Muscle Maven – 15 February 2016

Damian 'The Muscle Maven' Murray (photo by snhfoto)

Are you happy? It seems such a simple question and our default response is usually ‘Yeah, I’m happy’ – even to ourselves.

But are you?


It is very difficult to actually sit down and ask yourself some tough questions and be brutally honest with yourself. In the gym World we are often trying to hold ourselves accountable to other people’s goals or ideals and never really get to a point where we can be content with where we are. For those of us who do not compete or it is not part of how we earn a living, I think this can have a real detrimental affect on your mental state.

I am not saying that we shouldn’t always strive to be better but at the same time we have to appreciate where we are. Imagine what it does to your psyche to continually look at yourself and put yourself down. How many of you have looked in the mirror and thought “I need bigger shoulders/biceps/quads”, “I just need abs” and associated these things with being happy? ¬†As if when you achieve them that life will be complete! And yes – I am aware this is related to body dysmorphia (or bigorexia I think is a term getting bandied about now).

You see, that was me. Never happy. Never impressed with the image I saw looking back at me (I was impressed when I had the photo shoot done – it was almost like it wasn’t me staring back) – if I could get those last 2 abs I would have been so happy. Or would I? Attaching your happiness to how you look (or how you want to look) will lead to unhappiness. I know this is easier said than done and I am sure if I had an accident that led to disfigurement I would struggle to adapt, but this probably highlights how important it is to be happy with yourself.

If you continue to attach your happiness to how you look what will you do if it is taken away? If you can’t train anymore? This is something that has happened to me (OK I can still train but not in a way that I always enjoyed) and I don’t mind admitting that it has left me feeling pretty low at times. To watch your body change and to try to let go of the ‘look’ you worked so hard to achieve is heart breaking. Personally it has taken me a long time to get my head around this and be in a place where I can say ‘I am happy’. That said, I still feel body conscious. I guess because of what I achieved I almost feel a sense of responsibility that I need to still look that way. I am not perfect and as you can see I am holding myself accountable to other people’s goals, not my own.

For me the first step to sorting my head out was writing goals. MY goals. Just because you get in shape and your trainer says “You look great, you should compete” does not make it your goal. It is their’s and they are saying it for their own benefit, not yours (contest prep is a great money maker – I see newly qualified trainers with zero experience offering it now). Anyway, I digress! I put down my goals and remembering the ever favourite SMART acronym, I started on my path to achieving them.

Guess what?

It was like a weight lifted off my shoulders. Doing stuff for me. Not beating myself up if I could not get to the gym – usually this was because I simply wanted to spend time with my son. I feel I missed out a little with my 2hr gym sessions 6x per week so I am claiming some of that time back.

And this has made me happy (well – happier at least).

Try it. Sit down. Be honest. Ask “Am I happy?” If not, what will it take to make you happy (remember SMART – has to be realistic)? And start on that path. Ignore the people trying to influence you to do what THEY want and do a little more of what YOU want.


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Hotel Chocolat

Who doesn’t like chocolate? If you are going to indulge you might as well make it good quality. End of season sale is still on.

Take Time

Continuing with the theme above. Sit down and write 1 thing that you could do today that would make you happy. Might be something simple – 10 mins to yourself reading a book or it may be something bigger – booking the holiday you have been planning but been putting off actually booking. Just write it down, commit to it and do it.

Damian Murray - Author