Before You Quit Your Fitness Plan, Read This

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The hardest part of any fitness plan isn’t the lifting and the diets.

The hardest part is staying consistent. Actually following through with your plan until the end.

We all start out with high hopes. We go grocery shopping to prep, we get out our favorite fitness outfits, maybe even splurge on new shoes…. but two weeks in we’re stuck.

This is where the excitement falls off, the pounds aren’t falling off as fast as they were, you’re sore often, and you’d rather go back to your old habits.

This is when you need to call in the reinforcements.

This process will help you analyze what you’re doing and get extra help where you need it.

Do you even like it?

I have always been a strong believer in doing workouts that bring people joy. I love lifting weights. It’s where I excel, it makes my body feel good, and it’s something I can stick with.

If I had to run, however, I would quit all the time. Running doesn’t bring me any joy and I would avoid it at all costs.

Look at your current plan. Is there something about it that you hate doing? Something that you find boring? Something that you dread doing? Then simply stop doing it.

Now, this doesn’t mean you get to just stop working out. For everything you take off, you have to find a replacement. If you don’t run, then do you like hiking? Or swimming?

What is your end goal?

Just working out for the sake of working out is not something most people can do. Yes, once you’ve gotten in the habit, it’s so much easier to keep it going, but building the habit requires more than that to keep you going.

You need to spend the time to find your greater WHY.

I’m not saying you need to find your life’s purpose (although it’s never a bad idea to spend time reflecting on that), but you need to find a reason to stay active.

Maybe you have an upcoming vacation that requires you to be active.
Maybe you’re trying to get off some medication.
Maybe you have an age milestone coming up.

There are a lot of reasons, but just going to the gym to “feel good” is rarely a good enough reason for most people. I trained a lot of people when I worked at a gym, and although it sounds nice to have that as a reason, it’s rarely enough.

Going to the gym and your diet is no easy feat. You need a stronger purpose to pull you through those hard times when you want to throw in the towel.

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Put a carrot at the end of the stick

The problem most people fall into is that they reward themselves before they finish a program. They buy new shoes, new workout gear, a fancy watch that calculates their calories.

Instead, you need to start putting these things after you finish.

Humans are simple creatures. We love rewards after hard work.

If your boss is going to give you a raise after a project, you’ll work hard on that project. If he gives it to you beforehand, you’re not going to work as hard on the project as you would if you got it at the end.

This is why trophies are given at the end of games. You need to prove yourself first, then get your reward.

Pick something you want really bad (whether it’s fitness related or not). Make that your reward by following through with your current goals.

If you don’t hit your goals, you don’t get the prize, it’s that simple.

I have found through the years that combining a deeper why with a fun gift is a great combination to keep people focused, motivated, and excited to workout. With some of my clients, if they were low on motivation or feeling extra tired one day, I’d make them visualize the thing they wanted. What it would be like to own it, use it, look at it. Really picture it.

It sounds materialistic, yes, but sometimes, when motivation is low, it’s hard to feel connected to that deeper “why”. Visualizing yourself playing a video game you want is much easier for our brains to imagine than something like climbing a mountain when you’re still 100 lbs. overweight.

Fighting the external forces

This part is hard to write, but it needs to be addressed.

Sometimes the hardest part of sticking with a fitness routine is the forces around you pushing you to quit.

Sometimes this looks like an unsupportive friend, family member, partner, spouse, co-workers, or someone else you’re close to.

And frankly? I don’t have any answers for this. All I can do is share my experience.

In my early 20’s, when I first fell in love with the gym during college, I used to work out at midnight. I’d go to 24-Hour Fitness, lift for an hour, and then soak in the hot tub/sauna for about 30 minutes. That means I’d be done and sleeping by about 2:30 am. My mother hated this. It’s not even like I kept coming home at that time and would wake her up (a valid reason to be annoyed), she just thought it was unhealthy.

She’d repeatedly tell me for months about how bad it was to work out at night. It took years and research for her to finally stop bringing it up.

The only thing I could do was power through and keep going. I had a gym buddy at the time who was always waiting for me, which was a huge reason I was able to make it. I had someone to be accountable to.

This is me extending my sympathy to people who have someone like a spouse who doesn’t support their new healthy lifestyle.

Just keep in mind, that a lot of these fears stem from the fact that they’re worried you’re going to get more attractive and leave them or find someone else.

If you’ve been in one habit or routine for years, switching it up out of nowhere is making them nervous.

I do have one huge tip though: NEVER TELL YOUR PARTNER THEY SHOULD JOIN YOU.

Nothing sets off arguments like a spouse telling the other one they could lose some weight or that they “should” go to the gym. DO NOT BE THIS DUMB.

If they want to join on their own, great! But never ever suggest it. Instead, encourage them to start putting time into a hobby they want to do and commit to helping them make time for it.

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Track your progress in multiple ways

Just tracking your progress by the number on the scale is a horrible way to get a bigger picture.

There are a million reasons that your body could have a different scale number than what you think it should.

Instead, keep track in a variety of ways. Maybe you get a calendar and put a big X through the days you drink enough water or stretch. That way you create a nice long chain throughout the month you don’t want to break.

Take pictures of your body. Pictures are SO helpful. Even if the scale doesn’t seem to be moving, you can visually see how your body is changing.

Measure parts of your body. This way you know what’s growing and what’s shrinking. Even if you can’t see the gains, measurements don’t lie. For me, it helps a lot to see that I’m gaining size on my little chicken legs, and that’s something the scale can’t tell me.

Try all these things before you throw in the towel on your new fitness plan. Never forget that the mental strength is the most important strength of all.

What helps YOU stay on track? I’d love to know in the comments!

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Focus on the Big Wins to Dominate Fitness and Life

 

There are two ways to succeed with your fitness goals.

  1. Focus on every single little detail.
  2. Focus on the one or two most important factors and let the rest take care of itself.

The concept of the Big Wins was first introduced to me by Ramit Sethi and it’s one of the best approaches to every area of life I’ve ever come across.

Let’s look at two different people who are trying to lose weight.

Sarah wants to lose weight after having her two kids. She tracks every single calorie she eats, every single rep she does, makes sure she weighs all of her food… She quickly burns out from living such a rigid live and falls off the wagon. Then, like clockwork, she’s back on her schedule and falling off again two weeks later. She’s completely stressed and her fitness goals make her feel guilty instead of inspired.

Rebecca wants to lose some weight after she realized she put on extra weight while finishing her Master’s degree. She tracks her food for a week to get a ballpark of where she is. She writes out an average daily diet to carry with her so she knows if she’s generally on track or not. She doesn’t stress too much when she has extra food but she makes sure to get in every workout throughout the week and get enough sleep at night. She knows she could lose the weight faster if she tracked every little detail, but she’s inspired by her goals and can see the weight coming off. She doesn’t start and stop again because she’s not stressing herself out.

These are simple examples, but these are completely different approaches to goals that yield completely different results.

The purpose of the Big Wins is to identify the main areas that bring the biggest results and make sure you do them. It frees you from having to focus on the little details that drive you crazy.

Now, if you are competing in a fitness competition, it’s important to focus on the little details as well. In that case, you could use the Big Wins in the other areas of your life: relationships, finances, career, etc.

With fitness, the biggest pillars to your success are:

  • Working out most days of the week
  • Having a general idea of your current calorie intake
  • Getting enough sleep

That’s it.

The fitness world is a billion dollar industry that tries to convince people that it’s somehow more complicated than that, and it’s not.

Sure, there’s a million ways to approach each of those pillars (counting macros, Crossfit, paleo, and so on), but the basics stay the same.

When you keep your pillars consistent, that’s when you can focus on mixing it up.

If you skip 50% of your workouts, no program in the world (good or bad) will get you in shape.

If you only sleep a few hours a night, your results will suffer.

If you don’t have a diet that supports your goals, you can work out hard every day in the gym but you won’t see the results you want.

Being consistent with the Big Wins will change everything.

Now that doesn’t mean you have to change them all overnight if you’re just starting. You can simply pick one area and build the habit before moving on to the next one.

In other areas of your life, the Big Win approach looks like this:

  • With your career, you focus on meeting the right people who can get you in a position you want. You’re active when it comes to knowing if you’re in the right career at all and you rarely end up in a position or job you don’t want.
  • With your finances, you automate as much as possible: your savings, paying down debt, your 401K, etc., and you focus on bringing in more than worrying about buying a latte every few days. That means you are prepped for your conversation with your boss asking for a raise and maybe you even start a side hustle to bring in extra money.
  • With your relationship, you make sure you find the right partner in the first place. A lot of relationship stress comes from trying to make it work with someone who you shouldn’t be with at all. Once you do that, you focus on the big things that make them happy. Maybe that’s spending quality time together, maybe it’s putting your phone away when you talk to them, maybe that means a date night out… Identify the big wins and be consistent.
  • With your productivity, that means every day making a list of the three biggest things you could do to progress in life and doing them. It doesn’t mean a million tactics to become more productive, it just means getting the essential things done.
  • With your home, that means you declutter and only have the things around you that make you happy. Finally organizing a whole bunch of stuff you don’t even want in the first place makes no sense. Then, you focus on cleaning the “Hot Spots” – the areas where you’re around the most often.

Of course, with all of these once you master the Big Wins you can focus on the little details. You can tweak your productivity system, you can invest your money in the stock market, you can try different approaches at your job, but no little tactic will get the same results as focusing on the biggest pillars.

None of this is sexy.

Tactics, hacks, new equipment/gear… all of that feels sexier.

Focusing on getting enough sleep doesn’t feel as fun as getting a new pair of running shoes. Setting up a new productivity system at work instead of having that uncomfortable feeling of asking your boss for a raise seems sexier. Hooking up with someone new sounds way more fun than doing the work and thinking about what you need in a relationship.

I totally, totally get it.

Believe me, I am a tactic addict.

I probably have thousands of bookmarks of websites with little hacks here and there, most of which I’ve tried. Even with all of that testing, nothing beats focusing on the big pillars.

Take some time this week to sit and think about your big pillars in your life. What are the essential things that hold your life together? Are you giving them the right amount of focus? If not, what do you want to focus on first?

Focus on the big wins and watch how it all comes together.

 

Best Goal Setting Tips to Dominate 2018

2018 is going to be a big year. I’m beyond excited and although I’ve covered goal setting on this blog before, I thought I’d share some of my favorite resources and articles for goal setting so you can get a find the right approach for you.

 

How to Plan and Dominate 2016

If You Don’t Believe In Setting Goals, It’s Because You Don’t Know How To Do It

What’s Your 20 Mile March? – from artofmanliness.com

Establishing Goals for Life – from artofmanliness.com

Truth Behind Your Goals (Career Building Habits) – Elliott Hulse video

5 Simple Steps to Staying Focused on Your Goals – from earlytorise.com

Stop Multi-Tasking and You May Reach Your Goals – from John Doe Bodybuilding

Fighting Mediocrity: Mindset and Goal Setting – from average2alpha.com

Use This 7-Column Goals Planner gSheet to Achieve Your Passions

The Ultimate Guide to Successful Goal Setting

 

Do you have a favorite blog for goal setting? I’d LOVE to read it! Leave a link in the comments!

Setting Fitness Goals When You Don’t Have A Specific Result

When I was training clients, goal setting was one of the first things we would focus on.

Most of my clients had a specific goal in mind:
– Lose 20 lbs.
– Fit in a size 8 dress
– Gain two inches in their arms

But what do you do when you don’t have a specific result?

For many people, when they don’t have a goal, they don’t have a reason to lift. They go in and out of the gym, never really sticking to a program and constantly stuck on a yo-yo diet.

When you don’t have a why, you can’t figure out a how.

I finished Shortcut to Size, kept lifting for awhile, and with 2015 around the corner, I’ve been asking myself what I want to do with my fitness from here.

Going back and watching videos from Elliott Hulse, one of my fitness mentors, I remembered the important point that most of life is in the journey, not the destination.

The most important part is the habit, the action.

The real strength is found in the going to the gym every day. Everything else from there is just refining.

That being said, you still need to find the motivation and purpose in keeping up such a rigorous habit, so having some kind of end goal is important.

Recently, I was talking to a friend about his fitness goals for 2015 and after dancing around the question for an hour, I could tell he wasn’t telling me his real goal.

“Oh, you know, just to feel good. It would be nice to be fit…” all kinds of BS he said in this low voice where I could tell there was no passion behind it.

I started to get mad at him and told him he had to tell me his real goal no matter how embarrassing he thought it was.

“Okay only if you promise not to make fun of me.”
“I promise!”
“……….I want to feel like Captain America.”

I stared at him with a huge smile for about 30 seconds and he snickered back, “You promised! Why are you smiling?”

“Because Black Widow is like my favorite superhero of all time. So believe me when I say I get it.”

Then we geeked out for like 10 minutes and I told him it was easy from here now that he was honest about what he wanted.

The point is, no matter what your goal is, whether it is to feel like a superhero, get hit on, perform better in the bedroom, play with your kids, climb mountains, run a marathon, feel confident at the beach… It’s really important to identify how you want to feel even if you don’t have a specific number goal in mind.

I’ll develop more into goal setting and achievement this year, but before 2015 comes, start to get an ideal vision in your mind of what you want to achieve in your lifetime when it comes to your health and fitness goals.

P.S. Becoming a superhero is a completely reasonable goal. I mean, have you seen how badass Captain America: The Winter Soldier is?