Overcomplicating Everything*

May 31, 2013

Arnold Schwarzenegger is an incredibly inspiring person. At 20 years old, he won Mr. Universe as a body builder. For many of us, we could just look at that achievement and see that as the likely high point, figuring that might come to define our identity and life path. No, that wasn’t enough though. He started a successful mail order business based on his recognition from body building. Here again, many people might see that as a stopping point – he became a millionaire well before he was a movie star. Still not enough, the guy picked up his life and moved across the world, becoming an actor. And, at least so I once read, his first agent(s) advised him to change his unpronounceable, unspellable, foreign-sounding last name, encouraged him to hit hard the speech therapy to drop his accent so that his voice could sound more American, going so far as asking Arnold to get plastic surgery to make his chin and face less boxy, because it did not fit the image at the time of how a handsome Hollywood movie star should look.

No. No. No. He found someone else to be his agent, because he was determined to succeed on his terms, with his name, with his voice, with his face, and he of course did. With flying colors. He helped define a whole new type of action hero, an image that future Hollywood agents could use as a measuring stick when encouraging new Hollywood immigrants to… maybe not change too much. Again like becoming Mr. Universe, and again like creating a successful mail-order business, anyone would have understood at this point had he simply accepted his identity within the world as a movie star, a beloved and extraordinarily successful one, finding a way to be satisfied with that.

He become governor of a state in another country than the one in which he was born. Not just any state: a state that has 4.5 times the population of his home country and 5.5 times the GDP of his home country. Borrowed directly from the Wikipedia entry on California Economics: “California’s GDP is larger than that of all but 8 countries in dollar terms (the United States, China, Japan, Germany, France, Brazil, the United Kingdom, and Italy).” He became head of the executive branch of the 9th largest economy in the world, in a place he immigrated to in his 20’s, and for 8 solid years because he won the re-election by a wide margin (if it started even partly as a joke, clearly he succeeded in quickly taking it quite seriously).

Hoo-oo-oo-leeeeyy schnike-ees. It’s hard to really wrap our minds around the thought of becoming a mayor in a small city we grew up in. Oh, and he started a restaurant, and probably some other impressive things, but I suspect you’re getting the point. Schwarzenegger is basically like Tony Danza on steroids. Ok, formerly on steroids. (Tony Danza, you see, has also done a lot of stuff, not letting his early career determine or limit his identity and interest in broadening his life experiences.)

This is all background, mere set up, though I suppose it has a bit of a valuable message in its own way. The reason I bring up Schwarzenegger is because periodically, he participates in an open online forum about weight lifting, offering advice and answering questions. And recently an exchange took place that I think is worth calling attention to here:

Q (Snowman24): When trying to cut weight after a bulk, what was your best method? In terms of cardio, diet, etc? Do you believe in ketosis at all?

A (GovSchwarzenegger): Pretty simple… I would add in extra cardio – running on the beach, swimming, and bicycling. I cut out bread, pasta and desserts. It definitely wasn’t rocket science, but it worked.

Random observer (rainman1): I’m getting the distinct impression we [have] been overcomplicating everything.

Glorious. Here’s a massive, highly active discussion forum where people come up with, deeply research, and argue over complex diet and workout schemes to optimize their gains, asking for advice on how to lose weight based on the lifelong experiences of Mr. Universe, a 7-time Mr. Olympia winner, a man that can still achieve heroic muscular fitness now in his mid-60’s for continued action movie cameos, and his answer, basically: exercise more, and ease up on carbs.

Pure gold!

It’s maybe just a little too easy for some slightly geeky people (if you’re reading this, I trust that you’re at least a little bit geeky. I’m geeky too) to judge some meathead, weightlifting jocks (I was sort of one of those, too) for overlooking the obvious… (continued in ebook)

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