It’s January so it must be body transformation time.
Depending on where you get your information, you’ll be subjected to a range of approaches and products that seek to (in no particular order), detox you, transformassacre you (yes that’s real), pack on muscle, shed fat, sculpt you, lengthen you and shred you.
The last one sounds particularly painful.
They will be accompanied by photographs of two people with the same face but very different bodies who have also acquired a sun tan in the intervening period, thus proving the product or method works.
Cue also a change in television scheduling from general joviality, eating and drinking type programmes, to ones in which trainers and dietitians try to inflict the most misery on volunteers in the shortest amount of time. All in a bid to ‘improve’ their lives by humiliating them in front of a television audience.
Whilst you may detect a hint of sarcasm in my writing, I actually love this stuff. It proves to me that we all hold a desire to improve ourselves, to be a better version of the person we are today.
The real shame is that we’re being fed the lie that in order to do so we must suffer intensely.
Unless you hold a secret desire to be dropped behind enemy lines in Afghanistan, or get punched in the face by Anthony Joshua, there’s no need to use these approaches.
In fact in many cases they’ll be entirely counterproductive in the long term.
Here’s why body transformations don’t work.
It takes between 6 and 8 weeks of effective exercise to begin to change the structure of muscle and longer for tendons, ligaments and bone. You can appreciate therefore that a 6 week body transformation package does very little for the things that make a difference to your long term health and function.
Whilst you may lose some body fat, you have done the equivalent of spray painting the car without first checking under the bonnet.
Given that you can’t sell this car on a dodgy forecourt in Essex (New Jersey for American readers) and that you need this body for the rest of your days, doesn’t it make sense to do it more justice than that?
Exercise must be seen as a long term process because the changes it stimulates are biological and can only meaningfully occur over a long period of time. Any attempts to hasten that process are doomed to fail because you can’t adapt faster than nature will allow. It’s that simple.
For a transformation that’s sustainable you need to look beyond the garbage that the exercise industry feeds you.
Everybody with a basic understanding of exercise physiology knows that short term intense exercise coupled with extreme dieting is a recipe for disaster. If you’re lucky you’ll end up back where you are, some people find themselves in a worse position.
The problem is the truth doesn’t sell as well as the lie.
We are all susceptible to the idea there’s a magic bullet for whatever problem we face. From getting rich quick, to finding lasting love, or landing a dream job. In most cases the things that are worth having require work, commitment and persistence.
That doesn’t mean a transformation isn’t possible, it just means that if you take a longer term view you won’t give up in February injured and dissolutioned only to start again this time next year.