Make no mistake, in terms of your health, the work that it takes to stay fit and in shape is absolutely worth it.
But while health is an important priority for many, so is aesthetic. In other words, many of us work out and eat well not only to feel good, but also to look good.
There’s nothing wrong with aiming to enhance your physique, but—and this a concern that the fitness industry almost always skirts around—achieving the image of “fitness” that we’re most commonly presented with requires a lot more work than many of us realize.
In a recent article titled, The Cost of Getting Lean on PrecisionNutrition.com, co-authors Ryan Andrews & Brian St. Pierre address the issue writing, “Six-pack abs. Tight butts. Lean, vibrant, flawless health. That’s the image the fitness industry is selling. But have you ever wondered what it costs to achieve that ‘look’? What you have to do more of? And what you really have to give up?”
The article goes on to answer these questions by presenting health and fitness consumers with a transparent and realistic idea of what it really takes to achieve the body type they’re after.
First they address two very common misconceptions about getting in shape, each on opposite ends of the spectrum.
With just a few small, easy, hopefully imperceptible changes to one’s diet and exercise routine, you too can have shredded abs, big biceps, and tight glutes, just like a magazine cover model.
“Getting into shape” or “losing weight” involves painful, intolerable sacrifice, restriction, and deprivation.
Of course, neither of these ideas is true, and Andrews and St. Pierre present three “realities” to debunk them.
The first: “small, easy” changes maintained over time can certainly help to improve your health and fitness. “Sometimes these improvements can change, perhaps even save, lives,” the authors write.
The second: the more lean you get, the more work it takes to continue making improvements. Or as the authors put it, “The process that helps you lose ‘the first 10 pounds’ isn’t the same one that’ll help you lose “the last 10 pounds.”
And the third: “small, easy changes” won’t help you achieve a physique like that of a fitness model.
“Achieving that look comes at a high cost; one most people aren’t willing to pay,” the authors write.
Just how high is that cost? Well, it depends on exactly how lean you hope to be.
To give you a clear idea of how much work it really takes, Precision Nutrition created a detailed infographic, breaking down the requirements for several different body fat percentages.
They did not grant permission to republish the graphic but you can view it by clicking the link below.
The bottom line: before you set out to pursue a new fitness goal, especially one based on aesthetics, first investigate what it will take to get there so you can make sure that what you’re aiming for is realistic based on the work you’re willing to put in, as well as what you’re really willing to give up.