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Blog | Evolutionary Athletics

Updates from May, 2017 Toggle Comment Threads | Keyboard Shortcuts

  • Jason Marshall 9:00 am on May 30, 2017 Permalink | Reply  

    Our Aging Population: An Opportunity to Share Grace and Strength 

    In college, I participated in an internship at a local hospitalas an understudy within the cardiac and pulmonary rehab programs. Most of the people I worked with were elderly heart patients that had undergone everything from a simple stress test to full-blown bypass surgery, most of whom had never trained.

    Despite their level of ability, most were eager to earn their strength and mobility back once they were taught how to do so. I witnessed and heard many stories during that year of patients regaining enough strength and vitality to play with their grandchildren, go camping, vacuum the house, or do yard work for the first time in decades.

    This initially set me on my path within the fitness industry. I knew the positive impact of teaching basic strength and mobility would show me how strength truly does have a greater purpose—a foundation of the StrongFirst Code.

    Whether it concerns a grandparent, a spouse, a relative, or ourselves, there will come a time when we all must deal with the aging process hands-on. How we prepare ourselves for this stage of life is important and can greatly impact our experience of it.

    Our Aging Population: An Opportunity to Share Grace and Strength

    Our Aging Population

    The facts show us the aging population will continue to grow, which is a good thing because we’re living longer. According to a study by the US Census Bureau, in 2010 13% of the US population was 65 or older. By 2030, that number is projected to increase to 20%, a 53% increase. Living longer is great, but what we do with those extra years and how we increase the quality of those years should be a priority.

    Many aging adults will have to enter assisted living facilities (ALF) or nursing homes. The activities these individuals typically need assistance with are things many active adults take for granted: bathing, dressing, toileting, walking, getting in and out of bed, and eating. A common thread among these needs is a lack of strength and mobility—the opposite of which is what we lay as a principle foundation in StrongFirst.

    The declining health of this demographic will have a considerable economic impact. The average cost of an assisted living facility per person runs between $3,000-4,500 per month. The chart below shows most of the cost associated with ALF comes out of personal and family assets. Government programs, which are debatably unsustainable, account for the rest. Which leads us to potentially conclude that the burden will fall on the shoulders of the individual, family, or both.

    Our Aging Population

    According to the CDC, 55% of all unintentional injury deaths for 65+-year-old adults were due to falls, a rate that nearly doubled between 2000 and 2013. Falls happen for many numerous reasons and can’t be predicted, but strength training via squats, single-leg stance drills that improve balance, push-ups, carries, and teaching an unweighted get-up could be the answer for many to prepare for such an unpredictable event, and possibly avoid it altogether.

    The StrongFirst community is primed to make a positive impact with this demographic. If we simply teach the basics of our principles, we are doing a huge service that could be potentially lifesaving.

    Training for Quality of Life

    As my young children grow and become more active, I have started to see my training through a different lens. I now ask myself two questions that test what I choose to put myself through:

    1. Is this sustainable through smart progression or regression?
    2. Does this promote my quality of life and longevity?

    I will turn forty this year and my kids will be seven and five. If my math is right, the youngest will be graduating high school when I am 53. Depending on many different factors, I might be sixty before my kids have kids of their own. I won’t be such a young man at that point anymore, but I would like to be an active grandparent that can do things with my grandkids. My vision for this stage of my life is to be in the photographs and videos of the mountain hikes, bouts of tag, and playing in the park—not anxiously waiting in my recliner at home to see those photos.

    My friend Al Ciampa has inspired me to adopt a couple of thoughts within this paradigm. After some initial questioning of new and prospective students, he then asks them about long-term goals. He tells people everyone’s answer should be, “To wipe your own butt on your last day.” This is a funny way to ask, “Is your long-term goal to be functionally independent until the day you die?” Based on the statistics and projections, for many this will not be the case.

    “Not everyone needs to squat heavy, but everyone needs to squat.”—Pavel

    The second idea Mr. Ciampa has inspired me with is to focus on what you can control, which is the process, not the outcomes. If you have an aging student who has a safe swing and get-up, then the Simple goal in Simple & Sinister is far less important than the process of just showing up and doing the work.

    This can be said for the many seventy-plus and even eighty-plus-year-old lifters I see at powerlifting meets. They are far from their prime and probably not pushing their bodies to their peak, but the process and journey of getting to the platform is what matters and what is keeping them active and independent. I think many of us get caught up with personal bests and records and fail to realize the huge goal accomplished in just showing up.

    “Perhaps the most valuable result of all education is the ability to make yourself do the thing you have to do, when it ought to be done, whether you like it or not; it is the first lesson that ought to be learned; and however early a man’s training begins, it is probably the last lesson that he learns thoroughly.”—Thomas Henry Huxley

    How This Applies to Your Students

    For me, the idea of process versus outcome does not diminish my pursuit of strength goals or prevent me from occasionally participating in a powerlifting meet or StrongFirst’s Tactical Strength Challenge. As an analyst by nature, I constantly contemplate the risk-to-reward ratio when setting my goals. It’s important to know the risks involved and be humble enough to put the process before the outcome, while knowing (and being okay with the fact) that the outcome may never happen.

    Our Aging Population: An Opportunity to Share Grace and Strength

    When designing programs or teaching new exercises for our students, it is important that we have an answer for the two questions I mentioned above:

    1. Is this sustainable through smart progression or regression?
    2. Does this promote their quality of life and longevity?

    So how can this be applied? Here are a few of the skills we teach within the StrongFirst system that can be regressed to the appropriate level to help an aging athlete. All of this can be learned without a prerequisite level of ability at any of our One-Day Courses—Kettlebell, Bodyweight, Barbell—or by seeking out a certified StrongFirst instructor.

    Here are some variations that can be regressed for the appropriate student:

    Deadlift:

    Push-up:

    Swing:

    Squat:

    Get-up:

    Maintain healthy gait with single-leg stance practice:

    Our Greater Purpose

    In summary, we have a large part of our population that will spend their last days in a place that’s not their home or needing help with basic daily tasks. There’s an even larger group that will be challenged with those circumstances not long from now.

    We don’t have to wait for a solution or program to be created or for someone to tell us what to do. We teach that strength is a skill, which can be acquired with instruction, and obtained at any age.

    Strength has a greater purpose right now for those around us and whom we are privileged enough to impact. If the remaining years for our students (and ourselves) are of the highest quality possible, then focusing on the process was definitely worth the effort.

    The post Our Aging Population: An Opportunity to Share Grace and Strength appeared first on StrongFirst.

     
  • Anthony Mychal 11:40 pm on March 6, 2017 Permalink | Reply  

    People will this kind of brain are doomed. Here’s how you can find out if you’re at risk. 

    I learned something about the way I think.

    It made me want to saw off my scalp, pull out my brain, and kick it in the pituitary gland.

    Because the pituitary gland has to be the brain’s scrotum. I mean, look at the thing. What’s it doing up there, looking like that?

     

    I’m the kind of guy that lives in my own head. I’m a master of self-sabotage. This isn’t what I learned; I’ve known this for a long time.

    But I never knew why I was my own worst enemy.

    Until now.

    And ever since I’ve been able to put the why to words, I’ve been examining the thoughts and the actions of the people I admire and aspire to be like.

    I’m seeing a pattern.

    Most of them don’t have the kind of brain I have. Most of them look at the world a completely different way than I do. Most of the think the opposite of what I think.

    My brain is kicking me in my actual scrotum.

    So I’ve been working on this.

    I’ve been trying to fix this.

    I’ve been trying to turn my OWW brain into a WOW brain.

     

     

    Before I talk about my broken OWW brain, let’s first talk about feedback.

    Humans thrive on feedback.

    Did you know that toothpaste doesn’t have to foam? Toothpaste companies make it foam because it makes our brain think, “This is working!” Foam is feedback.

    The temperature in the room drops, your body shivers. Feedback. You eat, you get stuffed, you stop eating. Feedback. You touch a flame, you experience pain, you remove your hand from the flame. Feedback.

    You tell a joke, no one laughs, you hesitate telling another joke. Feedback. You raise your hand in geometry class, answer a question wrong, everyone laughs, you never raise your hand again. Feedback.

    We’re shadow slaves to feedback.

     

     

    Consider feedback in relation to goals.

    Why do we remove our hand from the flame? Because humans are wired for survival. If I light my body ablaze, I become KFC for the raccoon living in the backyard.

    Or my cat.

    My cat shouldn’t die of starvation on account of my stupidity, so I’d be totally okay with it going HAM on my barbecued body. I love you, Moe.

    Survival is the goal. Feedback insulates the goal.

    You can envision some common goals like

    • I want to lose 50 pounds of fat
    • I want to gain 10 pounds of muscle
    • I want to be able to do the splits

    but I’m going to use a universal example that will serve as allegory for any physique or performance goal you have.

     

     

    You’re in the desert. You’re miles away from a tower. (A Dark Tower….!?You can barely see it in the distance.

    You want to get to this Dark Tower. This is the goal.

    Goals are great, but empty. So we need to ask, How are you going to reach the pyramid? You’re going to walk.

    Goal, check. Method, check. We could also talk system, but there’s no need within this context.

    Fast forward to process. 

    New Game.

    You’re taking action. You’re walking.

     

     

    Few people would put their head down and walk the entire way to the Dark Tower without looking up, even though, if you were absolute sure your methods were going to get you towards your goal, you wouldn’t need to look up.

    Looking up helps because it gives you feedback on the process. It’s like the foam from the toothpaste. It tells you, “This is working!”

    It helps you measure progress. It helps you internalize progress. It’s reassuring. It’s motivating.

    Evaluating progress is pretty straight forward when you know your behaviors are going to get you to where you want to go. You’re getting feedback (looking up) to see how much closer you are.

    But if you don’t know whether or not your process is going to get you to where you want to go, then getting feedback (looking up) becomes much more important.

    If someone blindfolded you, spun you in circles, and then said, “Walk to the pyramid,” then you’d need to get feedback.

    Unless you wouldn’t mind going almost a sixth of the way across the country in the wrong direction.

     

    Certain things (in general) discourage humans from taking action. For instance, humans shy away from pain and punishment. We’re also risk averse. We’re tribal creatures that don’t enjoy exile, meaning we’re apt to change our behaviors, attitudes, and feelings in order to fit in.

    We’re afraid of judgement and criticism. We weigh the prospect of loss more heavily than the prospect of gain. Meaning losing $100 feels like a 9/10 on the bummer scale, where as winning $100 feels like a 6/10 on the happiness scale.

    Consider the above intrinsic demotivators.

    There are also certain things that encourage humans to take action. For instance, humans like discovery. We like to learn new things. We like to grow. We like adventure.

    We like having the prospect of potential at our fingertips. I mean, Oak Island. FIND SOMETHING ON OAK ISLAND. PLEASE. I’M DYING.

    Consider the above intrinsic motivators.

     

     

    These intrinsic gas pedals and break pedals stem from biases and brain bugs that’ve been brewing inside of our biology since the days of the dinosaur. (And there are a lot more than the ones listed above. A good blast of cognitive biases can be found in Peter Bevelin’s book, Seeking Wisdom.)

    Every single one of us has these brain bugs. But they aren’t applied to situations universally. Everyone has their own subjective interpretation of life.

    Jim sees skydiving as a risky unsafe behavior, where as Tim sees skydiving as an adventurous learning experience.

    Care to take a guess which person is more likely to go skydiving?

     

     

    Feedback is information.

    Information is subject to interpretation.

    And the interpretation is where you see the difference between an OWW brain and a WOW brain.

    OWW brainers attach negative emotions and intrinsic demotivators onto feedback, even when they’re “winning.”

    WOW brainers attach positive emotions and intrinsic motivators onto feedback, even when they’re “losing.”

    So imagine the following two scenarios.

    One:

    You look up at the Dark Tower and you see that you’ve gotten closer. By all objective accounts, the feedback says: you’re winning, you’re on the right path, you’re making progress, you’re doing good.

    But the OWW brainer says, “Fuck. It’s still so far away. Look how much further I have to go. This sucks.”

    The WOW brainer says, “Amazing! Look at how much closer I’ve come! I’m on the right path! I didn’t make the wrong turn! I just have to keep chugging!”

    Two:

    You look up at the pyramid and see you’ve gotten further away. By all objective accounts, the feedback says: you’re losing, you’re on the wrong path, you didn’t make progress, you’re doing bad.

    But the WOW brainer says, “Bummer. I went the wrong way. At least I know I what not to do! And now have a better sense of direction. I can parlay this information into figuring out what I need to do now.”

    The OWW brainer says, “I suck. I’m an idiot. I’ve been going the wrong way.  I’m never going to make it to where I want to be.”

     

     

    Things.

    First, the OWW brainer always attaches intrinsic demotivators onto feedback. Doesn’t matter if the feedback is positive or negative. The WOW brainer does the opposite by attaching intrinsic motivators onto feedback.

    Second, the OWW brainers start a lot of adventures because they want the product, but they stop a lot of adventures shortly after they start because the feedback they get within the process itself pushes a bunch of intrinsic demotivating buttons. They find the process punishing. Even when they win, they lose.

    Third, the WOW brainers finish a lot of adventures because the feedback they get within the process itself pushes a bunch of intrinsic motivating buttons. The process itself is rewarding. The product is simply a side effect. Even when they lose, they win.

     

     

    Product almost always requires process, which is why OWW brainers are at a severe disadvantage.

    They want want the joy and happiness associated with the product, but there’s a tremendous amount of punishment associated with the climb.

    OWW brainers are martyrs for product.

    WOW brainers are philanthropists for process.

     

     

    What makes the void between OWW and WOW frustrating (for me) is that we all have both of these intrinsic gas pedal and break pedals inside of us. We all have the same demotivators, just as we all have the same motivators.

    The difference lives within the interpretation of the situation in front of us.

    Jim sees skydiving as a risky unsafe behavior; Tim sees skydiving as an adventurous learning experience.

    What accounts for the different interpretation? I’m sure genetics has something to do with it, as does our upbringing.

    It’s always nature and nurture.

    Who’s right? Who’s wrong?

    I don’t know.

    But here’s what I do know.

     

     

    The demotivators within us were designed for a primitive world. If you were a caveman and you broke your leg, you’d probably die.

    In a primitive world, broken bones are serious injuries.

    But in today’s world? A broken leg (or any broken bone) isn’t going to kill you. I broke my foot in five different places. It sucked. It hurt. It was a miserable eight weeks. But I didn’t die.

    And I learned a lot from the injury. I came back to training with a different mindset, and I saw better gains in the following year than I did in the prior five years.

    A lot of the things we think are risky aren’t so risky. If we applied a very stoic WHAT’S THE WORST THAT CAN HAPPEN filter to every situation we fear, the answer would almost never be as bad as our brain imagines it to be.

    For instance, what if, tomorrow, you lost all of your money and your current job? What would happen?

    Most people wouldn’t even become homeless. They’d live with friends and family until they found another job.

    On the flip side, a lot of the things we think are safe aren’t so safe anymore because we have get out of jail free cards.

    I started tricking (freestyle acrobatics) as a dumb teenager. I had no experience. I had no safety training. No equipment. Just grass. This is a “risky” thing to do.

    I ended up breaking my foot in multiple places when I was in a safer environment — a gymnastics facility. But broken bones in today’s world aren’t that big of a deal.

    If I let fear totally talk me out of tricking, I wouldn’t have the wealth of lessons I’ve learned from throwing my body upside down and all over the place.

    (Don’t get me wrong. Fear spun me around, bent me over, and did unspeakable things to me. My tricking life is shrouded in fear. But I worked hard to beat the fear that I did conquer.)

     

     

    Risky is the new safe.

    Safe is the new risky.

     

    What makes the OWW brain a real bitch is the winner effect. The winner effect, in a nutshell, says: when you win, you win more; when you lose you lose more.

    OWW brainers lose a lot. They start a lot of things because they’re genuinely interested in products. But they quit a lot of those things because of the punishing process they realize they have to go through.

    Losing becomes a part of their DNA.

    Every subsequent loss bakes into their identity. They internalize their failure to the point of their subconscious whispering, “You know what’s going to happen. You’re going to get all motivated and hit it hard for the first week, and then you’re going to quit.”

    The prospect of starting anything new soon becomes demotivating.

     

     

    Implications for us OWWers.

    You are your own worst enemy. Because the only difference between an OWWer and a WOWer is perception.

    Make the journey is the reward. I hate myself for typing the previous sentence. I also hate myself for the process-product repetition throughout this essay. This lingo is used so often it has lost its meaning. But cliche things tend to be cliche for a reason.

    Be objective about feedback. We take feedback too personal. “I went the wrong way, I suck.” This snowballs into shame and a bunch bad emotions. Instead, think, “How interesting.” This will help you avoid the loser effect. “I went the wrong way, how interesting.”

    Babies walking. Seriously. When a baby starts walking, there are constant falls. But the baby doesn’t take it personally. It doesn’t think, “I’m a bad human, I should be able to do this.” Most of the personal-social humiliation (and bad emotions) we attach to “failure” are culture. Even the idea of “failure” is cultural.

    Find good in bad. I’m not saying losers should get a trophy. But there’s almost always something positive to extract from feedback. Even if the feedback is “negative.” Perhaps the fact that you’re doing the thing, getting the feedback, is a win in itself. This is hard advice to take “in the moment.”

    Actually say, “WOW!” If you find yourself crumbling into a curmudgeon over feedback and feeling punished, say, “WOW!” and try to find something amazing associated with what you’re doing.

    Read in between the lines. I’m sure there’s more quips and lessons to extract, but the meat and potatoes of what you need to know is above.

     

     

    I got this OWW and WOW brain model from Todd Herman. Credit goes to him. He’s taught me a lot about performance psychology.

     

     

    Are you saying OWW when you should be saying WOW?

    The post People will this kind of brain are doomed. Here’s how you can find out if you’re at risk. appeared first on Anthony Mychal.

     
  • Anthony Mychal 11:48 pm on February 23, 2017 Permalink | Reply  

    Let’s talk about Lady Gaga’s chub rolls at Super Bowl LI (and body shame) 

    I want to talk about the belly outfit Lady Gaga wore during the Super Bowl LI half-time show.

    In other words, I want to talk about body shaming.

    I knew the Internet wouldn’t let her flaunt her non-chiseled bare belly on stage.

    lady gaga super bowl fat

    I knew this because the first thought I had when I saw her on stage in the belly outfit was, “Why would she wear that?”

    I’m not proud to admit that’s what I thought, even though I didn’t think what I thought for the reasons you’re thinking.

    untwist your tongue, son

    You probably imagine me being on the verge of body shaming.

    HOW DARE SHE SHOW THAT TUMMY FLAB. ALL WOMEN SHOULD HAVE A FLAT STOMACH.

    WHAT

    A

    DISGRACE

    THIS IS UNACCEPTABLE, LETTING WOMEN KNOW THAT IT’S OKAY FOR THEM TO BE LESS THAN PERFECT.

    But I’m not.

    Lady Gaga is not fat. Not at all. Calling her fat is stupid. I didn’t question her outfit because I thought she was fat, nor did I question her outfit because I thought she needed to change her body.

    Her body is “normal.”

    And, well, that’s the problem.

    By any and all first impressions, I’m a thoroughbred body shamer.

    I’m a tall white male. I’m not fat. I have muscle definition. If you saw me on the street, you’d peg me as a body shamer. No doubt.

    But my psyche has been simmering in body shame stew ever since I was eight years old.

    I used to lie to my friends in order to get out of going to pool parties. I was terrified of what they’d say about my body.

    My ego’s backbone was shimmed with shame for ten years…

    …and then I started eating better. I started deadlifting. I started doing things to change the parts of me I didn’t like.

    I went from a

    self-loathing skinny-fat nerd

    to a

    less self-loathing (but still pretty self-loathing) nerd with a lean, muscular, athletic physique.

    And as someone that’s rode the wave of body shame to shore (somewhat) safely, my feelings on body shaming are torn in two.

    Here’s why.

    Expectations are everything.

    Expectations are why a guy like Tiger Woods is doomed if he cheats on his wife, and why a guy like Charlie Sheen is doomed if he doesn’t cheat on his wife.

    Body shaming’s roots are twisting throughout our expectations.

    expectationS

    arE

    everythinG

    And our expectations of what a body should look like are informed by a variety of mediums (movies and magazines — anything and everything “media”) that I collective refer to as “beauty culture.”

    The idea of a “normal” body and the idea of a “perfect” body are subjective, especially in relation to beauty. People like different flavors for reasons not totally understood.

    But we can spiral into a vague idea of today’s “perfect” because beauty culture does an insane amount of market research in order to find out what we find attractive.

    They then use the data to advertise to us.

    Meaning

    THEY GIVE US EXACTLY WHAT WE WANT

    and whether you’re willing to admit to it or not

    THEY KNOW WHAT WE LIKE MORE THAN WE KNOW WHAT WE LIKE

    and that’s the Truth.

    This is how the capitalist world works. When there’s a demand for x, some people are smart enough to recognize (and supply) the demand.

    But here’s the problem:

    Beauty culture takes it one step further. They take what we like, and then make it even more “perfect” (read: less realistic) using a variety of tools, the most heinous one being Photoshop.

    zendaya photoshop

    (Google “magazine photoshop fails” and see more of the absurdity for yourself.)

    Photoshopping and computer enhancing in order to alter (hide) reality is a terrible thing to do. There’s no arguing that. But Photoshopping is just one of many rocks you’ll hit if you roll down the rabbit hole of beauty realism.

    What about makeup? What about good lighting? Nice scenery? What about picture angle? Posing? Color correcting?

    All of these things skew “reality.”

    Below are two pictures of me. They were taken within a two minute time span. The left uses a bad angle (on purpose). There’s no posing. Bad lighting. The right uses a better angle, better posing, and better lighting.

    skinny fat posing and lighting

    Of course, I’m going to post the better looking one on social media. Just like everyone does.

    We have the power to edit reality.

    And we do edit it regularly.

    Voluntarily.

    Why does any of this matter?

    Our brain isn’t perfect. It’s not good at distinguishing between real and fake.

    For instance, if I asked you what America was like back in 1492 when Columbus was sailing the ocean blue, you’d probably tell me something…

    …even though you have absolutely no clue what America was really like. you weren’t alive back then. you didn’t experience it.

    You’d use what you’ve read in books and what you’ve seen movies to piece together your own version of reality, and you’d be pretty convinced this was how things really were.

    (I stole this thought exercise from Chuck Klosterman’s book, On Media And Culture. Klosterman stole it from Jerry Mander’s book, Four Arguments for the Elimination of Television.)

    When we see magazines covers (or digitally enhanced scenes in movies) we don’t filter them through a fake funnel.

    fake funnel

    The story we end up telling ourselves about body shape and body size is informed by fantasy because a lot of what we see is computer generated.

    And we don’t consciously autocorrect for the fact that what we’re seeing is staged and, for all intents and purposes, “fake.”

    We end up comparing the things see in real life to things that don’t exist.

    In this respect, beauty culture is setting the bar insanely high — in the heavens.

    TV takes away our freedom to have whatever thoughts we want. So do photographs, movies, and the Internet. They provide us with more intellectual stimuli, but they construct a lower, harder intellectual ceiling.

    -Chuck Klosterman, On Media And Culture

    This is a problem.

    So let’s go ahead and recreate beauty culture. Let’s nix Photoshop and digital enhancements.

    You’re left with (a) models. The genetically elite, the right side of the bell curve. The people that won’t have cellulite. Ever.

    You’re left with (b) purposeful posing. An sculptor uses contrapposto to make a visual statement.

    You’re left with (c) professional photographers. An expert eye for framing the foreground with the background. People that understand and use the rule of thirds.

    You’re left with (d) awesome (or staged) lighting. Overhead lighting turns a stomach into a six pack set of abs.

    You’re left with (e) people that are willing to do things most people aren’t in order to build and maintain an above average body.

    You’re left with…

    Point being that, even with more ethical strategies, beauty culture sets still sets the beauty bar through the roof.

    our perception of “normal” would still be fucked sideways. Less sideways, yes. But, still, sideways.

    The question is this: do you still have beef with this more ethical beauty culture?

    A lot of people would. Because little changes. It still creates an unrealistic expectation of what females (and males) should look like.

    But here’s the deal:

    LADY FUCKING GAGA PERFORMED AT THE SUPERBOWL.

    Do you see what I’m saying?

    No. You don’t.

    So hold onto your chair because

    this

    will

    (probably)

    upset

    you.

    We are all shamers, whether we realize it or not. (We don’t.)

    Lady Gaga isn’t stupid. She didn’t accidentally wear what she wore. She knew it would cause a shit storm. She wanted it to cause a shit storm.

    She knew Twitter would talk, and she knew she would be rewarded for being an “honest” woman. For not being afraid of showing the world what a “normal” woman looks like.

    Which is commendable.

    But confusing.

    Because it’s a sentiment unique to beauty and body. And this what makes body shaming so damn unique and impossible (did I give my conclusion away?) to fix.

    Imagine if Tom Brady was holding the Super Bowl MVP trophy and then burst into song, only to say, “I just wanted to let the world know what a real voice actually sounds like.”

    It wouldn’t make sense.

    We don’t listen to “regular” music or watch “regular” movies to keep our expectations in check.

    We don’t celebrate “decency” in any other art form, which is why we don’t remember 99% of the people that’ve been on American Idol.

    We even like it when (some) singers alter their voice (the Photoshopping of music!??!?!?!!!?) to make their tunes catchier.

    Because, by and large, when it comes to “art,” we EXPECT and (usually) accept nothing less than a Purple Cow.

    The term “Purple Cow” comes from Seth Godin and his book, Purple Cow. If you’re driving on the highway and you see a Purple Cow, you’re going to say something.

    And that’s what a Purple Cow symbolizes:

    Something worth remarking (talking) about.

    Purple Cows are remarkable.

    We want Purple Cows and we celebrate them in the art and entertainment industries.

    Lady Gaga is a Purple Cow, which is why no one was surprised to hear she got the Super Bowl gig. She’s “unrealistic” and few people can do what she does.

    So why are we surprised (and upset) when beauty culture showcases “unrealistic” bodies of males and females?

    “It’s not fair. It skews expectations.”

    Well, guess what?

    EVERY PURPLE COW DOES.

    Lady Gaga sets the entertainment bar through the roof. Why is it okay for singers, actors, and artists to slave over their craft (and abuse drugs) in order to give us the ultimate entertainment experience?

    Why is it NOT okay for a model to do the same to give us the ultimate visual experience? Why are models unhealthy if they’re trying to create a certain “Purple Cow” aesthetic appeal?

    Unhealthy?

    Unnatural?

    Probably.

    YES.

    That’s why they are Purple Cows.

    I’m not saying this phenomenon is right or wrong or good or bad. I’m just saying that it IS…

    …and also pointing out some inconsistencies in our (domain dependent) logic.

    And it’s precisely our domain dependence that makes this really confusing.

    We don’t compare artists to non-artists in any domain, save for when it comes to the body and beauty.

    We understand that a singer practices and bleeds to sing better. We understand that the “joes” won’t be on the level of the “pros.”

    We understand “pros” take it to level most of us won’t and SHOULDN’T unless we’re IN the game.

    And if the pro-joe illusion isn’t enough, there’s no other world where “above averageness” is shat upon more than in beauty culture.

    Those forgotten American Idol singers? They’re forgotten, but they probably weren’t shamed.

    If Tom Brady DID burst out in song and and his singing was above average. Most people would be impressed.

    =+= news flash =+=

    Lady Gaga’s body IS above average. she has less body fat than MOST women.

    Yet she’s still flushed down the toilet.

    Why?

    You ready for more reasons to hate me?

    I kicked this thing off by saying my feelings about body shaming are torn in two.

    ONE_

    Taking care of your body is an insanely difficult thing to do. Its an “art” and should be seen as an art.

    For us “joes” to rag on people in beauty culture because they are Purple Cows is just as illogical for us to rag on Lady Gaga for being good at what she does.

    TWO_

    Body shaming isn’t cool, and it’s rather nonsensical. You wouldn’t go up to someone on the street that’s never practiced singing and shame their musical ability…

    …unless, of course, they were out in public and subjecting others to their noise.

    In which case, we can say that, you increase your chances of cultural commentary if you “put yourself out there” on a public stage.

    If you walk around your neighborhood, singing at the top of your lungs, and you’re not a good singer, I hate to break it to you, but your neighbors are going to talk about you.

    Likewise, if you walk around in clothes (or without clothes) that show off your physique, and you aren’t a premier physical specimen, your neighbors are going to talk about you.

    The less Purple you are, the more vulnerable you are to cultural criticism ESPECIALLY if you voluntarily present yourself in a public format.

    Gaga opened the door the moment she wore what she wore.

    “She’s there to sing and dance. She’s not there for her looks. It’s not fair to judge her for her looks.”

    Then why did she have to change outfits a million times? Why were there fireworks, drones, and dancers? Why wasn’t Lady Gaga hiding in a box and singing a capella?

    The visual aspects of music entertainment are like the intellectual aspects of Miss America. They might not be the main course, but they’re certainly on the dinner plate.

    (Speaking of which, I remember everyone and their mother making fun of Lauren Kaitlin for her intellect during Miss Teen USA 2007. Why can we clown on intellect, but not beauty? Why is it satisfying when an attractive human is dumb?)

    This IS shitty of me to say because the implications are whack mack titty back give a cog a drone.

    (a) people that don’t have a Purple Cow body need to walk around in thick sweaters to save everyone’s eyeballs.

    (b) people that don’t have a Purple Cow face need to wear babushkas at all times.

    Not cool, right?

    I’m not saying that’s how things should be, but, rather, pointing out that that’s how they are in different domains.

    And we don’t bat an eye.

    Everyone and their mother made from of William Hung for his American Idol performance. But it’s the same thing.

    A guy took a chance, put himself out there on a public stage, and people talked because he didn’t meet our expectations. Our “subjective” cultural expectations. 

    Trying to conclude this, I swear. It’s not working, but I’m trying.

    So in an effort to begin concluding this rant of mine, we can say that:

    If you put yourself out there in a public format and “showcase” your “talent,” then you’re opening the doors for criticism and commentary.

    You might not think you’re “showcasing” your “talents” when you wear that one outfit, but that’s the cultural perception.

    A lot of people are upset that this has become the cultural perception, so they rage against culture itself.

    “IT’S BEAUTY CULTURE’S FAULT FOR CREATING UNREALISTIC EXPECTATIONS!”

    WE CAN and SHOULD create a more ethical beauty culture. Stop with the Photoshop shenanigans, yes.

    Show us what goes on behind the scenes. Because then we can SEE the dedication, the hard work. We can see level of commitment. We can see the stack of skunked pictures that didn’t make the cut. The crew of people telling the model how to pose. The sixteen lamps creating optimal shadowing.

    Maybe that’ll help our brain realize that modeling is akin to “acting” and an art in itself.

    But, even with those changes, the beauty bar will still be high. And that’s okay.

    Eliminating beauty culture all together is just a grandiose game of self-deception.

    Don’t highlight attractive males and females because it makes the rest of us look bad. Dismiss all of the hard work these people do stay in shape because it makes us look bad.

    While we’re at it, let’s ban Lady Gaga from being an entertainer because she makes other entertainers look bad.

    Let’s ban Louis C.K. from being a comedian because he makes other comedians look bad.

    Let’s ban anyone that’s good at anything because it makes everyone else look bad.

    People work really hard to get good at what they do, and that’s why they’re really good.

    The realities of reality are real things that we don’t like to reel in.

    Pinning the problem on beauty culture is the norm, and for good reason: it deserves some of the pins.

    But I don’t think the proposed changes will be implemented anytime soon because

    REALITY IS BORING

    which is why movies and books are edited one million times to eliminate excess; they’re crafted to captivate our wonky attention spans.

    A true thing, poorly expressed, is a lie.

    – Stephen Fry (maybe)

    Hardcore social media users take thirty-five selfies before posting one, adjusting their hair, the lighting, and the angle with each subsequent shot.

    (I’m guessing you’ve done this before. Don’t get all pious on me now.)

    And the real problem with blaming beauty is this: it implies that the only way to overcome body shaming is by fixing beauty culture itself, which is an

    EXTERNAL

    solution. “There’s something wrong with the world, the world needs to change.” But this is a terrible way to live because it insinuates that you have NO control.

    A better way to handle body shaming is with

    INTERNAL

    solutions. Because, in today’s world, everyone has a voice. Expressing opinions is easier than ever, which is both empowering and infuriating.

    Everyone should be free to share their opinions, but not everyone’s opinion should count.

    You have the choice to decide what’s signal and what’s noise.

    SO… DON’T GET STUNG BY AN IMAGINARY BEE

    If someone makes fun of my drawings, I’m not going to get mad. I’m not an artist. I’ve never tried to be a professional artist.

    If you don’t care about how you look and you’ve never tried to change, then why get insulted?

    You can avoid putting yourself in a position where you’d be more subjected to cultural commentary.

    But if you think that’s a limiting way to live life, then you do have one weapon available to you: go numb.

    If you want to “showcase” your “talents” and your “talents” aren’t high (on a cultural grading system), you have to numb yourself to the commentary. Or, better yet, embrace the commentary.

    SO… APPLY A SITG FILTER

    Talk is cheap. There are no consequences when you give an opinion, meaning you’re likely to give too many opinions about things you shouldn’t be giving opinions about.

    This is where Skin in the Game comes into play.

    Skin in the Game is a concept I stole from Nassim Taleb’s book, Antifragile. 

    In a nutshell, it means: put your money where your mouth is. So if you’re ready and willing to dish out an opinion about how someone looks, you need to be willing to subject yourself to the same criticism.

    This is enlightening.

    Remember William Hung? Lauren Kaitlin? Most of the people making fun of Hung never sung in front of an audience. Most of the people making fun of Kaitlin were never in her shoes.

    So you can use the SITG filer to say that, if someone is trying to shame you without also putting themselves into the public eye for scrutiny, then their commentary is empty and useless.

    When you use a SITG filter, you don’t get many haters. The people that are worth listening to have much more empathy.

    I know how difficult it is to keep a low body fat. I know what it’s like to tax my body. So when I see Lady Gaga doing a 10+ minute performance (that she had to memorize), where she’s simultaneously singing and dancing and not falling flat on her face in high heels, what comes to my head is,

    “She’s in incredible shape. And she’s doing amazing things. I can’t even get these Doritos into my mouth without turning 95% of my surface area orange.”

    By the way, a SITG filer can and should extend beyond one single domain. Meaning you can’t comment on her body unless you can also sing, dance, and perform like she can.

    This doesn’t limit what you can give an opinion on. But it does limit the amount of things you can give a valid opinion on.

    SO… CHANGE YOURSELF

    If these perceptual rewiring filters don’t work, you can also work on yourself. If you don’t like how you look, you can change.

    If you really, deep down, don’t like your body and you want to change for YOU, then don’t use body shaming as a veil.

    I think I found what’s most important.

    I didn’t know where this was going when I first started writing. I had some ideas floating in my head.

    Beauty culture is an art.

    The industry of beauty culture is broken.

    Beauty culture does need fixed, but that won’t inherently solve anything.

    The expectations won’t change.

    The best solutions are internal solutions.

    But there was one idea that came to me as I wrote this. An idea I never considered before.

    It reminds me of a Louis C.K. bit.

    I was on an airplane and there was Internet — high speed Internet — on the airplane. That’s the newest thing that I know exists. And I’m sitting on the plane and they go, “Open up your laptop you can go on the Internet.”

    And it’s fast. And I’m watching YouTube clips. It’s amazing. I’m in an airplane. And…then it breaks down. And they apologize the Internet’s not working.

    The guy next to me goes, “Pffft. This is bullshit.”

    Like how quickly the world owes him something he knew existed only ten seconds ago.

    – Louis C.K.

    Body shamers believe the world owes them a visually stimulating experience.

    They believe they deserve something merely as a result of their existence, and only as a result of their existence. 

    And if that doesn’t sound shitty enough for you to reconsider any and all body shaming, well —

    Shame on you.

    (Did I do it right?)

    The post Let’s talk about Lady Gaga’s chub rolls at Super Bowl LI (and body shame) appeared first on Anthony Mychal.

     
  • Anthony Mychal 11:48 pm on February 23, 2017 Permalink | Reply  

    Let’s talk about Lady Gaga’s chub rolls at Super Bowl LI (and body shame) 

    I want to talk about the belly outfit Lady Gaga wore during the Super Bowl LI half-time show.

    In other words, I want to talk about body shaming.

    I knew the Internet wouldn't let her flaunt her non-chiseled bare belly on stage.

    lady gaga super bowl fat

    I knew this because the first thought I had when I saw her on stage in the belly outfit was, “Why would she wear that?”

    I'm not proud to admit that's what I thought, even though I didn't think what I thought for the reasons you're thinking.

    untwist your tongue, son

    You probably imagine me being on the verge of body shaming.

    HOW DARE SHE SHOW THAT TUMMY FLAB. ALL WOMEN SHOULD HAVE A FLAT STOMACH.

    WHAT

    A

    DISGRACE

    THIS IS UNACCEPTABLE, LETTING WOMEN KNOW THAT IT'S OKAY FOR THEM TO BE LESS THAN PERFECT.

    But I'm not.

    Lady Gaga is not fat. Not at all. Calling her fat is stupid. I didn't question her outfit because I thought she was fat, nor did I question her outfit because I thought she needed to change her body.

    Her body is “normal.”

    And, well, that's the problem.

    By any and all first impressions, I'm a thoroughbred body shamer.

    I'm a tall white male. I'm not fat. I have muscle definition. If you saw me on the street, you'd peg me as a body shamer. No doubt.

    But my psyche has been simmering in body shame stew ever since I was eight years old.

    I used to lie to my friends in order to get out of going to pool parties. I was terrified of what they'd say about my body.

    My ego's backbone was shimmed with shame for ten years…

    …and then I started eating better. I started deadlifting. I started doing things to change the parts of me I didn't like.

    I went from a

    self-loathing skinny-fat nerd

    to a

    less self-loathing (but still pretty self-loathing) nerd with a lean, muscular, athletic physique.

    And as someone that's rode the wave of body shame to shore (somewhat) safely, my feelings on body shaming are torn in two.

    Here's why.

    Expectations are everything.

    Expectations are why a guy like Tiger Woods is doomed if he cheats on his wife, and why a guy like Charlie Sheen is doomed if he doesn't cheat on his wife.

    Body shaming's roots are twisting throughout our expectations.

    expectationS

    arE

    everythinG

    And our expectations of what a body should look like are informed by a variety of mediums (movies and magazines — anything and everything “media”) that I collective refer to as “beauty culture.”

    The idea of a “normal” body and the idea of a “perfect” body are subjective, especially in relation to beauty. People like different flavors for reasons not totally understood.

    But we can spiral into a vague idea of today's “perfect” because beauty culture does an insane amount of market research in order to find out what we find attractive.

    They then use the data to advertise to us.

    Meaning

    THEY GIVE US EXACTLY WHAT WE WANT

    and whether you're willing to admit to it or not

    THEY KNOW WHAT WE LIKE MORE THAN WE KNOW WHAT WE LIKE

    and that's the Truth.

    This is how the capitalist world works. When there's a demand for x, some people are smart enough to recognize (and supply) the demand.

    But here's the problem:

    Beauty culture takes it one step further. They take what we like, and then make it even more “perfect” (read: less realistic) using a variety of tools, the most heinous one being Photoshop.

    zendaya photoshop

    (Google “magazine photoshop fails” and see more of the absurdity for yourself.)

    Photoshopping and computer enhancing in order to alter (hide) reality is a terrible thing to do. There's no arguing that. But Photoshopping is just one of many rocks you'll hit if you roll down the rabbit hole of beauty realism.

    What about makeup? What about good lighting? Nice scenery? What about picture angle? Posing? Color correcting?

    All of these things skew “reality.”

    Below are two pictures of me. They were taken within a two minute time span. The left uses a bad angle (on purpose). There's no posing. Bad lighting. The right uses a better angle, better posing, and better lighting.

    skinny fat posing and lighting

    Of course, I'm going to post the better looking one on social media. Just like everyone does.

    We have the power to edit reality.

    And we do edit it regularly.

    Voluntarily.

    Why does any of this matter?

    Our brain isn't perfect. It's not good at distinguishing between real and fake.

    For instance, if I asked you what America was like back in 1492 when Columbus was sailing the ocean blue, you'd probably tell me something…

    …even though you have absolutely no clue what America was really like. you weren't alive back then. you didn't experience it.

    You'd use what you've read in books and what you've seen movies to piece together your own version of reality, and you'd be pretty convinced this was how things really were.

    (I stole this thought exercise from Chuck Klosterman's book, On Media And Culture. Klosterman stole it from Jerry Mander's book, Four Arguments for the Elimination of Television.)

    When we see magazines covers (or digitally enhanced scenes in movies) we don't filter them through a fake funnel.

    fake funnel

    The story we end up telling ourselves about body shape and body size is informed by fantasy because a lot of what we see is computer generated.

    And we don't consciously autocorrect for the fact that what we're seeing is staged and, for all intents and purposes, “fake.”

    We end up comparing the things see in real life to things that don't exist.

    In this respect, beauty culture is setting the bar insanely high — in the heavens.

    TV takes away our freedom to have whatever thoughts we want. So do photographs, movies, and the Internet. They provide us with more intellectual stimuli, but they construct a lower, harder intellectual ceiling.

    -Chuck Klosterman, On Media And Culture

    This is a problem.

    So let's go ahead and recreate beauty culture. Let's nix Photoshop and digital enhancements.

    You're left with (a) models. The genetically elite, the right side of the bell curve. The people that won't have cellulite. Ever.

    You're left with (b) purposeful posing. An sculptor uses contrapposto to make a visual statement.

    You're left with (c) professional photographers. An expert eye for framing the foreground with the background. People that understand and use the rule of thirds.

    You're left with (d) awesome (or staged) lighting. Overhead lighting turns a stomach into a six pack set of abs.

    You're left with (e) people that are willing to do things most people aren't in order to build and maintain an above average body.

    You're left with…

    Point being that, even with more ethical strategies, beauty culture sets still sets the beauty bar through the roof.

    our perception of “normal” would still be fucked sideways. Less sideways, yes. But, still, sideways.

    The question is this: do you still have beef with this more ethical beauty culture?

    A lot of people would. Because little changes. It still creates an unrealistic expectation of what females (and males) should look like.

    But here's the deal:

    LADY FUCKING GAGA PERFORMED AT THE SUPERBOWL.

    Do you see what I'm saying?

    No. You don't.

    So hold onto your chair because

    this

    will

    (probably)

    upset

    you.

    We are all shamers, whether we realize it or not. (We don't.)

    Lady Gaga isn't stupid. She didn't accidentally wear what she wore. She knew it would cause a shit storm. She wanted it to cause a shit storm.

    She knew Twitter would talk, and she knew she would be rewarded for being an “honest” woman. For not being afraid of showing the world what a “normal” woman looks like.

    Which is commendable.

    But confusing.

    Because it's a sentiment unique to beauty and body. And this what makes body shaming so damn unique and impossible (did I give my conclusion away?) to fix.

    Imagine if Tom Brady was holding the Super Bowl MVP trophy and then burst into song, only to say, “I just wanted to let the world know what a real voice actually sounds like.”

    It wouldn't make sense.

    We don't listen to “regular” music or watch “regular” movies to keep our expectations in check.

    We don't celebrate “decency” in any other art form, which is why we don't remember 99% of the people that've been on American Idol.

    We even like it when (some) singers alter their voice (the Photoshopping of music!??!?!?!!!?) to make their tunes catchier.

    Because, by and large, when it comes to “art,” we EXPECT and (usually) accept nothing less than a Purple Cow.

    The term “Purple Cow” comes from Seth Godin and his book, Purple Cow. If you're driving on the highway and you see a Purple Cow, you're going to say something.

    And that's what a Purple Cow symbolizes:

    Something worth remarking (talking) about.

    Purple Cows are remarkable.

    We want Purple Cows and we celebrate them in the art and entertainment industries.

    Lady Gaga is a Purple Cow, which is why no one was surprised to hear she got the Super Bowl gig. She's “unrealistic” and few people can do what she does.

    So why are we surprised (and upset) when beauty culture showcases “unrealistic” bodies of males and females?

    “It's not fair. It skews expectations.”

    Well, guess what?

    EVERY PURPLE COW DOES.

    Lady Gaga sets the entertainment bar through the roof. Why is it okay for singers, actors, and artists to slave over their craft (and abuse drugs) in order to give us the ultimate entertainment experience?

    Why is it NOT okay for a model to do the same to give us the ultimate visual experience? Why are models unhealthy if they're trying to create a certain “Purple Cow” aesthetic appeal?

    Unhealthy?

    Unnatural?

    Probably.

    YES.

    That's why they are Purple Cows.

    I'm not saying this phenomenon is right or wrong or good or bad. I'm just saying that it IS…

    …and also pointing out some inconsistencies in our (domain dependent) logic.

    And it's precisely our domain dependence that makes this really confusing.

    We don't compare artists to non-artists in any domain, save for when it comes to the body and beauty.

    We understand that a singer practices and bleeds to sing better. We understand that the “joes” won't be on the level of the “pros.”

    We understand “pros” take it to level most of us won't and SHOULDN'T unless we're IN the game.

    And if the pro-joe illusion isn't enough, there's no other world where “above averageness” is shat upon more than in beauty culture.

    Those forgotten American Idol singers? They're forgotten, but they probably weren't shamed.

    If Tom Brady DID burst out in song and and his singing was above average. Most people would be impressed.

    =+= news flash =+=

    Lady Gaga's body IS above average. she has less body fat than MOST women.

    Yet she's still flushed down the toilet.

    Why?

    You ready for more reasons to hate me?

    I kicked this thing off by saying my feelings about body shaming are torn in two.

    ONE_

    Taking care of your body is an insanely difficult thing to do. Its an “art” and should be seen as an art.

    For us “joes” to rag on people in beauty culture because they are Purple Cows is just as illogical for us to rag on Lady Gaga for being good at what she does.

    TWO_

    Body shaming isn't cool, and it's rather nonsensical. You wouldn't go up to someone on the street that's never practiced singing and shame their musical ability…

    …unless, of course, they were out in public and subjecting others to their noise.

    In which case, we can say that, you increase your chances of cultural commentary if you “put yourself out there” on a public stage.

    If you walk around your neighborhood, singing at the top of your lungs, and you're not a good singer, I hate to break it to you, but your neighbors are going to talk about you.

    Likewise, if you walk around in clothes (or without clothes) that show off your physique, and you aren't a premier physical specimen, your neighbors are going to talk about you.

    The less Purple you are, the more vulnerable you are to cultural criticism ESPECIALLY if you voluntarily present yourself in a public format.

    Gaga opened the door the moment she wore what she wore.

    “She's there to sing and dance. She's not there for her looks. It's not fair to judge her for her looks.”

    Then why did she have to change outfits a million times? Why were there fireworks, drones, and dancers? Why wasn't Lady Gaga hiding in a box and singing a capella?

    The visual aspects of music entertainment are like the intellectual aspects of Miss America. They might not be the main course, but they're certainly on the dinner plate.

    (Speaking of which, I remember everyone and their mother making fun of Lauren Kaitlin for her intellect during Miss Teen USA 2007. Why can we clown on intellect, but not beauty? Why is it satisfying when an attractive human is dumb?)

    This IS shitty of me to say because the implications are whack mack titty back give a cog a drone.

    (a) people that don't have a Purple Cow body need to walk around in thick sweaters to save everyone's eyeballs.

    (b) people that don't have a Purple Cow face need to wear babushkas at all times.

    Not cool, right?

    I'm not saying that's how things should be, but, rather, pointing out that that's how they are in different domains.

    And we don't bat an eye.

    Everyone and their mother made from of William Hung for his American Idol performance. But it's the same thing.

    A guy took a chance, put himself out there on a public stage, and people talked because he didn't meet our expectations. Our “subjective” cultural expectations. 

    Trying to conclude this, I swear. It's not working, but I'm trying.

    So in an effort to begin concluding this rant of mine, we can say that:

    If you put yourself out there in a public format and “showcase” your “talent,” then you're opening the doors for criticism and commentary.

    You might not think you're “showcasing” your “talents” when you wear that one outfit, but that's the cultural perception.

    A lot of people are upset that this has become the cultural perception, so they rage against culture itself.

    “IT'S BEAUTY CULTURE'S FAULT FOR CREATING UNREALISTIC EXPECTATIONS!”

    WE CAN and SHOULD create a more ethical beauty culture. Stop with the Photoshop shenanigans, yes.

    Show us what goes on behind the scenes. Because then we can SEE the dedication, the hard work. We can see level of commitment. We can see the stack of skunked pictures that didn't make the cut. The crew of people telling the model how to pose. The sixteen lamps creating optimal shadowing.

    Maybe that'll help our brain realize that modeling is akin to “acting” and an art in itself.

    But, even with those changes, the beauty bar will still be high. And that's okay.

    Eliminating beauty culture all together is just a grandiose game of self-deception.

    Don't highlight attractive males and females because it makes the rest of us look bad. Dismiss all of the hard work these people do stay in shape because it makes us look bad.

    While we're at it, let's ban Lady Gaga from being an entertainer because she makes other entertainers look bad.

    Let's ban Louis C.K. from being a comedian because he makes other comedians look bad.

    Let's ban anyone that's good at anything because it makes everyone else look bad.

    People work really hard to get good at what they do, and that's why they're really good.

    The realities of reality are real things that we don't like to reel in.

    Pinning the problem on beauty culture is the norm, and for good reason: it deserves some of the pins.

    But I don't think the proposed changes will be implemented anytime soon because

    REALITY IS BORING

    which is why movies and books are edited one million times to eliminate excess; they're crafted to captivate our wonky attention spans.

    A true thing, poorly expressed, is a lie.

    – Stephen Fry (maybe)

    Hardcore social media users take thirty-five selfies before posting one, adjusting their hair, the lighting, and the angle with each subsequent shot.

    (I'm guessing you've done this before. Don't get all pious on me now.)

    And the real problem with blaming beauty is this: it implies that the only way to overcome body shaming is by fixing beauty culture itself, which is an

    EXTERNAL

    solution. “There's something wrong with the world, the world needs to change.” But this is a terrible way to live because it insinuates that you have NO control.

    A better way to handle body shaming is with

    INTERNAL

    solutions. Because, in today's world, everyone has a voice. Expressing opinions is easier than ever, which is both empowering and infuriating.

    Everyone should be free to share their opinions, but not everyone's opinion should count.

    You have the choice to decide what's signal and what's noise.

    SO… DON'T GET STUNG BY AN IMAGINARY BEE

    If someone makes fun of my drawings, I'm not going to get mad. I'm not an artist. I've never tried to be a professional artist.

    If you don't care about how you look and you've never tried to change, then why get insulted?

    You can avoid putting yourself in a position where you'd be more subjected to cultural commentary.

    But if you think that's a limiting way to live life, then you do have one weapon available to you: go numb.

    If you want to “showcase” your “talents” and your “talents” aren't high (on a cultural grading system), you have to numb yourself to the commentary. Or, better yet, embrace the commentary.

    SO… APPLY A SITG FILTER

    Talk is cheap. There are no consequences when you give an opinion, meaning you're likely to give too many opinions about things you shouldn't be giving opinions about.

    This is where Skin in the Game comes into play.

    Skin in the Game is a concept I stole from Nassim Taleb's book, Antifragile. 

    In a nutshell, it means: put your money where your mouth is. So if you're ready and willing to dish out an opinion about how someone looks, you need to be willing to subject yourself to the same criticism.

    This is enlightening.

    Remember William Hung? Lauren Kaitlin? Most of the people making fun of Hung never sung in front of an audience. Most of the people making fun of Kaitlin were never in her shoes.

    So you can use the SITG filer to say that, if someone is trying to shame you without also putting themselves into the public eye for scrutiny, then their commentary is empty and useless.

    When you use a SITG filter, you don't get many haters. The people that are worth listening to have much more empathy.

    I know how difficult it is to keep a low body fat. I know what it's like to tax my body. So when I see Lady Gaga doing a 10+ minute performance (that she had to memorize), where she's simultaneously singing and dancing and not falling flat on her face in high heels, what comes to my head is,

    “She's in incredible shape. And she's doing amazing things. I can't even get these Doritos into my mouth without turning 95% of my surface area orange.”

    By the way, a SITG filer can and should extend beyond one single domain. Meaning you can't comment on her body unless you can also sing, dance, and perform like she can.

    This doesn't limit what you can give an opinion on. But it does limit the amount of things you can give a valid opinion on.

    SO… CHANGE YOURSELF

    If these perceptual rewiring filters don't work, you can also work on yourself. If you don't like how you look, you can change.

    If you really, deep down, don't like your body and you want to change for YOU, then don't use body shaming as a veil.

    I think I found what's most important.

    I didn't know where this was going when I first started writing. I had some ideas floating in my head.

    Beauty culture is an art.

    The industry of beauty culture is broken.

    Beauty culture does need fixed, but that won't inherently solve anything.

    The expectations won't change.

    The best solutions are internal solutions.

    But there was one idea that came to me as I wrote this. An idea I never considered before.

    It reminds me of a Louis C.K. bit.

    I was on an airplane and there was Internet — high speed Internet — on the airplane. That's the newest thing that I know exists. And I'm sitting on the plane and they go, “Open up your laptop you can go on the Internet.”

    And it's fast. And I'm watching YouTube clips. It's amazing. I'm in an airplane. And…then it breaks down. And they apologize the Internet's not working.

    The guy next to me goes, “Pffft. This is bullshit.”

    Like how quickly the world owes him something he knew existed only ten seconds ago.

    – Louis C.K.

    Body shamers believe the world owes them a visually stimulating experience.

    They believe they deserve something merely as a result of their existence, and only as a result of their existence. 

    And if that doesn't sound shitty enough for you to reconsider any and all body shaming, well —

    Shame on you.

    (Did I do it right?)

    The post Let’s talk about Lady Gaga’s chub rolls at Super Bowl LI (and body shame) appeared first on Anthony Mychal.

     
  • Anthony Mychal 8:34 pm on January 25, 2017 Permalink | Reply  

    Here are links to the best blog posts (so far) 

    I started this blog a long time ago. My friend used to write melodic death metal reviews and I'd post 'em up, haha.

    I've started to realize what I want this place to be, which requires purging the decrepit.

    I started a new project, writing (Shitty) Chunks. This blog will be put on hold (somewhat) as I churn out (Shitty) Chunks on a daily basis.

    I want this place to be better, and that's what I'm working towards. I'm picking the best out of the complete archives and making them shiny, putting them in a separate (easier to navigate) place.

    The complete archives is messy, but there's good stuff lodged in between the cruft. Here are just a few of the things I picked out that I know you'll enjoy.

    Lifestyle 

    How to Build a Home Garage Gym, Capsule Corp Style

    How to make hassle-free healthy french fries. You can turn 'em into home fries, too. Yeah, exactly. You need this.

    A small (but effective) cheat code for becoming more motivated

    ♡ David Letterman's cup technique

    Mindset and behaviors 

    ♡ Is (who you think you are) getting in the way of (who you can become)? YES. IT. IS. Now read this and find out why.

    This disease makes you vulnerable to fitness fads, gimmicks, and decision fatigue. (Don't worry, the cure is inside.)

    Use this counter cultural strategy to solve problems

    Performance and programming

     Why healing an injury takes more than a phoenix down

    How I Deadlifted 550 Pounds

    The Best Damn Guide for Building Upper Chest Size and Strength

    Can you build muscle with just bodyweight training?

    “Fuck you” capacity

    ♡ How to Become a Handstand Beast – A Tutorial by GMB

    ♡ How to Use Stoic Singles to Increase Strength and Train More Often

    ♡ How to Hack Time: Smarter, More Coordinated, and Better Results – No Time Necessary

    Skinny-fat and body image

    Something about love handles I wish someone would’ve told me six years ago

     Solutions for the Skinny Fat Ectomorph Part III – Programming and Training

     Should You Bulk or Cut? (Skinny-Fat Must Read)

    ♡ Digging Further on the Skinny-Fat Should I Bulk or Cut? Question

     3 Reminders for The Skinny-Fat Ectomorph

     Solutions for the Skinny Fat Ectomorph Part IV – Nutrition, Intermittent Fasting, Carb Cycling, and Hormones

     7 Fundamental Tips for Skinny-Fat Sufferers

    Nutrition

     What is intermittent fasting? Why is it so popular?

    The Diet to End All Diets: Muscle Building, Fat Loss, and Easy Living Without the Calculator or Scale

    9 Things You Should Know Before Intermittent Fasting

    How to Start Intermittent Fasting and Kick Hunger Aside

    9 Common Intermittent Fasting Mistakes

     Why you shouldn't listen to your hunger

    Thought essays

     I Remember, I Don't Remember

    ♡ Skills Aren't Pills

    Are you a sucker for low food chain thinking? Why models are the most important thing you don’t have.

    Stop doing repetitions

    Antifragility: a primer on how your brain and body enjoy disorder

    The “Can I Get Worse?” Philosophy

    A lesson from the Nintendo [RESET] button

    Try balancing romantic understanding with classic understanding

    Focus on the phenomenon, not the phenomenology

    Tricking tutorials

    The bonanza

    Full archives

     

    Published writing beyond the site that I'm 9% not proud of is below…

    The post Here are links to the best blog posts (so far) appeared first on Anthony Mychal.

     
  • Anthony Mychal 6:31 pm on January 18, 2017 Permalink | Reply  

    The first thing you need to do to Get Shit Done is set goals. The second thing you need to do to Get Shit Done is forget goals. 

    allow me to unzip my soul (in an attempt to appear more human) and admit to you that I loooovveee Alice in Wonderland, even though I haven’t really read the entire book or watched any of the movies.

    the random quotes make me tingle. like this one.

     

    “Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?”

    “That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,” said the Cat.

    “I don’t much care where–” said Alice.

    “Then it doesn’t matter which way you go,” said the Cat.

    – Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland

    a particularly relevant quote because the first thing you need to do to Get Shit Done is set goals. if you don’t, you’re like Alice.

    you’re looking for directive, tips, tactics, strategies, but none of these things exist without a goal.

     

    What do you want to be? What do you want to have? What do you want to be capable of? What do you want to accomplish? What is the reason for you wanting to do what you want to do?

    Goals are a big deal

    Which is why there’s a bunch of hoopla around goals and people not making them specific enough, which is a valid point.

    Most people have general goals.

    • Lose fat
    • Build muscle

    But how much fat do you want to lose? And by which date? And how much muscle do you want to build? And by which date?

    You can make goals really specific, and there’s (probably) a time and place to do so. But now isn’t the time, because, even though goals are necessary, they’re absofuckingloutely childish.

    Goals are wants

    Goals are nothing more than wants. And wanting is easy. Maybe too easy. Because setting goals can easily become a substitute for achieving goals.

    Guy says, “I’m going to lose ten pounds this month!”

    But he has no real intention on losing ten pounds. He might want to lose ten pounds, but he he’s just saying this as a magic trick. To show the world he’s aware (and ashamed) of his body, and that he’s ambitious enough to do something about it.

    But he’s not.

    That’s just what he wants people to think.

    The hard part

    Wanting stuff isn’t the hard part.

    I want a lot of stuff.

    I want one million dollars. An infinite supply of peanut butter. I want to drink the finest milk stouts in the land. To deadlift 600 pounds and move like a ghost cat. I WANT A BICYCLE. I JUST WANT A BICYCLE! WHATEVER, MAKE ME A BICYCLE, CLOWN.

    I got lots of goals.

    So what?

    The problem with goals

    Goals tell you where you want to go, but they don’t tell how to get there. They are inherently empty.

    • Construction worker: get rid of chronic back pain, lose fat, improve HDL cholesterol.
    • New father: build muscle, strength train in a time efficient way, maybe even from home.
    • First year college student: build real self-confidence, sleep around without getting STDs.

    What’s the plan? The strategy? The system? In other words, how are you going to accomplish your goals?

    I want to trick like Rasmus Ott. That’s nice. How are you going to make this happen?

    I want to be as mobile as Hunter Cook. That’s nice. How are you going to make this happen?

    I want to be as cool as Casey Niestat. That’s nice. How are you going to stop being such an introverted awkward nerd make this happen?

    What goals really mean

    When I see some designy thing I like on a website, I right click on the element and hit “view page source.” This shows me the code, the guts, behind the designy thing. So I can steal borrow it for my own use.

    When you right click and hit “view page source” on goals, you see SPECIFIC BEHAVIORS. The things you need TO DO in order to accomplish the goals.

    I want to lose fat. That’s nice. How are you going to make this happen?

    I am going to…

    …drink no calorie beverages.
    …eat a rich source of protein at every feeding.
    …replace 50% of my starch intake with vegetables.

    Find the roots

    Go ahead. Pick one goal floating inside of your pre-frontal cortex. (There’s something to be said about focus here and only picking one goal, but now’s not the time.)

    Now ask yourself, “What things do I need to do in order to accomplish this goal?”

    Keep your list smallish. Don’t go above five things.

    Re: focus.

    If you don’t know what behaviors are going to help you reach your goal(s), then you’re held back by knowledge.

    Go learn.

    Scour the web. Read an encyclopedia. Pay someone to show you the way. Buy Zero to Barbell or Big Win Fat Loss or The Skinny-Fat Solution or The Chaos Bulk or B3W. Whatever. I don’t care.

    The good news is that, for the moment, it doesn’t matter if you’re selecting bass ackwards behaviors that make no sense.

    Meaning if your goal is fat loss and your behavior list looks like this

    • Eliminate all carbohydrates
    • Avoid fatty foods
    • Go jogging every day

    then it works for the sake of continuing the conversation, even though it doesn’t work for the sake of actually achieving your fat loss goal(s).

    This is the real problem

    You have an idea of what you need to do (regardless of whether its a good idea of a bad idea), but you’re struggling to Get Shit Done.

    You don’t want to eat the chocolate bar, but you do anyways. You know you shouldn’t watch House of Cards all weekend and skip your training sessions, but you do anyways.

    The problem isn’t knowledge, the problem is action.

    This, my friends, is Shit Creek.

    The post The first thing you need to do to Get Shit Done is set goals. The second thing you need to do to Get Shit Done is forget goals. appeared first on Anthony Mychal.

     
  • Anthony Mychal 1:11 am on January 13, 2017 Permalink | Reply  

    Anthony Mychal will help you build the body of your dreams. 2017-01-13 01:11:38 

    when i was a noob, i was thrown towards the throes of Starting Strength.

    and it was perfect.

    i was a self-conscious nerd, trying to do this thing, find my way through fitness (or whatever you want to call it), from my garage.

    i was a member of some online communities, my primary home being a tricking forum. there was a small “fitness” subset within the bigger tricking community and i sort of picked out one dude as a mentor.

    (hi Adam)

    and i peppered the shit out of him with TRBL questions.

    five reps or four? how many sets? what’s the best program? what’s your experience with butt secks? what’s the deal with your 401k?

    if someone were to email me and ask me these questions today, i’d reply with so many vulgarities. they’d probably quit “fitness.” so i got lucky; he was nice.

    but he must have seen i was a live wire, sparking every which direction. i needed to be grounded.

    “go buy, read, and then do Starting Strength.”

    he told me to do this.

    so I did.

    I bought it. i read it in one day. and then everything changed

    ss is common today, but, back then (2006ish), it was nothing (popularity-wise). my self-proclaimed mentor was cutting edge. and i was lucky to have picked him because i needed ss.

    it was a book.

    but it was my coach.

    i remember reading though the book and being blown away. not only did it help me from a technical perspective (with body position and exercise technique), but it also transformed my outlook on strength training.

    i had a standard barbell at the time, which oxford defines as “a shitty version of an Olympic barbell that’s about as sturdy as a string of toothpicks glued together”

    i had a cheap ass bench. third world countries have better benches, really. my shoulders didn’t fit through the uprights.

    considering i was a skinny-fat dude with narrow as piss shoulders, i’m starting to wonder if my bench was actually a toddler play toy made by Fisher-Price.

    reading ss was like realizing i wanted to take a road trip across the country, but my mode of transportation was a barbie jeep power wheels.

    so the first thing i did was upgrade. i bought an olympic barbell and a good squat stand. a better bench. it wasn’t a lot, but ss didn’t call for a lot.

    my parents were still able to park in the garage, is what i’m saying — a big deal for me because that was our deal.

    and then i did the thing.

    Starting Strength had a profound impact on me and pushed me in the right direction, a direction I’m not sure I would have went otherwise.

    which makes what i’m about to say rather confusing:

    if I had a chance to do it all again, I wouldn’t do SS. And, if you’re reading this, there’s an above average chance you shouldn’t be doing Starting Strength either.

    I intend on getting to WHY, eventually.

    I’m writing this to tell what I’d do if I had a chance to start over. the program i’d recommend to new newbs wearing shoes like my old ‘uns.

    I was a skinny-fat nerd that wanted to look better (more specifically, build an x-physique) and move better.

    But, in order to get what I would do if i had a second chance, have to trample through SS methodology.

    Because what I bring to the table is sort of a Jeet Kune Do-ing the shit out of SS. Taking what I found most useful, rejecting what I found useless, adding my own.

    OIH GREAT A LITTLE PRICK TRYING TO BE ALL SORTS OF CONTRIVERSIAL BY UNDERMINING A LONG WITHSTANDING COACH WHAT ARE YOUR CREDENTIALS BRO

    but i’m glad opinions are like assholes.

    before i give you the chance to move along here, I guess I should also mention StrongLifts, as that’s a similar (but different) program thrown around for noobs.

    If you’ve never heard of either of these programs, you have two options: leave or learn. If you want to learn, then keep reading. If you want to leave, I got you covered, too.

    TO LEAVE .. TWO LEAF. TWO LEABEVSS lolllOLolZomgomominfillolollolololl i’m a genius

     

    StrongLifts is similar enough to Starting Strength for me to draw the (eventual) same conclusion about both of them — and yes, i said that. meaning the i need to lock my doors because the Starting Strengthians are going to be out for my blood.

     

     

     

     

    so after, bought all new equipment.

    hankered down, and things were never the same.

     

     

     

    Like most confused noobs wandering around the muscle building, fat loss, and fitness world, I was thrown towards the throes of Starting Strength (book, website).

    A lot of noobs are, and for good reason: it’s a coach in a book. And that’s exactly what I needed (and wanted).

    I was skinny-fat nerd w/ social issues. Going to gym? Nah. SS allowed me to self-teach myself.

     

     

     

    I was a nerd. I liked to draw and play video games. The extent of my Christmas list (most years) was thirty different sketchbooks, fancy pens or pencils, and Pokémon Yellow DON’T FORGET POKéMON YELLOW OR I’LL MURDER YOU IN YOUR SLEEP PIKACHU CAN SURF I WANT TO SURF WITH PIKACHUUUUU

    pikachu surf pokemon yellow

    I didn’t have any self-confidence. I had major body image issues. I wanted to lose fat and build muscle, but going to the gym wasn’t an option.

    You mean I have to move my body in front of other people that I can barely communicate with on a good day? And they will be looking at me and judging me? HAHAhahahAHAHaHAhAh

    My only shot was building a garage gym and working alone, which is exactly what I did.

    It sounds like I made this decision way back when consciously and with the snap of a finger, but that’s not what happened.

     

    My garage gym started out as an old exercise bike that my Dad used to ride. I would ride it as soon as I got home from school because I didn’t want anyone to know.

    Like I said, I was weird.

    Just like wheat…

    But eventually scracthed through and asked for dumbbells.

    Credit to my parents. I woke up on December 25th and there were boxes of heavy iron things in my garage. Even though they had already contacted the local scrap yard to see how much money they’d be able to resell the iron for.

    Despite doing absolutely nothing with these dumbbells, I bought more equipment. I thought more stuff would solve my problems. How original.

    I bought a “standard barbell,” which Oxford defines as “a shitty version of an Olympic barbell that’s about as sturdy as a string of toothpicks glued together.”

    I bought a cheap bench. Worse than any you’d find in a Third World country. My shoulders didn’t even fit through the uprights. Considering I was a skinny-fat kid with narrow shoulders, I wonder if what I bought was actually a toddler play toy.

    So bought standard one.

    I pestered the shit out of him with questions that (now) make me want to find him on Facebook and apologize to him.

    WHAT’S THE BEST PROGRAM? EXERCISE? IS THRE.5 REPS MORE BETTER THAN 4? SO ABOUT THAT PROGRAM YOU CUSTOM BUILT FOR ME YESTERDAY AND SPENT HOURS MAKING I WAS THINKING YOU’D MAKE ME A NEW ONE TODAY BECAS

    Sorry, Adam.

    Adam hung with me for longer than he should have. But he eventually saw me for what I was: a frayed telephone wire, spewing my juice all over the place, whipping around in the wind.

    I needed to be grounded. He outsourced the job.

    And after pestering my mentor at the time, simply said:

    “Go buy, read, and then do Starting Strength,” he said.

    And I did.

    I bought Starting Strength. I read Starting Strength in one night. And then I did Starting Strength.

    And it changed everything.

    ….

    I rememebr reading through i remember reading through and thinking i was going about it all wrong. not only technical approach, but approach in general.

    not only from approach….POWER WHEELS.

    with the way I was training, I was like a kid acting all sorts of hardcore upon getting a drivers license, and then trying to look cool riding in a Power Wheels Barbie Jeep.

     

    Everything I learned prior was so…fragmented and disjointed. But SS brought everything. What, why, and the how. And I was in.

    So I bought Olympic sized plates and an Olympic sized bar. I got a squat stand and a decentish bench. My garage gym upgrade was complete…once I shimmed up sides of the rack and bench on account of the crooked floor, of course.

    not long after, bought Olympic bar, upgraded, and

     

     

    The post appeared first on Anthony Mychal will help you build the body of your dreams..

     
  • Anthony Mychal 6:44 pm on January 9, 2017 Permalink | Reply  

    Blog sticky post thingy with details or something 

    This is sandbox of things I’m thinking, reading, and doing — things that are helping me move, feel, think, and look better. It’s updated daily. Sometimes with just a quote. Sometimes with a full article.

    The heftier more robust articles can be found on the Best of the Blog page, which you can find by clicking here.

    You can get a weekly recap of what I post on the blog via email by clicking here.

    The post Blog sticky post thingy with details or something appeared first on Anthony Mychal will help you build the body of your dreams..

     
  • Anthony Mychal 5:03 pm on January 7, 2017 Permalink | Reply  

    Dont judge your insides by someone else’s outsides 

    Don’t judge your insides by someone else’s outsides.

    – Rob Lowe

    It’s only a small preview of their conversation, but this quote comes from here. Worth your three minutes.

    The post Dont judge your insides by someone else’s outsides appeared first on Anthony Mychal will help you build the body of your dreams..

     
  • Anthony Mychal 12:45 am on January 7, 2017 Permalink | Reply  

    When you don’t want to move is when you most need to move 

    There are some days when I don’t want to move. Alright. Most days. Most days, I don’t want to move.

    I do my work, which (often) leaves me less than fresh.

    If I’m having a good day, I’ll finish my work and stay fresh (mentally), which helps me jump into training.

    I try to do this. It’s the best option because, usually, if I work beyond fresh, it’s wasted non-productive work that doesn’t help.

    But some days I bash my head into the wall with work and I end up in a brain fog. I’m over caffeinated. I’m cognitively zapped. The last thing I want to do is move around.

    And I’m not talking about “training” necessarily. I’m talking about spending 30 minutes and moving my joints through their ranges of motion. Contracting muscles.

    It’s not something I always used to do, but I’ve made it a daily practice in recent days. It’s my warm-up on the days I train. On the days I don’t train, it’s just what I do. Another part of the day, like eating.

    But some days it’s hard.

    And yet

    AND YET

    I’ve found that when I least want to move is when I most need to move. When I’m cognitively zapped and overworked, I need to move. Get blood flowing through my body.

    “Flush” my system.

    When I’m sore and tired, I need to move. For the same reasons.

     

    The shower after, the way I feel…it’s sublime.

    And this is something I remind myself: just wait, just wait for how you’ll feel after the shower. You won’t regret it.

    The post When you don’t want to move is when you most need to move appeared first on Anthony Mychal will help you build the body of your dreams..

     
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