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Changing Your Physique

Posted by Olivia Westenskow on March 20, 2014 at 2:40 PM

"Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results." 
~ Albert Einstein

One of the most common questions I get is how a person can change their 
physique. People want to lose inches in certain places, lose fat, add
muscle, 'get a sixpack' and/or get 'ripped'. These can all be positive changes to achieve, 
but sometimes they can also stem from an unhealthy and unhappy fixation on fitness ideals.
I want to share some information and articles that will hopefully help  inspire you and perhaps 
even help you work through and evaluate some body dysmorphic ideas that you may have.

Genetics: Although it should NEVER be used as an excuse, there is truth
to the fact a person's genetics does play a role in our physique. Some
people literally do not have to work as hard as others to establish
and maintain a leaner, more chisled physique. For many of us (I include
myself) we are not as genetically blessed and have to figure out how
to maximize our genetic potential. I am constantly amazed that my husband whose diet
includes things I rarely treat myself to (ice cream, soda, and fast food) to name a few, 
still has a pretty admirable manly build. If I were to eat his same diet, my figure would 
be very round. My husband has been blessed with some pretty incredible genetics! Here 
are some facts about my personal genetics and why I have chosen to live in a more health 
focused way: not one but BOTH sides of my family have histories of heart disease, cancer, 
and diebetes. On one side of my family I also have a history of depression. These are all 
great motivating factors for me to make exercise a regular part of my life. What I am trying to 
say is that whether you are gentically gifted or not when it comes to your fitness ideal, 
we are responsible for achieving (or not) our unique (key word!)  genetic physical potential.

Nutrition: I read an article the other day where the author said that 
your six pack (seems to be a world obsession with this)is actually made
in your kitchen. In other words, the food you are using to fuel your
body plays a huge role in what your body composition looks like. If
you are frequently eating foods high in the glycemic index (simple 
carbs like white flour products, skim milk--most processed foods etc)
you are giving your body a lot of food that if not burned quickly 
as energy will turn into fat stores. The quick spike in  energy level will be followed by a 
quickdrop in energy which will make you want to reach for something to give
you a quick jolt of another simple carbohydrate. It's a vicious cycle.

About Carbs: I do want to say something about carbohydrates here. There is
quite the trend right now of 'cutting carbs' out of diets.  What people
need to understand is that carbs are an essential part of a healthy diet.
Carbohydrates should make up a 55-75% of your diet factoring in your age,
 (gender, activity level etc.) However, even at the low end of the scale,
that means more than half your diet should come from carboydrates. Here
is a palatable article that illustrates 'good' and 'bad' carbs.

Happiness: Most of the time we want a change in our life it is because 
we believe that change will make us happier. One of the most important 
things we can do is to ask ourselves, "How will ____ make me happier?" 
Find out what your true motivation is. Evaluate the health of your
desire to change with yourself (if you can do it honestly) or talk to
a friend whom you know has your best interest at heart. Sometimes we 
desire a change because we truly know it is in our best interest (ie:
I want to start exercising at least 5 times a week). However, there 
are other times when that same goal may come from an unhealthy place like
a fixation with extreme physiques. When we make changes with an 
unhealthy hyper-fixed focus, it does not bring us to a truly happy state
of being but rather an anxious, fearful, and perhaps even depressed  or angry

Ultimately, we do have the ability to achieve change in our bodies. Here
are some real ways you can change your physique--and even your mind:
1. Exercise: Find something you love to do...and combine it with 
exercise! If you love being social, join an active social group (roller
derby, group fitness classes, triathalong teams, biking groups, etc.) 
Or go on a solitary walk with your cell phone and catch up with your 
friends and'llhave to do most of the listening this way 
(cause you will be working hard) which we all need more of right?
 If you love music, make an inspiring playlist. If you love competition
sign youself up for an event (marathon, Mud Runs, obstacle courses) or
join a sports team. There are so many ways to exercise. Just move your
2. Eat Cleaner: You fuel your body in a way that reflect your goals and
 beliefs about yourself. If your eating is not in line with both of those
things, figure out what you need to do to change it. Notice, I said eat 
cleaner....make some changes. You don't have to do a complete overhaul on 
day one (unless you are one of those all- in or all-out personalities) but make healthy
changes one by one. Here is a great place to start: Don't buy junk . :)
3. Work Hard: Whether you feel like working out is a chore or your fun-time, do it
well. Be effective. When I teach I often tell people, you can fake (this exercise) or 
really put the effort into it, it's your choice. There is a common myth that you have to 
workout at least an hour to effect your body. This is not true. Click on the Link above and 
get inspired by one my favorite fitness inspirations who (although she is gentically very 
blessed) touts her 15-20 min workouts as a realistic (yet super challenging) way to really 
change your body and your health. Challenge yourself--if you are never challenging yourself 
in your exercise, you will not change. No matter how you choose to work your body do it well and 
do it often. 
4.Live it--Love it: This is the enduarance factor. You have to stick with your new healthy lifestyle
for at least 4-6 weeks to visibly begin to see the changes yourself.  I read a comic that made me
laugh a little about resolutions, it said, " I have a great business plan, I will make a Gym 
called Resolutions. It will be a Gym for the first two weeks of the year and a bar for the rest 
of the year." Make sustainable changes at a sustainable rate. This will be different from person
to person, but we can not expect to truly experience lasting change (and happiness) by binge
 dieting and binge workouts. I have watched people I love and care about do both these things
and the outcome is the same, an eventual fall off the wagon (we can't maintain extremes)
 usually followed by beating themself up. If you want a sustainable lasting change
in your health (and body) make realistic (to you) changes that you can keep long term.

So this is how you can change your body. There is no magic powder, pill or 
spray. There isn't just one exercise (or exercise genre)  that will magically transform your body.
There is your knowledge and willpower and as you strengthen those things, you will find 
that you have all you need.

I started with a quote and I'm going to end with one too:

“Impossible is just a big word thrown around by small men who find it easier to live in the world they've been given than to explore the power they have to change it. Impossible is not a fact. It's an opinion. Impossible is not a declaration. It's a dare. Impossible is potential. Impossible is temporary. Impossible is nothing.” Muhammad Ali

(I hope you enjoy the many articles I embedded in my blog piece. Feel
free to contact me if you have any questions about what I wrote here
and thanks for reading!  Liv)

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