Regardless of what you want in life, you are going to have to work for it. That means doing things that others won’t do. It means having a plan and turning that plan into action. You will need to form habits so that when you don’t want to do something, or you hit that roadblock your habits take over and you push through that barrier like it wasn’t even there!
In my life, I’ve struggled to maintain my weight. I’ve been up and I’ve been down. I’ll be honest I certainly don’t know it all but what I do know is that when I follow these six rules, these six fundamentals, I am always successful. I also know that when I don’t follow them, I become mediocre, things start not going right, and I get complacent. You don’t want to be complacent. If you did, you wouldn’t be reading this article. I’m not going to do the work for you. That’s all you.
I’ll be there to guide you and help you along the way and to give you the fundamentals that I know work for me, but this is your journey! So, I ask you, are you ready to take the next step. Are you ready to begin your process to a better life? I can’t promise it’s going to be easy, but I can promise that year from now you’ll look back on this moment and it’s up to you to decide how you feel when you do. Are you going to feel proud and accomplished or are you going to feel regret? Now is the time! Let’s do this!
1. Map-Out Your Plan
Planning is an important first step that far too many people skip, thinking that they’ll just figure out the plan as they go. But if you were taking a road trip somewhere you’ve never been before, you probably wouldn’t start driving without any directions. You could easily end up lost, and it would take you much longer to reach your destination if you even got there.
Start by setting your goal and make this as specific as possible.
Goals to lose 15 pounds, add 10 pounds of muscle or get down to a body fat of 10 percent are all far more effective than a goal to “get in better shape.” You need to be able to track your progress and know when you’ve reached your goal, so it’s best if you have a goal that you can quantify. Make sure that your goal is realistic and safe, but also don’t be afraid to aim high.
Next, reverse engineer your goal. With reverse engineering, you look at where you want to be and work backward from there. You’re essentially starting at the endpoint and then tracing it back to the beginning, which is where you are now. Let’s say there’s a particular bodybuilder whose physique you admire. You could analyze his training routine and diet from his early days to the height of his success and follow similar routines.
Finally, schedule each step you’ll take to work towards your goal. This helps you stay on track. If you want to lose a specific amount of weight, you could schedule how you’ll adjust your diet and exercise routine each week and how much weight you want to lose from week to week. It’s best to set weekly or biweekly steps, as one or two weeks is enough time to see some progress.
2. Get Accountability
If you’re the type of person who can set a goal for yourself and hold yourself accountable for it all on your own, that’s great. Most will find that having at least one other person to hold them accountable is a huge help. It’s much easier to give up on your goals or take a break from your new routine when you’re the only one who will know about it. You can easily make excuses and convince yourself that skipping a workout or eating unhealthy is no big deal. This is where an accountability partner can make all the difference.
All you need to do is tell someone close to you about your goals and how you plan to achieve them, and then ask that person to hold you accountable. He or she can do this by checking in with you regularly, asking you if you’re sticking to your plan and what type of results you’ve had.
You can set up checkpoints to track your progress.
It’s even better if this person has already achieved the results you want because you can see how he does it and use reverse engineering to emulate his results.
When you choose this person, you should also identify the people in your life who can help you achieve your goals and those who are going to hold you back. It has been said that every person is the sum of the six people that he spends the most time with. Spending the majority of your time with people who are also committed to eating right and exercising will help you stay on track. Spending it with people who make poor eating choices and aren’t physically active will make it much harder for you because those people will be bad influences. It’s never easy to cut people out of your life, and you don’t need to cut them out entirely, but you’re more likely to meet your goals if you minimize the time you spend with people who hold you back.
3. Set a Deadline and Revisit Your Goal Daily
Getting started on a new goal isn’t difficult. When you first set your goal, you’ll probably be excited about it and eager to work towards it. The challenge is maintaining that motivation over the long haul. The best example of this is the huge number of new people who start going to the gym shortly after New Year’s because of their resolutions to get healthier. Within a couple of months, most of those people won’t be there anymore.
You need to avoid losing focus if you want to succeed.
It’s easy at the beginning – not only is the goal fresh in your mind, but people often see the biggest results when they first start a new diet and exercise routine. It’s not uncommon to lose five or 10 pounds in the first few weeks on a diet since you’re eating much healthier and you could lose some excess water weight. You’ll also likely see your largest strength gains in the early stages of your routine. Once you’ve been at it for months, gains slow down and you could hit the occasional plateau.
Writing down your goal helps, but to really stay focused, you should remind yourself of your goal as much as possible. Write it on multiple notecards and tape those notecards to the places you frequent most throughout the day. You could put them on your nightstand, your desk at work, your bathroom mirror and on your refrigerator, to name a few places. The more you see your goal, the easier it is to keep working towards it until you succeed.
When you do this, you’re surrounding yourself with the result of your goal. You could even use pictures as motivation, especially if you have specific physique goals in mind. Pictures of bodybuilders, sports stars or celebrities who have the type of body you’re going for can keep you focused.
4. Get Active and Healthy
So, you know how you can keep yourself motivated. But how do you actually go about improving your fitness? By feeding your body and mind what they need to be successful. There are all kinds of diet and exercise programs out there, and choosing between them often comes down to personal preference. The most important part is getting consistent physical activity and adopting healthy eating habits.
For physical activity, what you do isn’t as important as how often you do it.
Aim to get some form of physical activity every day. This could be hitting the gym to lift weights, going for a jog around the neighborhood, playing a sport or anything else that you enjoy. Keep in mind that you don’t need to get an intense workout every day, especially when you’re just starting out. You could take a 30-minute walk during your lunch break or do a light stretching routine to get the blood flowing. While it’s good to work up a sweat and you should have more intense workouts at least a few days per week, light work is also a good choice to stay active.
As far as healthy eating is concerned, the best way to do this is focusing on incorporating a wide variety of natural foods into your diet. How do you know if it’s natural? Look at it like this – if it came from an animal or the ground, it’s most likely natural. You usually find these foods on the outer edges of your typical grocery store, and the unhealthy processed foods will be towards the center aisles. Fruits and vegetables are excellent choices because they’re packed with fiber and other important nutrients. It’s good to eat fruits and vegetables of different colors because different colors mean they supply different nutrients. For your protein, chicken, fish, eggs and the occasional steak, all work well.
5. Keep It Simple
You don’t want to overthink things, as this can stress you out and make your goal more difficult than it should be. Focus on making simple changes and starting slow. If you try to change your entire lifestyle overnight, you’re more likely to get burnt out and go back to your old routine. This is another reason why so many people lose motivation after a few weeks or months. They jump into a new diet and exercise routine so they can get results as quickly as possible and end up unable to sustain it. This is especially problematic with exercising because if you don’t let your body acclimate to it, there’s a greater potential for injuries.
For your eating habits, instead of changing everything at once, make gradual adjustments to your diet. You could start substituting one or two meals per day with healthier alternatives and drinking water when you would normally drink soda or juice. As you start seeing results and notice the benefits of healthier eating, including having more energy throughout the day, it will be easier to make further changes. Eventually, you’ll be making healthy eating choices for all of your meals.
With exercise, the key is not overdoing it. Working out at a high intensity is fine, just make sure that you do something lighter the day after so your body can recover. Getting enough sleep is also crucial.
Break down each step towards your goal as much as possible. This makes it easier to keep moving forward, accomplishing smaller goals along the way.
6. Personal Development
No matter how self-motivated you are and how much research you do, there are plenty of resources out there that can take your personal development to the next level.
Books and audiotapes are great for providing valuable information and helping you stay motivated. They don’t cost much and they can give you a step-by-step process for accomplishing your goals, written by someone who has already been there and done that. Choose the option that better fits your lifestyle and personal preferences. Some people love reading and can’t get into audiotapes, while others find that audiotapes are more convenient since you can listen to them anywhere, including on your drive to work.
Consider finding a coach to guide you towards your goal. There’s no shortage of coaches out there who can provide you with information on exercising and nutrition. You could find one at the gym, browse classified ads or ask people you know for recommendations.
Going back to the point about identifying people in your life who can help you towards your goal, make sure that you surround yourself with like-minded people. You want people who are just as focused as you are, if not more so, as they will motivate and encourage you. When you regularly hang out with people who live healthy lifestyles and stay active, it makes you want to do the same.