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Only Compete Against Yourself

Why does it matter if they’re natural or not?

Just watched ICARUS documentary (loved it), and have been thinking a lot about drugs, steroids, performance enhancing drugs, etc— and have been thinking about notions of:

  1. “Natural” vs “unnatural”
  2. “Fairness” vs “unfairness”
  3. Playing “clean” vs playing “dirty”
  4. Effort vs Generics
  5. Privilege vs Unprivileged

The question is:

Why do these matter? Should they matter?

Why do we care if buff movie stars are natural or not?

We look at a great physique of a movie star, and we might ask ourselves:

Is he natural? Or is he in steroids?

Why do we ask the question?

As a male, I think our thought is this:

If I put in immense effort and dedication/discipline, could I ever become that muscular and fit?

If we discover the star is on steroids, then we immediately dismiss them by saying:

“Oh he’s cheating. He put in minimal effort, and just took steroids — the easy way out to get super buff. If I just cheated like him and took steroids, I could become as buff”.

Truth is a lot of these guys (steroids or not) put in insane amounts of effort training and weight lifting.

For example, let’s take Movie Star A, with or without steroids (assuming in both scenarios, he put in the same amount of insane effort):

  1. 180 pounds and ripped, 10% bodyfat
  2. 200 pounds and ripped, 10% bodyfat

If there’s anything I learned about steroids and human growth hormones is that it gives you around a 20% improvement. So perhaps we should think about steroids like adding an unnatural turbocharger to yourself, with the obvious downsides.

What do you aspire towards?

But anyways why do we care if these superheroes are “natural” or not?

For myself, it seems like an aspirational thing.

For example the rock is 260 pounds, low bodyfat percentage, and 6 foot 5. I’m 5 foot 10, so I don’t think it is realistic for me to try to become 260 pounds. If I put in great effort, perhaps I can hit 200 pounds.

When we hear that our heroes have “cheated” (with steroids), perhaps we become disillusioned. Perhaps we think:

My goal in life was to become like my hero X. But now that I’ve discovered that he used steroids, then I cannot become like him unless I also take steroids.

So perhaps the “disillusionment” we get is related to our own externalized avatar (in terms of our heroes and who we aspire to become).

Who do you desire to become?

Personally I desire to have the physique of a Greek God (or demigod). My fictional hero is Achilles (faults and all). The actors I like are Brad Pitt, Keanu Reeves.

In terms of muscle, perhaps Thor, or something similar to The Rock.

Anyways — with your personal physique, I do believe that with enough effort, despite your genetics, you can achieve a great physique and strength.

For example me as a skinny Asian guy at 5 foot 10, I’ve been able to hit around 175 pounds at around 12% bodyfat, with strong powerlifting (405+ deadlift, 315+ squat, 105 dumbbell press). At this point I’m very happy with my physique and strength, but I’m very curious:

How buffer or stronger can I become?

At this point it’s all upside, no downside. I don’t stress about my statistics— I’m just treating myself as a human experiment. I don’t eat carbs, sugars, no protein powders, no supplements. Only meat, eggs, and leafy greens.

Don’t compete with others.

My ultimate conclusion is this:

Don’t compete against others, only compete against yourself.

Ignore how buff other guys at the gym are, and guys on bodybuilding magazines. You don’t know if they’re taking steroids or not, and also your generics will always differ from theirs.

Better to strive to become self focused, self centered, and focused on your own self development. And in terms of self development, ignore the literature. Just read Ancient Greek poetry and philosophy, and discover your own personal ideal for yourself, and pursue it with extreme zeal!


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