Since I have been working out on a consistent and dedicated basis, I wondered to myself: Is it possible to achieve a “perfect” body? (By the way – let me just start off saying that this is not another yoga article saying that the perfect body is whatever you have now. Screw that.) There are different ideas of what a perfect body is considered. Some people will cite a certain ratio of weight to height, or compare bodyweight to the amount of weight that you can lift. Other people look at aesthetics, and imagine that the perfect body is supposed to look a certain way. Personally, I consider the perfect body something that is ready for anything; one that can go play a lacrosse game one day – and without fear of injury, completely dominate, score multiple goals, and run up and down the field for 60 minutes – and then the next day go out and do a Bikram yoga session, followed by crushing a CrossFit workout the day afterwards before doing a series of backflips through a ring of fire. That is my idea of the perfect body. Getting back to my question: does it exist?
There are so many different aspects of your physical fitness to train. When we speak of knowledge, we often say that the more you know, the less you know. I think that the same concept applies to fitness. The more types of physical fitness that you know about and the more types of physical fitness that you strive to get good at only fuels your realization of all of the deficiencies that exist in your physical fitness, and the less accomplished, or less physically fit you feel. It’s like that for me a lot. I go kill a power yoga session for athletes and then teach and participate in two Man Flow Yoga classes, but then come home and watch a video of a guy beasting a CrossFit workout, doing awesome gymnastics, or doing a killer weight lifting session, and I think to myself, “Man I wish I could be doing all of that.” I think of all the things that I want to improve about my body, the little imbalances and deficiencies that I want to address, and I realize that if I wanted to fix all of them that I would have to be working out 6 – 8 hours a day. Alas, I am not an olympic athlete or a professional athlete. People don’t pay me millions to be in ridiculously good shape. I consider further that even if I “fix” all of those deficiencies, that I would then have to maintain all of those different levels of fitness. There’s no way! So… knowing all of that, how can you ever be satisfied by reaching the perfect body?
Sorry. It’s just not going to happen. You will never have the “perfect” body. It’s the same as never having “enough” money. You can set a goal for yourself, but even when you get there, you will just want to set the bar higher. Your quest for physical fitness is no different than your insatiable appetite for anything else. What’s the alternative, then? How do you get a “perfect” body?
The answer is by constantly pushing yourself. Make reasonable, measurable goals for yourself, and work consistently to reach those goals. If you ever get discouraged, just look at where you were two months ago, after two months of hard, consistent work. I’m hoping that there is some difference, and that you can appreciate yourself for it! Specifically, what I recommend doing, is picking one or two things that you really want to address, and spend a little bit of each day working on that deficiency. If that means that you want to work on your pull-ups, it means creating a pull-up workout for yourself and sticking to it for 2 months, no matter how much it sucks! It means taking care of all the back muscles that you will be exercising by using a foam roller and stretching consistently. If you want to get better at headstands, it means staying 5-10 minutes after every yoga class that you attend to work on your handstands as other people are rolling up their mats and walking out the door. Personally, I am currently working on my shoulders. For 30 minutes a day, I do something to improve my shoulder strength, flexibility, or endurance. Today I did a bunch of work with resistance bands to strengthen the muscles in my back and take some of the tension out of my shoulder tightness. Yesterday I did sets of 15 pull-ups and some deep stretching to open up all the muscles that meet at the rotator cuff. Tomorrow I will be doing pull-ups again, and some range of motion exercises.
You can’t be perfect at everything. You can, however, be perfect in your struggle to achieve the best physical fitness results that you can. Don’t get complacent, but appreciate yourself for the gains from consistent, hard work. (Notice how I said “appreciate” and not “reward” yourself. Feeling entitled to slack off because you work out is like complimenting yourself for – it’s just something you do.) I will never achieve the perfect body. I don’t know if anybody believes that they have or even can. I will, however, always take comfort in doing my best to improve my current level of physical fitness.