As many of you know, in February of this year I started working with coach Stephen Correa Jr to assist me with my powerlifting goals. You may have remembered I previously worked with a coach and was extremely disappointed. I was losing faith in the fitness industry and the people who deemed themselves as motivators but were only motivated by money. Coaches trying to use every manipulative marketing tactic in the book, pushing bullshit products to their following, overloading themselves with clients and diminishing their value. I hesitantly hired Stephen, with high expectations and low hopes, and ended up pleasantly surprised.
I asked Stephen to guest post today because he provides a refreshing perspective on the fitness industry. He doesn’t sugar coat and like me he has high expectations for his clients as well as those who call themselves coaches in this industry. I hope you enjoy his dialogue as much as I do.
Looking for Motivators in All the Wrong Places
by Stephen W Correa, Jr
What is it about the fitness industry that makes us think it is out to motivate ourselves in the ways we do? Comparing ourselves to others on social media, using food as a reward instead of the sustenance that it really is, or calling ourselves fat, unworthy, or even a piece of shit. It is in these practices that we lose sight of how fitness is supposed to enrich our lives not tear them down and examine them under a microscope.
So many people get into fitness because they compare themselves to someone they saw on social media. They see the bodies, the sponsorships, the clothes, and the “fandom.” I use the quotations for fandom because it’s all bullshit. These people aren’t celebrities. 99.9% of the world doesn’t know who they are. It’s a microcosm of their life that is total bullshit. That same person that has 100k followers is also a server at TGI Friday’s so let’s calm down with the hero worship and fan girling here. I happen to coach a few people that would be considered “instafamous” and they are the most down to earth people you could meet. They know it’s just an image that helps them achieve their fitness goals but they do it to help people not create a glorified image of what your fitness life should be. Do not go chasing applause and acclaim. That way leads to madness. Don’t compare yourself to these people. You are not them and they are not you. Time frames and modalities may not be as interchangeable as you’d like. Just focus on your own goals and try not to become a shitty social media personality in the process.
These same social media personalities will throw around terms like “cheat meal,” “cheat day,” or “earned my cookie.” This is all bullshit. You’re not an animal needing operant conditioning which comes in many forms. You don’t need to earn your food. You need food to perform at a level commensurate to your activity. These people will eat a little extra ice cream and show the world how “dedicated” they are by doing extra cardio because they were “bad.” There are no good or bad foods. There is just food. Some are higher in nutrients is all. That being said, do these people really sound like figures we should aspire to be? For me it’s a no. These people are everything that unhealthy relationships with food embody.
Changing your mindset isn’t just about food. It’s also about viewing and motivating ourselves in a different and more productive manner. I’ve been on both ends of the weight and fitness spectrum. I was a very fat 230 pounds and I was a lean 165 pounds. Today I’m back to 230 but at a much different body composition and fitness goals. I’ve embraced the burly powerlifter look and I enjoy it. Does that mean I love what I see in the mirror every day? Of course not and I won’t bullshit you otherwise. I am happy though and that’s more than a lot of people in the fitness realm can truly say. That happiness didn’t happen overnight though. It took a long two and a half years to get there. I thought getting lean would make me happy and yes it did. Temporarily. The problem a lot of people run into in fitness is they are never lean enough, lean long enough, big enough, or strong enough. While these on a long term timeline are good motivators they can cause problems in the short term. You constantly start checking for abs. You try to push lifts to new weights instead of sticking to the plan. All the while you view yourself as fat, small, or weak. You’ve imprisoned your progress inside a negative mind. You may already be in a great place but in your mind you can’t help but find everything you think is wrong or that you’re not where you want to be on the timeline expected. I hate to break it to you but very few things in fitness progress in a linear fashion. You only make it harder when you’re not in a positive frame of mind.
At this point I’m sure most of you are thinking, “Shit, Malz, don’t let this guy guest blog for you again. He’s a damn buzzkill.” Really I’m just trying to say is, do yourself a favor and do this for you with a healthy and positive mindset. You don’t need the followers or the likes to be successful in your fitness goals. There is something to be said for working in silence and letting the results speak for themselves. This would normally be where there would be a call to action and when editing this I was told there should be. I disagree. We’ve become so reliant on others to motivate us, teach us, or give us tips that we don’t know how to do the work ourselves. Take it upon yourself to fix these problems. You only answer to you and your thoughts and no one can fix those. Move past the self-hate for the sake of your health and fitness. You’re fucking awesome. Start treating yourself as such.