Dedication and Moderation

Fitness, Lifestyle, Special

Things that are difficult usually require some level of dedication. For those of you that have a life plan, aspirations for the future or simply own a list of things you’re in the process of ticking off, the first few goals you make are usually the easiest. Going back to getting comfortable being uncomfortable, your goals should be just the same, don’t stick to the easy stuff because it makes you feel good, spend time doing the things you know you need to work on or you probably never will. While daily feats are important for improving your confidence and providing you with enough momentum to make them habitual, satisfying the higher demand rather than the fine print will pose to surpass the sticking points or plateaus.

We know that body image standards have considerably increased and people are now looking at themselves in the mirror with more insecurities and less confidence with their bodies, it seems to be that inadequacy fuels more workouts than dedication ever will. The guilt tripping to get you there, phantom injuries to talk you out of it and justifiers rather than the means to stick to anything at all. Whether it’s an individual part to play or the current meet yourself half way outlook on all things body positivity, it is this over acceptance of bad habits which has made for moderation being yet another excuse to add to the list.

We observe influencers and the like set the standard for optimal living; look good, lead a ‘balanced’ lifestyle and let your hair down once in a while. This is great FOR THEM, and the premise is usually as resonant as it is applicable to the masses, but there lies the problem, satisfying an impressionable norm with relatable words and not the actions required. How many fitness personalities do you think break their diets, front their impeccable dedication and make you feel bad about yours? In the same regard how many portray an image which satisfies the norm of their followers before their own health and pressures to maintain an image for the sake of getting paid, in compliments or otherwise.

Expectation and reality,

I personally adopted the ‘flexible lifestyle’ for a long time. I advertised that this was my reality, proudly, so that I could encourage others to do the same. Calories in, calories out, work hard play hard. Always letting myself and others justify that I can always make up for it tomorrow, one drink, one bad meal CANT be THAT bad for you. I enjoyed having balance; hard work during the week, not necessarily a blowout when things came around but certainly not things conducive to my dedication in the gym. I wanted everyone else to feel how I felt, content, that I could do both, but in my head ultimately I was neither out of shape nor in, to others maybe but not what I wanted for myself. It was only until years down the line I thought ‘hang on, for someone that trains as much as I do, I don’t look much different’ I frequently received compliments for being in shape although this didn’t do me any favours, confirming that what I was doing was working but not to the rate which I anticipated years before. I was probably known for being ‘that guy’ in college, like many others that was always eating chicken, drinking protein shakes and lifting weights any chance I could. I didn’t do it for any other reason besides betterment of myself and the fact that I enjoyed the feeling of improving my body with hard work.

While I wanted other people to share the same outlook, get results and be more confident with themselves, genetically it was probably easier for ME to stay relatively lean most of the time, than it was for others around me. To which nothing less than preaching what I thought would be useful knowledge to everyone else wanting to look like me in the same time would come to fall on deaf ears. While I protested that the right amount of commitment would bring results, I observed the void that I had created by spending much more time on my body than most people were prepared to do. I’d much rather be straight up with people, rather than try and convince people that they could look like me if they simply followed my program, like many other’s do.

The reality is, it takes determination to pursue the difficult, no measure of moderation or guilt free cheat meals, low calorie ice cream or quick fix methods will get you there any easier, which is a tough pill that most people cannot swallow.

Looking at the time frame, I wonder what I would look like if I was completely dedicated to what I was doing THEN rather than picking and choosing when to be, now that I cannot hide away from the impending scrutiny and judgement to which I put myself under. Now that there is no room for moderation, I fully understand how much easier it is to be dedicated, with nothing influencing or tempting me in the slightest. I may often joke about the kind of foods that I will eventually break my diet with but its simply decided by yes or no, rather than maybe a little bit. This all or nothing approach is what a lot of people would benefit from and NEED in order to see just how good or conversely otherwise their willpower truly is.

Expectations are broken when you post a good physique update and get ‘caught’ in the queue at five guys. Cheat meal or not, the illusive veil of expectation and hypocrisy will be lifted eventually, usually for the sake of self indulgence. There comes a point in time to which you have to decide whether you’re in or you’re out, committed or not, as your body and your attitude will reflect this in the long run. This is what moderation does, gives you a false sense of security, the best of both worlds, great at the time but not when it is at the expense of your effort. Why is it that generally most of us can only relate to those that preach BALANCE and not so much those that seem so far beyond our capabilities that we just sit back and observe in awe. Even someone with an infallible image has to have a break sometimes  If you are overweight, exercise more, if you want to put on weight, eat more. Don’t be fooled by someone that merely looks better for advise, they can help themselves but may not necessarily have your best interests at heart. Pipe dreams and more appealing offers which make for less work in less time, maybe they can do it, but to you it merely justifies doing less rather than more.

Dedication is something you can’t turn off and on. We all need justification or at least some bearing on the decisions we make and the people we make them with, but what if balance was the very thing that jeopardises your dedication further? Everything in moderation is great for the average person, while too much of one thing isn’t always ideal. How average is tolerable to you? If someone referred to you as average would you be happy about it or have something to say? In that same regard much moderation or AVERAGE EFFORT is ok as opposed to how dedicated you have to be to actually see things through? There’s no optimal figure or sweet spot which determines whether you’re goals are dedicated or flexible, training 7 days a week isn’t necessarily better than 5. Only you can truly know how much is best for you and whether you’re consistently missing the mark without acknowledgement.

For those of you that aren’t aware, the date for my competition has been moved forward a week, which means I have 6 weeks to go until I get on stage for the first time as a Novice. This isn’t ideal news considering I still have at lot of work to do, though there’s a silver lining to everything life throws at you, you cannot control many things in life, only your temperament under pressure and the way you carry yourself on through. Ultimately my goal is to get in the best shape I have ever been in, get on stage and do it all with a smile on my face. No one does this shit if they don’t enjoy it, so that’s what I’m going to do.

Keep your eyes peeled for the rest of my journey on Instagram.

Jake.

 

 

 

 

 

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Should I Compete?

Fitness

From one of my very first blog posts ‘Short Term Satisfaction, Long Term Misery’ it is now clear in retrospect that in order to truly commit to the potentiality of competing, I can no longer rely on merely training hard alone. When I ask what people’s motivations are, I visualise the extent of what it is they seek to achieve, how much effort is required and how long it will be until they question whether it is worth their while. This is the point to which all the comforting outlets of life are weighed against a feather, the heaviest to which, drags them back to square one.

Everyone has their own gauge of happiness, whether this is from eating a strict diet and being in the best shape possible, to having the freedom to eat foods which are generally enjoyed. In the same instance of questioning effort:reward, this separates each standard synonymous to our working life work:pay. Working a full week and not getting payed, you’d probably question WHY? it therefore comes down to what kind of reward it is that you seek. If work is exercise and reward, food, there’s only so much potential for tangible rewards, results, and so long before you ascertain your potential input of EFFORT, think about what reward you require to justify it.

For myself, being on stage in my best possible condition is a reward in itself win or lose, standing amongst people that share your commitment, appreciating the common interest of simply wanting to be better, to the extreme.

A lot of people put the work in and don’t reap the right kind of reward, better is better than nothing but better isn’t best, so preparing for less is expecting nothing. how far off are you from being simply better and your BEST? I’m a year from being 25 but if i thought this was the best I was ever going to look at 15 I would have stopped a long time ago. Visualise your best and don’t stop until it is firmly in your grasp. Is this the best it will ever get for YOU? Your work, relationship, health, do you put in the work for confirmation or will it always be a part of a conscious strive for better.

Exercising purely for aesthetic, to impress people, or to be acknowledged shouldn’t be the way to go, but for a lot of people, compliments can be even more motivating than results.  The reality is, compliments can be equally as damaging as they are constructive, and this will come to either serve or ruin me when weighing up each potentially hindering comfort closer to the date.

I acknowledge that competing in a Bodybuilding show would be considered ‘extreme’ to a lot of people, though I respect the difference in opinion just as much as everyone has their own interpretation of happiness. Food for example, brings happiness to a lot of people, but even too much food can make you unhappy. It all depends on recognising whether something is still serving you positively. 

For me, I have always been aware of what I put in my body, not because someone tells me so, but because I don’t get the best out of foods that make me feel lethargic and put me straight to sleep. I know the bare minimum amount of food that my body requires everyday, putting myself ‘on a roll’ is essential for both muscle growth and fat loss, food is energy and energy expends to appetite. Acknowledging each impedance on such a ‘winning streak’ if you like, then transfers into output, being able to function and actively contribute rather than be a moody burden to the room.

This will be my first prep and a huge test of both my body and willpower, I don’t wan’t to have to mope around for months on end for everyone’s sympathy while I eat fish and vegetables, nor do I think that is necessary to get in excellent shape. This will however be the point to which I will be pushing beyond that which I currently know about myself and how far I will be willing to push to get as lean as possible. 

I’ve done this for long enough to know just how important each factor contributes to improvement of both body composition and strength, ask yourself what’s the longest period you’ve genuinely stuck to a program or even just cleaner eating? You may surprise yourself. For those quick to compile their list of excuses, why they aren’t playing professionally, why they cannot go a week without drinking alcohol or put the successes of those which they envy down to genetics, how long have they ever stuck to something good for themselves? Do you want to be one of those people who blame everyone else for their downfall and cast judgement to those simply doing what they cannot. 

I will be documenting the journey of the next 10 months leading up to the show on my Instagram, which I’d be foolish to think is a lifetime away, so keep your eyes out for my off season training regime and my current eating habits going forward into the New Year.

Jake 

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