I was rummaging through Go Figure's old site and stumbled upon this little gem of an article by Vanessa Alexander that she wrote in 2005.  Wow where has time gone!!!  Its a great article about giving credit where its due to those who've worked hard to get their bodies into top shape. And asks whether you're working hard enough to achieve your best physique. Hope this inspires you to work harder in the gym!  Lisa 

  "At present our society dedicates itself to the politically correct way of thinking (exasperatingly so!).Common sense is slowly dying and this is not just related to general life, but also to the gym environment that we all train in and spend the precious little free time that we have in our busy schedule by working out to take time for our health.

It is here that you will see day after day, night after night the truly dedicated and driven individuals focused on constant self improvement, no matter how small the gains, all in a quest to make their body better, by gaining some much sort after muscle and losing those niggling excess kilos of bodyfat. If it was easy, then everyone would look good. But of course it isn't. It takes years of consistency, years of clean eating and years of training hard.

Each individual
trains at their own level with their own intensity and this varies greatly from person to person, as do the gains they get. You may see some people on a regular basis at your local gym who have been training for years and years but without change in their physique. The reason could be lack of intensity while working out, and most probably and more importantly a poor diet, lack of knowledgeto nutrition and laziness with eating. To achieve results you cannot have your cake and eat it too. People who are in shape and who train hard continue their dedication beyond the workout and eat protein balanced meals consistently throughout the day, every day of the week. 

  As Olympian Ronnie Coleman says, "everyone wants to look like a bodybuilder but no one wantsto lift the heavy weight." Nor, are they prepared to eat right and train hard and to go that extramile that is required to gain results. 

Trust me, we have heard every single excuse imaginable. as we have heard every put down and negative comment as well, as to why people who are in shape look the way they do. Individuals with little common sense or knowledge will look at a guy who is big, has great muscle, incredible strength, or at a woman who have a great body, is toned and lean and immediately come to their own conclusions as to why they look this way. For those who are judgemental in a negative way, they will also almost surely assume that the person takes sport enhancing drugs (ie. steroids) and think that the only way the in shape person could look theway they do is because of this. 

The old "tall poppy" syndrome is alive and well in New Zealand and when someone stands out in a crowd this tends to be the immediate reaction of people who are threatened or ignorant to that person's achievements, whether it be in the gym or in any other environment. These sorts of people also think that if they took steroids then they would also have the gains these people have.

To them to train with 110% intensity until you have sweat pouring off of you and you can barely walk because your legs are so pumped from squatting is beyond their stunted way of thinking. It's in the 'too hard' basket and they cannot ever even imagine training that way themselves because they are not prepared to put in the effort.
People who are lazy will always make up lies and put downs about people who are not, about individuals who are high achieversin the gym because it merely reminds them of what they are not capable of achieving because they have set their minds to a certain level and have placed their own limits on themselves and their ability and beliefs.

Remember, when you point the finger, three fingers are always pointing back. First seek to understand before you judge. Do not fall into the category of the 95% of the population.
If others are in better shape than you in the gym, then use that to inspire you. Do not be afraid or intimidated to approach that person and ask them for guidance or help. When you stuff another loaf of white bread into your face, that other person is eating egg whites and broccoli and when you pile upyour plate or ice cream at night the bodybuilder is having a protein shake before going to bed instead. 

While you sleep in each morning justifying why you deserve and need those extra hours lying in, the bodybuilder is at the gym doing cardio before breakfast. There is a reason that people in shape look the way that they do and making excuses is not part of their daily life. You aren't always at the gym at the same time of day or night to see these people train. You don't see them preparing their meals at home each evening, or live their life so how can you say anything about the way they look when you don't personally even know or have a clue as to what they go through to look the way they do. 

Taking responsibility for your excuses and actions is the first step. Being honest that you don't truly understand what a bodybuilder or figure lady goes through each day to get in shape or stay that way is the first step to seeking knowledge and asking the questionsyou need to so that you can put yourself on the right path to your own success. We all never stop learning - the brain is a huge muscle and when we are judgemental and negative of others our growth becomes stunted, not only in our minds but in our bodies as well. Give credit where credit is due.

Don't fall into the category of believing everything people may say or gossip about (cowardly, behind other people's backs and incidentally never to their faces). Take a stand and open your thinking up to fresh ideas and new knowledge for we never stop learning. until we stop saying "I know". Become part of the high achievers in life and the non-judgemental and your mind will open to a new way of thinking. Never be afraid to stand out in a crowd or stand up for
what you believe in.

  And, when you do see a person in great shape don't put them down, but just for a change think to yourself what has this person sacrificed or done to look that way. Like stated earlier in this article, if it was easy then everyone would look good. Hard work in the gym and eating clean is the key to success. Staying open minded leads you to more learning, and knowledge is indeed power.

Finally, to those others who prefer to make up excuses and lies about the people who have put in the effort to get what they want out of life, take a long look in the mirror, does it make you feel good to put other people down just because they look better than you or have achieved more in life than you have?
 No matter how large or small your achievements in the gym or in your own personal life be proud of yourself first and foremost when you have earned those results.

At the end of the day let common sense prevail and you will grow not only as a person but in the gym as well.
 Strength is not only about lifting weights but being strong enough in your mind to block out negative, judgemental comments and rise above the little people who belittle your achievements. Take every put down as a compliment and never bend your head, always hold it high and look the world straight in the face. 

To sum up I end with this quote from Michelangelo (1475-1564) Italian painter and sculptor -"If people knew how hard I work to gain my mastery, it would not seem so wonderful at all." 

Vanessa Alexander
First printed 2005

9 March '11

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