What Can We Learn From Fitness Success Stories?
If you’re a reader of a certain type of ‘news’, then you’ll most likely notice fitness success stories popping up every month or so. Personal trainers use them as a great way of showing potential clients what they are capable of helping them achieve. Sometimes people are just proud of themselves and want to show the world that anything is possible.
I’m fortunate in that I’ve never had to go through such a dramatic transformation. I’ve never been massively overweight and I’ve never been dangerously underweight. I have worked out for a long time and I know, although not from firsthand experience, how hard these people will have worked. There has to be something more – more than 10 seconds of feeling inspired before reading about how some celebrity pleb had a row with their assistant or some other vapid drivel. How can we learn from their hard work and dedication?
Are All Fitness Success Stories Created Equal?
In a word, no. For every time you’ll read about an average citizen transforming their bodies just to become a better version of themselves, you’ll also encounter someone trying to sell you a book or a fitness DVD with a title like ’30 second belly and bum blitz’. The thing is I don’t actually have a problem with that.
If that’s what motivates you to make the change you want then great! Go for it, fuck the haters. It’d be foolish to deny the impact celebrity has on our culture these days. What I do take issue with is people selling false products which don’t actually do anything. I don’t want to go into it here but just make sure you do some research before you buy anything like that, ok?
The main category (for lack of a better word) of fitness success stories will always be people losing weight. This shouldn’t come as a surprise when ‘one in four British adults [are] obese’ and looking further afield, ‘nearly one-third of the world’s population is obese or overweight’.
There’s also another end to the spectrum – people gaining weight. That’s an issue too. A famous YouTuber called Furious Pete once struggled with anorexia before going on to become a competitive eater and body builder. He’s also beat cancer, twice.
What Can We Learn From Fitness Success Stories?
I wanted to highlight the different extremes before I started talking about what we can learn from the different journeys people have gone through because I wanted to make sure we maintain perspective. A lot of the time it’s easy to dismiss other people’s problems as ‘not really a problem’ without understanding the route cause. Oh, you’re overweight? Just eat less, it’s easy! What’s that, you’re underweight? Just eat a burger, they taste great! We all know it’s never that simple.
The Big Three: Hard Work, Diet And Discipline
Let’s start by getting the obvious ones out of the way. There’s no way anyone can make such a dramatic transformation to their body without working hard in the gym, having a clearly defined diet and the discipline to stick to both. If you read any of the stories you can find online, that is the underlying theme – and for good reason.
There aren’t any quick fixes to either lose or gain weight. You can’t just have an operation to add muscle and even if you have a gastric band (which is cheating!) it still takes a long time for all the weight to drop off.
That information is almost a given, as anyone who has worked out for any amount of time will know you can’t just hit the gym once a week and expect to look like a hulking Adonis. At least I hope so.
Sometimes It’s Personal
After reading through people’s stories for what seemed like hours, one thing became painfully apparent. More often than not, there was an emotional trigger that was the motivational ‘final straw’. I read about a woman whose husband said he didn’t find her attractive anymore because she was too fat and then divorced her. I read about a guy who had been bullied about his weight since high school. The list goes on and on.
It’s hard to bounce out of that into something positive, so just consider this. Aside from in the most extreme of cases, exercising and healthy eating is always going to be good for you. You don’t have to wait until you reach that ‘do or die’ point – which for some people can be literal as well as figurative. Don’t wait for the trigger, be proactive instead of reactive!
There’s Always An End Goal
People all over the world will just work out for the sake of working out; I’ve been guilty of doing this for years. When you’re looking at making a huge transformation to your body then it’s totally different. They have a goal which they can think about every day and constantly measure themselves against to help stay motivated. For some people it was to reach a healthy weight, however it could just as easily be to compete in a bodybuilding competition or to run a marathon.
From personal experience I can honestly say that without a goal it’s a lot harder to motivate yourself in the gym because you’re never really giving it 100% focus and 100% effort. I talked more about the importance of fitness goals in this post – check it out!
I was really pumped up when I had the idea for this article. In my head I was ready to critically analyse as many fitness success stories as I could find and then draw out all sorts of different tips to help people with their own training. When it came time to write it I really struggled. I think this was because I’d never had to go through such a dramatic change so it was hard to think critically from that perspective.
That’s when I realised what I should be taking away from my time spent reading – not to take what I have for granted and to appreciate it while I can. After that revelation I’ve been feeling more motivated than ever to really hit the gym and see how far I can push myself.
If you’ve thought of anything else that we can learn from fitness success stories, leave a comment below!