How to get Fit – Start your journey now!
If you have 30 seconds, read the summary.
If you have 15 minutes, read the entire post.
- Training is more than just a physical pursuit, more often than not it becomes a journey of self-discovery and personal development
- Setting the right goals will put you in the right mental state and prepare you for long term success
- Take action. It is better to start the process before getting trapped in paralysis by analysis
Part 1 – Training is more than just a physical pursuit
“I don’t believe people are looking for the meaning of life as much as they are looking for the experience of being alive.” – Joseph Campbell
For me personally, I derive this experience from self-improvement and personal development. There is something about chasing your goals that makes it incredibly addicting. It seems that this is quite common among other people. Humans are after all, the only species that continue to evolve and progress as time goes on. As humans, we tend to dislike doing the same things all year round as we get bored. We hate to stagnate, stay in the same job etc. We seem to crave change and new experiences which excite us. These new experience usually come from external sources around you, people try to escape their everyday live by travelling to another country, going to the beach, buying themselves a new house.
One thing we often overlook is that there is the opportunity to encounter completely new experiences by going within.
Exercise/training is one of the many tools we have at our disposals on our journey of self-discovery. The pursuit of your physical training goals will not only help you grow as an individual, but also forge your character and build qualities such as discipline and dedication. As you continue training, you will constantly improve in one way or another such that you are essentially never the same person that you are from one year to the next.
There are obvious benefits to training such as the physical and psychological changes to your body’s performance. Through our training, we toughen ourselves and our bodies are better equipped to ward off sickness and injuries. Further to this, the physical adaptations often give us a sense of pride, confidence and victory. The above benefits alone, should be reason enough to start your fitness journey now. However, I can guarantee you that if you stick around for the long haul, your training will manifest itself into your everyday life and you will taste something a little more profound – reward.
As you continue on your journey, you will find that the training obstacles themselves can become a metaphor for challenges that you face in your everyday life. Training becomes a symbol for overcoming adversity, confronting it head on through the hard earned reps, the blood sweat and tears. When we are under the bar, when we somehow manage to push through despite our mind and body screaming for release teaches us to conquer the challenges before us. With every victory in the gym, with every physical goal achieved, we are reinforcing the connection between hard honest work and success.
Achieving these small wins build confidence and gives us another perspective on life – to break down problems and engage them one tiny step at a time. Challenges outside of the gym feel less daunting. Training is essentially, the act of purposely breaking down muscle through an external stimuli, and with enough time to recover, the muscles repair themselves to become stronger than they were previously. I think this is a beautiful analogy for the challenges we face in our lives, each one (although temporarily putting us down) help us to grow and become stronger than we were previously.
This is the platform we will use for our personal development – setting goals, attaining those goals and continuing to thrive and stay hungry for success. If you aren’t already training, I strongly urge you to begin, most of us are just average Joe’s and Jane’s, we may never become elite powerlifters/bodybuilders/athletes, but that should not stop us from striving to become the best version of ourselves. People often say “just be yourself”, I personally think we can do one better and aim to be “the best version of yourself”.
Part 2 – Setting the right Goals
I first want to talk about the importance of setting goals, we all know that goal setting is important to some extent because it tends to be repeatedly drilled into us in school and probably in almost every motivational talk we have heard. I understand that it has become a little overused or even cliche if you like. However, I think ideas and expressions only become cliches BECAUSE they are 100% true.
- Setting goals gives us a target to strive towards, to direct our energy and efforts in a purposeful manner
- Goals help to keep us accountable and cut the excuses. I.e. if your goal is to run 1 km every day and you haven’t done it. Then, I think there is beyond reasonable doubt to believe that you have NOT achieved your goals. Simple as that
- By writing down our goals and achieving them overtime we are ingraining and reinforcing the learning process
Setting the clear direction or your “long term goal” is quite important in my opinion. This is key to succeeding in your fitness career without it taking away from the other aspects of your life. At the end of the day you want your fitness goals to compliment and further your life rather than take away from it. For example, if your long term goal is to lose weight. That’s a great goal to have, but can you honestly say that this goal of losing weight is more important than your family and friends? I hope you answered “No of course not!” Well that means you will probably go to your friend’s birthday party, eat all the cake and drink all the alcohol right? Because if you say “no”, your actions may be interpreted as considering losing weight more important than your family.
Well it really doesn’t have to be one or the other. There is always a third option and having the right long term goals from the start gives us a better idea of what that might be. The first step is communication and ensuring that your family is there to support you and your goals. But what should your goal be? What are you trying to achieve? In my opinion it’s important to ensure that your long term goal includes your family. In the losing weight example, instead of specifically “losing weight/looking good naked” your goal might change to something like “I want to show my family that I can be disciplined and can exert self-control. I want them to be able to rely on me and know that I am a man of my word” or “I want to show my family that I am mature enough to delay gratification and am able to shift my focus from my rights to my responsibilities or rather shift my focus from what I like to do to what I am supposed to do”.
These qualities are exactly what you need to “lose weight/look good naked” – discipline to train/exercise, control over what food you eat and holding yourself accountable to your promises etc. Isn’t this much better than having a goal like “I want to have abs and pull girls”. I think these goals lack substance and don’t get into “your why” which is probably why so many people end up falling off the bandwagon.
The fact of the matter is, we all change over time. As we undergo change, the things we loved to have at one stage in our life, may be different at another stage at our life. For example, I wanted to become an actor when I was a kid. I am now a management consultant and have no aspirations to become an actor. It’s not because I gave up on my dream, or that the role of an actor has changed, but it’s because I changed. If you want to stick around for a long time, you need to evaluate your fitness goals in such a way that, they will still be relevant for your future self. I personally think if you revise your fitness goals in the right manner, they will always be relevant to you.
Another reason I personally don’t like goals like “I want to lose weight” is because this encourages alternative routes which may not cultivate the best mindset. The bottom line is this – if your goal is to lose weight, why should you work harder? You should be working smarter! So pick up the phone, call 1300 AB BLASTER and get your dream body in just 10 minutes a day! You will lose up to 20kg per month! In today’s society, no one has the time, every wants instant gratification without putting in the hard yards – everyone wants that dream body, but does not want to exercise, everyone wants to be paid millions but does not want to work the hours. Or as Ronnie Coleman put it “Everybody wants to be a bodybuilder, but don’t nobody wanna lift no heavy ass weight.”
Teaching yourself to be disciplined is in my opinion one of the greatest benefits of physical training that cannot be ‘bought’ off the shelf so to say. Zig Ziglar put it in such a nice way. I cannot find the exact quote so please correct me if I am wrong, but the message to take away is:
“Life is tough, but I also feel that if you are tough on yourself, that life can be tremendously rewarding. When you discipline yourself to do the things you need to do when you need to do them, the day is going to come when you get to do the things you want to do, when you want to do them.”
Note: This should not be your ONLY goal. It is your overarching long term goal, once you have got that down, you can work backwards to see what you need to do in order to achieve them. This will then be broken down into yearly and monthly goals (you could even do weekly and daily goals which I do for my personal development/financial goals/etc. but that is a little off-topic).
Part 3 – Take Action!
“You don’t have to be great to start, but you need to start to be great” – Zig Ziglar
I think the headline says it all, if you get one thing from this post, it’s probably that. Too many times we don’t take the first step. This is again, one of those concepts that has been beaten to death. You want to start lifting weights? Great. You are really motivated? Great. Now if you spend 3 weeks researching what the best program is and learning about the most ‘optimal’ way to train and diet, chances are you may never end up starting. This is what’s known as paralysis by analysis. The other possibility is that you decide to start “next week” or “next month”. As far as I know, there is no definition that your first day of diet/exercise needs to start on the first day of the week, or the first month of the year and so on. Why not start on the 5th day of the week? If it brings you some sort of long term benefit at this very moment, why not start now?
If you have been a couch potato all your life and you don’t know where to begin (as far as lifting weights is concerned) that’s fine. But this is not an excuse to not take action. The fact is, you might not know the best way, but going back to your goals, you already know at least ONE thing that you can do RIGHT NOW that will have a long term beneficial impact on your health. You might not have to lift weights straight away, but you can still go for a daily walk. You don’ have to go on the perfect diet straight away, but you can start drinking more water.
These small wins will build your confidence and are what will have a domino effect on the other habits you are hoping to develop (in our case personal development in the form of diet and exercise). This is what Charles Duhigg describes as “keystone habits”. More often than not, you don’t have to drastically change your whole life, you just need to change a few keystone habits which will have a ripple effect on your outcomes.
This is why habits like making your bed in the morning has been associated with increased productivity, a better sense of well being and better budgeting skills. There may not be a direct cause and effect relationship, but it’s a small win that starts your day with a good mood, which in turn helps to set you up to succeed for the rest of the day. There are many other keystone habits which will not only have a profound effect on your life (eliminate negative self-talk, eliminate complaining, start saving money etc.) but are also something that you can start RIGHT NOW. These are a little out of scope for our purposes but I do encourage you to read more about them in your own time.
Please note that all advice mentioned in this article requires consideration of the context. I personally think that if you are currently not training, you should start right now rather than waiting to find the perfect information or the perfect time. However, once you have developed this habit, it is important to have a ‘strategy’ rather than just jumping into the fire and hoping for the best. I think it’s important to have a plan if you want to succeed in the long run (even if that plan changes over time) and I will be sharing information with you in upcoming posts to hopefully help you formulate your own.