Building Your Character by Building Your Body

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    Building Your Character by Building Your Body


    Building Your Character by Building Your Body
    By Scott Dixon, MA, CSCS
    Copyright 2008, RedPointFitness.com

    We live in a day and age where character is lacking. Gough, in Character is Destiny, defines character as the sum total of your habits. One of the main reasons that some trainees don't progress, and make lasting change, is that they lack character. In order to be a successful athlete, powerlifter, bodybuilder, fitness competitor, or just someone who wants a better body, good habits must be adopted and followed consistently. In short, you have to develop your character. So we might ask, what might some of those habits be that aid in character development.

    1) Eating right.

    There are many trainees who over analyze this aspect and fret about macronutrient ratios far beyond what they should. First and foremost, your health is what is most important. You want to adopt an eating plan that contains a fair amount of fruit and green vegetables, preferably with every meal. You also want to be sure that you are consuming healthy fats along with the one's that aren't so healthy in isolation. Second, be sure that you are consuming somewhere between 1 gram and 2 grams per pound of bodyweight, and don't consume protein from just one source. You want different amino acid profiles and eating various protein sources allows for it. Third, always make your carbohydrate intake relative to your activity level for the day, especially if you are worried about bodyfat. Fourth, enjoy your eating! Simple spices can add something to even the blandest meals.

    2) Managing stress right.

    There are many trainees who eat right, but cannot manage stress, thus negating some of the benefits of eating right. The Stoic philosopher Epictetus wrote
    that there are things you can control--thoughts and desires, and things you cannot control--other people, situations, etc... He said that you tend to become frustrated by trying to control things that ultimately are beyond your control. For instance, I cannot
    control my wife's family with respect to time. They are late to almost every family function. Now, I can either let that frustrate me and in the process harm myself, or I can adopt the attitude that they will be late, expectedly so. I reduce my frustration with the proper mindset. The more you learn to adopt a simple principle like Epictetus's control/no control distinction, the more you will reduce stress and frustration in your life. Stress, by itself, can sabotage any gains. You must learn to manage it. Adopt the habit of dealing with your stress before it harms you.

    3) Training right.

    Training is also a stress on the body. Because it is a stress, it must also be managed. Trainees do this in various ways including planned progressions or training by instinct and how they feel. You have to learn to balance intensity, frequency, volume, and load. The easiest way to do this is to adopt long term and short term goals, and plan your training around reaching both types of goals. Be sure that you learn
    proper form and be consistent with that form. Gains are not gains when done with poor form. True gains are progressions when the form closely mimics, if not the
    same, previous maximal attempts. This is one thing that every trainee can learn from powerlifters. Form matters to both strength and proper assessment of
    gains. Adopt the productive habits of planning your training and using proper form.

    Conclusion.

    Epictetus also wrote that you should set up a pattern for yourself, whether in public or private, and follow that pattern. Eating, managing stress, and training all require this single kind of mindset. Stick with your eating program wherever you go, and when you can't, recognize what is in your power to control. Manage your stress when others are around and not. Don't let your mind become your worst enemy and get
    the best of you. Interestingly enough, Epictetus said that you must constantly be on guard for the enemy because you are that enemy. You harm yourself; other's don't. Maintain your training program regardless of pressures at the gym or when your mind wanders, and when you can't, recognize what is your power to control. You have to adopt the proper habits, letting them work to manifest the change and goals in your life. In short, you have to build your character, and in the process, you actually build your worth as a person. Thus, while building your body, you can also build your character with the goal of becoming a complete person.

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