We all see ab-laden males and bikini-clad females with perfectly sculpted bodies grace the covers of our favorite style and fitness magazines, but what does that come at the cost of?
To put it simply, this look is commonly referred to in the fitness industry as being lean. While a healthy body fat percentage for men and women is 6-20% and 16-30% respectively (while the upper end of those numbers is less than ideal), many fitness models, contestants, and people who are in search for the “perfect body” often dip below these numbers – if you can imagine. What this looks like? Typically it results in vascularity and pronunciation of muscles especially in the abdominal region – the hardest muscles to uncover.
Healthy Range for Body Fat
As the infographic by Precision Nutrition states, we all want these “six pack abs [and] tight butts” but that may come at a cost which is almost not worth paying unless you are in the fitness industry full-time. Of course, if you are in the healthy range of body fat for your gender and practicing moderation and balance in all areas of your life while staying dedicated – from nutrition to fitness – you can still look lean, healthy, and have ab definition. On the other hand, taking your regimen to the extreme is definitely not maintainable unless you are willing to sacrifice other areas of your life including social events, outings, and other interests. However, even fitness models have acknowledged that they are not photoshoot ready year round and do not think it is healthy to try to be whatsoever.
The Perfect Body
It’s easy to gawk at the perfect body and wish you could be so “lucky” or have such “great genes”, but neither luck nor great genes are to thank for these kinds of bodies. It takes more hard work, focus, and dedication than you could imagine. Say goodbye to happy hours, your nightly cup of ice cream, and occasional workouts. To push your body to the limit, you have to push your mind to the limit, and sometimes that is just not worth the pressure. We’re not saying you shouldn’t get healthy, because you definitely should. You should be making regular workouts a priority and practice eating healthfully at least 80% of the time, but you shouldn’t be a robot either.
Life’s precious moments don’t occur when you have planned every second of your day down to what time you should eat your meal and how many calories you have to expend during your workout. Happiness comes from unexpected adventures and time spent with friends, relaxing, and unwinding.
Realistic Workout Goals
Essentially, this is putting into focus what kind of goal is realistic, maintainable, and what the ultimate payoff truly is. Notice how the only benefits of being super lean is pride? It’s easy to think you’ll be happier when you have the “perfect body” (whatever that means), when in reality the stress will make you feel worse than before. Take a look below for an eye-opening look into the cost of being lean.