Phoenix Theory

Setting S.M.A.R.T. GoalsWe welcome back Jaime Filer, Online Editor-In-Chief of Muscle Insider, Canada's #1 Muscle Magazine, for another round of her particular brand of fitness inspiration and psychology behind motivation. In the past, Jaime has discussed everything from discipline to setting S.M.A.R.T. goals. Today she's here to enlighten us on the Phoenix Theory and how it relates to your fitness goals. Learn the reasons behind motivation and use it to increase your own drive. Get inspired with Jaime's thoughts as we let her take it away below.


According to ancient mythology, the Phoenix is a legendary bird with brightly colored feathers, who, after a long life, dies in a pit of fire of its own creation, only to inevitably rise up again from its ashes. The reason the story of the Phoenix is so significant across so many cultures and religions is because from its own death, the fabled bird was able to rise and become reborn. This rebirth is poignant because it represents the concept of resurrection, immortality, and regeneration. The mythicism and mysticism of the Phoenix's glorious ascent from the ashes provides us with a sense of everlasting hope and redemption - all stemming from destruction.

Phoenix Theory

The Fire Within Us

Chris Shugart came up with the Phoenix Theory as it relates to physical (and metaphysical) transformations. Chris explains that, like the Phoenix, if we want to rise from metaphorical ashes, better than we were, we must burn, crumble, and turn to ash. We have to "be consumed into the fire and reborn." The Phoenix Theory of body transformation evolves through four key stages:

1. A traumatic event leading to a sudden realization and awakening.

2. Anger and a firm decision to change.

3. The physical transformation itself.

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4. Continued progress fueled by fear of regression.

Phase 1: WHAT GOES DOWN MUST COME UP.

In order to find light within darkness, you have to acknowledge how bad things are. To hit rock bottom, you have to experience true heartache. Or heartbreak. Or see a “danger-zone" number on the scale. You have to feel that point where you can't get lower, physically or emotionally. Quick example: it is 3 months in to the New Year, and you're frustrated because you haven't started on your goals, and you weigh 20lbs more than you'd like to - safe to say, THIS is your bottom.

Phase 2: YOU'VE GOTTA GET MAD.

“'I'M AS MAD AS HELL, AND I'M NOT GOING TO TAKE THIS ANYMORE!'… Get up right now, go to your windows, open them and stick your head out and yell - 'I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take this anymore!' Things have got to change. But first, you've gotta get mad! Then we'll figure out what to do." - Howard Beale, Network

Do this. Get mad at yourself. Mad enough that you're burning – like the Phoenix.

PHASE 3: WHAT YOU DO ABOUT IT.

This is pretty much the easiest part. This is where you tell your friends about your goals to keep you accountable, where you enlist the help of a trainer or coach, where you commit to your nutrition with a meal management system, where you empower yourself to getting in the best shape of your life. THIS is when you take action.

PHASE 4: HOW TO AVOID REGRESSING.

Everyone knows maintenance is hard. Dieting and gaining weight are relatively simple, but MAINTAINING your weight loss or muscle gains… MUCH HARDER. The easiest thing to do is reflect back on Phases 1 and 2. Remember what brought you to rock bottom, and how angry it made you in the first place. Trust me, you won't have to worry about Phase 4.

Phoenix Theory

Jaime Filer is an all-around badass and guest blogger extraordinaire. If you loved this piece, check out more of her work!

Photos of Jaime courtesy of Stevan Fane photography.

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