Achieve the Body You Desire

The biggest problem that we have in the United States is the concept of Instant Gratification.  Whatever we desire, we want it now and if there is a way to get it now then, we will do it.  We don’t consider whether it is sustainable or optimal, we just consider the time aspect of it and the sooner, the better.  Achieving the body we desire is not an exception, we want a lean and strong body and we want it NOW!!!  First, let’s go through what I mean by Instant Gratification with several real world examples:

Problem: Want to Lose Weight
Instant Gratification Solution:  Get Bariatric Surgery or Liposuction

Problem:  Want to Feel Great
Instant Gratification Solution:  Go to Doctor and ask about the numerous “options” (pills) you see advertised on TV.

Problem:  Want a new car or other material object
Instant Gratification Solution:  Put it on a Credit Card or get “no money down” financing.

"I can only afford a Hyundai, but this Lamborghini will make me feel important!!!"

As you can see, these “Solutions” are very typical, though they are not SUSTAINABLE and they are far from OPTIMAL, they are quick fixes.  Neither Bariatric Surgery nor Liposuction address how or why a person became obese.  It addresses the symptom (obesity) of a greater problem (overeating, addiction to refined carbs, etc.).  Not feeling great usually has more to do with dissatisfaction with one’s situation (job, spouse, home life, etc.) not a chemical imbalance.  Buying something that you can’t afford may feel good in the short-term, but saving up for something, and sacrificing other purchases in order to get it, is more gratifying and it is SUSTAINABLE.  Think of the things that you have saved up for in order to purchase.  Whether it was your first car, a bicycle or a baseball card, you always think fondly about what you did to get it and you treat it with care and pride. 

The vast majority of things we want to change in our lives did not get to their current state overnight (e.g. poor physical health, bad relationships, unsatisfying job, etc.) so, we cannot solve problems overnight if they took weeks, months or years to develop.  Quick fixes are not sustainable so, we need to figure out what we can change right now that is sustainable.  So, how do we achieve the body we desire?  The answer lies in 3 areas:  1) Diet, 2) Exercise and 3) Lifestyle.  For those of us who are visual learners, I think of this as a Triangle.  If you think of a Triangle, you need at least 2 sturdy sides for it to remain a Triangle, if 1 side is weak, it can remain a Triangle if the other 2 are strong, but if 2 or all sides are weak, the Triangle will break so, if your Diet is suspect then, you need to utilize Exercise and Lifestyle to make up for it and vice versa.  Most people that I come across are missing all 3 so, it is no wonder why they do not have the Body they Desire.  Let’s dig a little deeper…

1) DIET – cut out the fake food / eat clean

I love the standard diet recommendation…find out your Resting Metabolic Rate (RMR), make a goal to lose a pound a week.  There are 3500 calories in a pound so, subtract 500 calories from your daily RMR and there you have it, the number of calories you should consume per day to lose weight!  Make the macronutrients even so 1/3rd carbs, 1/3rd fat and 1/3rd protein.  Sometimes, a dietician might “spice it up” and do 40% carbs, 30% fat and 30% protein.  Sorry, but I disagree. 

Let’s start with something very simple.  Most people don’t know what their macronutrient breakdown is on a daily basis, let alone the number of calories they consume and they certainly don’t know how many calories they are burning.  Regardless of whether you are dealing with the Average Joe or an Elite Athlete, removing the bad is as important as introducing the good.  Start out by eating clean foods and stay away from foods which are artificial and processed.  A simple recommendation I have is, “If it was never alive, don’t consume it.”  The further away from being alive something is, the worse it is for you.  If you look at a food label and you can’t pronounce the ingredients, let alone know what they are then, you are probably consuming something artificial.  Do you eat a doughnut every day for breakfast?  Do you drink soda with every meal?  Do you have a bowl of ice cream every night before bed?  Cut out something bad and THEN replace it with something good!  Going back to what is “Sustainable”, is an obese person going to sustain a diet of salads and vegetables when they are used to pizza and ice cream?  NO!!!  Ask them to cut out eating ice cream before bed and you will have more success.  Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither is the Body you desire.


If you are overweight and you currently do NOTHING, I have a great recommendation: DO SOMETHING!!!  Go for a 30 minute walk each day, park further away from store entrances, take the stairs rather than the escalator / elevator.  In making these SIMPLE changes, you will expend more energy, burn calories and lose weight.  Once the simple changes are implemented and results are achieved then, we can talk about implementing a more standard exercise regimen consisting of Strength Training.  Going from doing nothing to a 3 or 4 day a week total body strength training routine is drastic and not sustainable.  Sure, that is the long-term goal, but you need to take it one step at a time.

3) LIFESTYLE – Get enough sleep, minimize alcohol consumption, stop smoking and minimize stress 

Sleep – Assuming the body you desire is not a fat one then, get your sleep!  In a recent study in the Pediatrics Journal, researchers at the University of Chicago found that obesity in children increases as needed sleep decreases(1).  But Kenny, I’m not a kid, I’m an adult!!!  Alright, calm down!!!  Research has also shown that if you get less than 5 hours of sleep, you are more likely to gain weight even if you eat less(2).  The thought is that sleeping less alters your metabolism (slowing it down) which causes you to burn less calories.  Make sure you get solid restful sleep, keep the room dark and cool, make sure there is no noise and try to get 8 hours.

Brooklyn Decker gets 8 hours of sleep, no surprise there!

Drinking – Sorry folks, 12 ounce curls do not count as exercise!!!  Everyone knows that alcohol is not “good”, but what does it have to do with achieving the body we desire?  That answer lies in the impact that alcohol has on fat loss and it’s not pretty.  Alcohol gets metabolized by the body first, hence, while the liver is busy metabolizing alcohol, fat oxidation has ceased.  The more you drink, the longer it takes the liver to metabolize the alcohol and the longer you are waiting to burn fat.  “Because alcohol diverts fat from oxidation to storage, body weight is directly correlated with the level of alcohol consumption”(3).  I understand that having a few drinks when you are with friends or at a party is going to happen, but keep the times that you drink to a minimum.  When you do drink, stick to clear liquors, avoid sugary drinks and try to make sure that the alcohol is out of your system before going to sleep so, you won’t mess up your body’s recovery and you will have a restful & restoring night’s sleep.

Tobacco – I don’t think that I need to beat a dead horse.  Smoking kills, end of story.  Carcinogens, deadly chemicals, addiction to nicotine; just some of the fun things that smoking cigarettes has to offer.  If you check out the CDC website, it mentions that tobacco use is the leading preventable cause of death.  If that is not convincing enough for you then, how about the fact that national data collected by the CDC suggests that, on average, adult smokers die about 14 years earlier than nonsmokers.  Smoking is not one I would recommend cutting back on because any amount is bad.  Smoking is binary, it is all or none and none is your best option.

Stress – We all know stress is not good.  If we go back many many years ago to the time of our ancestors, I’m not talking about Grandma and Grandpa, I’m talking tens or hundreds of thousands of years ago, stress was acute NOT chronic.  Stress occurred very infrequently.  Some examples of caveman stress included running away from a predator or avoiding falling objects (trees, boulders, etc.).  Today, stress is nearly constant.  We have stress at home, stress at work, we are trying to make ends meet, etc., it is enough to drive a person off the deep end!!!  Stress has all sorts of deleterious effects on your body, especially when trying to achieve the body you desire.  Let’s look at the stress hormone cortisol.  Cortisol is a hormone secreted by the adrenal gland and it is an anti-inflammatory.  It is secreted when our “fight or flight” response gets activated and it is key in returning the body to homeostasis.  The concentration of cortisol in our body is highest when we wake up in the morning and lowest at night before we go to bed.  This is the “normal” situation, but when you experience prolonged stress throughout the day, your cortisol levels remain elevated into the evening.  Elevated cortisol levels have a strong link to obesity, heart disease and elevated LDL cholesterol levels(4).  Stress is a bit trickier than sleep, alcohol and tobacco because stress is inherently based on the individual.  We all know people in our lives that stress about everything, the weather, their clothes, what people think about them, etc.  While it is easier said than done, relax and chill out.  Seriously, think about what gets you stressed out and address it.  One thing that I like to do when I have something that is stressing me is to ask myself, “Will this matter 3 days from now?  Will this matter 3 weeks from now?  Will this matter 3 months from now?  Will this matter 3 years from now?”  The vast majority of stressors probably won’t even matter 3 days from now.  Techniques that you can employ to reduce stress include yoga, taking slow deep breaths (10 secs in, 10 secs out) and simply removing yourself from the stress for awhile.  Leave work and take a walk, get some fresh air or go blow off steam at the gym.

Ah, life without stress...let's go kill something!

To review, Diet, Exercise and Lifestyle are the Keys to achieving the body you desire.  Remove bad foods from your Diet and replace them with good foods.  From an Exercise perspective, do more than you currently do.  Don’t get caught up with doing some fancy routine, be realistic and get started by increasing your activity level.  In terms of Lifestyle, get plenty of sleep, minimize alcohol consumption, do not smoke and reduce your stress through breathing techniques or yoga.  Focus on things which are SUSTAINABLE and OPTIMAL, this is not a “quick fix”.

I will leave you with a profound quote which is relevant to achieving the body you desire:

“Whether you think you can or whether you think you can’t, you’re right.”
- Henry Ford




Did you enjoy this post? Buy me a cup of coffee :)



1) Spruyt, Karen; Molfese, Dennis L. and Gozal, David.”Sleep Duration, Sleep Regularity, Body Weight, and Metabolic Homeostasis in School-aged Children.” Pediatrics, Vol. 127, Number 2, February 2011.  Published online 24 January 2011

2) Presentation by Dr. Sanjay Patel, American Thoracic Society, International Conference, San Diego, California, May 19-24, 2006

3) Speroff, Leon and Fritz, Marc A., “Clinical gynecologic endocrinology and infertility”, Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, 2005, pg. 782

4) Rosmond, Roland; Dallman, Mary F. and Bjorntorp, Per, “Stress-related Cortisol Secretion in Men: Relationships with Abdominal Obesity and Endocrine, Metabolic and Hemodynamic Abnormalities”, The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism. 1998; Vol. 83, No. 6, pgs. 1853-1859

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