You’ve decided you want to start to get in shape or getting rippling abs but where do you start? The logical place is the internet. Do a quick Google search for “Get in shape” and now you’re inundated with a million different ways to do it. From people trying to sell you the “latest and greatest” workout video (I’ll save you from the John Basedow picture for now) or the endless streams of articles (this one included).
You end up searching for 20 min only to get frustrated and say “F#ck it! I’m just gonna have a beer instead.”
That’s why I decided to write a series of blog posts to address this issue and to answer at least a good portion of your questions to make exercise a habit in your life and make getting into shape a little easier. I thought about all the pain points or anything that could possibly deter you from starting out. I want to eliminate just about any excuse you could use to keep your ass on the couch.
In order to tackle a large and seeming herculean task of making a new habit, I broke everything up into different categories and different blog posts:
This way we can digest things in little bite size pieces rather than trying to eat the entire turkey at once.
The main thing you need to do is take action! I will lay out a plan for you and all you have to do is to put them into practice. Take the week between posts to work on what I lay out for you. You don’t have to devote a lot of time but 5-10 min a day to really think about what I lay out and your situation.
So buckle up we are going to get in shape people…
CLEARLY DEFINE YOUR GOAL
I want to lose weight.
I want to run a 5k.
I want to see my penis without the use of a mirror.
All legit reasons to make exercise a habit, however there are a few problems. For example, with the “I want to lose weight” goal; How much weight? By when? Are you strictly using bodyweight? If so, what if you put on muscle and lose fat and stay the same weight? Is that a success or a failure?
Those were all questions I came up in the time it took me to type it.
In order to properly define your goal, you need to make them S.M.A.R.T. If you work in a corporate setting you might have heard about this or something similar.
S.M.A.R.T. goals are:
A= Attainable (kind of a gimmie)
T= Time Bound
So a better goal would be, I’d like to lose 20lbs of fat in 6 months. See the difference?
We have specific (lose 20lb of fat), measureable (body fat measurements), attainable (yes, you aren’t asking to grow 3 inches), realistic (losing 20 pounds of fat in 26 weeks is doable. Generally, a healthy weight loss goal is 1% of your weight a week), time bound (6 months).
To me, the most important aspect of this is the time. If you didn’t assign an end date this could drag on for years. It adds a little motivation which is a good thing.
Once you’ve thought what goal you’d like to achieve, write it down and put it somewhere you see it everyday. Write it down and tape it to your fridge, put it into your phone, write it on your forehead if you have to. If it’s out of sight, it’s out of mind.
To give you an example from myself, I have a goal to increase my Twitter followers to 1000 by the end of the year. Since I am horrible with social media, I have an alarm that goes off twice a day so I remember to go onto Twitter. Simple and effective. That’s all we need right now.
TAKE ACTION: Give it 5-10 min and really think about what you want to achieve using the S.M.A.R.T. method. Write it down somewhere that you see or check daily.
FIND YOUR MOTIVATION AND ADD ACCOUNTABILITY
The key, in the beginning, is to maximize your extrinsic motivation. Extrinsic motivation happens when you do something to earn a reward or avoid punishment. Because you are just starting out, exercise is not fun for you right now. You probably have all these negative thoughts about it (admit it, you do) so the intrinsic motivation (you want to do it because you like it) is not there yet.
To remedy this, try placing bets with family or friends. Put your money where your mouth is. Don’t have any friends and you don’t like your family? Don’t worry, there are websites, like DietBet.com were for $25 you have the chance to win some considerable money. Lose weight and win money? There really is no downside.
No money to bet? Make it a competition. Nothing brings out the best in people like good old fashion competition. The ability to shit talk is a powerful motivator.
Another thing I’ve found helpful is Instagram. Take a before pic and post it to Instagram. Tell everyone you are starting to workout and your goal and throw in some hashtags like #fitness or #fitfam so more people will see it. The support will pour in (it really does, especially from people trying to establish their place in the fitness world) and it adds a little motivation to keep you on track.
Not into posting your half naked ass on the interwebs? Just take that before pic and put it somewhere visible. In your room, bathroom mirror, on your fridge. Again, out of sight, out of mind.
All this adds accountability to your cause. The more people know, the more they will ask you about it. When someone asks you about it would you rather say “No I stopped it was too hard” or “It’s going great I’m making that goal my bitch”? I rest my case.
TAKE ACTION: Take 2 seconds and snap a pic of yourself, with your shirt off (ladies you can opt for the sports bra or let the girls fly free) and put it somewhere you see it everyday. If you are feeling a little more ambitious put it on Instagram. Also, talk to your friends and family in the same situation as you and see if they want to go in on a competition, winner take all. If no one is interested go to dietbet.com.
Tell everyone your goal even if they don’t care. The more people you could look stupid in front of, the more motivation for you.
How many times have you said “I don’t have time”? All that tells me is that TV is more important to you than living a healthy life. Talk to me when you have Type 2 diabetes from binge watching every TV show on Netflix.
You need to prioritize your shit. Plain and simple. If getting into shape is important to you, then make time for it. Seem selfish? I see it more of a selfless act. Taking 30-60 min a day to devote to your health will only prolong your life but it will give you a better quality of life.
There are millions of ways to waste time these days. Social media, TV, cat videos on Youtube are all major time sucks. Instead of sitting to look at Facebook, go to the gym and walk on the treadmill and get caught up. Bring a tablet and watch a show while you run. Boom! You can find out what happens on Game of Thrones and get fit.
By using the excuse that you don’t have time that tells me 1) It’s not important to you and 2) your priorities are out of whack.
Now what about social situations. Going out for dinner, having a few drinks are all fun…in moderation and depending on your goal. There is a leniency in each goal you can get away with and still achieve. Someone going for a 6 pack has a shorter leash than someone who is obese and trying to lose 100 lbs. Again, you have to determine which is more important to you? These 3-4 beers or achieving your goal.
The easiest way I found to determine which is more important is to look long term. For me, without question having a 6 pack is more beneficial than alcohol. Who would you rather trust to get fitness information from, a guy with a 6 pack or a guy with a beer belly?
TAKE ACTION: Look at your daily schedule and everything that you do to occupy your time. Now find time sucks and either eliminate, reduce or couple them with exercise. See now you have time!
I HAVE THIS OR I HAVE THAT
We all have limitations. Whether its diseases, physical deformities, or preexisting injuries. Whenever I feel bad about my situation or get frustrated with something that seems impossible to accomplish, I always think someone with less has already accomplished this. Give me any situation and I’ll find someone with less physical or mental ability than you who already accomplished what your trying to do. That right there just blew up every excuse you had.
Let me tell you a story.
I know this gentleman who lost about 95% of the use of his legs when he was 10 from a disease and now he is losing the use of his hands. For the rest of his life he is restricted to a wheelchair and there is nothing he can do about it. He recently just graduated college and goes swimming and horseback riding every weekend. He has every reason to just pack it in a quit but instead he chose to better himself and experience life. He is my inspiration. When I feel down about something not going my way or the fact that my back hurts, I think about him and keep going. I have the highest regard for him and what he accomplishes.
To put things in perspective, there someone always has it worse than you at that particular point in time.
TAKE ACTION: Stop playing the victim. Think about what you use that limits you and think for a second about someone you know or heard about that has accomplished something with less ability than you.
WHICH TO TACKLE FIRST DIETING OR WORKING OUT?
99% of the time diet is the reason you aren’t healthy or in shape, so start with that first. The only situation where that doesn’t apply is if you eat like a bodybuilder all the time and you have no muscle.
You can get healthy and lean by dieting alone. But you can’t get healthy and lean by eating crap and working out.
Instead of working on gaining 2 new habits (eating clean and working out) work on something you have to do (eat) and tweak it. This gradual change will make it easier to make healthy eating a habit. After about 4-6 weeks add in a few workouts during the week.
TAKE ACTION: Start eating healthy today. Protein, veggies, fats and maybe a starch should fill up your plate in that order for at least breakfast, lunch and dinner. Fist full of protein, 2 handfuls of veggies and a palm of fats and starchy carbs (starchy carb not required).
I cannot emphasize the importance of sleep enough. Behind food, sleep is next on the list. Sleeping helps reset your hormones, regulates metabolism and is the limiting factor in the amount of energy you have during the day. If you sleep like crap you feel like crap.
See: SLEEP BETTER
Take Action: Sleep 6-8 hours a night and you’ll notice a big difference in how your body reacts to everything.
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Featured image from the Chicago Tribune