Friday, May 28, 2010

Looking like That Guy (or Girl)

I found yet another new podcast, Fat2Fit Radio, to listen to during my runs while I wait for my other favorites to update. Today I ran in what I think of as Bird Paradise -- a park that was going to be a golf course, but turned out to be too marshy or something halfway through the building process.  The park is now owned my my local recreational district.  There is a running/bike path which follows the planned cart path, a few trees, some would-be hills, a few ponds full of cattails, lots of wildflowers and weeds, and some marshy areas.  I see ducks and geese and lots of songbirds when I run.

Anyway, the episode I want to highlight is Episode 93: I Want to Look Like That Guy, about a documentary of the same name. I haven't seen the documentary (yet, though I want to), but it sounds like it's in the spirit of "Supersize Me," just in reverse: The filmmaker, Stuart McDonald, is a pretty average-looking guy in his late thirties who wants to see what it would take to look like a fitness model.  You know, the ones who advertise gimmicky products like the Ab Lounger, etc., giving the impression that if you just plunk down your three easy payments of $29.95 plus shipping and handling, you too can have that kind of body.

The interview was really interesting.  If you go to Stuart's before and after photos, you will see that he managed to do it and even participated in a bodybuilding contest, but he found that to maintain his body at 6% bodyfat required such an extreme lifestyle that it just wasn't worth the trouble.  To get ready for the competition, he had to watch his food so carefully that he just lived on "broccoli and protein supplements" for a while.  Even in the earlier phases, his food was so regimented that when he moved a potato on his menu from 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m., his trainer said he had to move it back.  He felt weak and grouchy on the plan, even though he looked good.

The lesson he said he was trying to convey was that the average person may be able to attain this kind of body, but it requires an extreme lifestyle that isn't workable for most people with real jobs and lives without the aid of performance-enhancing substances.

I like the Fat2Fit podcast because they find such interesting topics, though I was confused when several episodes after this one about how it is hard to maintain a bodybuilder lifestyle for the long-term, they interviewed someone who said that he can. I think they neglected to underscore the important point that this guy owns a pool maintenance business, so his job is a workout.  He isn't sitting at a desk 8 hours a day and then making up for it in the gym.  He does intense workouts in addition to his very active work.  Of course in a country with millions of people, you can find a few who are able to maintain the ideal.  That doesn't mean that we all can.

I think it's too easy to get discouraged looking at "That Guy (or Girl)" bodies.  All of us are different and our bodies are going to respond differently to stimulus.  The point that Stuart was making with his documentary, and that unfortunately was undercut by the later interview, is that for 99% of people, the fitness model body is probably not going to happen, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't try to be fit and healthy for your own body type while living a lifestyle that is realistic. 


  1. It's an important concept - to be fit and healthy for your own body type while living a realistic lifestyle for YOU. Although I know it's true, it's easy to forget when I see superfit people who seem to just live in the gym. I don't want my lifestyle to revolve around food or exercise every waking minute. A bodybuilder I definitely am not!

  2. That looks like a very interesting movie. I wonder if they have it on demand.

    It's a good point, though. We all see these men and women in the informercials, or the commercials for diet pills or plans, and we sigh or whimper with the fleeting thought of, "I want to be that." So we either lead miserable lives when we can't get to that point, or we spend hundreds of dollars a year buying the products they endorse to try to look like that, and it still never happens.

  3. Interesting link!

    I have to say, I don't admire most fitness model type bodies that much. I don't need to see a six pack on anybody, male or female. Aesthetically I do like sturdy guys with some muscle on them, but I am not a fan of bodies that look hard to the touch.


"Count your calories, work out when you can, and try to be good to yourself. All the rest is bulls**t." -- Jillian Michaels at BlogHer '07