War on the Bikini Body Ideal

War on the Bikini Body Ideal

In general, I try to keep it positive, and make no mistake about it:  I like to take my shirt off during workouts and when I am at the beach.  I am happy with the physique I have earned and I have no problem with people having body composition goals, but I believe that putting performance first will take you most of the way there.  I’m reaffirmed of this every day; I am not really sure there is a larger group of folks that are lean and muscular than the one we’ve gathered in the Science Lab.
The difference between how we do it and how they do it is huge.  It’s the difference between being whole or being injured, the difference between being a functional human being or a depleted husk.  The reason is simple:  when you diet too extremely for too long, you lose muscle.  No matter what their system will tell you, you will sacrifice lean mass and that will harm your metabolism over time (especially if you are already lean and trying to get leaner).

For every physique or figure competitor that makes it to the other side, there were 100 left on the side of the road by their coaches only to be handed off to the next coach who asks them to diet in a more extreme manner.

“Oh wait…You didn’t know those were physique models?”

Let me tell you how one of these systems work.  Basically, they put out a cat call for 100 or so physique competitors and since they are all mostly lean, some of them actually get shredded as a result.  The five or so that make it to the photo shoot are fucking starving.  It’s certainly not like the 30 day miracle they suggest.  No one can keep their muscle eating dramatically low calories and that is especially true for people that are already lean.

Lisa Cartwright

I love this picture because it’s a real woman with substantive change. She actually GAINED six pounds in the after picture.

What do you look like?

Are you a physique competitor at 12% body fat trying to get to 9%? If you are, you should probably get with one of those starvation artists.  Hopefully you are one of the genetically blessed ones and you don’t end up destroying yourself in the process.  (You probably aren’t though.)  Ever wonder what that will do to your self esteem or confidence? What about the people that are 30-40% trying to lose fat with these types of diets when they actually need to maintain muscle?   What happens when they look at all of these bikini pictures and attempt to starve themselves thin?  Why is there never any delineation made between a contest prep diet vs. a healthy lifestyle that supports athletic performance?

It’s Time to Get Pissed Off

Quit spending money and time on people you can’t talk to, that don’t have your overall health in mind, that actually aren’t even really good marketers.  Think about it: there are many more people that look like Lisa (the person in the header) than look like all of the under-muscled bikini women.  Too many folks think if they just shed their fat layer, they will feel better about themselves…but they never consider many other factors, like genetics or how their lifestyle affects their body composition.

People also tend to think only of the best-case scenario.  When you binge on a diet, it’s not because you are weak and you are letting yourself down.  YOUR ASS IS HUNGRY!  You didn’t fail the diet; the diet failed you, because it was trying to work against nature.  Nature wants you fed and supporting your muscle.  Muscle is favorable for performance and athleticism, but most importantly it is favorable for metabolism and losing fat naturally.

Which Brings Me to my Last Point

There are obviously a lot of different ways to reach an end-point, but in general the best athletes in our gyms are fit and strong.  They go to bed full and they sleep better.  Their relationship with the mirror is a lot better than most because the look in the mirror is now secondary to things that are much more important.  PR’s build on confidence.  Confidence=self esteem.  

Simply put, quit giving those people money.  You don’t need to give me money either.  I just want you to eat appropriate amounts of of whole foods to coincide with your energy output.  Nature designed you a certain way, and once you make peace with that, you simply gradually work to the best version of yourself.  That starts with saying GET LOST to all of the cookie-cutter bikini body (for guys it’s all the ads about being 6 packed up) scam marketers and ends with you realizing your  unique potential to be strong, lean, and happy.