It’s time to stop enviously looking at that guy or girl in the gym and telling yourself you can never be them. Or perhaps you’re reading about someone who has just completed their 10th Ironman, and you’re still struggling to get through a 5k. You think the success these individuals have is all genetics, and rationalize their superiority. Perhaps you even make excuses and use the dreaded, “at least I’m doing as best I can”. That, my friend, is a cop-out. A cop-out of epic proportions that is guaranteed to keep you from reaching your goals.
Certainly, some people are blessed with great genetics, but largely, that is NOT the case. Why are some people so fit? Why are their abdominals so defined? How can some people compete so effortlessly in long-distance races? The short (and unhelpful) answer, which is often repeated by fitness “experts” is, hard work, willpower, and determination…..
…Okay, great…thank you. That really helps. Let me go pick up some willpower and determination, and a healthy dose of hard work.
That answer does nothing for you. It doesn’t help you get into the minds of the people who are highly successful and very fit. After spending time talking with many individuals, from all walks of life, and with varying degrees of fitness abilities and body types, it was clear certain specific traits are a common denominator in those who succeed and achieve a healthy body, inside and out.
By learning to adopt the following points into your life and fitness outlook, you should begin seeing changes in your body. Unfortunately, our society is one that thrives on instant gratification; if something doesn’t bring about immediately measurable success, we are less likely to continue doing it. This leads us to our first point…
- Stop using a calendar to measure success. Success should never be on timetable; everyone is different. Some will achieve that six-pack, or finally run a 6-minute mile, or any number of goals at different rates. STOP comparing yourself to other people. The very successful people learned long ago to compete against THEMSELVES. Always strive to do better, always strive to improve. Ignore fitness programs that promise total body transformations in only 30, 60, 90, etc. days. Despite what pictures they show, the overwhelming majority will NOT look like the people in their promotional materials after such a short time period. You are only setting yourself up for disappointment. I’ll say it again…learn to treat fitness as a competition against yourself.
- Prepare foods in advance. It may seem strange to a lot of you, but eating clean is more important than all the miles you run and crunches you do. Cut the crap out of your diet, and do it immediately. Stop with the fast food. Stop with the frozen food. Stop with the late night bowl of sugary cereal. You know you shouldn’t be eating this. Stop rationalizing. Grill up a week’s worth of chicken breasts on Sunday. Make enough brown rice to last five servings instead of two. It isn’t hard. When you make enough food to get you through the week, you are less likely to rely on the quick crap that will destroy all the hard work you are doing. Very fit people know this and enjoy feeding their bodies with healthy foods that help them reach their goals. Food and exercise should be best friends; helping each other along the way…not fighting each other which leaves you going nowhere fast.
- Stick out the times you think you are making no progress; success is just around the corner. Overcoming the desire to quit when you have been putting in so much hard work and think you’re getting no where is tough. Even the most physically fit individuals go through periods where progress slows to a trickle and/or stops completely. Keep going. The ones who look the way you want to look understand that sticking to the program and trusting the science behind what they’re doing will eventually lead to success. EVERYONE goes through periods of burnout, thinking things aren’t working, etc. This is a defining moment. Most people will quit or trail off at this point. The very fit put their heads down and power through. Simple as that.
- Chart your progress. Far too many people simply go out there, run a couple of miles, lift some weights, and go home thinking they’ve done some good. If you want to be average, keep doing average workouts. If you want to be phenomenally fit and healthy, it’s time to start charting what you’re doing. This doesn’t have to be highly detailed, just make notes of weights your lifting, times your running, personal bests, etc. This feeds in to the earlier point of competing against yourself. Always strive to run that mile a little faster, add a bit of distance on your bike ride, maybe bump the weight and reach a new max. If you don’t chart, you don’t know where you are. Keep a little excel file on your computer, and take 5 minutes to fill it in once or twice a week so you have an idea of where you are.
- Variety is the spice of life. Understand exercise isn’t an exact science. What works for one person may not work for another. Always be willing to adapt and try different things. Do not get stuck in a rut doing the same routine time and again. Your body will adapt and will stop responding to the effort you are putting in. Constantly be on the look out to change things up. Whether it’s the exercises you do, the weight you lift, how fast you run or bike, etc. there are thousands of ways to change things up. Changes don’t need to be huge. Just continually challenge your body (there’s that self competition thing again) and understand when things feel too comfortable, it’s time to change gears.
- Fitness is a lifestyle, not something you do a few hours a week. You think the super fit got that way by working out a few hours a week? Of course not. That said, you also don’t have to run on a treadmill 10 hours a week either. Fitness is a lifestyle. Those that come to love fitness and exercise, and all that it brings, are the most successful. Varying your physical activities is the best way to achieve a healthy and fit body. Maybe one day you’re running for distance, the next your cycling sprints, the following day you’re in the pool swimming laps, then your doing a compound lift circuit. The day after that you wake up early for power yoga. Over the weekend your playing basketball and some soccer on the beach. It doesn’t matter. Find several things you like, whether its yoga, pilates, dance classes, sports, weights, etc. and incorporate them into your life. When you are doing something you like, it doesn’t seem like work. Body Diversity Training, the concept of using multiple fitness disciplines at once to transform your body, is something I developed and is at the very core of Share It Fitness’ principles. A healthy body is the greatest gift you will ever receive. Now is the time to use it and engage in all the things you won’t be able to when you are old and frail.
It doesn’t matter whether you’re 300 pounds and need to lose weight per a doctors recommendation or you’re already in great shape but want to break a plateau and finally compete in your first Ironman. The concepts listed above apply to anyone. The best part of all of this is, everything listed can be accomplished by simply changing your mindset and/or doing a few minutes of prep work each week. Neither of which are hard to change. Don’t be lazy about your diet, stop measuring yourself against others’ success, and learn to grit your teeth and bear it when things get tough. That’s all you have to do to totally transform your body and health. I really hope you take these things into consideration and actively work towards making these easy changes so you can finally reach your full potential and live the life you want.