There is no doubt that the training and nutrition systems we have in place work. I have seen it over and over again – our clients have lost pounds and inches, are healthier, and look and feel awesome. Flat out – the system works. But that said, today I am going to share something even more powerful; something that must be set in place before you can even start to think about following a fitness program.
So, let’s just get right to it. What is the real secret behind our clients success? Well, if your answer was my aforementioned training and nutrition system, then your answer is wrong. An incredible program? Absolutely! Here’s the rub – It’s useless if you are not willing to start it AND stick with it. The real key, the most important component of changing your body is being absolutely determined that nothing is going to stop you from getting the lean, healthy body you have always wanted. That is the focus of my article today – setting goals and being determined to reach them.
Before I get into this goal setting process, I just need to get something off of my chest. I know a lot of people think goal setting is just a cheesy, useless thing. If you think that way I am probably not going to change your mind, but do yourself a favor and stick with me anyway. You might just learn something. The bottom line is that the most successful people out there, and I mean not just weight loss success, I am talking business, lifestyle, etc., are shamelessly goal driven. They know exactly why they want to do something and harness that super motivation to figure out what and by when they want to go about accomplishing that. Furthermore, they plan and prepare for every possible roadblock they will encounter in their path to success. This is what I want to teach you how to do today, so let’s get to it!
Step One- The Why: Why do you want to do this?
This is where it’s time to get real. In almost every initial consult I do, when I ask why they have contacted me today, here is the typical blanket response that I first hear:
“Well, I just want to get healthy and lose weight I guess.”
Nope, I don’t buy it. Sure, I know they want to lose weight and be healthy, I mean who doesn’t, but really WHY do they want to do this? I mean, what is it that’s going to get them up at 5 am to get their morning workouts in or take a couple of hours on Sunday to plan and prepare their meals for the upcoming week? It sure isn’t “being healthy” because for some reason this just isn’t a very powerful motivator for most people (though it should be).
Let’s face it: everybody, including YOU, wants to look better. There – is that so bad? The great part is that when you do the work to look great on the outside, the insides start to look great, too. So, after a little digging, I find out the real reason why they want to do this; what it is they are really looking for. Some people want to be able to mow the lawn in the summer with their shirt off and not feel self-conscious. Others want to get back into their favorite pair of pants that they haven’t been able to get one leg into for the last five years. Then there are those who want to look and feel more attractive to ignite some passion back into their relationships and/or put for their best image at work. And of course, my personal favorite is preparing for big events that have built in deadlines. Wanting to get as lean and tight as possible for that big vacation in Argentina, or get off the plane in Texas when visiting family you haven’t seen in two years to blow them away with how different (and great) you look, or being a classic beauty in your wedding dress on the big day, it all works! This is the stuff that gets people excited and ready to commit to making some real changes.
So, the first thing you have to figure out is your personal WHY. To make this even simpler for you, just answer this question: what are your physical dreams? Once you establish this, everything else is easy!
Step Two- The What and When: What do you want to accomplish and when do you want to accomplish it by?
So we already figured out the obvious: you want to look and feel great! So, now we need to establish what objective goal(s) need to be accomplished in order to realize this subjective dream.
Well, from a logistics standpoint and keeping things as cost effective as possible, there are three major ways I track “look better” progress with my clients, in order of importance from least to most important:
- Scale Weight: This is by far the least important goal, but it gives a number that’s worth tracking. Though body fat percentage would be a much better method of tracking progress, it is simply too inaccurate on a small scale and too costly on a large scale. The key is to taking your initial weight before you start and then not weighing more than every week. There are simply too many variables for controlling your body weight and the natural fluctuations based on diet (and for women, their menstrual cycle), meaning every day is just no worth it. If the scale is just too de-motivating for you in general, then just skip this one altogether if you must, because the next two markers are far more important.
- Dress/Pant Size: This is probably the most simple and effective unused method of tracking whether or not you look better. I think it’s safe to say that if you are dropping dress and/or pant sizes that you will be looking better, right? Your best bet is to also select one dress or one pair of pants that you really want to get into since that is the true end goal in mind. For those of you would want to argue that every outfitter has different sizes, well that’s a moot point if you use the same pant or dress size to track. There’s nothing more powerful than being to literally being able to feel yourself comfortably get into clothes that use almost rip when you put on.
- Digital Pictures: Pictures don’t lie, that’s the bottom line. If you want to look better, what better way is there to assess this than pictures? I cannot begin to tell you how important this is. Taking a before picture is essentially you telling the whole world that you are ready to change and that you are ready to do whatever it takes to make those changes. They key is take pictures wearing exactly what you want to look your best in. Maybe it’s taking pictures of you in the dress or pair of pants that you are using to track your dress or pant size. Or maybe it’s a sleeveless shirt and tank top that you want to wear during the summer. And if you want to see your abs, then you best believe that you need to take pictures of your abs to track how much more definition you get. Take a front, side, and rear view picture and be sure to note the exact conditions in which the picture was taken (lighting, distance from camera, time of day/week, etc.) to be as accurate as possible in your assessment. Your before pictures will become your trophy and they are an absolute must if you really are serious about getting results that count.
Step Three- Planning and Preparing for Roadblocks: What are the big obstacles that will prevent you from having the success you desire? What’s contributed most to past failures?
Now that we know what you want to accomplish, it’s time to plan and prepare for any obstacles that might get in your way of getting the job done based on your own personal schedule.
In general, the number one thing I hear is that people are too busy and tired and don’t have enough time to get their workouts in or make their meals. Well, I don’t care how busy you think you are, there is always hidden time throughout the day and week that can be freed up if your re-prioritize. Again, think back to why you wanted to do this in the first place and then examine what’s most important to you. Make your workouts and your meal times just like work appointments. Either you make the appointment or you don’t. And if you want to keep your job (or get your dream body) then you better make that appointment.
Another big obstacle is alcohol. People like to drink and unfortunately alcohol is about as detrimental to burning fat as it gets. Again, what’s more important to you, looking great or getting hammered. The choice is yours. Remember, once you achieve your goal(s), alcohol can be added back in (although I don’t recommend it) with moderation. But know this, lean people just don’t get wasted unless they are genetic freaks. Low to zero alcohol consumption is needed if you want to look your best year round and that’s a fact.
Lastly, many people deal with boredom eating or emotional eating. Boredom eating means just that, eating to fill up dead time when you have nothing better to do. The best way to deal with this is, you guessed it, to do something! Find an active hobby to keep your mind off of eating when boredom strikes and you can beat this trend. Emotional eating describes the use of food to cope with stress or to reward for accomplishment. Food is not unlike drugs or alcohol in this regard, it can be very addictive. There is no quick fix for emotional eating other than avoiding trigger situations (bars, parties, etc.) and trigger foods (starches, sugars, fast food, etc.) in the short term to break bad habits.
At the end of the day, whether your roadblocks are very individual or if they fall in line with the general roadblocks our clients encounter on a regular basis, the key is to be honest about them and to plan and prepare for them. And that’s where social support and accountability come into play. The clients who have had the most success with us have undergone their transformation with the support of other friends or family members. This is so critical, especially since most of the poor food and drinking choices that sabotage one’s progress occur on the weekend, when most people hang out with their friend and family. If they are committed with you and your goal to get fit and look better, you can put yourself in a much better position to realize the success your desire and deserve. The last thing anybody needs is sabotage or peer pressure from those closest to you, so get them on board and get them on board early.
The time is now to take action – don’t wait until 2010 to get moving!