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Weird one today, friends. As you know, if I get asked a question enough times, I'll write a blog post to answer it in depth. This one feels like an oxymoron: "how can I get the perfect body without having to exercise?" Let's dig in...
Personally, I feel like this question succinctly highlights the conflicting pressures of the modern world. On the one hand, there are the demands of a busy work life, including the challenges of such a sedentary lifestyle. On the other, some pretty unrealistic expectations for us to look "perfect," whatever the hell that means.
Most of my clients are corporate professionals or people who work long hours behind a desk, and so I understand and empathise with this predicament. It can feel impossible at times to balance work and family commitments whilst taking the time to look after yourself.
Before we get into this, I need to remind you of the elephant in the room. You’re living in an image-obsessed culture fuelled by other people's insecurities and need for financial gain. Every day you’re bombarded with messaging that tells you you’re not enough. Not slim enough, muscular enough, rich enough… the list goes on. The accumulated weight of all this can, and often does, become overwhelming. My aim today is to help you get your priorities organised, drop some epic science bombs, and release some of this unnecessary stress.
Do You Have A Sedentary Lifestyle?
Our bodies adapt to whatever we ask of them. If you spend long hours sitting, over time your body will adapt itself accordingly.
A sedentary lifestyle leads to a range of issues, including:
- Obesity & weight gain
- Lack of muscle tone
- Accumulation of fat around the belly
- Hunched posture
- Hip & groin tightness & strains
- Back, neck, shoulder, knee, wrist pain etc
- Poor coordination & balance
- Lethargy & low energy or even chronic fatigue
- Impaired cognitive function
- Impaired sexual function
- Poor sporting performance
Doesn't sound like much like a recipe for the perfect body, does it? If this sounds familiar, know that it’s not completely your fault - that’s the life many of us are funnelled into. People are slowly taking steps to improve that. Be sure to include yourself in any campaign, project or movement that promotes a healthier work/life balance.
Let's be clear - the real issue with a "desk body" isn't how it looks, but how it feels and performs. Regardless of this, our fitness and nutrition efforts still seem to centre around looking good, losing weight, and becoming more attractive…
What Is The Perfect Body?
When you consider why you find a particular body type or shape attractive, you’ll likely realise it’s because that body suggests that the person inside is healthy, happy, able, and confident. I often feel like we’re trying to reverse-engineer health and fitness. We see fit & healthy people and make it our goal to look like them, when really we should be aiming to think, feel, and perform as well as they do, in our own unique way.
I usually spend at least an hour with new clients helping them to figure out what it is that they actually want. This kind of deep introspection can be a challenge, but it’s well worth the effort. Start by answering the following:
How do you want to feel in your body?
How would you like to feel about yourself, including your appearance?
Which sports or activities do you want to be able to enjoy for the rest of your life?
What skills would you like to learn?
The perfect body is the one that allows you to experience all the things you enjoy, do a bunch of cool stuff, and feel great about yourself. Looking great is simply a by-product of mental and physical fitness and wellbeing.
The "perfect body" is one that's built for purpose. Filling our lives with meaning and living in alignment with our values makes us attractive.
How To Get The Perfect Body
Your body is an incredible machine that adapts to the activities you repeatedly ask of it. It responds to what you eat, how you think, and how you spend your time. Genetics play a part, too - bear in mind that you can't change your fundamental bone structure (your figure), or body fat distribution patterns (where you hold fat).
If you want to look like a runner, then live like a runner. The same applies for models, swimmers, bodybuilders, dancers, gymnasts... you name it. Train, eat, think, sleep, and LIVE like the people with your ideal body type. Figure out what they do and how they live so that you can emulate that and see similar results. This is by far the most direct way to achieve your body composition goals. Of course, it requires considerable commitment.
Perhaps on reflection you’ll decide that you don’t want to live the low-calorie model lifestyle after all, or that it’s not realistic for you to consume 3,500cals a day and train for 2-4 hours every day like a bodybuilder. That’s fine. We have to make conscious decisions and work within our limitations. It’s much better to release yourself from unrealistic expectations than live in a world where you feel like you’re not enough!
Learn To Live Your Best Life
If you live a sedentary lifestyle, it would be pretty unfair to resent your body for adapting to that. You might be tempted to take up a punishing exercise or diet regime to whip your body into shape, but unfortunately that won’t solve the problem long term. In fact that often starts a vicious cycle of behaviours that can be hard to break free from. The real solution lies in visualising and creating a balanced lifestyle that you love. For that, you need clarity, patience and sustained moderate effort over time. Start now. Take small steps. Be kind to yourself.
I know it can be hard when you’ve got work and family responsibilities. Sometimes we find ourselves stuck, without a lot of options. Take it from someone who helps people like you every day, you’ve got more options than you think!
Here are some small changes you can make:
- Get a standing desk
- Maintain a minimum level of movement, eg 10,000 steps per day
- Stretch regularly
- Practise mindfulness or meditation
- Discover which types of exercise or movement you love to do
- Learn some nutrition basics and experiment with what works for you
- Petition your employer for a better work/life balance, for example flexible working hours or a more relaxed dress code
- Make manageable, realistic changes over time
- Download my free ebook to help you identify areas for improvement in your life
- If you're willing to commit to your fitness & wellbeing, get help from a qualified professional who can provide support and optimise your efforts.
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