1. The Hardest Part of Working Out is Showing Up!
Woody Allen famously remarked:
80% of success is showing up.
Now, he didn’t mean showing up just once and getting lucky. He meant showing up every day. Therefore, show up and make the most of it now.
Get up, dress up and show up!
2. Life Isn’t Fair.
But it’s still great!
We’re not all born with the perfect physiques or even perfect health. We all have our unique crosses to bear.
I am plagued with joint and muscular problems as a result of poor fitness advice.
While this can be a nuisance, I try not to grumble but focus on the positive.
My Motto? Be like a dog! They are awesome. Nothing gets them down….they never seem blue.
3. Don’t Follow Just Any Eating Plan.
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This explains why some of us thrive on a particular diet, while for others it causes nothing but misery.
4. Life is Too Short to Waste Time Envying Others.
I’ve always had a healthy respect for role models and mentors. Modelling what works for others can bring fast success.
But envying the achievements of others causes only pain. It can often lead to obsession, an unhealthy preoccupation and anxiety.
Therefore, learn to be grateful for what you have. Not what you have not.
5. Create a Plan.
You won’t achieve your goals by accident!
Firstly, creating a plan will add focus to your efforts, allow you to eliminate the unimportant and provide you with a structural pattern that you can follow.
There’s usually a million things you can be doing at any one time.
Knowing the next step, will ultimately bring you to your destination.
‘A Journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step’ – Chinese proverb.
6. Eat the Mammoth.
Embracing a new lifestyle may seem daunting. It may involve a steep learning curve about diet and exercise.
So don’t feel you have to do it all in one go. For example, you couldn’t ingest a whole mammoth in one sitting. It would take weeks or months of eating smaller morsels.
By taking even small actions daily, you’ll eventually, ‘eat the mammoth’.
7. Don’t Take Yourself so Seriously. No One Else Does!
Health and fitness issues can become very personal and there’s a lot of sanctimonious people in the fitness community.
They’d have you believe that their eating plan and their exercise routines are the best…secretly scoffing at anyone who differs.
Therefore, if you tend to be a tad overzealous in your opinions, try to relax your outlook a little.
In conclusion, harboring such black and white views can often be stressful and exhausting.
8. Make Daily and Weekly Goals.
Firstly, there’s nothing wrong with setting long-term goals. But the longer the goal, the more variables come into play. Thus, you’ll often have to adjust long-term goals as smaller achievements subtly change your direction.
I find that if I reach my daily and weekly goals, the longer term stuff takes care of itself.
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9. You Don’t Have to Win Every Struggle.
Face it: You’re not going to achieve everything the first time around.
But view these temporary setbacks as exactly that: temporary. Sometimes, you may reach your limit. For instance, I became very frustrated when my strength plateaued. No matter what I did, I never became any stronger.
But that’s okay. Perfection is not your aim. I’ll take progress over perfection any day.
An overnight success takes years.
10. Listen to Your Body.
Let’s be clear: there’s no badge of honor for pushing your body past its limits.
You’ll end up sapping your energy and making yourself sick. Result: a very unmotivated you.
Trust me; I’ve been there. There was a time when I wasn’t content with pushing myself to the limits in the gym every day.
Failure to do so resulted in guilt and self-criticism which is not the goal of health and wellness.
Such negative self-talk and self-flagellation will eat away at your happiness.
Therefore, learn to live in harmony with your body and head its warnings. Ease back on the throttle if you feel your stress levels red-lining.
11. Share Your Struggles with Someone (or Something).
Firstly, find support with your friends and family because it’s more healing than struggling alone! However, not all of us are blessed with such supportive networks. If you genuinely struggle with loneliness, you could do far worse than being a proud cat or dog owner.
Case in point: my two cats are awesome! Pet therapy is great for de-stressing, lowering blood pressure and calming the mind.
Indeed, research continues to amaze at the astounding health benefits of pets. Dogs, cats, bunnies – they’re all incredibly cathartic!
12. Start With The End in Mind.
If you’ve ever read “The 7 Habits of Highly Successful People” by Stephen Covey, you may be familiar with this concept. Starting with the end in mind means visualizing yourself at the end of your journey.
Have you achieved all you wanted? Are you pleased with the results? How does it feel to be successful?
For example, if your goal is to lose weight, you must be able to hold a clear mental picture in your mind of what you want to look like.
Where the mind goes, the body follows.
13. When it Comes to Chocolate, Resistance is Futile!
Replace ‘chocolate’ with your weakness of choice.
Now, there’ll come times when you just need to treat yourself. Probably a glass of wine after work. Maybe cookies and cream before bed.
The point is, it’s okay to indulge…once in a while. Living the good life requires discipline…but don’t make yourself miserable.
In summary: Discipline without reward and enjoyment is a hollow victory.
14. Don’t Overthink. Just Act!
First of all, if you want to get fit, don’t spend weeks in research mode. You’re simply procrastinating.
I knew one lady who spent weeks nailing down the perfect running shoes for her arches. Once she’d completed this important phase, she wasted more time in the search of the ideal personal trainer.
Meanwhile, her BMI wasn’t going anywhere.
Guess what…start today!
15. It’s Okay to be Vulnerable.
When my friend decided to lose weight, he did so with great stoicism.
I could tell the times when he was suffering and in pain. Yet, he never dropped the brave face. To do so would be a sign of weakness.
In the end, he reverted to his old patterns. It was such a shame as he was doing so well.
Perhaps an admission of the trials he was suffering would have been the therapy he so desperately needed.
I don’t think there’s a single one of us who, at some point, has not attempted to lose weight or become more healthy.
So don’t be like my friend – when you’re feeling vulnerable, don’t bottle it up.
Off-loading your concerns could hold the very key to your success.
16. Don’t Compare Your Life to Others.
After all, you have no idea what their journey is all about.
Don’t compare your beginning with someone else’s middle.
Admitting that you want to get in shape and lose weight is a great start. But all too often, it can seem like we’re having our noses rubbed in it!
Conversely, role models can be a great way to inspire us. But comparing ourselves can have the opposite effect. Add in some negative self-talk and you’re in trouble.
Realize that all great achievers started where you are: at the beginning.
So therefore, never derive your happiness through comparison with others.
17. Life is Too Short for Pity Parties.
My neighbor often laments – they eat right, exercise, avoid all the bad stuff. Yet somehow they just can’t get that toned body.
Personally, I think they look great! But some of us are not happy unless we’re wallowing in self-pity.
We distort reality to indulge in this unproductive pastime just like my neighbor.
Also, even if your appraisal of the situation is accurate, there may still be a few goals that you fall short of.
Therefore, leave the self-pity to the mopers. You’re stronger than that!
‘Self-pity is an acid which eats holes in happiness’. – Earl Nightingale.
18. You Can Get Through Anything if You Stay in The Now.
Living in the now is important for our mental health. Yet incredibly difficult to accomplish.
We go through life looking in the rear view mirror – ruminating about the past…or obsessing about the future.
It’s an inherent part of being human. Our prehistoric ancestors who thought about where their next meal was coming from, where the ones who survived.
Yet in today’s hectic world, attempting to be in three places at once (past, present and future) only adds to modern-day pressures.
So when you’re feeling frazzled, here’s a simple exercise: Take a deep breath. Maybe a couple. Relax.
In conclusion: focus on the now. Because obsessing about the past or future achieves very little.
19. A Healthy Person has Healthy Habits.
If you want to be a healthy, practice being healthy!
It sounds so obvious, yet many of us don’t take the time to adopt healthy habits.
As a result, our choices remain the product of decisions. But operating under habits is FAR easier than constantly having to decide.
Making decisions puts a huge strain on your willpower. Science calls this ‘Decision Fatigue’.
It was once believed that it took 21 days to form a new habit. But new findings from the University College London suggests an average of 66 days.
Either way, get busy practicing productive actions till they solidify into habits.
‘The chains of habit are too weak to be felt, until they’re too strong to be broken’ – Samuel Johnson.
20. Don’t Take ‘No’ for an Answer.
When it comes to going after what you love in life, ignore the naysayers.
For example, my body’s made for the water – long arms, big feet and hands. And at only 14, I held the breaststroke title in Sefton for my age group.
Then I announced to my coach that I wanted to turn my attention to athletics, particularly running. She flatly refused and told me no.
The reason? A good swimmer rarely makes a good runner in her experience because of different body types. I was more of an aquatic athlete.
However, I opted not to listen to my coach. Running soon became the love of my life and the swimming, faded into distant memory.
To this day, I kinda regret dropping the swimming when I did…
…But I don’t regret not taking no for an answer.
21. Enjoy Your Success.
When you’ve achieved your fitness goals, flaunt your new body. Have fun! Take pride in what you’ve achieved.
Making even the smallest difference to your health or fitness is no small feet. This is because our bodies strive to remain in the same state – a process known as ‘homeostasis’.
Therefore celebrate each small success and give yourself milestones of achievement.
There was a point in my life when I veered off track. In fact, more like crashed through the safety barriers into a ravine. I ballooned to over 230 pounds.
So each time I broke through the psychological barrier of shedding the next stone in weight, I would always celebrate.
22. Failing to Prepare is Preparing to Fail.
Firstly, preparation plays a key role, especially in losing weight. By not preparing your food it’s all too easy to grab whatever’s convenient (and usually unhealthy).
I prepare my breakfast the night before (scrambled eggs, avocado, lots of pepper, turmeric, chives, paprika, chervil, garlic, tomatoes, spinach and mushrooms, possibly seaweed – sounds revolting but it’s amazing what you can add to eggs and get away with it).
Failing to prepare my ‘power breaky’ guarantees a less healthy option.
23. Keep a Training Diary.
I remember reading an article written by Frank Zane in my teens. In it, he talked about the importance of keeping a training diary. ‘This is something I must do’, I thought.
Frank Zane won the coveted Olympia title 3 times. One of those victories was over Schwarzenegger. A claim that can be made by only two other men in history.
To this day, I still scribble a quick summary of my workouts in my training diary.
It’s interesting, not to mention motivating, to read back over at the end of the year and witness how things have evolved.
24. Don’t Neglect the Most Important ‘Muscle’ of All.
Can you guess what this is?
Well done! It’s your brain.
Strive not only for physical ‘perfection’ but also mental health. Commit to learning something new as often as you can.
Imagine impressing your friends with basic Mandarin or starting your own blog.
Many successful people like Warren Buffet and Bill Gates play poker and bridge. Chess is also excellent.
25. No One is in Charge of Your Happiness Except YOU.
‘No one can make you feel inferior without your consent’ – Eleanor Roosevelt.
What other people think of you is none of your business! One of my friends is delighted with the level of health and fitness she’s achieved. She’s the first to admit there’s room for improvement.
And every so often, one of her gym’s self-proclaimed gurus may point out this fact.
For some, this can be crushing. Carol simply lets it go over her head. What she thinks is all that matters.
In conclusion: take charge of your own happiness: the most important respect is self-respect.
26. Learn to Forgive Yourself.
Some days your motivation will dwindle and you feel glued to the sofa. Your companions: an Indian takeout and a bottle of wine.
You will experience days like this. We all do. But don’t beat yourself up.
Start the next day afresh. Today is a new beginning and you can strengthen your resolve.
Forgiving others can be easy…but forgiving ourselves is another matter.
27. Be Patient…
If you feel bad about your health at this moment, you WILL change your situation. But give it time and be patient.
Weight loss and muscle growth can come alarmingly fast…n the beginning. Then progress often slows.
But take heart – imagine how you’ll look and feel 5 years from now.
‘Never underestimate your power to change yourself’. – H. Jackson Brown, Jr.
28. Believe in Miracles.
Set your goals. Cultivate a positive outlook. Foster positive expectations.
According to Mayo Clinic, the benefits of positive thinking are:
- Increased life span
- Lower rates of depression
- Lower levels of distress
- Greater resistance to the common cold
- Better psychological and physical well-being
- Better cardiovascular health and reduced risk of death from cardiovascular disease
- Better coping skills during hardships and times of stress
Positive thinking is not about refusing to see life’s problems. Life is full of problems…and we have to deal with them!
Rather, it’s about not seeing problems worse than they actually are. Remember how we spoke about distorting reality?
This approach will help you to stay motivated, move on from past mistakes and find alternative solutions to problems.
29. Get Outside Every Day.
Connecting with nature does wonders for the soul. My favorite ‘workout’? A long walk immersed in nature.
The pine woods in Formby are incredible. The scent is revitalizing. It’s grounding.
Injustice rarely comes in a greater form than wrongly depriving someone of their liberty. Yet we take our freedom for granted.
Open your front door and free yourself!
30. Don’t Dwell on Your Problems.
You are blind to those of others. Your friends, neighbors and colleagues have their own health hang-ups and body issues. They are simply invisible to you.
Perhaps they feel as insecure about their looks as everyone else?
Firstly, get rid of anything that isn’t useful, beautiful or joyful.
Tim Ferris is the master of elimination. If you haven’t already bought his best-seller, ‘The 4-Hour Work Week‘, I urge you to do so.
Within the pages, he speaks of eliminating the unnecessary.
Time is one of our most precious assets and we’d all like to enjoy more of this finite resource.
For example, I’m a ‘less is more’ advocate at the gym. Once I began working out LESS, I started seeing MORE results.
Decluttering your life, declutters your mind.
Eliminate the mediocre and spend more time doing what you love.
32. Give Something Back.
Heed the advice of Arnold. ‘Give Something Back’ is rule #6 if you want to skip ahead.
33. Don’t Make Excuses.
Of course, many of us don’t see it this way. We come up with valid ‘reasons’ why we can’t do this or that. We tell ourselves, ‘I’ll do it just this once…’, or ‘This is definitely the last time’.
My favorite and one I’m guilty of: ‘Tomorrow I’ll feel more rested. I’ll tackle the problem then’.
However, the power is in now.
Tony Robbins coined a phrase that sums it up nicely: ‘When would now be a good time?’
The power is in now, not tomorrow, not next week.
In summary: stop making excuses and get on with it!
34. Exercise How YOU Want to Exercise.
Aerobics was once all the craze. Then Zumba showed up. Hot yoga followed closely on its heels.
Exercise on your terms. Do the routines, workouts and exercises that give you results and that you enjoy.
You don’t have to be a slave to the latest celebrity workouts.
If you love squash and it keeps you fit, then why change?
35. Don’t be Afraid to Experiment.
But if you DO fancy a change…don’t be afraid to try something new.
There are so many exercises and routines I wish I’d tried in the past. It took me decades to finally try stiff legged deadlifts. I now love this movement and wish I’d added it to my workout years ago.
36. If it Hurts, Don’t do it!
Health Is More Important Than Fitness.
There was once a time when I was a ‘size-at-all-costs’ freak. Due to poor advice and using too much weight, my joints took a pounding.
Three hospital visits and as many operations later, I’ve learned a valuable lesson…health is far more important than fitness.
37. Tell Yourself ‘I Don’t’, Rather Than ‘I Can’t’.
As a teenager, I was a big fan of the Nightmare On Elm Street films.
In the fourth installment, the meek, unassuming heroine progressively grows stronger throughout the story.
As her friends are slain, one by one, she absorbs some of their powers and characteristics necessary to defeat the villain.
One of his victims was a smoker and in a touching scene, we see our heroine light up a cigarette before a mirror.
With a mixture of surprise, disgust and shock she stumps out the butt. Then, looking into her reflection, she says… ‘I don’t smoke’.
This innocuous memory from my childhood has served me so well.
Instead of telling myself I can’t eat that doughnut, or I can’t drink that soda (which instills a feeling of deprivation), I simply tell myself that I don’t eat doughnuts or that I don’t drink sodas.
Try this next time your will power’s about to buckle.
“When you feel like quitting, remember why you started”.
What health & fitness lessons have you learned? Leave your comments below.
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