TIME TO CHANGE
by Peter Renault
“I resolve to never make another New Year’s resolution.”
Haven’t we all felt that way at some point in our life? After numerous attempts at making bold, sometimes heroic, changes at the start of the year, we slip back into more comfortable patterns of behavior, like putting on an old shoe with broken laces and a hole in the heel. We tend to forget about that trendy new diet, or cutting-edge fitness regimen we started and placed all our hopes on, only to inevitably cave, reverting back to the nasty, bad habits of before. According to various polls, over 90 per cent of us fail each time we attempt a New Year’s resolution. A leopard can’t change his spots it would seem, or so we are told. But the truth is we can all make a huge difference — especially those of us into fitness and fashion — in how we act or behave by choosing to pursue sensible, realistic resolutions.
Focus On The Feasible:
Part of the problem with making resolutions is that it is inevitably a wishful fantasy. We dream about being a different person, a better person, so we place expectations on ourselves that are not fair to who we really are. Everyone has faults, limitations, idiosyncrasies that can undermine attempts at perfectionism. Be realistic and set less lofty, less exacting goals. Don’t expect miracles in the first few weeks. Success doesn’t come without a struggle Be pragmatic. Get to the gym, work off the holiday flab by doing cardio and eating smaller, healthier meals, and scrapping the Christmas cookies. Get up an hour earlier each day to stretch and take long walks before going to work. Burn off the calories by doing simple tasks: climbing the stairs at your apartment building or office tower (or a portion of the flights in between floors). Walk to the train station or school instead of relying on a lift or a cab or the bus.
A Model Life:
If you’re an aspiring model, eager to jumpstart your career, don’t expect to be on a billboard overnight. Be reasonable. Set up a shoot with a local photographer and keep it simple, focusing on one theme rather than trying to outdo GQ Magazine. Don’t overshoot the moon. Try a single look or outfit, at a fixed, less expensive rate, or just do head shots. Then you’ll have a small, workable portfolio of images that you can use to land a better-known photographer or that you can post on your Facebook or Instagram pages and/or own website to gain attention. Before the month is out, make sure you’ve made contact with an agency and send them an email or letter expressing your interest in being a model. If you don’t hear back within ten days, send another one as a follow-up. But don’t be needy or demanding. Just state the facts, offer your services, and turn it over. By then you may have some new images to share in a follow-up note. Or send them a link to your online social media account. The important thing is to take action, be positive, but don’t think you’ll be “discovered” the first time around. If talent scouts or agents do not get back to you, don’t hound them with queries or endless messages. Submit to someone else. There are plenty of opportunities in the business. Don’t waste your time with those who don’t have the courtesy or know-how to respond professionally. That is usually a sign that they won’t do a good job of promoting you if they were to take you on.
Having trouble getting to the gym? Don’t limit yourself to free weights or machines. There are countless exercises you can do at home to get you through the days that you can’t make the gym. Call up a buddy to join you whether it’s to do sit-ups or crunches or a variety of intense workouts. Many of the world’s top bodybuilders got their starts working out in their own basements or garages. Don’t skimp on your routine simply because you are stuck at home.
Dress To Kill:
If your goal for January is to make a stronger impression when going on look-sees or interviews make sure you are properly attired. Don’t show up looking like you just rolled out of bed, your hair tousled and your clothes wrinkled, with a week’s scruff. If you’re pale as a ghost, stop by a tanning salon before showing up. A photographer doesn’t want to have to do all the work. The model should come prepared. Likewise an agent is not going to sign a new prospect if the model is unkempt or unclean with gnarly toenails and smelly feet. And yet, numerous people in the business can relate tales of models or actors showing up badly in need of a shower or with a severe farmer’s tan. Be respectful and savvy and people will treat you with respect in turn.
Focus On Food:
Diets are one of those areas where the resolute tend to put all their eggs in one basket and then toss them aside when they suddenly slip and cheat. Be sensible. If your will breaks, don’t give up. Write it off as a setback but don’t write off the entire plan. Similarly it isn’t wise to spend a fortune on healthy foods if you don’t have the time to prepare them correctly or the space to store them. If you live with someone else, see if they will join you in a week-long regimen of healthy eating. Split the cost of expensive fruits and vegetables and assorted meals. That way you can save on the cost of supplies and have someone to bolster your confidence when you feel the need to stray. Don’t expect too much at first in terms of the number of pounds you lose. Weight loss only works if it is a steady process. By focusing on one week at a time, you’ll not be as tempted to wander off the positive path you’ve chosen. Keep your head on straight and your eyes focused away from your fridge and you’ll make consistent progress. Before you know it a month will have passed and you’ll feel like a new person.
A Tight Fit:
Another trick that might come in handy is to avoid wearing baggy clothes that stretch at the waist. Sure it feels great to lounge around in sweatpants and long johns, or go commando under a bathrobe. But loose-fitting clothes won’t help you keep track of your weight loss. Try on those jeans that fit the year before but now feel too tight. Or the stylish shirt you haven’t put on in a year because it makes you look chubby. Once you are on your new regime, the pounds will come off and you will find that these favorite articles of clothing fit perfectly and are once again flattering. Each day you’ll feel a slight difference that will act as an encouragement to meet the goal you set for yourself.
Room With A View:
Another helpful hint is to keep a full-length mirror in your home. Keep it by the front door. Get a good look at yourself each time you get up or go out. Don’t be discouraged if you don’t like what you see at first. Seeing gains is one of the best feelings in the world. Keep a scale by the refrigerator too. Weigh yourself before each meal and write it down in a notepad. By the end of the month you’ll find your weight diminishing, your muscle tone returning, and you’ll be eager to catch sight of yourself in the “looking-glass.” Just make sure you don’t end up a Narcissist.
Where There’s Smoke:
Models are often shot in a swirl of smoke escaping from a cigarette. But smoking is bad for a model’s complexion as well as a sure way to yellow your teeth. Instead of promising to “never smoke another cigarette ever again for the rest of my life” tell yourself you will not have one just for that day. You’d be surprised how easy it is to do if you stick to a 24-hour formula. Then come the next day, give it another go. If you don’t manage to pull it off the second day, then well at least you lived up to your first promise and you can’t feel like a failure. That will give you the confidence to try it again. Smoking just three days a week is much healthier than every day. Perhaps the following week you can cut it down to twice a week, and then merely once. And finally none at all. Avoid situations that make it impossible to succeed and make sure to share your commitment with a trusted friend. Sometimes doing something good for yourself is easier if a pal is there offering approval and encouragement and a watchful eye.
Cut The Comparisons:
Surfing the internet may be a fun way to kill time, and you can learn a lot of valuable advice by doing it. But don’t spend the bulk of your free hours checking in on what other models or fitness stars are doing. Post your images and connect with your friends, but keep it simple and direct. Don’t compare yourself to others and feel sorry for yourself for not being in “peak condition” or as “ripped” as someone else. Set realistic goals and don’t be hard on yourself. It’s good to have a sense of humor but don’t poke fun at yourself at the expense of your reputation. Try to deal only with people who are supportive rather than gossipy or hypercritical. Numerous studies have been done showing that people often feel depressed while tracking others they assume are more successful or happier than they are. No wonder. But it’s a myth. We are all the same. Everyone has doubts, struggles and limitations. The key is to get beyond the emotions and focus on results. Seek out advice you need from people you regularly follow but don’t compare their outward success with how you feel inside. Take the hours you save by not wasting time online and use it to improve yourself by exercising, socializing with friends or studying. Before you know it, you’ll be seeing a wider response to the posts you do make because you’ll have more to say, and others will recognize your positive steps and congratulate you on the turn-around.
Stress is one of the primary reasons people slip back into old tapes and it can wreak havoc on a fitness model’s appearance. Too often we rely on our “comfort zones” to take the sting out of a bad situation or to chill out. There’s no harm in being cozy, or self-indulgent to a degree, but don’t rely on “comfort foods” or addictive behavior to escape reality. A pint of Haagen-Dazs is not going to make you feel shipshape after the first scoop. Nor will devoting an entire evening to video games. Get out of the house if you feel strained and walk off your frustrations. Or call a friend or family member and talk about it. Very often getting something off your chest will help you realize that it was just a mood, not a state of mind, and will soon pass. A good night’s rest will also help de-stress your body, naturally. Avoid overdoing the caffeine and energy drinks while you’re at it. Drinking lots of water is a good way to reduce tension. You might actually find yourself taking a nap, one of the secrets to feeling and looking eternally young.
This New Year, stay true to yourself. Focus on the doable rather than pipe dreams. And lay off the “coulda, woulda, shouldas.” Keep it simple and stay on target. Before you know it, you’ll be experiencing a completely different mindset, wondering why you ever worried about getting there in the first place.