Get Up And Code 057: Realistic Expectations
How realistic are your expectations for your physique and fitness level?
In this episode, I discuss some of the unrealistic expectations we can have after seeing bodybuilders and fitness models who utilize unnatural means to achieve their results.
Full transcript below:
John: Hey, welcome back to Get Up and CODE. I’m John Sonmez and in this episode we’re going to be talking about basically what is a realistic expectation for your fitness goals and for mostly your physique really and this is going to apply whether you’re a man or a woman what kind of things are actually attainable. I think there’s a lot of confusion around this idea of what is possible, what things are photoshopped and what things are unnaturally achieved. I’m going to try and address that in this episode and I’m going to give you my take on it.
As you’ll hear about there’s really not a good way to find out exactly the truth on this situation but I’m going to tell you what I think and what my research has found and what I found from just the long time that I’ve been in the fitness industry. I mean I’ve been lifting since I was about 15 years old. I’m 34 now. It’s quite a while.
Before we get into that I did want to talk about another topic that someone had brought up. I’ve been kind of following this a little bit and I thought this would be something interesting to talk about probably not enough to create a whole episode based on but it’s this thing called Soylent. If you remember that old movie the Soylent Green, Soylent Green is made of people. I’m assuming that’s where the name came from. This has gotten some notoriety I’d say. Maybe notoriety is not the right word but it’s gotten some hype in the tech industry just because this was created by an engineer and it’s sort of this idea of creating a meal replacement technology, if you will, that would basically replace all your meals.
If you go to Soylent.me that’s S-O-Y-L-E-N-T dot me you can find out about Soylent. They’re actually shipping this now. A lot of people are using this. I’m still a bit on the fence about this. In some regards it aligns with my philosophy on diet which is basically just ignore it, just make it as mundane as possible. If we can just eat the same foods and be happy with that it makes things a lot simpler. We reduce a lot of decisions in our life and we’re less likely to make mistakes.
The idea behind the Soylent is basically that it’s going to give you everything that you need. It’s basically this powder that you add water to and then you drink it 3 times a day and it’s going to give all your nutrition needs. When I look at what is composed of I’m not exactly pleased with the balance here on how the carbohydrates to protein to fat ratio. Looking at the Soylent what it’s made of, I’m assuming this is per serving or maybe it’s per day actually because it’s pretty high numbers here. I guess it would be per day, like what is your nutrition per day.
It’s got 252 grams of carbs, it’s got 114 grams of protein and then 70 grams of fatty acids which isn’t horribly bad I don’t think. I’d rather see the protein higher and possibly the fat higher with the carbohydrates lower. Of course these aren’t the crappy carbohydrates that you would get eating junk food. These carbohydrates aren’t going to be that bad. I don’t like the ratio all that much.
It does have 27 grams of fiber and it seems decent. I wouldn’t be afraid of taking this. I think you’ll probably do well even if you’re training you’ll probably do fine taking this but I’m not 100% convinced on it. I think I need to see some results from this and see how this would affect a diet and I do think that drinking the same thing repeatedly, just drinking it maybe you could develop a habit for this and then it wouldn’t be so bad. Even with my strict diets, eating the same foods over and over it’s not really that easy to do so I can’t imagine going to just a shake which is probably I’m guessing is not the most tasty shake. I don’t know. I’ve never tried this stuff.
I’m sort of interested to try it but on the other hand I’m also not interested in really messing up my diet and routine. I don’t really want to take the risk. If you’re a listener of this show and you have tried it email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and let me know. Maybe we can do something and chart your progress and see how this works out. Yes, it’s kind of interesting. I think it’s a step in the right direction. Maybe we can develop customized Soylents. I know that the formula is open source so there are like these hacks out there where people are developing different versions of this. It would be kind of cool to be able to customize it on the website and be able to mess with the proteins and carbs. If I could do that I would be sold.
If I could control it to some degree to make it exactly the balance ratios that I want to have then I’d definitely be sold on it because that’s what I do with my diet now is I basically balance, I use eggs, whole eggs versus egg whites to get the right ratio of protein to fats. I have to throw carbs in there, try to find good card sources. If I could customize myself I’ll be pretty happy with that. Anyway, pretty cool, check it out. I don’t know about going full bore on it and I’d like to hear some stories of people that have been able to maintain this for several months at a time but it seems like a good way to lose some weight if you could strictly conform to that.
If you could strictly conform to just drinking this shake you could probably just eat a normal diet or greatly reduce your calories. I don’t know. We’ll see what happens in the future here but this is definitely something to watch.
With that said, before we move on here I do want to give a shout out to our sponsor for this podcast SignalLeaf. They are at signalleaf.com. If you are looking to create your own podcast you can go to signalleaf.com and check it out. They sponsor this show by hosting this podcast so we appreciate SignalLeaf.
Last thing before I jump into the topic right now my schedule is pretty hectic. So far these podcasts are making it out every week but I could use a few interviews. If you have an interesting story or you know someone that I should interview I need to get some ideas here and make some connections so I can get some of those interviews created otherwise we might have a couple of episode gaps or you’re just going to hear me talking quite a bit about different topics which, if you think that’s all right, then that’s fine. If you do have some interview suggestions or you have a story or something that you’d like to share or be on the show just email me at email@example.com and I will be appreciative of that.
Let’s talk about the main topic here which is basically what is realistic in terms of what you can expect. I'm primarily going to target this about what can you expect as far as what you look like from lifting, from eating right. It’s interesting because if you follow bodybuilding, if you look at the big time pro bodybuilders, you see fitness magazines and there are 2 things right? Let’s look at first fitness magazines that have big bodybuilders like Flex Magazine, Mr. Olympia Jay Cutler, if you’ve seen any of my YouTube videos or anything you know I’ve got a signed picture of Jay Cutler when I met him in the background hanging on my wall.
Those kind of guys, that kind of physique I think most of us, if you’re not, well here’s a surprise, most of us are probably aware of the fact that these guys are definitely on steroids. They’re not natural. They’re taking a lot of different things. I'm not one of those people that’s so against steroids and unnatural things that I'm like, “Oh, you might as well put a gun to your head. It’s going to kill you.” It’s not really true but I don’t do it and I never have and I'm assuming that I never will just because, I don’t know, there’s something about earning your way, about doing the hard work. When you get the gain without the work it messes things up because part of the process of achieving a goal is the process of accomplishing it. That’s part of what you get is the way that it affects you. It internally changes you from achieving that. It’s really hard to enjoy something that you got like an ill-gotten gain.
I did a YouTube video on why I wouldn’t want to win the lottery and it’s kind of the same type of philosophy. I want to earn my way and I think it’s really hard to enjoy something that you got through a get rich quick scheme or some kind of really fast way of achieving results without doing the work that’s required to get there. I'm not saying that you can’t be smart but that’s my thoughts on that.
Anyway, these big bodybuilders, obviously these guys are on steroids. You’re not going to get nearly that big without being on something. There’re a lot of things that they’re on. I don’t want to just make it seem like it’s not that simple, right? It’s not just steroids. There’s cutting agents that some of them are pretty dangerous and I'm not going to go over them here because they’re definitely dangerous enough that I’d rather not talk about some of those. You can do some research on your own. There are also things like human growth hormone and you can notice the changes that some of these different things have on the body.
If you notice someone who is on human growth hormone they’ll tend to have—it actually affects your bone structure. They’ll have bigger brows. They’ll look more Neanderthal. They’ll have big hands and it changes the shape of your face. It changes a lot of your body just the way that it looks. It’s not just muscle. That’s the key thing here is that a lot of these pro bodybuilders it’s not just muscular changes it’s also the density of the muscle and how the muscle looks. It’s also the skin. There’s a lot of things going on behind the scenes here.
All that to say that if you’re trying to become a professional bodybuilder, if you want to look like a professional bodybuilder you’re going to have to go down that road. This I think most people understand. If you didn’t understand that well I'm telling you now I hate to burst your bubble but you’re going to basically have to do something unnatural. You’re basically going to have to go into that dark area. That’s just the way it is. The same thing goes with really—and again, I can’t tell you for 100% sure on this one, I can tell you on the bodybuilders yes, for sure they’re on steroids, but for professional athletics I would seriously doubt that there’s professional athletes, football players and baseball players and whatnot that aren’t on some kind of enhancement. If I were doing it I certainly would because it makes sense in that case and if your competition is doing it there’s no way you’re going to compete with them naturally.
These substances like steroids greatly, greatly enhance performance and greatly enhance the size and the amount of muscle that you can put on your body so it’s very hard to compete against that. If you took a natural bodybuilder and you tried to have them compete against a professional bodybuilder who is on steroids there’s no contest. There’s no way that they could even come close.
Yeah, hopefully I didn’t burst your bubble there but like I said, I think most people are aware of that. Let’s take this now to the other side, the other part of this. The other fitness magazines where you see this ripped guy on the cover of the magazine with the 6-pack abs or 8-pack abs all cut and ripped up, very defined muscles, not huge, not huge, right? This is the one where it’s really interesting because these guys look like they might be able to achieve their physiques naturally. I’ve worked in the modelling side. I used to do some modelling a long time ago and never got really deep into the fitness modelling but I can tell you that for certainty that a lot of models in fact—pretty much all successful fitness models that are on the covers of magazines are not there naturally.
Now, can I prove this? No, I can’t prove it. If you look at the professional bodybuilders I don’t even need to prove it. That’s pretty obvious, right? These ones I can’t prove it so I'm going based on the research I’ve done, what I’ve seen, what I’ve done myself, how far I’ve taken my diet and my exercise to know that there’s a limit to where you can get naturally. A lot of this has to do with hormones and manipulating those hormones.
You can get ripped but you’re going to lose a huge amount of muscle. The more fat that you lose it starts to hit this point where it takes a lot of muscle with it. I can say this pretty confidently because I’ve been as big as 300 lbs and not just a fat 300 lbs. Before I tore my pec I was a pretty strong 300 lbs bench pressing 405 for reps, not 10 reps but few reps out there. I definitely had a max that was—I never even did one rep max back then and squatting several plates and all that. I wasn’t super lean but I was around 300 lbs which is big. I'm 6’3” so that’s still pretty dang big. I’ve been as low as 180 lbs, 180 something, right around there and that’s within a 2-year period of time.
I’ve been on both sides of that and I can tell you when I dieted down to 180 or around about that number I wasn’t insanely ripped. You would think that I would be, right? At that time to be honest I wasn’t lifting, I wasn’t doing as much in the weight training. I had gotten fat at some point and then I cut down a bunch of pounds and got down to around that 180 mark. My point in saying that is that even though I lost all that weight a lot of muscle came with it. I looked pretty skinny at that point which is weird for me because I’ve always been lifting and been a big guy.
That kind of shows you that just because you lose weight doesn’t mean that you’re going to necessarily lose fat. There’s a diminishing return. The whole reason why I'm saying that is because when you look at these cover models, fitness models on magazines and you see them with these extremely ripped physiques there are 2 things going on there. One which is what I'm getting to here is that they’re probably on some kind of gear. They’re probably on something. I’d say 90% chance maybe even more, you can’t really confirm this because no one admits to what they’re doing. They’re no something. They’re using something to either burn fat at an extremely rapid pace, usually a combination of a steroid and a fat burner. Not all steroids necessarily make you big. Some steroids you can utilize to preserve muscle at the same time as you’re using a fat burning agent to burn fat and that will lean you out. That’s what a lot of these fitness models are doing.
Obviously there’re a lot of steroids that are sold in the black market and they’re not just being used by professional bodybuilders. This is where a lot of that is going to.
That same thing applies to females as well. If you’re a woman out there listening to this podcast or you know someone who is trying to achieve one of those fitness model physiques, for a woman you might be surprised to find that a lot of women that have those kind of physiques are actually on steroids as well or at least some kind of fat burning agent that’s not legal, not necessarily safe usually a combination of the 2. To be honest with you, the same type of things work for men and women.
The reason why I'm saying that is that it’s totally unrealistic. You have to have an idea in mind of what is realistic because you have to realize that you’re never going to achieve those levels that you see. That’s okay because you can still look really good naturally. You can still look really, really good and you can still have a 6-pack or an 8-pack that’s visible and have some decent muscle with that. It’s going to be really, really hard to have a lot of muscle and have a 6-pack just because like I said, as you lose more and more of the fat you are going to lose muscle with that. You can get to that point but you do have to have a realistic expectation of what you can actually achieve naturally otherwise you’re just going to be beating yourself up and not understanding why you can’t achieve those results.
The other part of this is a lot of these fitness models that you see is that they basically are in a state where they have dieted down from maybe 16 or 20 weeks and they’ve been really, really strict for that period of time just to barely peak for a couple of days. The same thing happens with bodybuilders but most people don’t realize that fitness models do the same type of thing. Let’s say that they were natural which I'm going to tell you they’re not, but I can understand the debate around that, but let’s say that they’re natural. They dieted down for a long period like 16 weeks of very, very strict diet, got into the tiptop shape. They’re manipulating their water and sodium so that their skin is going to be as thin as possible and then they do a photo shoot for a day or 2 because that’s as long as they can really maintain that and then they get soft and mushy again because when you do water depletion you think the skin, you get in a temporary state. You’re also oiled up.
There’re a lot of things that are going on there not to mention the camera angle and the lighting. If you want to do a quick experiment and want to look good, go ahead and get in the mirror, flex, but make sure that you have an overhead light source that’s shining down on you. It’s going to make all the shadows pop out. Want to look bad? Put the light source below you so there’re no shadows, or right in front of you and you’re not going to look so good.
Basically what’s happening is there’s kind of a manipulation there of just a couple of days. These fitness models are not going around looking like this all the time. Now, here’s the inevitable question that most people would ask, well, I go to my gym and I see a lot of people that look like they could be fitness models. They look really, really good. What’s going on with them? Well, the simple answer is those are the people that are consuming anabolics. They are using steroids. Just because you know them or see them at the gym doesn’t mean that they’re not on steroids. Obviously there’re a lot of people that are using those supplements and there’s definitely a lot of knowledge in the fitness industry about how to do that that gets passed around. That’s what’s happening there.
Now, I don’t mean to say this to totally discourage you and make you feel like you’re never going to look good. You can definitely get down to, for men I would say probably about 10% body fat without huge, huge amount of effort. That’s totally possible natural. Once you start dropping below that you might be able to creep into the 9, 8, 7%. It gets exponentially harder as you drop down and at some point you’re just not going to get there. You’re not going to get down to the bodybuilder level 5% which you probably wouldn’t want to anyway. It doesn’t look really that good. But if you can get down to 10% you’re going to look pretty good with your shirt off on the beach, you know what I mean? 9, 8% is going to be pretty extreme. It’s going to be pretty hard to maintain that in the long term.
With women the big thing is going to be you’re not going to have cut thighs. It’s just not going to happen. You can get your abs pretty cut up naturally. That can definitely happen but for most women the thighs are just going to carry weight and that’s not going to disappear naturally. I mean you can be skinny as a rail and you’re still going to have meat there. You’re going to have some fat there. You’re not going to be cut. That’s just realistic expectations to have there.
I just wanted to make sure that I cover this topic because I know that it comes up a lot. This is a podcast. I don’t really have pictures. This whole thing about this conversation is that this is my take on it. I'm pretty sure that I'm right after being involved in fitness for this many years, over 15 years and talking with a lot of people that are in really good shape and talking with a lot of bodybuilders and myself going through. Like I said, I’ve been a very cut, I’ve been on very strict diets, I’ve been in all kinds of training routines and programs and I’ve never been able to achieve anywhere close to what some fitness models have been able to achieve. That’s me being totally natural.
Again, this is one of those things that if you do a search on the internet, if you try to find this information you’re not really going to find this because even pro bodybuilders don’t really, I mean it’s very rare that a pro bodybuilder even admits that they use steroids. We know that they do. Occasionally it slips or someone admits it, but for the most part they don’t even admit it.
Imagine natural bodybuilders, they have natural bodybuilding competitions, a lot of these guys are juiced up as well. They don’t admit that for sure because they’ll get thrown out. That’s a no-no. You’re supposed to be totally natural. In fact, you wouldn’t have natural bodybuilding competitions if you didn’t have unnatural ones.
The same thing goes with fitness models. You’re not going to hear them just coming out and saying, “Yeah, yeah, I'm on steroids and I'm taking a cutting agent that’s illegal, that’s prescription drug.” You’re just not going to hear that kind of thing. You can’t really verify it and if you ask someone they’re going to say, “Oh no, it’s natural. I'm not doing that.” But you can see the differences when you look. If you happen to know someone who is a fitness model or who is a bodybuilder then you can assume what they’re doing and what they’re telling you is probably close to what the fold is, what everyone else is doing. That’s where I get a lot of my knowledge and information on this.
The other thing about this is—I mean it’s going to depend somewhat on genetics. You’re going to have different results than someone else might and your potential is going to be different than someone else’s. Also, you never know the truth about the training. Someone says that they’re following a diet. Someone says they’re following this training program and they’re actually doing something different. It’s really hard to—very few people can actually maintain the kind of diet that’s needed so you don’t have a lot of results out there.
The other piece of it is a lot of celebrities obviously if you’re being paid a lot of money to make a movie and you need to be in shape you’re going to do whatever necessary for that to happen. A lot of the celebrity trainers know this information, know how you actually get in shape like the movie shape that a lot of celebrities are in. So yeah, so you’re going to see that there as well and that’s a little bit unrealistic.
We haven’t even really covered the idea of the photoshopping. I'm sure you’ve seen the whole fiasco about photoshopping and how that works as far as models as well. That’s certainly something that exists. That’s aside from the point. The question is what kind of physique can you achieve naturally. Like I said, it’s not going to be fitness model but it’s going to be good. I mean you can look good. It does take a lot of work. It does take a lot of effort.
I guess it brings us to this question which I guess I’ll answer here. I wasn’t planning on talking about this but it’s worth having a little bit of the conversation a little bit more about is well if it’s so hard to do this naturally, if it’s so hard to look good naturally, why, why would I do it naturally? Why not just cheat so to speak? Why not get on steroids and take an illegal metabolism boosting agent or fat burner, why not do that?
I think everyone has to answer this for themselves. Like I said, if I were a professional athlete I would probably make the choice to take one of those substances because that is what my job and career is based on. I have to level the playing field. I'm not a professional athlete. I stay fit and stay in shape because I want to look good and also because I like the way it makes me feel to know that I’ve achieved the results that I’ve achieved. That’s why I stick with just going all natural.
Now, you have to make the choice for yourself. I’d recommend, I’d encourage you, obviously, I'm going to encourage you on this show to make safe and smart choices. Why put yourself at risk because there’s definitely a risk when you’re dealing with manipulating your hormones and you’re dealing with manipulating your body? There’s certainly risk involved. Not that it can’t be mitigated by smart professionals that know what they’re doing but there is risk involved. Why take that risk? Why possibly damage your body for vanity’s sake and you’re not even going to have had the satisfaction of had made it yourself? You have taken the shortcut.
That’s my thought on it. I don’t think it’s a good idea. I can see why a lot of people do it and if that’s something that is so important to you then you’ll have to weigh that out for yourself or if that’s something that’s going to greatly affect your career if you’re in a fitness or you’re in some kind of career that would make sense you’re going to have to make that decision. But yeah, that’s why I would say it’s worth doing the hard work. It’s worth going out there and hitting the gym and running and staying in shape naturally is because one, you’re not putting yourself at risk, 2, there’s a satisfaction in doing that and 3, why, why would you do the other? Is there really a need? Does it make that much of a difference to you?
Yep, that’s it. That’s all I’ve got to say on this topic. If you have any comments on this leave a comment on this podcast or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll read any good comments I have. If you have some inside information on this I would love to talk to you. I can even anonymize your name or we can try to do some voice disguising thing, but I would love to hear some real stories so I could have a little bit more evidence based on—I guess a lot of this is just what I have come up with and put together on my own just from my experiences from talking with a lot of people. Yeah, I would definitely like to hear from you.
Well, that about wraps up this podcast. I’ve been rambling on for quite a while here. If you have any guests or any ideas for show definitely email me email@example.com. Have a nice week and I will talk to you next time. Check out the website at getupandcode.com and if you don’t mind leave a review on iTunes if you’re enjoying this podcast so that more people can find it. All right, take care.