The Acting world can be a vain place. It can also just be a ridiculously high pressure place that pushes something out of you that looks like vanity. Most of the time, It doesn't matter how pretty something looks on the outside, there's usually a bit of ugly underneath. Particularly when you're trying to make a living from it, trying to market yourself, be business smart and all the things I'm telling you about on this site. The irony doesn't pass me by. If we just wanted to be pure artists, we wouldn't need to look 'the goods' we'd just come as we were and give what we had. But the worlds a bit of a funny place nowadays and if you want to work with the best of the best and you in someway fit into a type where sexuality and desire is a draw card into getting you hired, that pressure certainly rears it's ugly head.
That's where I was at about 9 weeks ago. I was coming off being the heaviest I'd ever been at 103kg and I was determined to cut the fat. I knew if I wanted to be wanted in this industry... sigh... I had to go the whole 9 yards. I couldn't just work on my craft! I had to work on building a hire-able product and a part of that was going to be my physique. While all this was happening I was reading a book that I highly recommend called "The Four Hour Work Week" by Timothy Ferriss. In the book Tim says if you want to set out to accomplish a goal or as he calls it "a dream-line" don't get bogged down in research, reach out to three people who have achieved what you want to achieve and ask them how they did it. So I did. I asked three friends who were in great shape, what they did and what I could learn from their approach. The response was amazing, links to great websites, paragraphs of advice and an offer to write me up a twelve week program that would see me get where I wanted to go. I was in.
A few weeks ago in the middle of the program I read an eerily telling article by Max Olesker from Esquire about the rise of the spornosexual. The spornosexual is the heir apparent to the throne of the metro-sexual. Where metros would use clothes, preening and products to make themselves 'look the goods' the spornosexual takes it to the next level in obsessing over his physique by being buff, jacked or ripped and in perfect proportion. It's an idea that is based around men self objectifying. Putting the male gaze upon themselves and demanding they have abs and be; pretty, well groomed, pieces of flesh, or as the article says "Brad Pitt in fight club... He looks good but he's not massive... Good Abs... Good arms... Alright chest." and when I started my program about seven weeks prior to reading that article I had asked my trainer for that exact same thing. Creepy. I was aware of what I was doing, I was buying into a perceived ideal body image, I was saying I want to be sexy, I want to be ripped, I want to be cut like a diamond. I didn't want to obsess over it but I wanted it taken care of.
Though aesthetics wasn't the only reason I made the change. It was hard feel good about myself emotionally when I was 103kg. I felt very self conscious and like my bad eating and drinking habits were in control of my life, rather than the other way around. Instead of being able to choose when to indulge, it seemed like my body screamed for sugar and fat as a way of anchoring emotional pain. So in taking on the nutrition program, I was looking to optimise three things to do with my relationship with food:
1. I wanted to primarily see food as fuel,
2. I wanted to create a more choice minimal lifestyle surrounding meal times and...
3. I wanted to teach my body to get better at burning fat.
That's where I think Byron Sahka's program really came into it's own.
The program I was put on was built around a Macro diet. Based on my age, weight, height and a commitment to training four times a week, I was instructed to eat six meals a day, that consisted of a specific number of macros (Macro nutrients) ie. proteins, carbohydrates and good fats. Two things surprised me:
1. I could still eat a lot of the things I really enjoyed and
2. I felt like I was eating more food than I ever had before and I was still losing weight.
As my trainer pointed out to me, "You might be eating more food, but you're definitely not eating as many calories. A single chocolate muffin has the calories of two of your meals in it." It certainly gave credence to the idea that abs are made in the kitchen.
As for training, the keys I found came in the form of resistance training and focusing on proper technique. Cardio training, more than anything is simply designed to make you more cardiovascular fit. If your goal is to do with weight-loss, resistance training is the key to making it fall off, which for me meant lifting weights. Once that decision to commit to weight training was made though, technique became the great accelerator in reaching my goal. By focusing on a full range of movement and the appropriate rep and set quotas, you can really speed up the process, for me for example, that was 4 sets of 10 aiming for failure at the tenth to promote lean muscle mass. Someone looking to bulk up might try doing 3 sets of 3 aiming for failure by the third on a much heavier weight with someone spotting them. The key is to avoid sacrificing form for additional weight, you risk injury and you'll end up compensating with other muscles you shouldn't be using for the lift.
So to summarise it's an interesting area! You have to go into weight loss for yourself primarily, you can't do it for somebody else. But if you make a commitment and it's something that you really want to do, there are resources and people out there that can help you do it and not in an incredibly long, drawn out way either. You can start seeing results fast, which will be your greatest motivators. Having lost the weight so far and knowing that I've still got some ways to go before I'm in the kind of top condition I'd like to be, I feel good about it! I don't feel obsessed, I feel really comfortable in my own skin and that this will actually be an asset for my career, but that is really kind of a positive flow on effect, rather than the ultimate goal. Thanks for reading.
Love and inspiration,
Film and Theatre Actor Based in Sydney. Creator of Script Gym. Lover of Stories.