Working Out to “Not be Fat” vs. Working Out to Maximize Potential

The time for being "average" is over.
The time for being “average” is over.

Have you ever asked yourself why you work out?  If you haven’t, go ahead and ask yourself right now, I’ll wait…

What’d you come up with?  To be healthy?  Because it makes you feel good?  Because you’ll feel guilty if you don’t? Whatever your motivation may be for staying active, your success or failure will largely depend on your motivation, the quality of the routine you’re following, and your diet.

Sure, almost any bit of activity is going to do you some good, but is it going to do enough to help you reach your goals?  Are you exercising for the sake of exercising, or exercising with clear-cut goals in mind?  In short, are you exercise to “not be fat” or to be truly FIT?  This is the scenario we’re going to look at today and help you determine if you’re really doing all you can to reach those fitness goals.

Sadly, the majority of people fall into that “not be fat” group of exercisers.  They’ll jump on the elliptical, move around for 30 minutes, maybe do a few crunches, and call it a day.  People who are working out to “not be fat” are more concerned with the mental aspects of exercise, than the physical.  These people typically work out to avoid feelings of guilt or laziness.  Perhaps they’ve convinced themselves they’re trying to make changes, but ultimately, all their doing is going through the motions.

Or maybe they’re exercising a few hours a week because they know it allows them to stuff themselves like a pinata over the weekends.  The old one step forward, one step backward approach gets you no where.  Fast.

Ask yourself, are you content with being average? Are you okay feeling uncomfortable when you get into a bathing suit in front of other people?  Do the feelings of envy you experience when you notice someone truly fit and healthy not bother you?

If you answered no to any of the above, it’s time to take a good hard look at your fitness routine, your own motivations, and make the jump from the “not be fat” group to the much smaller and exclusive group of those extremely motivated individuals working out to maximize their potential.

Being the Best YOU can be

Each one of us has a different potential.  Just because one person can do The ABC Ab Workout and develop a killer, washboard six-pack, doesn’t mean it’s necessarily in the cards for you.  First and foremost, you’ve got to stop comparing yourself to other people.  Genetics plays a huge part in our body composition and health, and assuming the same workout will produce identical results in two different people, is just silly.

Certainly you can look to others for motivation, but that’s where things should end.  You must focus on reaching YOUR maximum potential, not someone else’s.  When you begin looking inwards , you’ll start comparing your achievements against yourself.  Going from zero to five pull ups in a month is an amazing accomplishment….but if you’re comparing your 5 pull ups to the guy at the gym who’s knocking out 30 in a row, you’re bound to feel a bit…in adequate.

Focus on yourself and forget about everyone else’s best – you can only work within the confines of the body you’ve been dealt.

Don’t Underestimate the Importance of the Company You Keep

Just a couple of weeks ago, a friend from out-of-town and I were discussing the exercise habits of people in different areas of the country.  He marveled at how fit and “beautiful” everyone at the gym was, here in San Diego.  Bear in mind, this friend is in great shape, and was still blown away by what he saw.  The gym was filled with fitness model-esque bodies doing all sorts of insane workouts.  He compared this to his gym back home (an undisclosed major East coast city) where the gym was filled with a bunch of those working out to “not be fat” people.  Most days at his gym were filled with the constant low hum of treadmills and a few muscle heads walking around lifting weights here and there.  By and large, people at his gym were just going through the motions..and it showed.

I’m a true believer that success breeds success.  By surrounding yourself with positive examples in your life, I believe you’ll be more likely to succeed in reaching your health and fitness goals.  Now, I’m not saying you need to join a gym where every member looks like they could pose on the cover of Muscle Magazine, but the friendships you keep in your personal life could have a drastic effect on your success or failure.

If your buddies are content spending their weekends sleeping in til noon, drinking beer all day, then hitting up the fast food joint du jour, you might be in trouble.  If your girlfriends consider gorging at the Cheesecake Factory, then hitting the mall for 3 hours an active Saturday, you might be in trouble.  You don’t need to ditch these people, but you do need some positive and healthy buddies in your life.  Start going to more group fitness classes, the local yoga studio, or join a running club.  Seek out people who will help motivate and encourage you to reach your goals.

A Proper Plan is Key

Perhaps most importantly, is having a road map to follow that will lead to the health and body you crave.  Going to the gym with no idea what you’re going to be doing that day is a recipe for mediocrity.  I see these type of people all the time – they’ll bounce from one exercise to the next, with no rhyme or reason involved in anything they’re doing.  A few sets here, a few sets there, maybe a little chatting by the water fountain, and BOOM – workout over.

It’s time to get serious people – do you want to make real progress or do you want to continue living in this cycle of mediocrity?  Hopefully you’re committed to real progress, which means you’ve got to get yourself on a fitness program that will get you to where you want to be.  A great plan does more than just assign a list of exercises for you to complete each day.  A great plan understands the balance between exercises, strategically uses rest times to ensure you maintain an appropriate heart rate throughout, and contains intricacies within its formatting that provides the difference between just wasting time and your making noticeable, measurable progress.

Some workout plans to get you started:

It’s time to stop going through the motions for the sake of it.  It’s time to stop being okay with mediocrity.  It doesn’t matter where you’re starting from, it only matters how high you can go.  Your own personal potential is just sitting there, waiting to be tapped into.  Make the shift from exercising to “not be fat” to, exercising with a real purpose and determination, and you’ll be blown away at just how much different life becomes for you.



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