I think it’s safe to say that most everyone has their own version of a “dream” body.

I do – enter bro crush on Brent Fikowski. You probably have someone or a certain look in mind, too.

Now, having a dream body goal is absolutely acceptable.

But, let’s talk about having the dream, achieving the dream and whether or not that will make you happy. Look, I’ll be the first to tell you I want to look like Brent Fikowski. He looks great, we have similar builds (in theory, anyway), but, the problem lies in what I am willing to do (or not do) to get to where he is.

I have no doubt that if I worked out like him, ate like him, and recovered like him that I could look similar (probably not as good) to him. The issue, though, is that I’m not willing to work that hard and give up a ton of stuff both socially and nutrition wise just to look a certain way. He obviously is willing to do that work, and he does look that good, which is cool, I’m just (probably) not going to.

The point I am trying to make is that having a dream body/dream look is cool, but, it’s only cool so long as you don’t let that goal define you.

It’s easy to fall in the happiness trap of thinking once you get from point A to point B that happiness will just wrap you up in a snuggly blanket and tell you it’s glad you made it and to grab a beer. In truth, you won’t be able to have too many beers if you want to keep the dream body anyway.

“Once I weigh X I’ll be happy”

“Once I have a six pack everything will be ok”

“If I could just wear that dress I’d give myself a break”

Look, happiness doesn’t work like that.

Sure, you’ll have made a ton of progress. You’ll be proud of yourself and you’ll probably have friends and family telling you how good you look. But, it’s kind of like getting a new car, you buy it and you love it, all your friends and family tell you how nice it is. It feels good. That only lasts so long.

I’ll tell you what does last, though… that damn car payment.

After the new wears off and the compliments go away you’ll still be stuck with a payment, just like a car, your “dream” body will have to be paid for with your actions whether you like it or not.

Are you willing to do what it takes to keep the dream body?

Do you even realize what it takes to get there?

What you’ll have to give up, the social outings you’ll miss, the pizza you won’t have with your kids, the pint of Rocky Road on Thursday night because you’re bored. You need to address it from every angle before deciding to go all in.

Say your goal is to get to 10% body fat as a male or 20% as a female. You’d have abs, maybe not magazine ready abs but they’d be there. And, the magazine cover abs usually aren’t as real as you may think in the first place anyway with Photoshop, strong angle game, airbrush etc.

To get to 10% body fat (and maintain it) you’d have to give up most caloric beverages limiting yourself to ~1-2/week and limiting your deserts/processed foods to ~1-2/week as well. In theory, this sounds very doable, and it is doable, but if your current schedule has you drinking 5 beers on the weekend with a few sprinkled throughout the week and eating out 4-5x/week it may not be as easy as you think.

The tradeoffs of being super lean may not be worth it to you once you realize everything that is involved with getting there.

I don’t want you to read this and think that I’m anti abs, or that I think getting super fit is stupid.

Because I don’t.

I just want you to know that you can be healthy, look great, feel great and most importantly be happy without ever getting to your “dream” body.

Check out this graphic from Precision Nutrition called “The Cost of Getting Lean”. It’s broken down into groups to show what you must do to get there and to maintain it. You may be willing to make the tradeoffs, you may not. But, the graphic will give you a clean visual and can help you decide.

[DOWNLOAD] The Cost of Getting Lean

The truth is that happiness comes when you’re comfortable in your own skin. It comes when you enjoy the process.

Looking like a fitness model won’t make you legitimately happy long term. Getting to a point where you’re comfortable, healthy and still able to do the things you want to do, will.

I may get crazy and prep for a magazine cover one day, but, probably not. And that’s okay! I look, function and feel great how I am right now. Again, the goal is to find a spot where you’re happy with how you look. More than that, you’re able to maintain that look without sacrificing things you’re not ready to give up long term. If you’re >20% body fat as a male or >28-30% as a female, some changes need to be made to get those numbers to a healthy standard, but, beyond that it’s all vanity.

Vanity is fine. You want those abs? More power to you, my man.

Just be sure that you have your priorities in check and that your willing to endure the tradeoffs.