Manipulating Your Time Of Consumption

The truth of the matter is that most “named” diets work for the simple fact that they manipulate the way you eat by tricking you into eating less calories. There is no magic trick that Paleo, low carb, Adkins, or ketogenic diets have, it simply the fact that without many realizing it, they are tricked into eating less calories due to the foods recommended. Well today, I’ve got some “tricks” for you! When it comes to tricking ourselves into eating less calories, the foods chosen need to have at least one of the following two qualities, if not both:

  1. They are filling
  2. They are time consuming to eat

And in this article, we are going to focus on quality number 2, and that is they are time consuming to eat, specifically snacks. Stereotypically, Americans are snackers. And there are many reasons for snacking, but one of the most common and detrimental is boredom. We as humans do not like to be bored and want to be doing something at all times, even it is meaningless. At night, when the fun is over for the day and we want to “relax”, the fact is we still want to be occupied, but now with things we enjoy and make us feel good. So we turn to TV, movies, video games, and the internet, but for some reason sitting completely still is just too hard, so we accompany those entertainments with snacking. What I have for you below are my go to’s when it comes to snacking, and the requirements for the foods on this list are simple, and that is that they are “time consuming”. And by “time consuming”, I mean that they will take some time to eat, but they will also keep your calories in check at the same time. In my opinion, a late night snack foods “worth” is determined by a simple formula:

Calories divided by minutes taken to consume equals calories per minute

Kcal/Min=Kcal per Min

For example, the first item on the list is string cheese, my current personal favorite. 1 stick of string cheese is 80 calories, and on the short end, if eaten correctly, should take around 15 minutes to consume. So that would equate to 80/15=5.33 calories per minute. On the opposite end, we may choose to eat a bowl of Doritos, which let’s say totals 33 chips. It takes you the same 15 minutes to eat, but now we are looking at 420 calories, which in 15 minutes of consumption equates to 28 calories per minute, or 5 times the calories during the same time frame. Now I am not saying to go through this calculation every time you eat, but I wanted you to see this to get the point of “time consuming” foods.

With that knowledge, take a look at the foods below and see how these “time consuming” foods work for you.

String cheese

80 calories

Why: If you are diligent and patient in truly eating it as string cheese, pulling off super thin strings each time, it could take you upwards of 15-20 minutes to eat.

Pistachios, Shelled

102 calories in 30 nuts

Why: If you buy the shelled kind, each nut you eat you are going to have to pull off the shell. Between the time it takes and your fingers getting sore, by the time you are done you will be most likely ready to move on.

Pretzel Rods

35 calories per rod

Why: This is kind of a weird one, but instead of chomping down on them you suck on them instead, and 2-3 rods could easily last you 20-30 minutes in this manner.

Skinny Pop

155 Calories in 4 Cups

Why: Who doesn’t love to have a big bowl of popcorn during a movie!? Well with Skinny Pop, you can. Make sure to properly measure out 4 cups, and enjoy yourself to some snacking that feels like you are eating A LOT, but really are not.

Apple

80-100 Calories

Why: Don’t peel and don’t cut, eat as is. Depending on your speed, it will take anywhere between 5-10 minutes to get through an apple eating is.

Orange

80-100 Calories

Why: The peeling will be time consuming, along with an orange being a high satiety food as well.

Just Do It

When it comes to fitness and motivation, everyone struggles at times, even your personal trainer. If you think the only struggle with motivation will be when you first start out, you are unfortunately wrong. And that is the position I found myself in recently. Read on to see how I overcame these struggles and have succeeded.

Looking at my current situation, this has been the first time since I started exercising 10 years ago that I really was in a rut. I have had times where my motivation was lacking, but never to the point where I just didn’t want to work out and even skipped going to the gym entirely for one week. What got me to this point was my personal fitness goals getting derailed this year. My plan for the last 3 years was to progress in powerlifting to the point that this year I could qualify for USAPL Raw Nationals (the largest and most recognized/credible national powerlifting competition in the US) and compete there in October. Unfortunately, not just one, but two significant injuries have made me postpone that goal until further notice. With a badly strained rotator cuff in my right shoulder and prepatellar bursitis in my left knee, there was only a handful of things I could even do in the gym. If I wanted to work out, it meant I was doing back/bicep/tricep workouts 3-4 days a week along with my rehabilitation work. Usually in a situation like this I would then change my focus to more physique based training goals versus strength, but therein lies the final issue. I have a hiatal hernia that prevents me from dieting long term, so going through a cutting/weight loss phase was out of the picture as well! All of this piling together meant that when it came to exercise, other than health, I really did not have any goals to work towards. And for me, I have a severe lack of motivation without goals I can aspire for. Of course I want to be healthy, but the fact is I already am, so working out was just to maintain that health, not to work towards it. So to me exercise had now become a nuisance, something I had to do, and that wasn’t fun.

So what did I do?

For the first month my motivation was down in the dumps. As mentioned above, I even skipped a whole week of working out at one point. To get out of this, I can pinpoint 5 main things I did to get me back on track.

  1. Wrote up a detailed 4 week workout program so I actually had something planned out.
  2. Started going to the actual gym more versus lifting at home (I have a great home gym setup) because once I was at the gym there is nothing else distracting me. At home, I found that after about 20-30 minutes, it was way too easy to just cut the workout short and go upstairs and watch TV.
  3. If I did work out at home, I asked my wife to make sure she worked out with me those days to keep me accountable. If I knew she was working out, I knew I would too.
  4. I found some other things outside of my fitness goals to put my time into. I started writing more and also got back into racing remote controlled cars. Both of these things gave me something to occupy my time and brain to keep me sane.
  5. I just did it. Even with those things listed above, I still did not have the same motivation I usually have, but to me it wasn’t an option to quit. I want to compete at USAPL Raw Nationals, and sitting on my butt was not going to get me there. What was going to get me there was working hard at the things I could, and being diligent in my rehab work to get the issues I had fixed.

So what is the outcome?

Well it is still a work in progress, but 3 months post injury I am happy to say at least 2 of the 3 issues I have are significantly better. The shoulder is definitely not 100%, but I can now bench press full strength pain free. And per the advice from my previous coach Hani Jazaryli, I tried taking in some apple cider vinegar each morning for my hiatal hernia symptoms, and so far so good. I am on the lowest calories without discomfort that I have been on since being diagnosed with a hiatal hernia, so hopefully that trend continues. As for the knee, well that’s still been a pain in the butt, but have recently switched gears and am trying a different approach for it’s rehab, so we will see how that goes.

So what have I learned?

If I am looking at what I did to overcome these issues, steps 1 through 4 (from above) were all things I knew I had to do. Make a plan, go to an actual gym versus trying to workout at home, have someone to workout with to keep me accountable, and find some others things that make me happy. Those were all things I recommend on a consistent basis to my clients, tried and true, nothing new.

Number 5 though is where the learning experience came in. And it is not something that anyone else can teach or control, it is all up to you. When it comes down to it, if you want to achieve something, you just have to do it. Up until now, that hasn’t been a phrase I have used enough, but after going through this myself, I now know that it was the most important part of the entire process. Steps 1 through 4 helped, but even if I didn’t find those things, to reach my goals I just had to do it. Whether that is for powerlifting, weight loss, or general health, if you have goals that you want or need to attain, sometimes you just need to dig deep and push through. There is going to be tough times and that is why so many people fail. The ones who have reached their goals are the ones who went to the gym even when it wasn’t convenient and said no to some tasty food even though it may spark some criticism from friends. They decided even during the tough times when motivation was lacking, they were still going to do it. Nike had it right, and I think the lesson I have learned here is not only valuable for my fitness goals, but also professional and relationship goals as well. Just do it

Nutrition Is A Budget

Budgeting is no fun, so seeing that in the title probably wasn’t the most exciting thing you’ve seen today, but stick with me. The truth is, nutrition is very much like a budget, and if we can approach it with this mindset, “healthy” versus “bad” foods makes a lot more sense. We see a lot of contradicting information out there in regards to what is good and bad for you, but the fact is, in the right context and situation, no food is truly “bad”, it is just a matter of how we fit it in our budget.

So let’s talk about literal budgets for a second, as for most people, it will be fairly easy to relate to. If you make 1,000,000 a year, it’s fairly obvious you will be able to afford some luxury items others may not. You can fork out the money for a Ferrari, have a massive house, and be able to take vacations to Europe on the regular, yet still probably have plenty of money left over to invest and save. Sounds great, right!? But for most, that is just not realistic. The latest information I found showed that the average household income is currently around $51,000 a year, so that is where a stricter budget comes into play. It doesn’t mean we can’t have nice things and have fun, but we are going to a bit more frugal and picky on how we allocate our money. We have to figure out what we can afford, as any big money choice in one aspect of our life is going to greatly affect other areas. If we buy a house that is out of our price range, then not much is going to be left over to buy a nice car or take a vacation.

All of this directly applies to nutrition. We all have a budget, and that is our caloric maintenance level. What that means is the amount of calories we can eat, based on our current activity, that we will maintain the same weight. If we dip below that level into a deficit, we will lose weight, and if we go above into a surplus, we will gain weight, and we have to budget our calories accordingly. These numbers are going to be highly dependent on many factors such as age, gender, lean muscle mass, non-exercise activity, resting metabolic rate, and more. If we have a person who has a very fast metabolism, has been weight training for 10+ years 4 days a week, and is a 30 year old male, most likely they are going to have a higher “budget” than a sedentary 60 year old female who has never exercised.

So looking at how this applies to our food choice, if our current goals dictate that we should be consuming 3,500 calories a day, we have a large budget. If we have a couple slices of pizza, ice cream, or in general “bad” foods once in awhile, it’s not a big issue nor unhealthy, because we have plenty of room in our budget to fit that in. So for this person, pizza isn’t “bad”, it just needs to fit into their diet within moderation. Take for example a Digiorno pepperoni pizza, where 3 slices is 900 calories. In a 3,500 calorie diet, that still leaves this person with 2,600 calories left in their budget for the rest of the day, which is equivalent to 5 and ½ meals of 4.5 ounces of chicken, 1 cup of rice, and 1 cup of broccoli. This person is not going to have an issue fitting this pizza in. But what if you are trying to lose weight, and are currently eating 1,500 calories a day? Probably not, because that pizza now consumes 60% of your daily caloric goals, which leaves you with very little to eat for the rest of the day. They could just go for it, but the person with only a 1,500 calorie budget is going to run into two main issues:

  1. Significant hunger levels. If they use 60% of their dietary goals on  3 slices of pizza, the volume of food they get to consume that day is very little. They could have had 45 cups of broccoli for the same amount of calories, which is an unreasonable amount, but just using that example to prove a point. People have adherence issue with diets when hunger levels are high, so when the budget is low, we have to be stricter with our food choices.
  2. Pizza has terrible micronutrient (vitamins and minerals) density. When foods have low levels of micronutrients, they typically fall into the “bad” category, and in the example of the 1,500 calorie diet, that is very true. It is going to be near impossible for that person to get the micronutrients their body needs to function properly from only 600 calories of “healthy” foods. Whereas the person with the 3,500 calorie budget still has 2,600 calories worth to consume those same nutrients.

My hope was to possibly make a slight change to the way you look at food. I will never argue pizza and ice cream is good for you, but in the right context, its also not bad, we just have to evaluate our budget and eat within moderation. Even with the 1,500 diet, small deviations from “healthy” food can be made. 2 servings of Edy’s slow churned ice cream is around 220 calories, so if you are wanting to reward yourself occasionally, you can use moderation to still enjoy some tasty treats. You just have budget it out and look at the pros and cons just like you do with your finances.

Strength Progression Made Easy

One of the single biggest mistakes I see in the gym, and a significant reason why people benefit from having a Personal Trainer, is the lack of progression within their training program. And before going in more depth with why, first let me describe what the word “program” versus “workout” means. A workout could be described as singular, meaning it only entails that single training session at the gym, and this is where many people go wrong. For example, they have a great chest workout and continue to go through that workout over and over, which is better than nothing, but not optimal. A program instead would be described as plural, as it would entail a long term plan for improvement and should be ever changing. A program entails months upon months of workouts that lead to an overall improvement in your fitness, strength, flexibility, endurance, and health, depending on your goals and what you are trying to accomplish. A program is optimal as its foundation is built upon progression. Progression entails anything that is providing an increased stimulus over the previous training session, and that could come from a multitude of factors. Within resistance training, progression has some fairly obvious benefits when it comes to gaining strength, but many fail to realize the key benefits it also has with weight loss.

  1. The more muscle you have, the more calories you can burn. So by using progression, we can create muscle growth that will provide a stable and continuous increase in your metabolic rate.
  2. If you are progressing and consistently increasing the difficulty, you are most likely also increasing the amount of calories you are burning per training session. Lifting heavier weight and the increasing the degree of difficulty creates a much more intense workout that will translate into more calories burned.
  3. When we train with weights, we go through a process called excess post-exercise oxygen consumption, or EPOC. Without getting too detailed and scientific, the basis around EPOC is the fact that after a weight training workout, you continue to burn calories afterwards due to recovery needs. As we add in progression and the difficulty and intensity increases, the extent of the calories burned through EPOC will increase as well. So while you are sitting at home, you are continuing to burn calories above your normal metabolic rate, and who doesn’t want that!

So we need progression not just for increasing strength and muscle, but also for the numerous health and weight loss benefits it adds, but how do we make sure we are progressing properly? For someone just starting out with resistance training, many times progression comes from the exercise variation, as they are starting from a very basic point, and working their way up to more difficult variations. This type of progression is very individualized, so trying to go through how to progress in this manner is very difficult to write about, and where one on one sessions with a personal trainer can be of great value. As you reach a slightly higher fitness level where exercise variation is not as much a contributing factor, but still what I’d very much consider a beginner, we can now start to add in a simplified approach to progression. This will be slow, as there is a reason there are 2.5lb weight plates in the gym, and that is because we should use them! Your strength may increase at a fairly fast past when you first start, but beware of the temptation to just keeping adding more and more weight. Slow and steady will win the race here, and this can be for many reasons, but the main reason most beginners should stick to a very slow progression pace is due to injury risk. Even though our large, dominant muscles may be getting exponentially stronger, those small stabilizers still may be a bit weaker. We still may have some imbalances as well between sides of the body, causing form dysfunction due to favoring one side. So slow progression with correct form is the way to go. With that being said, let’s finally look at how to progress and overload your muscular and nervous system to produce an increase in strength and muscle size. There are 3 main variables that go into how you are dictating the difficulty of an exercise, and that is the amount of sets, the amounts of repetitions, and the weight that is being used. Below is an example of how this might be written within a program.

Exercise Sets Reps Weight
Bench Press 2 10 100

To create progression within a program, there needs to be a manipulation of at least 1 of these

variables, and eventually all 3 at some point over time. Using the example above, the first goal you should have is to continue to do 2 sets of 10 repetitions, but slowly increase the weight. Next workout, try to complete the same sets and repetitions, but now with 105 pounds. At some point though, you will hit a sticking point where you reach a weight you can no longer complete 10 repetitions with. At that point, you have 2 options:

1.) Drop the weight back slightly, but now go for 11 repetitions, and then the next workout 12 repetitions.

2.) Continue to increase the weight, but now decrease the amount of repetitions your are doing.

I generally like to have most people stay within the 5 to 12 repetition range for compound movements (multi-joint movements) and 8-15 rep range for isolation movements (single joint movements). So with that being said, you can continually manipulate the weight and repetitions within that range. Sets of 12 repetitions will focus more on the endurance and growth of the muscle, sets of 5 will focus more on strength. We need both, growth and strength, to fully reach our potential in fitness, so to say there is one magic amount of repetitions is false, as we need to continually work through different repetition patterns to work the muscle through all of its potential. At a certain point though, even with changing the weight and repetitions, we will plateau, and that is when it is time to manipulate the 3rd variable, and now add another set. The more sets we do of a particular exercise, the greater stimulus it provides for adaptation. There is a diminishing effect from adding more sets though, as each set added provides less of a stimulus than the preceding set, so just immediately adding more and more sets is not the right practice to optimize a program. But, slowly adding more volume to our workout is the final key to progressing overloading the muscle. Once we add a 3rd set to the above example, our progression plan would then revert to what was originally stated, which is to take a particular weight and keep trying to do more repetitions at that weight, and when that plateaus, increase the weight gradually while dropping the amount of repetitions to whatever amount you can perform at the new given weight.

Hopefully this can help you to better understand how to improve within the gym, and not fall into the same rabbit hole as many when it comes to continuing to do the same things over and over in the gym without any progression. If you have any further questions regarding progression or how to properly implement progressive overload into a program, feel free to shoot me back an email and I’d be happy to help.

So Many Ways To Get To The Same Goal

I was reminiscing recently about the success stories I have been privileged to be a part of, and something hit me. The process of reaching each of these goals has been vastly different. And I knew that was the case, but I never put two and two together really until now of just how different each person’s journey was, specifically looking at their workout plan and nutrition. There were two keys that guided these differences, the first being what they enjoyed, and the second being something I will cover later. I like to be lenient up front with most people on what they choose to do for exercise, and provide a lot of different options, and it is for this exact reason. Each person needs to find what is right for them, and giving a wide variety of different exercise options a chance helps someone find the path most enjoyable for them.

Let’s go through a bunch of examples of client’s and what they typically did outside of our personal training sessions for their own workouts. (This is what they did in addition to meeting with me anywhere between 1 to 3 times per week)

Client A – Lost 40lbs.: Group classes 3 days a week, specifically Step being her favorite.

Client B – Lost 50lbs.: Wii Dance at home 3-4 days a week, most of the time with her family. Really only came to the gym to train with me, but rocked that Wii Dance every week.

Client C – Lost 70lbs.: Functional Training/High Intensity Personalized Group Training Program 3 days a week.

Client D – Lost 40lbs.: Running almost every day, usually with a group of friends. Competed in marathons and hated weight training, so only did weights with me.

Client E – Lost 30lbs.: Group classes that were offered at work during their lunch break 3-4 days a week.

Client F – Lost 50lbs.: Weight training twice a week on his own, and then would usually do more cardio that I would want him to on the other days of the week, usually plugging away on the elliptical.

Client G – Lost 40lbs.: Would “kind of” weight train on his own, but would mostly just do cardio 2 days a week. Craziest part is this person gained strength and muscle faster than any client I’ve ever trained.

Client H – Lost 30lbs.: Very strict plan of weight training and cardio. The “optimal” approach that most trainers believe their clients should actually do, but rarely works due to sustainability.

Client I – Lost 70lbs.: Skateboarding with friends 7 days a week. Would not come to the gym on his own, so skateboarding was the option we agreed upon at home to keep him active.

Client J – Lost 30lbs.: This was an outlier, as she was a girl who I met with for just a “free session” that came with her membership, and she took that one workout we did and busted her butt on her own. Due to her dedication, I’d usually shoot new workouts her way every couple months to give her something new, and she did that 3 days a week, and then cardio another 1-2 days a week.

Client K – Lost 40lbs.: Cardio on her own 2 days a week, usually on the concept 2 row machine. Usually needed to send texts to remind her, as she was someone who needed consistent accountability.

As for these client’s nutrition, I would have to be a superhuman to remember the things that each of them ate on a daily basis. But I can tell you one thing, and that is not a single client had a food journal that looked alike. Every single person was different with their food selection and what worked for them. Some even ate things that I wasn’t the most fond of, but it worked for them, and who I am to force them to eat things they do not like when they have found something they have gotten results with and enjoy. Some people ate a typical breakfast, some people “drank” breakfast (protein shake). Some people ate leftovers for lunch, some turkey sandwiches, and others microwaveable meals. And for dinner it continued to vary just as much. My point being that there is no fool proof recipe for success, it is all dependent on you as an individual.

But with all these differences, there is one consistent variable among all these clients. I mentioned early there was a second key for success that I would discuss later, and now is the time. That key is consistency. All of these clients found things they enjoyed, and then consistently did them.

These successful clients found a modality of exercise that motivated them to workout and worked within their daily life. If you can pick something that may be a bit consistent from each plan, it was finding a person or group to workout with, whether that be group classes, friends, or family. And that was simply because it is more fun to workout with someone than it is alone. But no matter what it may be, find what you enjoy, and do it.

When it came to nutrition, these clients found foods they enjoyed and stuck with it. If there is one thing with nutrition that all these people did, it was finding foods they liked, and then pretty much eating the same things every day. I have never had a successful client who kept “variety” as a mainstay in their diet. I am not a fan of saying you have to eat the same things everyday, and never told a single one of these clients to do so. But the ones who were successful did, with some very slight variation for maybe 1 or 2 meals a week. They found it easier to stick with similar things instead of trying to find new foods every day. It allowed them to cook in bulk and be prepared, saving a lot of time and headache when it came to finding something to eat.
Without even meaning to, I have basically summed up my article “4 Keys to Fitness Success” in detailing what these clients did to be successful. That article went into detail for the need of consistency, sustainable habits, enjoying the process, and not doing it alone. Those are the 4 keys I picked for a reason, and it is because if I look at the success of my clients and others, it is exactly the things they did and what you can see here. So when looking at your own fitness journey, if you are not seeing the success you desire, let’s reevaluate. If you are not making it to the gym, why not? What can you do differently? Is there a way to exercise at home we can add in as a substitute that may work? Have you tried ALL the group classes to see if there is one you enjoy? Are you planning meals for the week, or just hoping to run across healthy things? If I ask what you are eating for dinner tonight, or tomorrow for lunch, or to how about 3 days from now (someone who is successful will be able to answer all 3 of those)? Make a plan, find consistency and sustainability, stick with it, and the results will come.

4 Keys To Fitness Success

Every year people work hard to change habits, set goals, and create changes within their life, with one of the most prevalent being health and weight loss. The sad truth though is that the vast, vast majority of people never follow through with these newly set goals, often falling off only a month or two into their journey. With weight loss, at least at first, it doesn’t sound too difficult; just start exercising, stop eating junk food, and watch the fat burn off. But it obviously is not that simple, as year after year people fail after never reaching their weight loss goals, let alone even making a dent in them. So after 6 years of seeing this continuous cycle first hand, I feel I have come to a pretty good conclusion on why I continue to see people fail again and again. Way too many people are in search of finding the perfect workout or diet plan that has some magical powers because a celebrity endorses it, or because their friend lost 40lbs. on the “XYZ” diet. Instead, it’s the mentality and psychology behind habit formation that is truly the key to succeeding. Of these 4 keys to success, all of them could honestly be applied to any goal. And that is because the factors that go into forming a habit are fairly universal, and below I hope to be able to outline these factors for how you can finally succeed in your fitness goals by creating a lifestyle that you can actually maintain!

 

Consistency

By a large margin, the absolute most important factor in being able to reach any goal is consistency. That is the exact reason why there are thousands of different workout and nutrition gimmicks out there that have had success, because someone somewhere actually was consistent in following through with the plan. Whether at work, home, or in the gym, if you set out a game plan for what you intend to do in achieving your goals, and then consistently week after week follow through on that, you will be successful, even if it is not the most optimal plan.

One of my favorite stories of all time was passed down to me by one of my college professors, and whether it is a true story is debatable, but either way, it is a great lesson on how to be successful in any endeavor.

“A man approached JP Morgan, held up an envelope, and said, “Sir, in my hand I hold a guaranteed formula for success, which I will gladly sell you for $25,000.” “Sir,” JP Morgan replied, “I do not know what is in the envelope, however if you show me, and I like it, I give you my word as a gentleman that I will pay you what you ask.” The man agreed to the terms, and handed over the envelope. JP Morgan opened it, and extracted a single sheet of paper. He gave it one look, a mere glance, then handed the piece of paper back to the gent. And paid him the agreed-upon $25,000 …

This is what the piece of paper had written on it…..

  1. Every morning, write a list of the things that need to be done that day.
  2. Do them.” (1)

 

Sustainable Habits

So have you have decided consistency may be a big factor? Because it is, but it is also nothing without a sustainable plan set in place. The other large factor that derails the majority of people in achieving their fitness goals is doing things that they feasibly cannot continue to do and be consistent with long term. Whatever you do to get into shape is what you have to keep doing to maintain it, for the most part. The majority of the popular fad diets and exercise routines out there fail for this exact reason. They may be a good option for weight loss, but are they really sustainable long term? Can you really keep going on without eating carbs and how many days in a row can you realistically keep choking down tilapia and broccoli at dinner? The perfect diet and exercise program is the one that you can sustain long term. Just because it worked for your friend does not mean it is right for you. Within your lifestyle, you need to set up sustainable goals for what you can truly achieve. If exercising 5 days a week for 2 hours is not a realistic goal for you, then the truth is that a month or two down the road, you will fall off the bandwagon, because honestly very few could possibly maintain a lifestyle of spending 10 hours a week in the gym. It must be things you enjoy as well. If you hate fish or despise the elliptical machine, then don’t do it! There are plenty of other options that can lead you to the same success; it is just about finding what is right for you!

 

Learn to enjoy the process

As you are reading through this, one thing you will notice is that each point very much ties into the next one, and that is very much true with learning to enjoy the process. As mentioned above, to create sustainable habits, you must enjoy what you are doing. Our minds live off a reward system, and to successfully create a habit, we must go through a continual cycle of  “Cue, Action, Reward” (2). And therein lays another issue with most weight loss plans. People do not actually enjoy or receive any reward from the process; they just desire the final outcome. There is no instant gratification, which is what most desire when it comes to their goals. Instead, most likely a body transformation is going to take months, if not years, so there is very little short term reward. Working out just to look good doesn’t make working out enjoyable, it just makes it a necessity to reach your goal. The key is to find things you enjoy within exercise and nutrition. Many find gratification in the progress they make in their strength, doing things they never thought possible for themselves. Some find events or competitions to work towards, like a 5K or a tough mudder. And others find stress relief from daily life by being able to let their mind relax while plugging away on the treadmill. There are many different ways I have seen people find enjoyment in exercise, but no matter what it may be, it is vital to find what will motivate you. This will help create the many short term rewards your mind desires to stay diligent in your journey.

 

Don’t go at it alone

Whatever it is that may motivate and help you enjoy the process, as that will be highly individualized, there is one overriding aspect that seems to motivate everyone, and that is having a partner or community that is working with you towards your goals. There is a reason that group fitness classes, Crossfit, and personal trainers have become a mainstay in the fitness industry, and that is because they create a sense of community, accountability, and motivation that is impossible to achieve on your own. There are going to be days when you want to give up, you are sluggish, and doubt your ability to really follow through. And that is where friends, workout partners, fitness communities, and personal trainers play a big role in providing that extra kick to keep you going. Think back to your successes in life, whether within work, family, or personal interests. I would be pretty certain that you did not achieve those successes all on your own. You may have played a big role, but you very well likely receive support, encouragement, and help from those surrounding you. This is absolutely essential when it comes to reaching your fitness goals. Finding those that are going to support you every step of the way, pick you up when you are down, and praise you when you succeed is what truly makes the process enjoyable.

If even one of these steps is missing, it creates a gap in your ability to succeed. They work in unison to help create the right mindset and plan to allow you to finally reach your goals. Each key directly ties into the next, so when sitting down to decide your goals, formulate a plan. And not just a plan for what exercises you will do or what you will eat, but really spend time focusing on how you plan to be consistent, build sustainable habits, learn to enjoy the process, and who will be your partner(s) in success. This can be applied to any goal, not just fitness related resolutions, and I hope this will help you break through the plateau and succeed this time in what you hope to achieve. No one has ever reached their goal of losing weight, stuck with it long term, and regretted it. Now it’s your turn to be the success story!

 

1. Kaufman, Josh. “Josh Kaufman.” JP Morgan’s Guaranteed Formula for Success – Josh Kaufman. World Wisdom Ventures LLC, 2 June 2007. Web. 22 Dec. 2016.

2. Duhigg, Charles. The Power of Habit. New York: Random House, 2012. Print.