years, I am just flat out disappointed.
The fact is, years ago pre-internet, we had a limited supply of information to go by. Real-life experimentation was just as much a part of our experience as knowledge.
The 80/20 principle could easily be applied to that time. We would read or study which made up 20 percent of our efforts and then the other 80 percent was going out trying what we learned.
It seems as though currently we are more like 1/99. We search and scroll at 99 percent and only use about 1 percent of our time and effort trying things out.
There are simply too many resources.
Industry dependence versus self-reliance
Another major force to look out for is the fitness industry itself. The giant gazillion-dollar industry that looks as though it’s trying to help you is only after one thing: your money.
They are a business like any other. They are much like the self-help/self-improvement industry — they want you to keep coming back for more. More classes, more supplements, more gadgets, more apps, more tech. They sell generic workout programs, diet plans, and motivational advice and claim that there’s always a new way every few months to get results. There’s a new hack or shortcut you’re not doing. All you need to do is subscribe for a low fee.
The fitness industry juggernaut relies on us to fund its success, but we also rely on it to believe we’re moving forward toward our goals.
Do we need more media and tech?
Do we need another smartwatch, app subscription, or expensive at-home workout system complete with a built-in community?
If we could only round up enough money to purchase the latest and greatest tech, we would finally make progress. Right?
We don’t need more tech. We don’t need more hacks, tricks, or shortcuts. We don’t need any more “inspiration” from that YouTube or TikTok influencer promoting their supplement line, coupon code, or cookiecutter program. We don’t need another “system” to buy.
We need to step back for a moment and practice a little awareness.
Fitness isn’t rocket science
Yes, science is vital to progressing the study and application of certain principles and effects exercise has on athletes, the elderly, youth, and others with compromised health issues. But for the rest of us who want to get rid of that pouch of unwanted weight or build a little muscle to look better at the beach, it doesn’t have to be so complicated.
Using a few tools to track or motivate your efforts is great. It’s just that when we over-rely on tech or take advice from the latest guru selling something we compromise our best efforts and circle back to step one.
Step back, become aware of where you stand, and then take small, deliberate, simple steps toward your goal.
You don’t need a program, you need a purpose
Don’t put the cart before the horse. Stop searching for that perfect program, that one thing that’ll finally motivate you to get started. Instead, just start. Starting will dictate what step you take next.
Is it that you’ve never exercised before? Go for a 15-minute walk three times per week.
Trying to build muscle? Start with three weight training sessions per week for 30 minutes using the basic exercises such as bench presses, pull-ups, squats, and shoulder presses for 3 sets each for 8-12 reps.
Want to lose body fat? Choose one thing every two weeks to easily cut out or replace in your diet such as a healthy breakfast or cutting out sugary drinks.
These are simple, uncomplicated solutions. No tech or intricate plan is needed.
Focus on results, not fitness junk
At the end of the day, the spotlight should be on results, not hacks or the latest tactic. Form your own plan, use your experiences as momentum and build on that. Quit scrolling and start doing.
There will always be fitness junk for sale, more supplements on the market, and plenty of influencers to vie for your attention. The real hack is to be able to ignore all that noise and blaze your own path. Be proud of your journey and tell others.
By focusing on results versus the tools you’ll experience a more organic transformation and learn an enormous amount about yourself along the way.