The founder and executive editor of "Muscle Media"--one of the nation's fastest growing strength-training magazines--presents a 12-week motivational program to achieve mental and physical fitness for a lifetime. Photos & illustrations. Index.
Body For Life
12 Weeks to Mental and Physical Strength
A couple of years ago, I attended a fitness convention in Atlanta. It's one of only a few industry trade shows I attend, and therefore, it's one of the only times I come face-to-face with a large number of my readers at once. During the course of that weekend, hundreds of men and women who introduced themselves as avid followers of my magazine came up to shake my hand and chat. What struck me most about the entire experience--what absolutely floored me--was how strikingly out of shape many of these people were.
Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed meeting all these folks, many of whom had been reading my work for years. I even recognized a lot of their names. That weekend I think I met about 600 of my students. Maybe 80 of them looked fit and strong, but the others, who had been receiving the same information on exercise and nutrition, looked like . . . well, like they never had the opportunity to learn about how to get in top shape before.
On the flight home, I agonized over what I experienced that weekend. I knew then and there that in order to become a better teacher, I had to create a solution that would help these people not just get the facts but apply them. I knew I could help these people. I knew it was my responsibility.
Anyone who knows me at all or is familiar with me through my writing understands I firmly believe that a strong, healthy mind resides in a strong, healthy body. That, my friends, is a fact. When I see men and women who are out of shape, I see lives not fully lived. I see lost potential. I see people who need someone to help them realize they can look and feel better. That's what I see.
You simply cannot escape this reality: Your body is the epicenter of your universe. You go nowhere without it. It is truly the temple of your mind and your soul. If it is sagging, softening, and aging rapidly, other aspects of your life will soon follow suit.
I just don't believe that anyone in this world sets out on a journey to become fat and unhealthy, just as no one decides to become lonely or poor. What happens is, somewhere along the line, slowly and gradually, without even being aware of it, we give up. We give up our values and our dreams one at a time. When people let go of their bodies, it is, quite simply, the beginning of the end.
The night I got home from that trip, I couldn't stop thinking about it. What could I do to help these people apply their knowledge? I asked myself that question over and over again. I couldn't sleep. Then, finally, at about 1:15 in the morning, it hit me: They need a challenge. A competition. An incentive and the ultimate trophy--my blood-red Lamborghini Diablo.
I recalled how dreaming about someday owning that car helped me back when I was struggling to build my business--it helped me stay focused on my future and lifted my desire when I needed it most. I thought maybe it could do the same for the people I wanted to help--that it could be their driving force too. So, the next day, I put that Lamborghini up as the "Grand Prize" in the most unique self-improvement contest ever.
No one had ever tried issuing a challenge like this before, but something told me I had to do it, even though some people (including my dad, who's also my business advisor) let me know they thought the idea was crazy.
But I experienced something like the voice that whispered to Ray Kinsella in the baseball movie Field of Dreams: My instincts told me if I built it, they would come.
And did they ever...
More than 54,000 people from all walks of life signed up. Cops, cooks, and corporate CEO. Parents and grandparents (more than a few great-grandparents). Men and women who had never lifted a weight in their lives and a few seasoned gym rats who had been trying to build better bodies for years. The entries cascaded in, each individual accepting my challenge.
There were 10 categories, so young and old, men and women alike could still compete and have a chance to win. They were required to take 'before and after' photos and write an essay describing their experience and the impact it had on their lives overall. A team of judges, including myself, worked day and night scoring each competitor based on how much they improved their physiques, combined with how well they expressed the experience through their essays.
There -- in those essays -- was where my expectations and imagination essays were blown away. I hoped that giving people an incentive and challenging them to apply the knowledge I offered them would help them improve their bodies. And it did.
But that's not all. These people were getting physically fit, and they were getting their lives back in shape. It was, and still is, one of the most enlightening experiences of my life. Accepting this challenge rekindled the flame of desire for tens of thousands, and it broke down walls that were keeping people from moving forward in all areas of their lives.
Many of the men and women who accepted my challenge reported that this Program literally saved their lives. Their risk of heart disease (the number-one killer in America today) was drastically lowered, as well as the risk of being afflicted with other illnesses, such as diabetes, cancer, and osteoporosis.
Beyond even that, the psychological and emotional changes reported by these men and women were (and are) stunning. They described off-the-chart leaps in self-confidence, self-respect, and empowerment. They discovered that taking control of their bodies broke down barriers all around them. People were more attracted to them. They got better jobs. They made greater amounts of money. They made greater amounts of money. Their relationships with colleagues, family, and friends improved. Their marriages got better. Their sex lives became more satisfying. Old habits that seemed impossible to break suddenly became easy to drop.
And they began to realize that they really do have the power to help and inspire others (which, by the way, is, in my opinion, the main reason we're here to begin with). Quite simply, they became more enlightened, more powerful people, in every sense of those words.Body For Life
12 Weeks to Mental and Physical Strength
. Copyright Â© by Bill Phillips . Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
Excerpted from Body for Life: 12 Weeks to Mental and Physical Strength by Bill Phillips, Michael D'Orso
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