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Tony Horton

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Feel-Good Fitness

Posted: 02/ 6/2012 2:50 pm

Why do you guys work out? Is it to look like a linebacker and score the ladies? And ladies, how about you? Maybe what you're looking for is a quick and easy fix to drop a few pounds so you can squeeze into that little black dress and turn some heads at your 20-year high school reunion? While I support each and every one of you in your endeavors, I have to be honest here and say that I'm a little disappointed.

Anyone who's ever trained with me knows that I'm the first guy to lift up his shirt at the drop of a dumbbell. That said, the reason I show up six days a week isn't so that I can have laundry scrubbing abs; it's because exercise makes me a smarter, happier, high-energy man willing to try things that used to scare the hell out of me. This comes from a guy who spent much of his time watching reruns of I Dream of Jeannie and eating far too many double cheeseburgers and pizza.

Millions of people the world over wake up on any given day and say, "enough is enough!" They want to make a change, so they search for the "next big thing," the magic key to turn their life around. This initial impulse often has nothing to do with health and productivity. Rather, it has everything to do with numbers on the scale and your refection in the mirror. There are hundreds of high profile muscle magazines, diet books and weight loss programs willing to show you how to turn things around with little or no effort. But before you plop down your hard-earned money to begin yet another program, I want you to ask yourself this. What next?

Seriously, think it through. Let's say you're that guy looking to "look good" so you can land that special lady. What if this strategy works? Jump forward 15 years. You're married to the love of your life, no longer having to keep up appearances (you've completely let yourself go) and one day, your son suggests that the two of you throw the old pigskin around. Sounds like a great idea, but by the time you've run your second down-and-out, you're wheezing and huffing like you're down and out. No one plans on becoming a fat couch potato but, well, this is how it happens.

And what about you ladies preparing for that big reunion? You lost the weight, you look good and you're the talk of the night. What more would you want? Turns out, the next morning, you're a little hung over so you blow off your run and dive into a bucket of coffee and gobble down a donut to counter that headache. Here we go again until you start planning for your sister's wedding in June. This cycle repeats itself right up to your 30-year reunion. You pull out the little black dress and, much to your horror, there's no fitting in that thing, sister. Might as well use it as a handkerchief to wipe away those tears of dismay.

My point is that shortsighted goals lead to short-term results. Is your motivation about ego or health? Is priority one your desire to look good or feel good? Exercise is so much more than building muscle or losing weight. It's life-altering in every way and the greatest byproduct is how it changes your perspective, how it alters your beliefs. It releases chemicals in your brain so that you can be happy and productive. It improves your outlook and helps you spend less time struggling and more time living a full, exciting and adventurous life. Yup -- regular exercise (and healthy food) does that!

There's nothing wrong with wanting to look good, but how you look is just part of the bigger picture of your overall wellbeing. So when you're looking for the program or diet or piece of equipment that's going to change your life, make sure it's something that'll change your whole life. In other words, don't pick something that you'll probably hate but you know will be effective. Pick something fun! Something that makes you feel great and that you just might want to do for the rest of your life. A surfboard, a pair of rollerblades or a yoga video might not tone you up like the Ab-o-Matic 6000, but they'll probably compel you to keep on truckin' past that pastry shop and into a lifetime of vitality and good health.

Also, you'll look super hot at high school reunions for the rest of your life, not that I'm saying that should be your priority...

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