How to start a fitter lifestyle is something I get asked about a lot. Whatever I seem to be doing work wise from day-to-day, or when I meet people socially; once they find out what I do/have done and that I have some knowledge in the health and fitness field, they want to talk about their fitness and health challenges. I don’t have a problem with this at all. I like helping people. A few nuggets of information and someone can make huge changes to their health forever.
Unfortunately most people find the wealth of information out there completely overwhelming. I don’t blame them. When I am trying to educate myself further, I do too. Too often you have individuals who, with the status they have and what they do for a living (professional bodybuilders/physique competitors for example) should speak wise words. However, as top nutritonist Alan Aragon pointed out this week, that isn’t always the case.
The thing is, to change your health and fitness for most people, isn’t really about health and fitness – it’s actually about understanding how human beings succeed when setting goals they want to achieve. Therefore, I’m going to explain that side of things in this post. We will come back to nutritional changes and training regimes, but for now, let’s make sure you have the tools to implement those first.
Let’s imagine then that you are reading this and in your mind you’re not doing enough exercise, or not making the right decisions nutrition wise. There are a few things you need to accept and do before moving forward.
1. Want to change
You (and only you) have to want to change. If you WANT to do something you’ll find the time. If you don’t, you simply won’t. You’ll always find something else to do. Ask yourself again: do you want to change? If you’re doing it for someone else, you won’t stick to it. Whether it’s eating more healthily or sticking to a training programme.
2. Accept that your decisions are your decisions
We humans love to let others make decisions for us. It takes all the blame away when things go wrong. We do it at work and (often without realising it) we do it at home. How often do people blame a spouse when things go wrong because the final word was theirs, even though the actual decision was probably obvious; it’s just someone else actually said the word. When it comes to your body: what you put into it and what you do with it, those are your decisions. Take control and don’t blame anyone else. If you WANT to change, take the decision to do so.
3. Realise that everyone has excuses
During my time in the Marines I was told that “excuses are like arseholes; everyone has one.” We grow up in a world where as children we feel the need to give excuses every time we are naughty or disobey instead of just admitting guilt. It’s actually far more responsible to simply agree to doing or not doing something if that is the case, without the need to make excuses. Now you know that we all have excuses, it’s easier to stop making them. Yes life takes over, yes work needs you, yes the kids have to be dealt with. But… these are still all excuses. If you WANT to do something, you’ll find a way. Maybe not 100% of the time, but if you really want it, 90% is feasible.
4. Work out your goals
Now you know you want to change, accept that only you make your decisions and know that you’ll have excuses so you’re not going to allow them, you can set a goal. This goal needs to be all the normal things we associate with goals (which I will cover in another post, but for now: specific, measurable, challenging, realistic, timed). So your goal shouldn’t simply be “to lose weight”, it should be something like “to lose 5kg in ten weeks” (to lose 20kg in four weeks would be unrealistic) or to run 5km without stopping by the end of September this year; again measurable and realistic. Once you have your outcome goal (a goal based on the outcome you want), write it down and tell people about it.
5. Work at what you can change
Your “outcome goal” isn’t always exactly what you can action, it’s something you want but often other things that you can actually do will control/affect it. You now need to work out a few things you can specifically action to ensure you have the best chance at reaching your goal as possible. For example, if you goal is to be able to run 5km without stopping in eight weeks time, something you can actually do is to complete your four running sessions every week for eight weeks. If your goal is to lose 5kgs in ten weeks then you have to look at some specific things you can do to have the best chance of making this possible. Examples would be eating healthy meals based around protein and vegetables at every meal, or completing all of you training sessions scheduled every week.
It’s down to you
Overall, the resounding message is that it’s down to you. The things I’ve outlined above aren’t difficult and actually they aren’t exclusive to fitness. If you’re looking to change jobs, start a business or even emigrate, the same basic steps apply. The bottom line is that you have to WANT to do it. You have the accept that you make your own decisions and that you also make your own excuses BUT, if you want to succeed you’ll write your goal down, tell people about it then work out specific things you can do to make that goal happen.
Of course, if you can’t make it happen on your own, there are people like me out there that can coach you through things like this. Seek one of us out and we can give you the tools to go off and succeed.