Life is hard. So, why make it even harder? In the pursuit of elite physical fitness, many individuals push themselves to the extreme. The “holy grail” of physical fitness cannot be achieved by following basic forms of training and dieting, but only by adapting to the highest levels of physical performance. Thus, it is essential to understand the response to individual training and adjust the routine accordingly. The toughest part is perhaps the excruciating pain; after all the sacrifices are made. Once the hurdles are tackled, and the walls are smashed, the light at the end of the tunnel begins to brighten. Moreover, physical elitism usually depends on the program, diet, and effort. The fitness program must be natural, effective, and efficient. The diet must almost always be impeccable. Most importantly, there are no shortcuts that can substitute hard work. Merriam Webster’s Dictionary defines fitness as, “the quality or state of being fit”. To an elite organization such as CrossFit, whose methods are proven effective by testimonies of athletes, military, cops, and others whose lives depend on fitness, this definition is considered insufficient. According to an issue of CrossFit journal, elite fitness in 100 words can be summed up as, “Eat meat and vegetables, nuts and seeds, some fruit, little starch and no sugar. Keep intake to levels that will support exercise but not body fat. Practice and train major lifts: Deadlift, clean, squat, presses, C&J, and snatch. Similarly, master the basics of gymnastics: pull-ups, dips, rope climb, push-ups, sit-ups, presses to handstand, pirouettes, flips, splits, and holds. Bike, run, swim, row, etc, hard and fast. Five or six days per week mix these elements in as many combinations and patterns as creativity will allow. Routine is the enemy. Keep workouts short and intense. Regularly learn and play new sports” (CrossFit). An entire way of living perhaps cannot be so easily defined in 100 words, but the journey must begin somewhere.
Discovering a perfect training routine is a demanding process and those who presume to know what it takes to be physically fit are most likely confused. There is no set path someone can take to reach his or her individual objective, but rather a training philosophy. According to Gym Jones, “A successful training program must be influenced by individual objectives, individual variances (height/weight), sport-specificity, current training status, and any cyclic emphasis that may be guiding the training” (Twight). The ongoing process of achieving a desired program requires constant searching. A workout routine is merely a tool the individual uses to achieve his or her objective. The gym is where the real work gets done. Obviously, a pro-fighter will have a different program to follow than a pro-football player. However, regardless of the sport-specific program, an individual will constantly have to tweak certain aspects of the program to gain an extra step from the competition. Acquiring the motivation and determination it takes to win usually means accepting pain and sacrifice with a positive attitude. There are no weekends or sick days in this journey, but only a lifestyle that starts upon wakening and ends when it’s time to go to sleep. On the road ahead, do not waver. It is imperative not to confuse the desire to achieve a particular objective with the ability it takes to meet it. Consequently, present day society mistakenly views someone who is “physically fit” primarily on his or her appearance rather than the raw strength and endurance of the athlete. As a result, this misinterpretation creates a poisonous environment in many normal gyms and health clubs where users tend to go only through the motions rather than to demonstrate exactly what dedication and sacrifice can produce.
To become fit and healthy you need to eat good quality food. Food is the bedrock to the road ahead, and at this level of fitness, the diet must be flawless. In the United States, a considerable amount of people have no idea how to eat correctly. This is evident in a recent study performed by the American Diabetes Association that found approximately 64% of American adults to be overweight or obese. Due to mismanaged diets, far too often people will deprive their body of essential carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. These three elements are the building blocks of the human body. Carbohydrates are the body’s main source of energy, and are commonly known as simple or complex carbohydrates. The body needs enough carbohydrates throughout the day particularly under intense physical activities to maintain a healthy condition. If there is no source of carbohydrates, the body will begin to create carbohydrates by breaking down proteins. Protein is perhaps the most important nutrient in our body, and is usually arranged in different strands called amino acids. Unlike carbohydrates or fats, it would be detrimental to reduce the intake of protein in the body. However, it is also possible to consume too much protein, but highly unlikely. What kind of protein is the best? The key here is to mix it up. Try to get as many different types of proteins as possible. It shouldn’t be too difficult with the vast amount of nutritional stores conveniently located everywhere these days. Protein should be included as the core of any nutritional plan, making foods rich in protein such as eggs, meat, and milk, literally the foundation. In addition to carbohydrates and proteins, fat intake is also essential for proper health. There are four different types of fats: saturated fats, monounsaturated fats, polyunsaturated fats, and trans fats. Each type of fat has a specific function in the body, but mostly provides energy for cells and helps form the body’s hormones. First, saturated fats can be found in animal products and usually carry a negative connotation because of their tendency to raise bad cholesterol levels. Second, monounsaturated fats are found in good vegetable sources such as olive oil and canola oil, and can help reduce bad cholesterol levels while maintaining good cholesterol levels. Third, polyunsaturated fats are used by the body to create hormones. These hormones are involved in many bodily functions including muscle contraction/relaxation, blood vessel constriction/relaxation, immune response to injury and infection, producing fever, pain and inflammation. Last, trans fats are fats that are typically used in baking because they have a higher melting point. Trans fats are not essential and, in fact, usually lead to higher health risks that are associated with heart disease. Trans fats can be found in many partially hydrogenated oils that are commonly used in deep frying food products such as french fries. (Sizer 138-157). When it comes to dieting, its all about living without. The human body is a temple, and on the road ahead the toughest part is not the training, but mastery of the diet.
The combination of experience and hard work are just as crucial as any other ingredient in a physcially demanding routine. In other words, doing more than what is required is not considered hard work, but a lack of knowledge and experience. Hard work is measured by the intensity of a workout, not the quantity. Neverthless, it seems as if science has just about destroyed what society considers as a hard work ethic by creating “the magic pill”. According to recent article in the Colorado Springs Gazette, “Major pharmaceutical companies are racing to be among the first to release drugs that will supposedly enable us to eat what we want, not exercise and still lose weight in the double digits” (Bryant). This pill may as well be labeled “laziness”, as it encourages the appearance of fitness, rather than relative strength, power, and endurance of genuine fitness. A much harder pill to swallow is perhaps the physical location where hard work is carried out. This location resides in a space where comfort is all but an illusion. The very environment proposes such challenges so harsh that every ounce of measurable energy must be spent to accomplish them. The atmosphere alone influences the individual’s state of mind upon entering. This journey demands devotion; a commitment in the form of actual time spent, regardless of how tired, how cold, or how hard. There are no shortcuts, and on this road ahead the risk of failure becomes very realistic.
In this day and age, many people want to experience shocking results overnight. Understanding and being familiar with individual training will not produce instant gratification, but will yield much faster results. Every day that passes on the road ahead is a leap of progress that exposes ignorance. The process of achieving personal objectives will take as long as it takes; while psychological aspects of physical training will usually surface under this intense period of physical performance. For example, What if I fail? Failure confronts all of us, and is essentially a thought process of the mind. The reality of failure must be used as an advantage opposed to a weakness on this journey. The toughest part to reaching a state of physical elitism is sticking to the path. The road ahead requires obligation, persistence, knowledge, and extreme effort. The objective of achieving elite physical fitness is simply to create an absence of self-doubt, both intellectual and physical; almost as if the individual is an indestructible force of nature. So, crank up the music, there are still many miles to go.