Wanna look good? Focus on Surface Area

February 12, 2018

The last 15 months or so have been a winding path towards a healthier and better lifestyle. It’s a longterm process, and nowhere near done, but already I’m way lighter, stronger, faster, and feel better.

And, inevitably, I kinda look better too.

Here’s the thing. Realizing you’re not as good as you can be requires honesty. And when you start looking honestly, you ask yourself:

How is it that so much of what we tell ourselves and others is simply excuses in disguise?

We lie to ourselves literally all the time. About why we can’t do things, about why one way is better than another, about what we can or should eat.. we do it all the time.

When you get busy just working hard, those lies fall away. They kind of have to: when you’re suddenly making progress you attach yourself to the progress and not to exactly where you are right now.

When you start looking at yourself honestly, you usually realize more than you care to admit. That 10 lbs you’d like to drop to look really good.. well, it’s actually 40 lbs to look the way you want. Those biceps you want.. well they’re there hidden under a pile of fat. The flat stomach with a hint of abs for the beach.. not going to happen until the fat comes off EVERYWHERE.

You look at others more honestly too. Look, we’re all human. We all observe others and wonder what they’re thinking. And they’re all human too, which means they’re all lying to themselves, just like we are.

When it comes to looking good, I’ve noticed a trend for men and women and I think I’ve come up with a good barometer for how to stop our self-mendacious tendencies. Be prepared for some honesty (and some sweeping generalizations)..

A lot of women tend to focus an insane amount of time and money on two things: their nails and their hair. I’m all for little touches, but guys don’t really care all that much. Not really. Not compared to other things. It’s weird to realize that something that started as a way to look attractive to men actually ends up being signaling for other women instead. Men certainly do not care about the cute little gems and designs on your thumbnail. And definitely not if the rest of you isn’t sorted out.

And guys.. your hair isn’t that important. There’s a growing subculture that focuses on a really precise haircut and shave. Grooming matters, but not that much. And stop going to the gym and going straight to the bicep curls! This barometer fixes that problem too.

Ok, here’s the rule:

Focus on looking good by Surface Area.

Make your torso, your thighs, your butt, your chest, your back all look good. Focus on them first. If you do, you’re 90% of the way there, and other parts of you will look better too. If I had to choose between my girl having really good hair, makeup and nails and my girl having a nice pair of legs, I’m choosing the legs every time.

Ladies: Take all that time and money hitting the nail salon, join a gym and do squats. Learn the barbell exercises. Use a treadmill and stairmaster.

Guys: Let your hair grow out a little, go back to the gym and do squats. Do lots of them. Bench press. Deadlift. Shoulder press. If, after many sets and some exhaustion, you still have a little energy, then you can do some bicep curls.

Everyone: Ditch the chips and learn what a calorie deficit feels like. The key to all of this is losing weight, and we all eat way too much (me included).

Next up: arms, calves, shoulders, abs. Yes, abs come second.. they’re usually a lot less surface area than your torso and you need to focus on that more generally first. Abs don’t become a factor until you’re at or below 15% body fat. By then, you’re already in a pretty athletic state.

Finally, after all that focus, if you want to put on some finishing touches with a nice cut and shave (guys) or a stunning nail job (ladies), go for it. But it’s an embellishment at the end, not the main show.

If you want to stop lying to yourself and get moving, focusing based on surface area is a key way to do it.

If you want to build yourself up, start by breaking yourself down.

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