Buffness: If you can conceive it, You can achieve it!

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You have probably heard of this saying before, “if you can conceive it, you can achieve it.” It’s a very daring concept because it has a very high view of the creative potential of human beings. The idea is expressed in a powerful way by the Brand New Heavies in their 1997 hit “You Are the Universe” (remember when funky, empowering songs like this would get into the pop charts?):
Now, I imagine that it’s not possible to prove this concept scientifically. This means that many of us who have a certain kind of Western, ‘rational’ mindset will dismiss it. But I think this is a very valuable and practical idea which can be applied to our lives in order to make full use of our talents.
Before every act of creation, there is a creative thought, a plan, a blueprint, a vision. The computer or phone or tablet (etc.) you are probably using to read this blog began its life as an idea in a designer’s head. In his book “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People”, the recently deceased Stephen Covey refers to the 1st and 2nd. The 1st creation is the plan, the blueprint. The 2nd creation is the physical manifestation of that 1st creation. One of the keys to being effective in life is to understand this basic idea and then to use it to take control of our lives. It’s all about being proactive.
If you are a skinny dude and you want to get buff, you should create a clear vision for your body. It’s best to keep this as simple and as visual as possible. You can simply go online and find a picture or video of some dude whose physique you would like to emulate. Save this image or video somewhere that you can refer back to regularly. This is your blueprint, your first creation. You are already a creator! Your next step is to manifest this creation in the physical realm.
Having created a “vision for buffness”, you should record exactly where you are right now. What do you look like now? How much do you weigh now? Take photographs of yourself. The best thing to do is to find a specific place to take the photo(s). You should also weigh yourself and record this somewhere.
This will give you the baseline from which to measure all of your future progress. Every month, you should take new photos in that exact same place and with the exact same lighting so you can get a clear idea of your progress. You should also regularly weigh yourself to see how much weight you putting on. You will be amazed at how quickly you will notice changes to your body once you start putting in the work. This will really inspire you and give you confidence. I love looking at photos of me in the past, but I am a bit vain like that!
The next step in the skinny to buff journey is to think about food!

A skinny African gets Buff: Introduction

This is an introduction to what i hope will be an ongoing series of online articles and possibly videos called “A skinny African gets Buff.” Hopefully the title is fairly self-explanatory, but in case you’re wondering, let me explain what it’s all about.

I’m an African and for the vast majority of my life, I have been a skinny African. For most of my nearly 40 years trodding this Earth, I’ve been overly self-conscious about my body. Previously, I would never show it off in public unless I absolutely had to. Being naturally slim, it seemed as though I could eat any amount of food without putting on weight. Every so often I would tell myself I need to put on some muscle and I’d start doing some press ups, sit ups and stuff, but would get bored very quickly and it never lasted. So, as a result, this is what I looked like in June 2011:

Then last year, I bought the new “Super Creatine Protein Muscle Mass Shake”… Nah, just kidding! But last year I did start putting some serious thought and effort into building up my body. And I’m proud to say that this effort has had some good results. Here are a couple of photos showing what I look(ed) like in July 2012 (just over a year later):

I’m not yet where I want to be but I’m much much happier with where I’m at! And being happier with my body has helped me to be happier and more at ease with myself as a person. This whole experience is really empowering. I am learning that if I have a clear vision and if I dedicate myself to achieving that vision – I can achieve it. I want to apply this lesson to other areas of my life.

This is not just about ‘looking good’ out of a sense of vanity, or a shallow desire to ‘fit it’. Physical fitness is a fundamental part of our existence. It has ramifications on our health, our diet, our lifestyle, etc. I have found that being serious about my fitness has helped me to think more deeply about myself as a person, my goals, my purpose, my ambition, my values, my identity, my worldview and even my politics. I know this probably sounds weird, but hopefully I’ll be able to break this down in this series.

My aim is to share lots of the excellent advice that I have gathered over the past year. My hope is that this series of articles (and maybe videos) will be useful to my fellow skinny-dudes who want to put on some muscle. Obviously, we all have different bodies and not everything here will apply to every skinny dude. We all have to listen to what our bodies are telling us and adapt our routines accordingly. But I reckon at least a few of these points will be useful to everyone.

When I was researching for my own benefit, I found that lots of articles used a lot of weight-training jargon and didn’t break things down into normal English. It was all this talk about “reps”, and “sets” and “Lats” and this and that. For an absolute beginner like me, this was useless. I had to do a lot of work to get past the jargon and find out what the hell they were actually talking about.

So, I will not use any jargon words without explaining what they mean. I’m also not going to tell you to spend money on supplements or any new fangled product. I gained well over a stone (from just under 13 stone to about 14.5 stone now) in one year, without buying a single protein or Creatine shake. And I also didn’t spend my whole life in the gym.

I would love to hear feedback from anyone who finds these articles to be helpful. And if there are things I’ve got plain wrong, then post comments and share what you know. I’ll happily make changes to what I’ve written.

So, stay tuned for the next installment of… “A skinny African gets Buff“!