Three weeks to shredded! Get beach body ready in two weeks! Six pack in seven days! How realistic do these sound?
Clearly not realistic at all. Yet, following a chat with a PT mate this week, there are many people who think otherwise.
“People’s expectations of personal trainers and fitness plans are changing,” he said, “there’s been a shift in mindset. A few years ago, I was primarily training 30-40 year-olds who were happy to work to long-terms plans. Now, I’m training 18-30 year-olds who don’t want to think long-term. They want instant results. Short-term solutions for the summer.”
Admittedly, I paraphrased the above; but this was, in essence, what he said. And it’s definitely a mentality that I’ve experienced. It’s the same mentality that drives the ‘beach body’ workouts that crop up at around this time of year. Adverts that rapidly disappear when the threat of wearing shorts and summer dresses lessens – not that the ‘threat’ is ever that great in the UK.
It’s a mentality that the fitness industry could – and should – attempt to tackle. Unfortunately, there does seem to be a split between those in the industry who use ‘beach body’ ads as a way to gain clientele, and those that attempt to take a longer term, realistic look at transforming their client’s fitness, health and body image.
I steer clear of ‘beach body’ fitness plans like the plague, especially if they’re designed for unrealistic short-term gains
I am completely pro healthy body transformation, and believe that most people can build a body that they are happy with, if they are willing to put the work in. What I am completely against, however, is using the arbitrary ‘beach body’ as a motivator. Here’s why:
- The goal is inevitably short-term. You’re pushing yourself to achieve results, often in an unrealistic amount of time, which can (and often does) lead to failure. This can then impact your future motivation to get fit, if you feel that all your previous attempts have been unsuccessful.
- It doesn’t consider long-term fitness. What happens after your holiday? Don’t you want to feel and look healthy all the time? Building health and fitness into your life in a sustainable way should be your aim. Not three weeks of crash dieting that can wreak havoc on your metabolism.
- It generally prescribes a certain look that the advertising agency (or personal trainer) deems to be beach body ready. Who should tell you what beach body ready is? Why should you look a certain way to hit the beach? There are so many different body types and shapes, all of which are perfectly acceptable for the beach.
Goals are important. They act as valuable motivators when your willpower is flagging and as milestones to monitor how far you have come. What a goal shouldn’t be is a tool to beat yourself up with. That’s why short-term goals – when they aren’t part of a long-term plan – can be so destructive. They are inevitably linked to how you look, often ignore how you actually feel, and are generally unrealistic.
I have goals. The majority are fairly long-term. Most of them I won’t admit to anyone other than myself. But they are there, and they keep me going when my motivation starts to flag. They are goals I really care about, rather than a ‘holiday body’ that will lose all importance once the holiday is over.
I used to aim for a ‘beach body’ – often starting my ‘holiday diet’ two weeks before I was due to go away – severely restricting my food intake and going cardio crazy. This never had any effect! Two weeks wasn’t enough to make a difference, it was damaging to how I felt about myself as I generally failed to meet my ‘goal’, it enhanced the feeling that I wasn’t already beach body ready, and I put the small amount of weight I did lose back on again the second the all-inclusive buffet appeared.
Long-term goals and long-term fitness plans mean you are taking your health seriously. They tell the world (and yourself) that you care enough to be in this for the long run.
Health should be your priority – don’t make it an optional push a week before you put on a bikini or swim shorts. It’s more important than that. Treat with caution any fitness plans that tell you otherwise!