Here goes the stock Joe and Jane's fitness journey..... Have you caught yourself in any of these phases along the way? Or are you in one of them right now?
FITBIT AND MYFITNESSPAL PHASE
We first start out meticulously counting calories and checking our heart rates and measuring each portion down to the gram. Or, people totally over scoop everything and pretend if they didn't log it, they didn't eat it.
The GOOD PART of this stage is you learn about how much food you're eating and how many calories all those beers actually add up to. You start getting up off your ass to get your steps in so you can beat that dick Joe in accounting for the company fitness contest. The BAD PART about this stage is we become obsessed with losing weight instead of performance and we equate stepping around for actual exercise.
LEVEL: SOME POUNDS LOST
BODYBUILDING DOT COM PHASE
Then we move onto a site like bodybuilding dot com and get a lifting routine that is often over an hour long, five days a week, then slip into the supplement stack trap while debating on forums with other novice lifters who are critiquing proper bench press form and protein powder flavors.
The GOOD PART about this phase is you get into the weight room and start learning about form and lifts. The BAD PART about this phase is the program you are doing is usually way over a beginner's head and you start spending money on bullshit pink and blue powders you don't really need at your stage but are sure that drinking them before, during, and after your workout is doing something.
LEVEL: SOME MUSCLE GAINS, some MONEY LOST
This is where you find yourself if you don't quit the initial bodybuilding phase. Suddenly you become obsessed with building up each bodypart and sculpting it to perfection. You develop split routines, one-bodypart days and start doing things like carb-cycling or intermittent fasting to burn fat. No more cardio or treadmills for you - it's all about the lifting and diet control.
The GOOD PART about this phase is learning how to build up all your muscles, both the big ones and the tiny helpers most people take for granted. You become one with the gym, nodding at the bodybuilders every day and dragging your duffel bag full of straps and belts and gloves around. You are in-tune with your body. The BAD PART about this phase is falling into the crazy diet rabbit hole, trying to shred the fuck down while busting ass in the gym. It can burn you out if you don't bulk and cut properly and conservatively. I cannot tell you how many bikini competitors I know, both personally and online, who fucked their metabolisms up cutting for shows (or to simply look hot on instagram.)
LEVEL: HOT BOD, BUT HANGRY
THE POWERLIFTING PHASE
When all the dieting madness burns you out, many people take to powerlifting. The idea of eating a lot, avoiding cardio, and hefting big daddy weights around is very appealing. Now you are covered in chalk and fit everything into a high calorie macro plan while crushing big numbers for a few reps.
The GOOD PART of this phase is strength is much more gratifying than looks. You eat for performance and you don't starve to stay shredded. It's time to watch your numbers go up and not worry as much about the scale going down. The BAD PART of this phase is the lack of cardio and well-rounded fitness that can happen when you only focus on a few big lifts and nothing else.
Level: Strong as fuck, can't walk up a flight of stairs without huffing and puffing
This is the opposite of the Powerlifting Phase, and people generally do one or the other if they break from the big box gym. This route is taken when you get the big idea you are going to be some kind of American Ninja Warrior. Dude, I'll be so fucking fit I'm gonna mega fuck shit up to the X-treme.
The GOOD PART of this phase is your cardio capacity and ability to take punishment has potential to skyrocket. The BAD PART of this phase is so does your potential for injury. Olympic lifts really weren't made for a speed race, so wing-dinging barbells about your skull (even if they're only loaded with 10 pound bumper plates) is more likely to give you a slipped disc than superhuman abilities. If you don't separate controlled lifts from speed calisthenics, you could end up out of commission pretty quickly.
LEVEL: SUPERHERO COVERED IN ROCK TAPE, OR FAST SPAZ GOING IN FOR KNEE SURGERY NEXT TUESDAY
Once you go through living for fitness, most of us realize all we need is fitness for life. The fitspo grind can get us all a little caught up and make us feel like if we skip a day, we might as well blow our brains out. As if PRs are always more important than our responsibilities. As if keeping our macros perfectly on point every single day is more important than having that pasta and bottle of wine with our family once in a while.
The GOOD PART of this phase is realizing we can live our life and love our people and eat the food and lie in bed all day every now and then without losing all our gains. We can fit a sport or a routine that we enjoy into our day to day lifestyle, do other things too, and love those around us without everything always revolving around calories and gym schedules. Looking back, I think it's really good to go through all or most of the other phases, because they show you how to be fit and teach you what jives with you and what doesn't. But, in the end, this is where you want to end up.