The Fast Path to Personal Development

Personal development can seem like a daunting task when you think about all the improvements you want to make in every area of your life: health, money, career, relationships, education, family, travel/leisure, sports, spiritual growth and so on. So often it seems like you succeed in one area only to see another one neglected. It’s not that you’re not achieving successes, you may be wildly successful in one area, it just seems so hard to succeed across the board.

Wouldn’t it be incredible if you could simply do one thing to improve yourself and there was a ripple effect? Imagine improving one area of your life, and every other area of your life was improved as a result – kind of like the “all ships rise with the tide” phenomenon. I believe there is such a thing, and I believe that one thing is physical fitness.

Of course, I must confess that I’m biased, because I’ve been a trainer and fitness professional for almost 25 years. But my experience is also why I feel qualified to make such bold statements as “when you transform your body, you transform your entire life” and “fitness improves everything in life.”

If you wanted to go do some research on this, you’d find plenty of evidence to support my assertion. For example, fitness improves your brain function, or more simply stated, fitness makes you mentally more there, if not literally making you smarter. There’s no doubt that exercise and being in shape can improve your mood. Fitness can help you get a better job. It’s unfortunate, but it would be naïve to think weight discrimination doesn’t happen and I’ve had many a client tell me they felt judged by their appearance in all kinds of business situations. Believe it or not, there’s research suggesting that people who exercise make more money. What about energy? When you take up fitness, your energy increases, and where in life is that not a boon? And of course, there’s confidence, which is perhaps the most under-rated benefit of being in shape. Nothing boosts your confidence like practicing the habit and discipline of exercise and reaping the reward – having a body you love.

Sometimes however, truths become self evident without requiring research because the best proof is when we see the evidence in the real world, in real people. It’s one thing to hear a single case study. N=1 is not a very convincing sample size. But when you’ve spent a quarter of a century immersed in the fitness world and you see it and hear it thousands of times, like I have, that’s a lot more convincing than any one randomized trial.

I’m convinced that fitness improves everything, because I see it every day. I have hundreds, if not thousands of success stories in my files where the benefits men and women have gotten from exercise only begin with a transformed body. Here are just two examples from readers of my book, Burn the Fat, Feed the Muscle.

When asked, “Has transforming your body changed or transformed other areas of your life?” Debra replied,

“Physically, I feel younger and look younger. I have more self confidence than I’ve had in my entire life. I feel more capable at everything I do. I look forward to being social and attending events, whereas before I was isolating myself and hiding under baggy clothes. My work is better because not only do I have more physical stamina, mentally I’m more there than ever. Housework is easier and more enjoyable and I feel like I want to take on even more projects like home improvements. I am a better wife and friend for my husband and intimate moments are definitely more enjoyable. Although my children have grown up, I feel more respect coming from them than ever before. I actually can’t wait to see what being a grandmother in great shape feels like. And last but not least, I see health and fitness as a way of deeply loving myself and caring for my body temple. A deep love of self, for me translates into love and caring for my fellow human beings as well as love and glorification of the Divine. Has fitness transformed my whole life? All areas are improved, by far.

And Mike said, “I didn’t start working out until I was 50 years old and I lost 40 pounds in six months. My body started taking shape it hasn’t seen since my 20s and I feel better now than when I was 35. But the changes don’t stop there. The next thing that happened was I quit smoking. Then I started to care about nutrition even more and I started eating whole foods. My wife joined me in this transformation and we now work two days a week together. The lifestyle changes we’ve made have brought us closer together than we’ve been in our entire 21 years of marriage. My 16 year old daughter saw what we did and she started working out – sometimes even with us and she too is eating more whole foods. I have had several people come to me and tell me what an inspiration I’ve been to them, so now I feel like I’m contributing to the health and happiness of other people and I can’t even begin to describe how enriching that feels. And last but not least, I’m currently embarking on changing my career to nutritionist and sports trainer. So fitness and transforming my body has changed every facet of my life from my work to my love life to my family life to my career, and I feel like the changes are just starting.”

As a person who specializes in body transformation and body building, I often have to tackle the question of, “Isn’t that superficial… isn’t that just vanity.” My first answer, only partially made with tongue-in-cheek is, “Maybe it is a little bit, but isn’t that what everyone wants – to look good naked?”

But my second and much more serious answer is that body transformation and fitness has ancillary benefits that carry over to every area of your life. Simply put, fitness can make you happier and help you enjoy all of life more.

Transforming your body may not automatically change everything else in your life, because surely a mental transformation must take place in sync with the physical changes. But I believe that fitness and body transformation is not only a path to life transformation, it is one of the best paths.

[Ed. Note. Tom Venuto is a fat-loss expert, natural bodybuilder and bestselling author of Burn the Fat, Feed the Muscle. He has worked in the fitness industry since 1989, including 14 years as a personal trainer. He’s been training non stop for 30 years. Visit Tom’s website at or learn more about his book at]