Imaging Your Way to A Buff Body
By Cyndi Dale
If someone were passing out quick fixes for a buff body, what would you select? Tighter abs, bulging biceps, a toned tush, or maybe thighs that don’t jiggle? Or maybe you’d go for a complete trade-in!
None of us are completely happy with our bodies. How can we be, when the photos of models on GQ or Cosmopolitan covers are airbrushed, as if they aren’t picture-perfect enough? It’s said that the camera doesn’t lie, but that doesn’t mean that advertisers don’t. Cindy Crawford doesn’t look like Cindy Crawford, and who knows that Sylvester Stallone doesn’t pump his muscles with helium once in a while?
None of us live up to the plastic images set forth by the media, culture, or our own perfectionist minds. This doesn’t keep some of us from trying, however, attempting every trendy diet, brand-new exercise, or plastic surgery technique.
The bad news is that no matter how hard you work, your body will never be flawless. It’s just like getting your picture taken for an important event. There will be at least one hair out of place, and that single hair will, of course, stand up straight and make you look like a geek. You can continue to hold idealistic standards, but you should know that you won’t get there.
The good news is that with just a little work, your body can be healthy and you can be happier. In fact, the easiest way to build a buff body is to use the same process that can make you feel bad, ugly or unfit and transform it into a tool for becoming healthy, attractive and fit.
You can image your way to fitness.
Sight is one of our most important senses. Think about how you rely on the ability to see. What’s the first thing you do when you wake up in the morning? Okay, after first groping for the alarm and throwing it across the room? You open your eyes! Your eyes are the windows to the sunlight of life. Through your eyes, you view all the beauty, dangers, and realities of the world. You connect with your loved ones. You relay your pleasure or displeasure. You see the self that you know yourself to be, both in the mirror, and in your mind’s eye.
When most of us look in the mirror, we tend to concentrate on our “problem areas,” as they compare to idealistic standards. If an airbrushed supermodel or body builder is the goal, little wonder that we fall short! We notice the loose jowls or sagging flesh, the nose that looks like Jimmy Durante’s, or the dimples in our thighs.
Do you know what happens when you highlight your so-called negative features? When you obsess about qualities that don’t meet unreachable goals? You create a distorted picture of yourself, and then you unconsciously try to “prove” that you are as out-of-shape or dilapidated as you perceive yourself to be.
Why build muscle if you can’t transform into Arnold Schwarzenegger or Demi Moore?
Why eat healthy if you can’t be as skinny as you were at age sixteen?
Why take supplements if you’re not going to eat right anyway?
We eventually become the picture we hold as true about ourselves.
Vision is a funny thing. We have to first see something as true in our minds, before we can make it true in reality. As the story is told in a movie called, “What The Bleep Do We Know?”, Christopher Columbus could have stormed the islands of the Caribbean completely undetected, because the islanders couldn’t see his ships. And he wasn’t using Star Trek cloaking or invisibility devices! The inhabitants of these islands couldn’t visually perceive the three approaching ships, because they didn’t know what ships looked like. A shaman perceived the ripples in the water, and by concentrating intently, finally imaged the oncoming ships. His fellow islanders were then able to see the ships, as they trusted the judgment of their leader-shaman.
When looking at the world, we seldom see what’s before us. Instead, we read our brains, which rely upon memory to interpret the pictorial information that stimulates our visual cortex and other parts of the brain. We screen information and leave out whatever won’t “prove” our known reality as real. We then respond with our full body, as the visual sense and visual memories are laid down throughout our entire neurological network. Seldom do we trust the “inner shaman,” the self who can see through reality and see something new.
Our ideas about love, for instance, are really a conglomerate of educated beliefs and personal experiences. When one person thinks about the word “love,” she might feel happy. Her entire body “lights up. ” She reaches for the phone and calls a loved one, feeling so vibrant that she could run a thousand miles! Her past experiences of love taught her that love is good. Yet another person might become morose, and all because of prior, painful experiences. He reaches for a donut; better yet, a dozen donuts, and watches yet another rerun of Casablanca, vowing never to do that “love thing” again.
Just as your body responds to prior programming, so does it create fitness (or lack thereof) based on internalized ideas about yourself. Chances are, this self-taken photo is based on self-defeating, negative perceptions. Maybe you think that you’re fat, because your brother called you “Big Tank” in the fifth grade. Maybe you think that you’re too weak to run a mile, because you couldn’t in high school. Maybe you think you can’t stick to a diet, because your mother never could. Want a buff body? Want to be the sleek and healthy person that you are meant to be? See yourself that way, and teach yourself how to respond to this new inner illustration!
Self-imaging, or the use of inner visualization, achieves measurable results. Science studies have shown that people can imagine their way to fitness, or at least get a good jumpstart! Using a process called visualization or self-imaging, subjects in research studies have actually increased muscle mass and body fitness, simply by imaging themselves as exercising!
Think you can’t imagine your way into a healthier, happier physical state? Think again! You are what you are because you imagined yourself this way! If you want to look different, then you have to see yourself differently. Set a realistic goal and start imaging it as real. Feel yourself becoming the self you know that you can be. Tap into the power of your imagination. Act “as if.” Buy that exercise machine, start that diet, and keep visualizing success. Success is yours, as soon as you see it as real.
Tips to Imaging for Health
- Set a realistic goal. Establish goals that “AIM” for success. “AIM” goals in order to meet the requirements of being Achievable, Important and Measurable. Don’t vow to sculpt a “perfect body.” Besides being unachievable and impossible to measure, in the big picture of life, your physical self is only one of many parts of your unique self. Being perfect physically isn’t really as important as liking yourself and being a loving person. Instead, follow the AIM plan. You might, for instance, choose to change two clothing sizes by eating healthy and exercising daily, over a one-year period.
- Love the current self. Look in the mirror and greet whomever you see. He or she HAS the body that you want, just at a different stage than you might currently desire.
- Forgive the prior self. Your body is shaped the way it is for many reasons. These reasons have been valid. Don’t shame yourself for your previous choices. Now accept that you have the right to choose a new ideal, a new image, and make new choices.
- Picture the successful future you. Return to your well-“AIM”ed goal. What will you look like after meeting your objective? What kinds of clothes will you wear? What will you act like? Most important, how will you feel about yourself?
- Commit to this image. Take an inner photo of this future self and bring it everywhere you go, keeping it foremost in your mind’s eye. Promise that you will review this photograph three times a day. Each time you look at this picture, perceive it as a current image. Pretend that someone took this picture just a few minutes ago.
- Decide to live as the imagined self. Don’t put off to tomorrow what you can become today. Imagine that you have already reached the desired goal. Tell yourself that you ARE the imaged self. Assert that you HAVE reached your goal. Instead of attempting to reach your goal, you are instead following a maintenance program. What will it take to remain at your desired state? What behaviors will help you maintain the imaged self? If you need to run or bike three miles every morning or eat three healthy meals a day, so be it.
Cyndi Dale is the author of several bestselling books on healing, and shows individuals and corporations how to follow practical intuition to achieve success in health, relationship and work. Her web site is www.CyndiDale.com.