Today, I did flying clap push-ups for the very first time. If you are wondering what that is, it is simply performing a regular pushup and clapping your hands at the top of the pushup, while you feet are off the ground. But I am not writing today to talk about flying push-ups, or to impress you. I am writing to share something a lot more profound. It is the one factor that made the shift possible from where i was to where I am today and it is the same shift you will need to make if you want to get to the next level, no matter where you are.
It has been almost a year and a half since I first made the shift and started the personal fitness journey earnestly, and now I can say I can’t be any more excited about the results I have gotten. My whole body has literally transformed to the extent that I can’t recognize it in the mirror. Sometimes I wonder if it is even my body and not someone else’s. Why? Because I used to have a much different body.
When I first started this journey almost one and half years ago, i had around 25% body fat, which is well above normal range for my body weight at the time. I was still in a relatively “good” shape. To give you a quantitative measure, I could do about 40-60 push-ups in one setting or 10-15 pull-ups, but that would be the end of my workout, period. My lower body was so weak that I could barely perform a set of squats. Hiking a moderate trail was a challenge. Cardio was practically a nightmare. I used to lose breath after 10-15 minutes of a normal-speed treadmill running session.
For almost 6 years, I have been trying to transform my body and boost my strength and endurance levels. I started watching many of the sports/action movies (a lot more frequently), reading about fitness and exercise, reading biographies of athletes and athlete-movie stars. I was trying to decipher the code. How do they seem to perform seemingly difficult or even insane exercises? How do they create and maintain an athletic body consistently? When I talk to most people about some of my fitness role models, like Sly Stallone, bruce lee, Schwarzenegger, Tony Horton among others, they simply discard the idea that you can get similar results. Most of the time the comments and judgments I often hear from others are” they must be juicing”, or “they are extreme” or “that is what they do every day all day, it is their job, you can’t aspire to become like them”.
If you talked to the 6 year younger version of me, he would probably tell you that It may be possible to have these results, but he is far from attaining them and he doesn’t know if he will ever get there. He would consider pulling off half of the results the “current-me” has an amazing feat of fitness and strength. Most of the things that are normal for my workouts now, used to beyond way beyond reach and I used to tell myself that only high-performing athletes can perform these workouts.
Along the way, I stumbled and fumbled. I used to workout once or twice a week and then stop for 1 to 2 weeks and then back again. Sometimes I worked-out 4 times a week, but I wouldn’t be able to consistently do it. I would get some results, but it would never lead me anywhere. I had to overcome colossal obstacles and make critical changes. I learned so many valuable lessons that I needed to implement to make this work. I had to transform my nutrition and workout consistently before I could ever hope for sustainable and meaningful results.
There are many important factors that are critical to your success when it comes to health and fitness, but none of them are as important as this one element. The real reason why I wasn’t in shape for the longest time, and couldn’t get results. And even when I got some results, I would lose it and go back to where I started.
The real reason why, is the simple fact that I didn’t have the right identity. I didn’t see myself as an athlete, let alone the possibility of becoming one. My approach toward workout was a pieced-together fractions of anecdotes, opinions and peer-imposed mindset that created an average-results identity. To get where I am now, I had to make numerous changes, some of which were gigantic. I had to change all of my beliefs, my values, my mindsets, my habits and my daily routines. But none of which would have stuck with me if I didn’t change who I am. That is the difference between slimming down for beach-time and staying fit all year.
I am not the same person I was 6 years ago. Heck, I am not even the same person I was one and half years ago, and I will not be the same person 2 years or even 2 months from now. The fact of the matter is, we all change at micro or macro levels. However, humans have deep-seated need to be consistent with who they believe they really are. The key is to change consciously and select the identity that will serve you and help you achieve your goals.
The most valuable thing that I took from my journey is surprisingly not my results. It is not the 100+ pull-ups, 120+ pushups, the one-arm pushups and switch grip pull-ups, the six pack, the 16% body fat, the intense cardio sessions, tripling my free weights or even becoming more attractive to my spouse.
All of these and the many other fascinating results are super exciting, each deserves a party to celebrate on their own. But the one thing that I am most grateful for, is my version 2.0 character. It has been dented, bent, molded and shaped into something completely anew. And now I know that no matter what, If I keep maintaining and upgrading this new character, I will always acquire the same or even better results, by following the same blueprint.
I have more than a dozen physical “limitations”, or what I like to call nuisance. My right trapezius’s muscle tissue gets torn apart and inflamed almost every other week. My right wrist hurts when I do push-ups almost on regular basis. I sometimes feel beyond exhausted, that I can only manage to finish half of my planned workout. I sometimes workout only once or twice or even none at all during the week. I had to undertake periods of no-workout, where I lose muscle gains and even gained fat. Sometimes I can only lift half or my regular weights. But none of that really matters in the long run, because I know that If I work on my identity, on who I am and who I identify with, the rest will fall into place much easier and much faster. I will get back on the wagon, take on more intense workout regimens, lose more fat or gain more muscle, and do whatever it takes to be consistent with who I believe I am.
Change who you are, and you will change your life.