Training to fit your clothes?….Really? Seems to be quite different from articles I’ve written in the past, doesn’t it. There’s more to wanting form fitting clothes on a toned, muscular body than you think. I’m about to show you why that’s the case and I’m going to outline some tips on how to have a more toned physique.
It’s not selfish to want to fit into a better size and show off your muscles/curves. This urge may very well be human nature. Among many other things, form fitting clothes and a toned, muscular body can:
- Improve confidence
- Signify vibrant health
- Express strength
- Help in attracting members of the opposite gender
Believe it or not, points 1, 2 and 3 are all tied to point number 4. Fighting to appeal to the opposite gender is hard wired in our DNA. It’s one of the primary ways that our DNA is more securely carried forward through the generations. 
The very same reason why male peacocks who have more colorful tails, are more likely to find a mate. To the female peacock, a colorful tale signifies health and a better potential to be fertile.
In recent years, we’ve seen a movement against body shaming. Although this movement has important merits, it seems to have gone to an extreme. The innate feeling of anxiety when we catch a glimpse of an underwhelming figure, is exactly the motivation that’s required to fix the problem.
That’s precisely how Arnold Schwarzenegger was able to grow his tiny calves. The simple (but unsettling) habit of exposing your flaws, is what allows you to fix them. Maybe that feeling of anxiety is a normal way for our brain to communicate that a change is necessary.
Instead, we’ve been made to feel comfortable being out of shape. We’ve been conditioned to ignore these impulses and instead get angry when someone brings them up.
However, although these instincts may lead you to better health, they can become corrupted through unrealistic images that are shown in the media. Guys with shredded 6-packs who require a whole slough of drugs and a miserable diet to maintain their physique or the unhealthy female clothing models that have to starve to look the way they do.
There can be a happy medium. Sculpting a body that you feel comfortable and confident with is very achievable. Reaching this result may be just a few small adjustments away.
Reasons Why You Haven’t Arrived At Your Goal
#1 Poor Diet
A poor diet can mean many things:
- Poor absorption (digestive issues) caused by the inclusion or lack-of certain foods
- Too much sugar (or carbs in general) which interferes with proper energy usage
- Eating till you’re full
Digestive issues come in many forms and can influence everything from mood to muscle gain to fat loss. I’ve written up a more detailed post on digestion here.
Sugar or carbs can influence your blood sugar. Maintaining an elevated blood sugar can work against fat loss and muscle gain. Insulin is released in response to elevated blood sugar and ensures that excess sugar is stored as fat, making it impossible to release any stores.
Maintaining an elevated blood sugar is typically fine for muscle gain when timed properly. However, a consistently elevated blood sugar can actually deliver you closer to type 2 diabetes and hinder your muscle cells’ ability to take in nutrients.
Eating till you’re full can be looked at from 2 angles. First, if you’re trying to gain muscle, eating till you’re full is a problem because you need to push past full in most scenarios. I’ve heard so many people talk about how they eat so much but can’t seem to gain muscle. 1 day of a detailed food journal reveals that that’s not the case. Pushing past full is essential to the growth of muscle.
Second, if you’re trying to lose fat, you may need to re-identify what it means to be full. What I mean is a few things:
- Some foods make you more full than others
- Boredom can be disguised as hunger
- Food sensitivities and inflammatory foods can make your cravings go wild
Assessing what may be at the root of your craving surges will help to keep you to rely less on will power which is a limited resource.
Slow but steady wins the race.
Often what I see, is people so excited to get started that they introduce too many new habits into their lifestyle. This doesn’t last. It’s better in most cases to start slow and master new habits one at a time.
This is ultimately what leads to the consistency that you can look back on and attribute your success to.
#3 Flawed Training
Training with a purpose is important. That can’t happen until you define what it is you want.
It’s not hard to go to the gym and watch Average Andy throw around weight for 45 minutes and wonder why it isn’t working. Training to become strong is different from training to become big is different from training to torch fat. Think of your diet as the engine, and your training as the steering wheel.
Understanding how long you need to rest, how many reps you need to go for and how heavy the weight has to be is the key to your success. Having the discipline to find a suitable plan and sticking to it will garner amazing results.
#4 Shallow Sleep
Sleep is as important if not more important than any other factor in your journey to your optimal physique. Sleep influences the next days’ hormonal balance, blood sugar regulation  and motivation. 
If you’re itching to start getting your 8 hours every night, hold on. It’s about quality of sleep over quantity. Going to sleep requires ensuring that you:
- Don’t have any light pollution in your room
- Aren’t interfered with in the middle of the night
- Aren’t staring at a phone screen for a couple hours before bed
- Aren’t drinking any caffeine after 2 pm
- Aren’t deficient in any vitamins or minerals (this could be a simple exclusion or inclusion of specific foods in your diet)
Most people find that if they take care of the quality, 6 hours is enough. Others require more. This area requires some individual experimentation.
Most of the people who hesitate (or procrastinate), don’t even realize they do it. Hesitation is tough to deal with. Achieving a fitness goal requires some habit changes and a different usage of time. To people who lead busy lives, this is interpreted as potentially destructive.
When you have responsibilities or other goals, it’s hard not to envision that those aspects of your life will crumble if you introduce something new. However, it helps to look back at some of the responsibilities that you’ve been handed in the past (that seemed to be too much at the time) and realize how you managed them just fine.
The fact that most people seek to start with perfection doesn’t help either. Valuing progress over perfection will ultimately lead you to success. Remember: slow but steady wins the race. None of that matters if you never start the race.
Stress is another big part of what’s working against your success. Humans have never been under such chronic stress in history. Typically it is normal to experience short bursts of stress. This type of intermittent stress is actually very healthy and helps us to stay alive (think of running away from a bear).
The problem with chronic stress is that hormones that work against your success are released. Cortisol is the main hormone that works against your success. This hormone breaks down proteins (which can be your muscle) in order to provide your bloodstream with more energy. It does this by turning the protein into sugar through a process known as gluconeogenesis.
For me, meditation has worked wonders in helping me to reduce my stress level. I’m no longer as controlled by my emotions and I can live a more even-keeled life than ever before. I recommend downloading the Headspace app and doing the 10 day free trial. This free trial teaches you how to meditate. From there, all you’ll need is either relaxing sounds or complete silence to fall into a meditative state.
Seeking a fitness goal that’s rooted in your need to look better in your clothes is not selfish. It’s quite the opposite. It’s a natural human impulse that helps us to feel more fulfilled and confident in life. Achieving these goals is completely possible and you may be over-estimating the work required. With a few lifestyle tweaks, you can be walking around wearing that shirt that you’ve always wanted to look toned and filled out in.
- Start by defining what you want
- Break that goal down into multiple steps
- Decide on an achievable first step
- Master one step at a time
- Keep on adding new steps until you’ve introduced them all
- Keep going until you accomplish your physique goal
- Define a new goal
Let this be your new anchor in life. No one is superhuman. We all just need a little guidance. In no time you’ll look in the mirror to find your dream has become a reality.
 UCLA. “Why Is Muscularity Sexy? Tests of the Fitness Indicator Hypothesis”. [Online]. Available: http://www.sscnet.ucla.edu/comm/haselton/papers/downloads/Frederick_Haselton_2007_Muscularity_sexy.pdf
 NCBI. “Impact of sleep and sleep loss on glucose homeostasis and appetite regulation”. [Online]. Available: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2084401/
 Science Direct. “The effects of sleep loss on capacity and effort”. [Online]. Available: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1984006314000583