Wednesday, October 9, 2013

What Does It Really Take To Get (and stay) Fit?

photo credit: dierk schaefer via photopin cc
If you really want to get and stay fit the first thing you need to address is your mindset. Start by being honest with yourself about whether you're ready to make your health and fitness a priority.

I've seen it over and over. A new client says that they want to get in shape. They tell me that they want to lose weight or tone up or whatever their goal is. Then I notice in the questionnaires I have them fill out that they've stated their commitment level as a 7 or 8 and I know they're not ready. Of course it's more than just the answer to that one question that tells the story, but that one is a tip off. I always hope that once they get started and gain some momentum things will click. Sometimes that happens, but often it doesn't and I'm not surprised when they quit.

I'm not passing judgement here. All I'm saying is that they weren't ready. If you're not ready, if you don't have the right mindset in place, you won't succeed in getting and staying fit. Moving from a lifestyle and habits that don't support your health and fitness to a healthy, fitness centered lifestyle requires a lot of changes and what may feel like (at first anyway) a lot of sacrifices. If you don't have the right mindset you won't be able to get yourself to do what it takes.

The key is that you must decide you want it and commit to making it a priority. If you're not 100% sure at first, then the thing to do is to jump in and take action. Set your resistance and your doubts aside and go for it. At worst you'll find out, pretty quickly, that getting fit is not truly a priority for you. You might find out that it was a should or that it was something you were doing because others expected of you.

However, if you do find out that you really are ready and you have the mindset in place then here are a few tips to keep you going.

Have a plan. Planning helps eliminate having to make decisions in the moment. The trouble with decisions in the moment is that they rely on willpower. As you may have discovered (I know I have) willpower is notoriously unreliable. Plan out your workouts for the week. Plan out your meals. You don't have to get super detailed with your plans, but the more details you include in your plan, the fewer decisions you'll be faced with later.Your plan will help make staying on track a no brainer

Find the program, diet and exercise, that works for you. Never pick a program and decide it's that or nothing. There is no one size fits all. If you try out a routine and it's not working with your schedule or you just don't like the type of workouts, pick something else. If the diet plan is boring and leaves you hungry all the time, adjust. Find new foods. Figure out if you need more calories (it happens all the time!).

Do not aim for perfection. A great saying is, all or nothing always ends up being nothing. Finding the right diet means a diet that you enjoy or at least satisfies you. It also means making room for allowances and treats now and then. Because if you insist on perfection and you constantly feel deprived and restricted eventually you'll rebel (a.k.a. binge). The same logic goes for your workouts. You need to work hard and you need to be consistent, but if you never take a break, you'll get burned out or worse, end up injured. Some days you're body will need to go a little easier. Other days your body will need a rest. These things are part of a plan that us normal (i.e. not perfect) humans can actually live with.

Lastly, create a new identity. Change the things that define you. Practice the new ideas until they become automatic. For example you might decide that eating at fast food restaurants doesn't support your fitness goals and you want to stop doing that. Decide that you are a person who does not eat at fast food restaurants. Say you want to commit to daily workouts. Decide that you are a person who works out every day. Begin to identify with these statements. Take ownership of them.

It won't take long before you find yourself with the option to eat at Micky D's and the choice is clear... you don't eat at fast food restaurants. You might be tempted to blow off a scheduled workout, but then you remember... you are a person who works out every day. Redefining your identity around these things means there's no willpower needed, there's no choice to be made, it's just who you are.

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