Physical fitness

Genuine Transformation

Genuine Transformation
My cousin Justin Kalef is currently teaching Logic at Rutgers University. I had a chance to chat with him briefly at a family dinner over the 2012 winter holidays. It was around the same time that I was mulling over the contents for the article I was composing on belief. Justin was the perfect person to ask some of the questions that I was working on. He told me what he tells his students on their first day of class, because from his experience teaching, it is inevitable that at some point during the course, one or some students will come to him completely overwhelmed.

We were talking about belief and how our beliefs can affect our ability to make long lasting change in our lives. When he said the following phrase:

“…but it’s only difficult for who you are now.

For the person you will become, 

it won’t be difficult at all.”

How great is this sentence? I think we could all do well to repeat this to ourselves daily. I asked him if I could use it for my belief article, and then I thought better of it…let’s tell the entire speech. So here you are, sit back and soak up these wise words.

“One of the things I do at the start of all my courses

is tell my students to think of the course like thinking of a physical training program (weight lifting or running). Suppose, I say, your goal is to run a 10k run in four months, but you can’t even run down the block now. Or suppose that you want to be able to do a shoulder press with fifty-pound weights in four months, but right now you can only do it with five-pound weights and you can barely lift ten-pound weights.

50 pound weights

These things are possible to achieve in four months’ time. If you go through a training program and are able to reach your goals by the end, you’ll be able to look back down the mountain when it’s all over and say:

‘Wow, I started out that far down and look where I am now!’

Looking down the mountain.

Look How Far You’ve Come!

Ideally, you’ll be able to do that at several points: each month, you should be able to look back to where you were the previous month and be impressed with how far you’ve come. If you can’t do that — if at the end you’re exactly where you were at the start — then that’s a sign that it didn’t work.  If you haven’t progressed in a month, then something went wrong. You didn’t commit enough or your guide didn’t find a way to climb the mountain — maybe both.

So my promise (I tell them) is this: I have worked out a path that you will be able to follow with me to the top of the mountain. There are some things you’ll be able to do at the end that you just can’t do now: here they are (and I set them out plainly). The mountain is high, but my path will allow you to get there a little at a time. If you need to go slower at some points, there are other paths for those times. And if you’re committed to it, you’ll see each month that you’re far in advance of what you could do the month before. That’ll be proof of your progress, and I make the promise to you now that you can make it if you follow my plan.

However, there’s a flipside to that. Logically speaking, if there’s something you’ll be able to do a month from now that you can’t do today, that same something must be out of your range today. And the things you’ll be able to do at the very end are way out of your range today. That comes with the course being a worthwhile one for you, but some people can find it scary.

They say, ‘I can’t do that!’

And they’re completely right:

They can’t.

If they could already do it, there would be no point in their taking the course!

Think of it this way (I tell them): if you can only shoulder-press with five-pound dumbbells and can barely lift the ten-pound ones out of the rack, then of course you can’t shoulder-press the fifty-pound ones. You might resolve to do it anyway, but you’d fail. You just can’t do it. That’s why you’re training toward that goal.

Going in circles

So: if there’s something you want to be able to do and already can do, then any training program designed to get you there is a waste of time and will only take you in a circle. So any reasonable goal must be something you can’t do yet.

And that means that any reasonable goal you have must be something that’s impossible for you to do!

Still, the situation isn’t hopeless. There’s one — and only one — reasonable way to see your training: your training takes something that’s currently impossible for you to do and makes it possible by changing you from someone who can’t into someone who can. So today, you can say ‘I can’t do this — but I can transform myself into someone who can.’ And that’s the key to training: transforming yourself into someone with more powers than you have today.

This is literal transformation: mentally or physically, you’ll be a different person with different abilities. You’ll even have different desires and values: things you find frustrating now won’t be to your future self, and things you find tempting now will be less so.

Genuine self-transformation can be very difficult in the short term,

but it’s only difficult for who you are now.

For the person you will become,

it won’t be difficult at all.

Today, you say to yourself “Living by this routine is so difficult — when will I be able to do the things that I want?” But perhaps you’re only thinking of what the present version of you wants: not the future you. If your self-transformation is to be successful, the routine will not remain difficult. You’ll miss it if you don’t  follow it.

So instead of saying: “This is difficult for me,”

say: “This is difficult for me now,

but I’m transforming myself into a person for whom it isn’t difficult.”

Otherwise, you run the risk of leaving it up to your present desires to choose the values and habits of your future.”

-Justin Kalef




Darlene left this comment: “Very inspiring. But I do wonder… have you always been in shape?

It seems as though this would work best for people who are already fit and trying to look like you. What about those of us who are overweight? Should we lose the weight first?”

My Answer:

This IS how I believe people who are overweight can get themselves to a healthy weight. By being consistent with daily body maintenance. It takes time for the body to build strength, become flexible, develop agility and power. We can’t achieve it over a short period of time and then just stop and coast on our results. Starting from zero it took me one week of trying every single day to finally accomplish one chin up, and that was after about six months of consistent weight training. Now I can pull off five chin ups whenever I go past the bar. When I forget and don’t do them for a week, I’m back to square one. The strength gain is not permanent…you know, “use it or lose it”. It takes a lot of time to get fit and very little time to undo it. A little bit everyday is our insurance for a healthy and active life.
As we age, it’s not the dumbells we’ll have to pick up, it’s ourselves.

There has been so much emphasis on more being better over the years. People watching professional athletes who train for hours a day (which is just not possible for the average person, let alone parents). I know people who are overweight who struggle with running long distances or training like a triathlete, hoping to achieve the body type of said sport. What often happens is pain and injury to joints that are not physically conditioned for such activities. Then as a result of the long duration of these workouts, people get hungry and end up over-eating to satiate the furnace, which negates the calories burned in the first place! Followed by a decrease in Non-Exercise Activity (look for my article on N.E.A.T) for the rest of the day and possibly for the following day(s).

There is no quick fix. There is no magic plan. What there is, is Self-Discipline. Self-Discipline is born from being Consistent. Enter: Daily Body Maintenance. Every morning for the rest of our life we start with some daily exercise (which also helps to Get The Fuzz Out). The rest of the day we stay active = Active Living. This means take the stairs. Clean our home. Walk the dog. Do our chores. Fit in a more intense 4-12 minute HIIT workout and thorough body stretches. Once we stop living an active life and let others do our doing, well, there goes NEAT.

Once we let advertising and products convince us that there is an easier way, we’ve lost.

Remember one important point: Just because someone is not overweight, does not mean that they are healthy or fit. We are all made up so very differently, carry our body fat differently. I think we will be better off if we think less about how we actually look or what the scale says and put more emphasis on how we feel, what our body can do, how our skeleton functions and how we nourish ourselves. That’s what I mean when I say: I believe we will do ourselves a service if we focus less on the aesthetic and more on our body’s function.

And then Denise kindly reminded me that: “You never answered her question.”

Right, the question was: “But I do wonder… have you always been in shape?”

I realize now how important it is for people to know if I have struggled as they have. It’s a complicated answer from my perspective. Because everything is relative.

Though I have never been physically overweight, I have had periods when I have lost considerable amounts of muscle tone and strength and have had an increase in body fat. During the period after my first child was born, I lost all the pregnancy weight very quickly (people complimented me on that), BUT I was far from being healthy or fit. I could barely run a flight of stairs without becoming winded…this was not me and I was not flattered by those compliments. I would think to myself, that being thin without health and fitness meant nothing. From those compliments, I realized that it was more common to value one’s size, weight and shape rather than value one’s fitness and health. After my second child was born, the pregnancy weight came off fairly quickly but left a residue of excess body fat that I was not accustomed to. For the first time ever I had excess body fat over the waist of my low-rise jeans, and I had lost even more muscle tone. At the time, I didn’t care so much about it because I was more focused on producing healthy milk for my infant and I knew that once I stopped nursing I could focus once again on myself…little did I know that my job as a mother and parent was just beginning and the time I thought I’d have to focus on myself would not be what I imagined.

So the answer is no.

No, I haven’t always been in shape. And, no, I don’t know what it is like to be overweight. My actual weight was relatively stable but my form had shifted.

But it’s about perspective don’t you think? I have had my own share of struggles getting back to health and to a level of fitness that just keeps getting better with daily maintenance. You can read about my experience here.

And so with this in mind I thought it apropos to share the following blog. Fit2Fat2Fit: Super-fit Personal Trainer, Drew Manning decides to chronicle his experience with going from Fit to Fat then going back to Fit again. If you have a moment check it out. His doctor, Dr. Warren Willey has some profound words to share with respect to transitioning from being overweight and eating an unhealthy western diet:

“The body must heal from the damage done, then and only then will weight loss be significant and maintainable.”


The post below, is from Drew Manning’s, Fit2Fat2Fit site. The first photo is Drew Manning on May 7, 2011, the first day of his Fit 2 Fat quest. The second photo is him six months later (Nov. 7, 2011) having gained approximately seventy pounds. You’ll have to go to his site to see how he is now working towards becoming Fit again.


A Few Words from My Doctor, Dr. Warren Willey

Posted on November 4, 2011

Dr. Warren Willey was asked to say a few words about Drew Manning from

When I was first informed of Drew’s plan I had a mix of emotions. His altruistic goal of helping people via his example thrilled and excited me. His method, similar to that of a teacher playing in traffic to demonstrate the dangers to her students, did not. Needless to say, Drew is currently dodging traffic.

His journey has brought some valuable things to light:

  • First and foremost – even the healthiest, strongest, leanest, and fittest person is not immune to the effects of the classic western diet. Without regards to what crosses your lips and how much movement you do, you will suffer the effects of poor dietary habits and lack of exercise.
  • Second – it’s a process that does not take a lot of time. Look how he has changed in less than six months. In my medical weight loss practice I hear people claim the fact ‘the weight just came on’ or ‘I have gained thirty pounds in the last few months!’ followed quickly with finger pointing toward the recent development of a awful metabolic defect (thyroid or sex hormone problem to name but a few). Drew’s experience shows that it is usually not a medical condition, but a lifestyle condition.
  • Third – It will be interesting as to the speed of his recovery. If you have been following him, you will notice at first there was not much physical or outside changes apparent. In contrast to what was happening inside, one could likely not tell what he was doing. If we had the benefit of viewing the internal environment and the plethora of hurricanes he was creating, the story would have been very different. We are very aware that the internal organs, in particular the liver, take a beating from our diet. Chemicals, sweeteners, and preservatives in food play havoc long before the damage is apparent in our outward appearance (i.e. your fat!). His fat gain increased exponentially when the internal environment could not keep up.

An important lesson for all watching: correct, long lasting weight loss is a process. The body must heal from the damage done then and only then will weight loss be significant and maintainable. Quick weight loss plans do not do this, and that is why we have so many people excellent at dieting and losing weight, but even better at finding it again.

His healing from this will also take place in this order:

  • The internal environment will have to heal followed by the fat loss.
  • The liver needs to be repaired
  • The mitochondria (energy source of cells) will have to be restored to health for him to have the energy to exercise again.

It will be a slow process, but what you will likely notice is that once his internal body heals, the fat loss will be exponential just as the gain was.

An important lesson for all watching: correct, long lasting weight loss is a process. The body must heal from the damage done then and only then will weight loss be significant and maintainable. Quick weight loss plans do not do this, and that is why we have so many people excellent at dieting and losing weight, but even better at finding it again. Drew’s method of weight loss will be successful and permanent as he will start with repairing the damage done and then changing his body.

-Dr. Warren Willey

If you only have time to watch one video, watch the first one with Dr. Willey.

Here is one article, from the many articles written globally about Drew Manning’s journey. I chose to share this one in particular because there is some commentary from Drew’s wife, reflecting on his physical and psychological changes. “Personal Trainer Drew Manning Made Himself Obese To Understand What Being Fat Feels Like”.