We've all seen the stories from the fitness experts. Whether it's articles about Hollywood or late night fitness infomercials showing extraordinary results, they all promise that we can do the same with enough work and dedication. To an extent this may be true, but just how reliable are the success stories they discuss? What are the dark secrets that aren't shared with the public in order for these fitness gurus to push their products?
To be fair, these results are possible. Sometimes with the programs they offer, and usually with a bit of help from incorporating other fitness and health strategies. It's also true that getting these results takes an extreme amount of dedication and hard work. It takes discipline with what you eat, and a person's genetics can play a part too in how difficult those achievements might be. I don't want to say genetics can stop someone from achieving similar feats as I like to think anything is possible. Realistically though they can certainly make that journey harder or easier.
There is also a dark side that these videos don't talk about. You've likely seen the articles about how some results are faked through different editing techniques. Sometimes this is done with photoshop. Other times it's just a matter of posture and lighting as Buzzfeed showed in a video. There have been other articles where people have shown how they've made what appears to be a huge weight loss transformation and they've done it in under an hour, similar to the article about transformation photos found on the Huffington Post.
When I first saw these, one of my thoughts went to films and the videos being produced. Photo's are easy to fake, but how can they fake a video where we actually see them walking around and looking trim and toned, and in some cases their muscles bulging. Sure they could be using some lighting tricks, maybe hitting the weights right up until they call action on a take to make their muscles appear larger, but there's no way they can completely fake abs showing in a video. Even if it's not as prominent as in the film due to lighting, they still have to have them. In other words, my thinking was they can fake photos extremely well but they can't fake videos to that extent...or can they?
This curiosity nagged at me for a few days until I finally broke down and had to ask. I visited my gym and asked a few trainers I know about the possibility of such deceiving acts. Thus began my realization of the other dark secrets of the fitness gurus.
Most Extraordinary Results are Short Lived
This seemed to be the most common explanation given by the trainers. They discussed body building competitions as an example of short term results, or at least appearance. Most bodybuilders go through grueling training leading up to a competition, including an extremely strict diet. Everything is geared and balanced so that they 'peak' at the time of competition.
What this means is that in the weeks before a competition when you see a bodybuilder training, you'll notice none of them looked cut up. They may be big and huge, but there's not really a lot of muscle definition, at least not like you see with them during the actual event. It's not until the event that everything hiding the tone of their bodies is stripped away, and of course the grease and lighting come in to make it even more prominent. After the competition, all that tone once again fades away until the next event comes around.
Oddly enough Channing Tatum, the well defined hunk we all drooled over in Magic Mike, has mentioned the same thing with weight fluctuations. Like the bodybuilder example, he gains weight between films and then gets back into shape right before the making of his movies.
So if you're not able to hold onto your results from long hours in the gym, don't stress about it. As the trainers informed me, it's a very small portion of people who can actually maintain an amazing physique for the long term. The human body just wasn't meant to look like it stepped out of a magazine every second of every day, and even the stars don't maintain that look for long periods.
They Endanger Their Health for Results
The second dark secret mentioned in how they look so trim had me a bit horrified. It goes against what most trainers and fitness gurus preach, and yet the same ones preaching it break the rule to ensure they look their best when they need to. That rule can be summed up in one word, water.
You heard that right! Anyone who's ever listened to trainers or read articles from fitness experts has heard of the importance of staying hydrated by drinking water. Apparently this is also the rule these people break. Again, the example I was told related to bodybuilders, although there were also rumors of some famous tv fitness personalities doing it to ensure they looked lean and toned during their videos.
Now I'm not sure if it's a bad thing or not, as it does appear to be a short term thing to ensure an extra hard looking physique for a short period of time. There's even a breakdown of the way bodybuilders change their salt intake along with drinking a lot of water, then literally stopping to rid their bodies of water weight leading up to a competition on bodybuilder.com.
Even if it isn't an unhealthy practice, if fitness celebrities are using this type of technique before video shoots, it still leads to unhealthy expectations for those of us watching. It leads many of us to believe that through hard work, the results we see on tv are actual results that can be achieve for the long term and held onto. In actuality they're in some ways as deceptive as the photos, and in other ways create a long term expectation of how we might look when even the trainers themselves can't hold onto the trim physique they portray for those few short days.
This doesn't mean we shouldn't strive to be the fittest version of ourselves. It doesn't mean we're all doomed to workout with lackluster results. It does mean that we shouldn't allow ourselves to become overly disappointed when, even if we can achieve an amazing result, we can't hold onto that perfect version of ourself. As long as we're within reason, we haven't failed anymore than those we try to aspire to.