Now, like many households in Australia, had “The Biggest Loser” make it’s way into the night time television viewing. While the show has it’s many problems, you cannot deny that the trainers on this show have become somewhat celebrities amongst the Australian media landscape.
I, along with many, many other people (particularly straight women and gay men- but let’s not leave anybody out) have found themselves a bit hot and bothered over trainer “The Commando” Steve Willis. His chiseled body, gruff voice, tattoos, alpha male demeanour and no-nonsense attitude grabbed our attention, and often stole the show (I mean who can forget the iconic scenes of him swimming back onto the beach pretty much dragging a boat and the time the ladies of black team did a favour for us all and got him to work out shirtless).
So when I saw he was doing a Q&A session at the Aus Fitness Show at the “Healthy Living stage”- a stage mainly reserved for nutrition and wellness talks, I was honestly a little surprised. Nethertheless, my good friend Michelle (no, not Michelle Bridges), urged me to go and listen. We sat in the front of a crowd that (not surprisingly) was mainly full of women around the ages of late 20’s-early 50’s, and I could not help feel intrigued about what he was going to say. I honestly can say that I didn’t really know much about him, other than what we’ve seen on The Biggest Loser.
Right from the top he was honest. He said that nutrition was not his field of expertise but he would try his best to answer any questions. When nobody raised their hands, I knew it was my duty to break the awkward moment. I asked him a simple question about getting adequate nutrition for training and some advice on how to ensure this- well I was surprised by how he answered. The depth of insight this man has into leading a healthy lifestyle, not just physically but emotionally, mentally and spiritually was evident in the way he responded. He was well read on philosophy, experienced in human interaction and relationships, and gave a message of living in balance and harmony.
There were a few major lessons that struck me. The first one was the concept of living to your purpose and how we sit so much in our comfort zones, and the detriment of focusing on the material, rather than taking the risk and immersing ourselves in the hard work of reaching our goals and dreams. He talked about how we are not willing to put our best foot forward and to just grind it out. As well talking about how we often will not take the risk because we want something automatically in return. What if we do all this hard work and there is no reward? Well, we as humans need to realise that rewards aren’t as clear cut as we expect and sometimes we need to do something because it needs to be done, not because we are going to benefit from it. I saw this as, why should I do the heavy lifting now? Why should I make a noise, stand up for whats right and try to create change? What if I don’t benefit from this now? Well, the louder I shout now, the more I do now, means that the future don’t have to do it. Another way to explain it; why should I put my weights away at the gym? I don’t get anything from it…well if you do it, then it saves somebody else having to do it and that’s just being a good person.
He also talked about input vs output; how life is constantly moving and that we are always focusing on our output. How hard can I train? How much can I complete? How much work do I have to do? As much as this is important, a lot of us can’t focus on the input. Physical things like sleep, food, recovery, rest days- these are as important to our progression as all the things we do in the gym- if not more. Our mental and emotional input; days off, taking time too do the things you love, taking a break from the world- these things will make your mental and emotional output so much stronger. We cannot receive if our hands are full, but in the same aspect, if we swing too far the other way, we become overloaded and if we are constantly taking, taking, taking…you won’t be able to lighten your load to move forward.
Another interesting point he talked about was the rate of progression, about building foundations. He equated it a squat- if somebody does not have the functional movement pattern to squat, then they are going to struggle to run, as the primal movement patterns are similiar. If we do not build a foundation, or take time to learn the basics, we cannot expect to move forward adequately. This same concept can be applied to so many things. I see this in martial arts, I teach this in swimming- if you don’t have a grasp on the basics, then you are going to struggle to take on the complex. If you don’t know how to read a nutritional label- then how can you expect to make more healthy choices? If you don’t learn how to look after yourself, then how can you expect to take that time to do it?
As a humans, we spend so much time caught up in our lives that we forget some of the basic lessons. Yes, this man made his fame on a reality TV Show, but in his life, he has constructed a path for himself that has allowed him to keep rising, to keep moving forward and living a life that is fulfilling. He has put in the work as well as taken the gifts that the universe has given him. I can honestly say that his depth impressed me, and that his talk was the most fulfilling part of the Aus Fitness Show. I hope this can inspire you on your day too.