Don’t Just Look at the Results

One of my biggest pet peeves of workout culture is when an actor gets shredded for a new role and we get a Men’s Health cover story on how you too can get just as ripped as them.

Just do this ab routine!

Follow this simple workout!

It’s never that simple.

For starters, getting in shape is their job for these movies. The studios pay for personal trainers, dieticians, personal chefs, etc.

Regular people don’t have the same time or resources to devote to their bodies.

Plus, they make these transformations in a relatively short period of time using methods that are borderline unhealthy.

A Marvel profile in Vanity Fair recently looked at how they filled out their superhero line-up along with how the leading men got so jacked for those roles.

Chris Pratt worked out and changed his diet as one would expect but was also forced to drink tons of water to bulk up:

Marvel also introduced Pratt to nutritionist Philip Goglia, who increased Pratt’s caloric intake to 4,000 a day, plus one ounce of water for each pound the actor weighed. “I was peeing all day long, every day,” Pratt said. “That part was a nightmare.”

Chris Evans was forced to eat bland food until he became uncomfortable:

For Evans the most challenging aspect of the program was the high caloric intake. “Just eating all the time,” he complained. “You think it sounds nice, but it’s not, like, cheeseburgers. You have to eat these bland, naked pieces of chicken and rice. You’re just so full–it’s a pretty uncomfortable feeling.”

There is an impressive level of dedication and discipline involved here. Multiple workouts per day. No carbs or sugar or beer. Most people don’t have this kind of willpower.

But let’s be honest, these guys don’t transform into Adonis without a little extra help.

One expert estimates half to three-quarters of the superhero actors use steroids:

As Dr. Schroeder observed, “Nowadays, it’s kind of expected and, working under a doctor’s care, it’s really been accepted. A lot of actors won’t talk about it openly, but they will work with a physician as well as a nutritionist and a trainer, and it’s a team. It’s not smart for an actor to do that alone. The big thing is, you can take steroids, testosterone, different androgens, growth hormone for a short period of time without any lasting effects on the body. It’s not like you become addicted to it.” Except, potentially, Dr. Schroeder noted, psychologically. If an actor loves the new shape of his body, and how people react to it, he might feel compelled to keep it.

Look at Hugh Jackman in the first X-Men back in the day versus a later iteration:

I don’t know for a fact he was on the juice but come on.

It’s also important to remember you’re seeing them at peak physical condition. No one looks like this all the time:

A peak Marvel physique, however, isn’t something that one can sustain indefinitely. “Especially as you get older,” Dr. Schroeder said. “Like Robert Downey Jr., all the Iron Man [movies] he’s done, and some of them he’s gotten in really good shape for, but maintaining that is challenging. It’s a tough, tough world out there. What people expect of you and how you need to look, and trying to maintain that. I feel for these actors, especially if you’re in a Marvel role, where you’re going to be in multiple films.”

There was a Baywatch movie a few years ago that was pretty forgettable.

One of the few things I remember was an interview with The Rock discussing how his co-star Zac Efron was starving his body of water to get as ripped as possible when they shot shirtless scenes:

Apparently, he was doing more than that, going so far as taking diuretics. Efron told Men’s Health in a later interview that it wasn’t healthy:

“That Baywatch look, I don’t know if that’s really attainable. There’s just too little water in the skin. Like, it’s fake; it looks CGI’d,” he says. “And that required Lasix, powerful diuretics, to achieve. So I don’t need to do that. I much prefer to have an extra, you know, 2 to 3 percent body fat.”

The psychological effects of going to these extremes lasted for months:

“I started to develop insomnia,” he says, “and I fell into a pretty bad depression, for a long time. Something about that experience burned me out. I had a really hard time recentering. Ultimately they chalked it up to taking way too many diuretics for way too long, and it messed something up.” Six months after the film wrapped, he finally began to feel right again.

This is the problem with being so results-oriented when looking at other people’s lives. You also have to consider everything that went into achieving those results.

It’s easy to be jealous of someone else’s life these days — their salary, appearance, job title, big house, happy family or exciting social life.

You don’t see the hard work, stress, sacrifice or trade-offs it took to get there.

Many people aren’t as happy as they appear on the surface either.

Instagram is often real life on steroids where people only put their best self forward. All you see is the good times, manufactured poses and beautiful destinations.

No one posts about their struggles, bad days or failures.

Keeping up with the Joneses used to involve your neighbors, peers and co-workers. Now you can constantly compare yourself with the billions of people who are online all the time.

There’s an old saying that envy is the one sin you can’t have any fun at while you’re doing it.

Don’t be jealous of the results if you’re not willing to endure the process it took to get there.

Further Reading:
Addressing Your Weaknesses

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