The Best You've Ever Been

Another powerful excerpt from Fitness Author Phil Kaplan's newest book, The Best You've Ever Been!

The Best You've Ever Been (excerpt #2)

(click here to return to excerpt #1)


OK, I've already explained Psychological Congruence. Now let's zero in a bit on precisely what I mean by the other state of being I claim will turbo charge your life, Physical Excellence.

Sure, we can equate physical excellence with strictly a sensory measure, listening for the words, "I Feel Great," but there's a more precise measure that can carry across our entire population. Ideally Physical Excellence goes beyond a look and a feeling and rolls over to positively impact and heighten the enjoyment of every experience. With that thought in mind, when people seek physical excellence, they should consider it encompassing the following nine components if it is going to be far reaching into excellence in all areas of life.

  • Flexibility
  • Energy
  • Leanness
  • Strength
  • Endurance
  • Stamina
  • An Optimistic Outlook
  • Appreciation of "Moments" That Better Your Passion For Living
  • An Increased Sense of Potential

Throughout the pages that follow, we'll look at these one at a time for a better overall comprehension of what we, as humans, are truly capable of.

Flexibility - you've seen the graceful dancer who arches her back so completely her foot touches the back of her head and if you've ever watched any of those "World's Records" shows, you might have seen people fold themselves up and disappear into little boxes. I don't believe we need to aspire to match those performances, but I do believe most of us, even regular exercisers, often neglect this vital component of fitness.

Flexibility actually refers to the range of motion possible about a joint. The greater the range, the greater we consider the flexibility of the muscles and connective tissue that play a role in movement around a given joint. The bad news . . . a neglect of flexibility training can lead to shortening of the muscles, limited movement ability, and greater potential for injury. Allow the hamstrings to become less flexible and with time, a low back problem is almost a certainty. The good news . . . flexibility is probably the easiest of the components to improve. A 10-15 minute stretching session 4-5 times a week can do wonders for increasing or restoring flexibility.

Energy - If I tried to count the number of people who came to me for exercise advice and told me of their lack of energy, I'd be well into the hundreds of thousands by now. When we discuss "energy," we're really referring to the efficiency which with fuel (food) is converted into heat. I know that doesn't sound like the same thing as you ask for when you have to get out of bed in the morning and your body just doesn't want to, but ultimately, the body's use of calories is going to determine your energy level. Optimally fueling the human body and then facilitating the best usage of that fuel to make the body more efficient at all levels of performance is the secret to capturing and controlling energy.

Leanness - too many people who are carrying more weight than they'd like believe they simply want to weigh less on the scale. The fact is, it is quite possible to sacrifice muscle tissue, weigh less, and actually increase your percentage of bodyfat! If weight loss is a goal, in the great majority of cases, fat loss is going to be the solution.

A lean body is a body that has a healthful proportion of lean body mass to fat. While bodyfat testing can estimate body composition, we can be quite discerning based upon the reflection in the mirror. If you have a body where muscle appears "toned," you are likely in a body that has a desirable proportion between fat and lean mass. We can call that a "lean" body. Keep in mind, we do require some fat to live, and our body's must hold on and utilize adipose material (fat) for optimal health. "Lean" does not mean fat free. It just means that while your body maintains a composition sufficient to meet health and performance needs, you are not carrying excess fat that may impede performance or health. A "Lean Body" is an amazing piece of biochemical machinery. It is an integral part of achieving Physical Excellence.

Strength - Exercise physiologists have battled with strength coaches in attempts to define the word. One accepted definition in physiology circles is, "the maximal force muscles can exert isometrically in a single voluntary effort (Kroemer, 1970)." For our purposes, definition is not all that important. We know what physical weakness means. We know that someone who is physically weak is not a model of physical fitness. If you are, therefore, going to be the Best You've Ever Been, while you don't have to lift an elephant, you should note gradual increases in the ease with which you perform physical work. If the physical stress that you bear in the course of a day requires a struggle, you absolutely need some strength training. The goal, in search of physical excellence, is to be able to perform the daily tasks, requirements, and activities life throws your way with ease.

Endurance - While strength refers to a force being generated, endurance deals with the number of times you can perform a movement or the length of time during which you can maintain a given level of exertion. Is it possible to have world-class strength and lack in physical endurance? Sure! And vice versa. A marathon runner who cannot perform a single pushup would be an example. Remember, in search of physical excellence, we seek balance, thus, our training will focus not specifically on strength, nor endurance, but rather a progression in both areas. If walking up the steps leaves you winded, physical excellence has thus far eluded you. You should be able to run when called upon, walk as is necessary, and pedal, swim, or climb if those activities are a part of your life, without feeling the "I need to sit down in a corner and huff and puff to catch my breath" sensation those who yearn for physical excellence are often faced with.

Stamina - stick-to-it-iveness. While endurance and stamina overlap and are closely linked, the best way I've found to isolate the separate meanings behind the words asks you to run for as long as you can at 5 miles per hour. When you become exhausted and have to stop, you have put your endurance to the test. The stamina question asks, if you have to travel 20 miles, and you stopped running at the 3 mile mark, at what point do you feel "ready" and "mentally driven" to again start to run.

In a 20-mile race, the individual with the greatest level of stamina and endurance is certain to cross the finish line alone.

Life doesn't always ask us to stop at the finish line. We sometimes are forced to stop short of reaching a destination or goal. With stamina, we continue to plod forward until what was once a goal gets chalked up as an achievement.

An Optimistic Outlook - this may not initially appear to tie into "physical excellence," but without it, the obstacles that you're bound to encounter individually and collectively stand to throw you off course without any hope of you returning.

The deep-rooted knowledge that physical excellence is possible provides a power that allows you to optimistically hurdle through and over anything that falls in your way. I'm not suggesting you ignore the hazards and pitfalls of life, but rather that you accept that they're provided to make you stronger, to provide you with greater endurance and stamina, and each is quite simply a challenge you now you'll overcome.

Appreciation of "Moments" That Better Your Passion For Living - it's not the destination as much as it's the journey. Arriving at a destination is a fleeting moment. I have personally met with so many athletes and bodybuilders who lived for a single moment of glory and spend the rest of their lives trying to recapture a moment that has since become a part of history. Enjoy the ongoing improvement. Enjoy the knowledge that your in some way better today than yesterday. Recognize and appreciate the momentary rewards that manifest as a result of a commitment to becoming The Best You've Ever Been.

An Increased Sense of Potential - every Personal Trainer knows this scenario well. A client desires to lose 20 pounds. He trains intensely, following the trainer's advice to the letter, and the day arrives. The weigh in. He has lost 22 pounds! In that moment, he feels fantastic, at least on an emotional level. The trainer expects he will have a lifelong client and fan, but shockingly, the client never returns. Perhaps he shows up months or years later in a saddened condition after experiencing a dramatic physical decline. Why? Because the client reached a moment of achievement, but failed to recognize his potential. As much as you improve, recognize that there is always room to grow, and with tiny improvements stacking upon themselves, the potential for excellence is literally infinite.

By now you should be excited by your potential. No, I haven't yet shared precisely how you're going to get there, but you at least understand the direction in which you life is about to move. You'll need to summon up some patience if you're expecting to jump right into throwing barbells and dumbbells around. Now that you understand the mission at hand, it's time to take a look inside, not at the heart and lungs, but at the controlling force, that intangible which we know as the Mind.

* * End of Excerpt #2 * *

I anticipate releasing the Best You've Ever Been in early 2002. For now, any connection with my programs or seminars can help you begin that vital process of ongoing improvement. Visit the Online Superstore or call 1 800 552-1998

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