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RADICAL CHANGE - Part I

You know that feeling of hopelessness that eats at you when you are stuck in a rut? The one that fills you with claustrophobia-like dread and makes you want to change your whole life around because “things can’t go on like this anymore”? Yeah, that feeling sucks. It seems to emerge from deep within, calling for radical change and hey, I guess rightfully so because maybe you do need to change. Maybe you are not living to your full potential. So today I propose to you a radical change, and no, it’s not getting a haircut or buying a motorcycle. 

It’s bodybuilding.  

Now, before you let all the dogs loose on me, let me just get some things straight here. When I say bodybuilding I don’t necessarily mean competitive bodybuilding, nor do I mean injecting or ingesting drugs or eating a bunch of junk supplements. No. What I mean by bodybuilding is incorporating weight-training, consistency, and proper nutrition into your lifestyle for positive change and growth in all aspects of your life. Cool? Cool.

Ok, so — bodybuilding. Is it radical? Yeah, because chances are you aren’t doing it, so it’s gonna be totally new and unfamiliar to you. Is it change? Yes, because in a few months you will actually feel and see the changes. Radical change - it checks out. 

But out of all things, why bodybuilding? This is a good question. I mean, you definitely could get a motorcycle or join a club that interests you or pack up and go live in another city - all of those things are better than doing nothing, but none of them are as effective as bodybuilding when it comes to permanently getting you out of that rut that you’ve been sitting in. Let me explain. 

Getting a haircut or getting on a plane are one-time events. You do it, you feel like things are finally different because you land in another city with your new haircut… but that’s where the changes end. You flew across the country but you are still stuck in the very same rut. Why? Well, maybe because you come home and you turn on the TV just like before. You pop yesterday’s Chinese take-out into the microwave and have a smoke while it’s heating up. You might have changed your looks and your location, but your lifestyle and habits have remained the same. 

If you decide to take the plunge and commit yourself to bodybuilding, you will have to change your lifestyle and your habits. After all, I didn’t just pull the word “bodybuilding” out of a hat. The reason why bodybuilding is such a good teacher of success is because it requires you to develop certain character traits that will improve your whole life. Weight-training will require you to become conscious of what food you eat. It will require you to reconnect with your body. You will have to face and overcome challenges. See, this is radical change. This is what you need. Few other activities call on you to change your diet, time management, and daily choices, while improving your looks, confidence and habits quite as effectively as bodybuilding.

Let’s take a closer look at some of the benefits: 

INCREASE IN CONFIDENCE

In the context of bodybuilding we tend to associate the increase in confidence with better looks, but while better looks are a great byproduct of training, it is nothing compared to the increase in confidence that will come as you keep busting through your personal limits. It’s not really the muscle that makes you feel good about yourself. It’s that split-second decison-making that happens as you command your hands to steer the car to the gym instead of the pizza place. It’s not the cut abs that make you feel confident in yourself but the fact that your cut abs are a testament to your will-power and consistency. Your body is just the mirror of your choices, and when your body looks better than 80% of the bodies around you, you know that you have been making some good choices and taking control of your life. And from control grows confidence.

THINGS YOU THOUGHT IMPOSSIBLE ARE NOW WITHIN REACH

I have just now returned home from a workout, and I finally have the energy and the drive to finish this article that I had put on hold because I felt like it was bad. Now after the workout it doesn’t seem so bad, in fact it looks pretty good. Endorphins or not, but at least I am moving forward. What more to ask for? If exercising can help me be more productive and more likely to finish my work, then I am interested.

In fact there have been studies done that confirm the link between regular exercise and success, better performance, and even bigger income. Binging on TV show episodes doesn’t have that effect last time I checked.

IMPROVED MENTAL AND PHYSICAL PERFORMANCE

I put mental first because I think it is the more important, but also the more overlooked when training is considered. Can bicep curls really make you more connected to your thoughts? Yep, you just feel faster, sharper, fresher. You have clarity and energy. In simple terms - your brain works better. Back in college my screenwriting teacher recommended that we go take a walk when stuck on a story. Not only would going outside expose us to new stimuli, but we’d also be moving our legs and thus supplying our brains with oxygen, boosting our mental power. Oh, and this is interesting: my friend John once noticed after working out that music appeared much slower than usual. I thought he was wrong until I tried it. That increased blood flow and adrenaline turn your brain’s processing power up. Now that's pretty damn cool.

FEARLESSNESS 

I am very good friends with Mr. Fear. In analyzing my actions and behavior I have found that most of my limitations that stop me from living my best life can be traced back to the ugly twisted root that is fear. Creativity, relationships, self-expression, happiness — they can all suffer and shrivel up in the presence of fear. What exercise does is put you in immediate contact with fear. Adding those 5kgs to the bench press might not sound like a big deal, but when you are ready to take the bar off the rack you confront your fears head on. Will you be able to finish the set? Are you strong enough? When you overcome those very linear challenges in the gym, you learn to trust in your ability to get stronger, and that certainty spreads into all other aspects of your life.

LESS ANXIETY

Wow, if you struggle with anxiety then exercise is your most potent drug. In fact, I recommitted myself to my exercise routine because my body and my mind were completely out of whack. With anxiety levels peaking high, and my body so used to an immobile lifestyle that getting up from a chair quickly resulted in palpitations and heavy heartbeats (at 24 years old, mind you), I realized that something needed to change. Just one month into the routine all of those issues were gone, and I no longer had any of the symptoms that used to bother me not only physically, but also cripple me mentally.

HIGHER AUTHORITY AND POWER

When you come to a job interview and you are well built, your posture is straight, and you radiate confidence, people are much more likely to take you seriously. In fact, having a built body is something that confirms those little things that you usually bullshit on your resume. Words like “dedicated,” “committed,” “know how to deal with challenges” are often just fancy filler that you use because it can’t be disproven at the time of the interview. But they are not filler when you are well built because your body becomes living proof that you are in fact all of those things. In addition, looking good and speaking with confidence, give you the super-power of authority. People will be more likely to listen to what you have to say if you look like a man of accomplishment, rather than a muffintop hanging off the sides of the chair. 

INCREASED OVERALL VITALITY

All of the above effects combine and blend into a cocktail of benefits that boost your overall vitality. You become a more free, more radiant human being, ready to take on new challenges and to push yourself for that extra rep not only in the gym but also in life. 

Of course it would be one-sided to say that these benefits are unique to bodybuilding. Most sports will improve your life. However, most of them will not boost your physique as effectively as bodybuilding, and looking good is, despite sounding vane, an important aspect of this. Your body is the vessel of your life. Seeing it improve makes you believe that the rest of your life can too.

So there you have it. Radical change. I'd like to hear your thought on the matter.

If you do decide to embark on this journey, there are some very important things to consider. Let’s talk about them in part II of this post. Stay tuned.