Male archetype

It is important for each and every one of us to workout in some way, because preparedness of our bodies may be of utmost importance in the moment we least expect it.

There is no denying that human males are faster, stronger and better conditioned than females. One look at the numbers of Olympic events leads to such a conclusion. I do not claim that we are the stronger sex, simply that our physical bodies are more adept at taking on strenuous, physical tasks. But with great power comes great responsibility.

Taking care of your loved ones is a must for us all. That is why I believe that being ready to defend your family is paramount especially to males, as that role is not only put on us by society, but by the manifestation of our bodies itself. Lifting a car off your toddler, rescuing your daughter from a strong current or fending off street assailants may sound like comic book feats, rarely seen in real life, but those dangers are real. Those adrenaline-filled events may never happen in your proximity, but we should be prepared to act if they do nonetheless.

That is why I try to somehow stress working on our functionality and being a so-called jack of all trades. We oft forget about learning or relearning basic first aid. Many people in good shape do not care about being able to defend themselves and the ones they care about. Pacifist or not, sometimes violence comes for you. Specialties are fine, but lagging behind in some areas can prove fatal (figuratively and literally). Dramatic? Perhaps, but I would like to see a populace ready to answer alarming calls.

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Morale falters

Motivation comes and goes, discipline is forever.

Indeed it is. We should not rely on outside sources of motivation to compell us to workout. I can understand that watching a video or staring at a couple of pictures depicting fit men and women can be motivating to some, but this road leads to nowhere. You are getting hyped up by creating unrealistic expactations of what your training regimen will yield you. Dehydrated, oiled up and photoshopped models smile at the camera. The text says something along the lines “that can be you in 2 years”. Unless we invent real world image editors then no, that can’t be you. Did you know that Hugh Jackman dehydrates himself for 36 hours before a shirtless scene as Wolverine?

On top of that motivation is a fleeting thing, it’s great to possess it and, by all means, we should treasure it, but we should not lean on it’s temporary effect of euphoria and the will to act. If you make yourself train when you are not motivated and you can finish without half-assing your workout – that’s when you create discipline. A force that is much stronger, but harder to acquire. It will drive you to the apex of your abilities if you let it.

There is no better way to achieve your athletic goals than to be disciplined and it is much easier said than done. But we can’t forget to enjoy life outside of fitness. Let’s be frank, most of us aren’t proffesional athletes. We don’t get paid to train and we do not get paid for the results of that training. Keeping in mind that your life must be balanced in all things is important. Keep your diet and regimen in check but be mindful not to ignore the rest of your life. And believe me, there’s plenty more to life than eating, training and sleeping. Although to most of us doing a physical activity helps with other areas of life, some get carried away on a self-rightous path to be better than everyone else. Take care of your loved ones, nurture your friendships and above all else – remember that what’s truly important is to enjoy yourself and to get what you want. The question is if you want to get what you want now or what you want most.

Genetics, surroundings

The study of epigenetics claims that we can change the way our DNA expresses. What this means is, that by changing our surroundings – what we do, eat, how long we sleep, and where all of that takes place – we can effectively change our potential.

This is still limited, but nontheless heartwarming. I have heard numerous times lines sounding like “he grew so fast, must have good genes”. Most of the times it has nothing to do with your genes. Perserverence and training smart. There is no shortcut.

Why I say this is limited? Because no matter how hard an averege person trains, they will never reach the athletic capabilities of Lance Armstrong, Rich Froning or Micheal Phelps. Those are the kind of people with amazing recovery rates. Training five times a day and improving, instead of doing damage to your body isn’t just a case of eating a ton of calories. Make no mistake, potential exists, but attributing someone else’s accomplishments to it isn’t fair. They work just as hard, if not harder, than other top-level athletes, they are just as smart, and conscious about their training. It just so happens that they have the right genes for it too.

Notice that those are extreme cases. Athletes that are one of a kind in the entire world. I don’t think we can throw around phrases in the gym like “he’s got better genes”, in small enviorments genes make little diffrence, the way they express is much more important. That can be manipulated to suit our goals. Don’t blame your genes, blame yourself for not being smart about your training, for missing a meal or for not getting enough sleep.

I have purposely avoided talking about performance enhancing drugs – regarding aforementioned athletes – in this entry because this is a topic that deserves a separate article.

Self-fulfillment, self-development

“Strive for progress, not perfection.”

I have never heard a fellow gym-goer say something along the lines of “I’m strong enough”. Naturally this concerns speed, agility, size, aesthetics or general athleticism.

While we can set up certain goals and achieve them, we are never 100% satisified with our current form. There is always more room to improve. The never ending battle to be better is one of the many reasons we ought to look up on athletes of all kinds.

This is development. We grow as a person during training, but we are never done. Never fulfilled.

Psychologists like to refer to self-fulfillment as the ultimate goal of all. While in itself it sounds good, it is nigh unapproachable by most due to the jealous nature of our society. How can I be content while there are so many better than myself?

This philosophy is bad for your health. Physical and mental. Don’t seek to outdo others, outdo yourself. While competition can be a good driving force, being better than everybody else is simply bad motivation and propably unobatainable for most. Perserverence matters, sure, but potential exists as well. While we can alter our circumstances, we can only do it to some extent.

Finding the fine line between fulfillment and development is the key to inner peace. Be content with who you are today, but don’t rest and stagnate. Always improve. Every day wake up a better person. And every time be happy with who you are, because who you are is a person moving ever forward.