12/14/2015 06:39 EST | Updated 12/14/2016 05:12 EST

What I Learned From Working Out Like A Fitness Model


If you follow magazine diets or the brief workouts you see on TV, you will never look like the person in the picture showing the workout. There is no pill, there is no scientific phenomenon. There is nothing that will make your body look like the Instagram models, cover models, or Hollywood celebs. Nothing other than a lot of dedication and hard work.

That opening statement needs to set in and resonate with more people.

What are we doing to ourselves? When it comes to health promotion, why do we insist on beating ourselves up about appearance? It has nothing to do with health, and we make it the foundation of everything we do that is health related.

Why is food what makes us fat or skinny, not our medicine and fuel?

Why do we make people feel guilt for not going to the gym?

Why is the shape of our body the thing that brings people the most shame?

When I graduated university there was no social media. There were just a few select magazines promising quick-fix pills and that working out three times a week for 20 minutes at a time would sculpt a beautiful body. I was pretty sure I could get to a place where like-minded, educated and kindhearted health professionals and me could help everyone just "be healthy."

Now, we have social media taking us further away from the truth. It's time to find local health heroes and share their inspirational stories. They are out there.

The "fitness and health" industry presents short, simple workouts; amazing, scientifically proven supplements; and new diets each month as your simple answer.

What "Insta-famous" models do is difficult, takes focus and needs to be promoted properly. It should be respected and understood.

To prove my point, I took off my shirt.

I'm still not ready for any covers, and to have any sort of definition it took standing in the right light while flexing.

"Why was I doing something that had me up or down every other day? That's absolutely no way to live."

The purpose of this -- or more accurately, my plan -- was to be able to write the following brief rundown of what it took to get fit. I hope and pray people share it, because it needs to get out there. To keep me on track I hired the best personal trainer I could. Elite Performance in Winnipeg was my base of support to do this. The gym is run and owned by Jeff "Fish" Fisher. His program planning makes them famous, and the staff and the motivation gets the results to back it all up.

I've been working out at Elite for two years, and I'm in the best shape of my life. To me, there seems to be three types of people at the gym. All of them share one quality, and that is a 100 per cent focus on being their absolute best.

In the gym there are:

  1. Pro athletes and young athletes who get scholarships or make high-level sports teams
  2. Fitness models who are there to step on the stage, win trophies and land sponsorship deals.
  3. Executives and CEOs who understand their health is their best weapon to get ahead. They higher the level of conditioning, the better the body functions. If you are going to spend an hour in the gym, spend it right.

I've been there in category three. This project required a switch to category two, the smallest portion of the clients. If 1,000 people walk through the door, three or four are going to be actual serious competitors, and here is my brief synopsis of why.

It absolutely sucks to try to get cover-model ready. In my first three weeks I was provided a science-based nutrition plan. It was healthy, but it was limited and strict. Your body reacts to certain foods in certain ways. That's the reason you'll see high-protein, high-fat fad diets that tell you to avoid carbs. We know how to trick the body to look its best, and in some cases, we will do that at the expense of optimal function of our body. Low carbs means low brain function... but you look sexy, so it's cool.

After a few days on that plan I was in the zone, until I had family events to attend. My willpower is awesome in my own home, so of course, I caved at the family events. Amazingly, if you are dieting and working out for sex appeal, you can see the negative results of one bad meal. It messes with your head. My plan was perfect, my resolve was not.

My option was fail at the diet or skip family functions and nights out with friends. Most competitors lead very secluded lives. For me, I wanted to succeed at this to share the results. So, I actually missed a few things that I regret. I kept telling myself I'll look better in the pictures, more people will read this article. If you are spot-on with your diet and exercise plan you can see noticeable results every other morning. It's addictive. It's crushing when you slip up and you lose definition.

Why was I doing something that had me up or down every other day? That's absolutely no way to live.

The second thing I learned is that I do have the time for all the workouts and calorie-burning, but there is an '"if" to that statement. The "if" is that I don't go out with friends, work late on projects, or sit back and relax. My trainer made it clear, I either want it or I don't. Again, I had the perfect strength program, I didn't have the resolve to follow it. To get that body, you have to put the time in. Lots of time, and time that could be spent on relationships, entertainment or relaxing. For the competitors out there, they love what they do and they have a passion for it. So they put the time in, I have more respect for that than ever before.

"This is what the health industry needs -- youth that push back and messages that are inspirational, not just obsessed with physique and based on looks."

I'll skip a lot of the details, and I'll say this...

What you see on social media, in magazines, or wherever else is a lie. Not an intentional one -- people are trying to motivate you and sell you their products. What I did for what ended up being about eight weeks was no fun at all, not to mention it got progressively harder and more time consuming.

It was never a lifestyle for me. I took a photo at 207 pounds, down from 235 pounds. That's 28 pounds in eight weeks. My trainer knows how to get people to win competitions, or be the best athlete around. That's what people pay for. It can be done healthily, but it is the biggest commitment of time to become cover-ready.

Let's reclaim social media. Health and fitness should be outdoors, and involve happy, energetic people. We won't spend our days obsessing about the bodies of others who go about health with a different priority from most of us.

Find and follow people in social media who actually make an impact in your community and spread positivity -- for example, a yogi from Winnipeg, Samantha Squire.

Her Instagram account radiates positivity and a message that any parent can get behind. What you'll see is full yoga classes, because her energy is contagious. You'll see inspirational messages, because the world needs a positive message now more than ever. You'll also see snap shots of her real life, because why not. Her #OmAtMeBroBootcamp is a huge success. This is what the health industry needs -- youth that push back and messages that are inspirational, not just obsessed with physique and based on looks.

A photo posted by Sami Squire (@squireyoga) on