A few weeks ago I wrote an article on fitness success. Well the great response that I got inspired me to elaborate on how to effectively stay on track to your health and fitness goals. So here is the new article in it’s entirety.
All the workouts, exercises, equipment, supplements and information in the world cannot make an unmotivated individual fit. Being healthy and fit takes dedication and effort. All those quick fixes and magic supplements out their blatantly lie when they say that they can melt fat or slap on muscle. What they should say is “If you are dedicated and determined, our product will assist you in achieving your fitness dreams”. But that would not be a very affective sales pitch would it?
Remember when you were a child, your mother told you that “anything is possible if you put your mind to it”, well that is absolutely true. Now obviously there are things that are out of our reach, but any realistic goal is achievable, 100%.
Fitness is one of those goals that is achievable no matter who you are. Look at people that fight back from serious illnesses through heart, desire, fitness and nutrition. Watching these amazing individuals gain control of their life makes it obvious that your fitness goals are completely achievable.
There is one catch however. You have to get off you butt and do it. And you can’t just plan out a great track to ultimate fitness. You have to start it, stay committed and finish that plan. Sure you get off track once or twice, but there is nothing sadder than a person that goes through life exercising good fitness only sporadically. They waste thousands of dollars and hundreds of hours of their life on fitness resources, only to stay at the same weight or level of health.
These people often suffer from “all-or-nothing” syndrome. This means that they think that fitness has to take all of their effort or none at all. This is why they workout sporadically. Usually they workout or diet for 2-3 weeks hard and see great results, then they miss a day or two. They feel that they just took too many steps backwards that it is not even worth it to keep moving forward. When in reality, 1 or 2 days will not change their fitness levels. Heck a week or two won’t even do that much damage.
The problem is people fall into a rut of comfort. They become comfortable not practicing good fitness, it’s easier. They don’t have to set aside time, money or effort to stay fit. They would rather just make excuses as to why they “can’t” exercise or eat right.
In this article I will give you the exact blueprints and resources that you need to get motivated, get on track and most importantly, stay there.
Getting Started: How to set goals
So what is the most important part of beginning your quest to fitness success? It is easily a realistic, well thought-out, complete action plan. It is essentially the same strategy that entrepreneurs use to get rich. They must devise a specific goal (make $500,000 in a year), with a specific plan (promote and sell X number of product Y per month, every month).
Likewise, you must develop a specific goal (lose 10% body fat in 8 weeks) and a specific plan to get it done (do conditioning work every weekday-eat healthy 4 out of 5 meals per day-lose 5% body fat every month). This is the only way that you can achieve a goal.
You simply cannot be vague, and say “I want to lose weight after the New Year”. That is not a goal. Picture a soccer goal. It has solid posts forming a definitive outline of where the ball should be kicked. That is a goal. Now envision that same area without the posts. It would be much harder to kick a soccer ball into the same space because there is nothing to focus on. You would basically be winging it.
I would highly suggest writing these goals down on paper…a bright piece of paper. Heck, use a bright red marker to right on a bright yellow piece of paper. And tack it on your office wall right next to the picture of your sweetheart, or honey-cheeks, or baby-cakes. This way you see it almost every day all day. It will be in front of your face and hopefully in the back of your head, affecting every health related decision you make. You can even make a copy and post it on your refrigerator at home. Now it is really a part of your life.
Now I am going to let you in on a little secret. If you leave these goals in the same place, you will soon get so used to it that you will probably over-look it. So every time you notice it, move it to another location that you are in front of at all times. Some good places are the TV, the headboard of your bed, your office computer, your home computer, the front door, the back door, your car dash, the back of your office chair or on your forehead…just kidding. This way your brain does not get used to its location and you keep noticing it.
Getting Started: Developing a plan
Now that your goal or goals are posted all over your life, it’s time we develop a solid plan that you will follow day after day, week after week, month after month leading up to the achievement of your goal. Now just like your goal, your plan cannot be vague and blurry. For example, if your goal is to lose 20 pounds by February 1st, you cannot expect to succeed with a plan that entails eating right every week. Where is the accountability? What is right? This statement will not allow you to give yourself feedback and track your dedication to your goal.
You need to make a plan that can be followed and measured. A good plan would be cut out all enriched grains in my diet and workout for 30 minutes a day minimum. This is completely accountable. You now have tangible responsibilities that must be completed in order to reach your goal. With a plan like this you can measure your results against your plan. If you stay on track they should coincide.
This plan must also have a definitive time frame. It cannot be left open ended. This can be done by random date (February 1, 2009), event date (wedding or vacation), or # of weeks/ months (8 weeks/ 2 months). Whatever time frame you give yourself, it must be definitive. This way you can say “OK, here is today, here is when my goal will be achieved, and this is what I am going to do in between to make it happen.” It’s tough to guide yourself through a plan that does not have any guidelines.
One of the easiest ways to create some accountability is to write your plan down. Make an outline of how you are going to achieve your goal. This is not as hard as it may seem. It will only take an hour or so if you have your goal and plan already in your mind. Simply write down your goal, beginning and end dates, and the steps that you will use in between to get there.
Follow-Though: Create Milestones
A milestone is basically a mini-goal that will lead you to your main goal. Creating milestones is important especially if you have a large main goal. If your goal is to lose 50 lbs in 6 months, it’s going to be tough to measure your success if do not include milestones to your plan. After all, there are more things than just exercise that go into a goal this big, like diet and lifestyle changes. And what type of exercising? Should weight training be involved?
Milestones can help you keep track of all of the components of your plan. This way you can easily stay on track. With every great body transformation there is a well-designed and well-progressed training program behind it.
Create milestones of all sizes is also important. For instance, create a mini-milestone for everyday. Create a medium-sized milestone for every week. Then create a large milestone for every month. A sample milestone plan might look like this:
– Daily: Consume no grain-based carbohydrate; perform moderate-intense exercise 30 minutes a day
– Weekly: Lose a minimum of 1 pound.
– Monthly: Lose a minimum of 1 inch around my waist (men) or hips (women)
By setting these recurring milestones in the plan, you can now create a sort-of checklist that will hold you accountable for what you do on your road to achieving your main goal.
In the last two pages I have provided you with two different checklists that you can use over and over again to achieve your goals.
– One is ideal for losing a large amount of weight.
– The other is for gaining lean muscle while losing stubborn body fat.
We already established that it is important to your success that you constantly track your goals and make sure that you are achieving them.
In addition to the achievement of your goals, it is imperative that you develop assessment methods to help you track your progress. For example, if a goal is to lose 20 lbs of fat, then you have to have a method to test this. Skin-fold calipers and other body-fat scales can be used to monitor your progress.
Another example might be a goal to decrease low back pain. Since core strength is correlated to low back pain, you might establish a method to continually test your core strength, such as plank holds for time.
Whatever your goal is you need to have a way to “test” yourself so you can prove to yourself that your training is working.
A little planning can take you miles. By implementing simple goals, milestones and assessment methods, you can reassure yourself that your program is working. And if it is not then you can see exactly what you need to do to change that.