A few days ago, I came downstairs, and Quinn was struggling to pull herself up on the coffee table (don’t worry, it’s padded).
She’s a cautious baby, not unlike myself at that age, contemplating her next move.
So I held back to see if she’d make it up on her own.
With a bit more trepidation, she did it, quickly turning around with a big grin.
You have to stand before you can walk.
And there’s a lesson here for you.
I tried to remember how I felt the first time I entered the gym.
I used to think they were talking about me every time I saw someone laugh.
“Do you see that guy?” somebody chuckled.
The others around him laughed…
At least that was the reality I had built in my head. And knowing many of my clients are in that spot is a good reminder for me to never forget.
I didn’t know what I was doing then, but I carried on in spite of that discomfort – just like a baby trying to stand for the first time.
When you keep trying and don’t give up, you’ll eventually be “good” or even “great” at it – whatever “it” is.
When I first hit the gym, I decided I was going to give it a consistent effort for a year (not 30 days like many view fitness).
Because let’s face it… it’s easy to get motivated at first.
It’s easy to get motivated to lose 20 lbs because you know the weight is holding you back
It’s easy to get interested in your relationship during the ‘honeymoon phase’
It’s easy to stick to a diet for a week or two…
It’s easy, until it gets hard.
It’s another thing to be consistent.
Great quote brought forward by my mentor Linh Trin above.
Without context, you may not bat an eye at this (Oh, no, not another Instagram #MondayMotivation post, right?), but how true it is.
Everyone can get started.
Action is great. That’s a good first step.
But it’s repeated action – almost on autopilot – that leads to big wins.
If your diet attempts have always taken the same approach, and have always failed before long, you’ll never succeed.
You need a pattern interrupt that stops the endless circle of failures.
So what are you going to do the next time you try to make a change in your life?
Let’s stick with dieting because it’s what I coach…
A) Pick one thing you can do (eat better, go for a walk, commit to a body weight workout) with the least resistance and focus on that?
B) Overhaul your life and force yourself to do everything you need to do until it becomes a habit? (ie: you set your calendar to hit the gym X days per week, and make it happen despite all the resistance in your head)
C) Get some accountability from an outside source (coach or training partner) to guide your actions?
Use some of these tips to help you decide and push forward.
Tip 1: Find Something To Lose
There needs to be something at stake, something to lose if you don’t follow through.
This strategy is outlined in The Blackmail Diet, an obscure book by John Bear.
The author battles obesity and comes up with a plan: he signs a contract with a lawyer and puts $5,000 in escrow.
The contract stated that if in a year’s time he doesn’t lose 70 pounds, the lawyer must give all the money to the American Nazi Party.
As expected, a year later he had lost the 70 pounds.
Bottom Line: The harder it is to quit, the easier it is to succeed. Put something at risk to keep you going when the going gets tough.
Tip 2: Count Your Wins Along The Way
Counting wins changes lives.
It helps change your perspective.
What’s a win, much like Quinn’s efforts to stand on her own?
A workout when every ounce of you wanted to skip it.
A quality, nutritious meal when you just wanted to hit the drive-thru.
Stop “saving the celebration” for that far off goal and be happy with your progress along the way.
Small wins add up to big victories.
Bottom Line: Play small and win big. One lb a week is four lbs a month, 12 lbs in three months. 12 lbs will make a big difference in your appearance, right? You get the picture.
Tip 3: Start Small
Achieving small habitual changes help you believe that change is possible, starting a cascade of positive changes as you go.
As I’ve heard Will Smith say, don’t start out saying “I’m going to build this great, big wall today”
Instead, focus on laying one brick as perfectly as one can be laid today, and another brick tomorrow.
My internet pen pal, Joey Percia, known for having the whitest teeth in New York, wrote a blog post on this very subject, referencing something known as the flossing method.
What the hell does flossing have to do with weight loss?
Joey says that every night when you brush your teeth, put the floss by your toothbrush and commit to flossing one tooth. That’s it, just one tooth.
You can floss them all if you want, but if you floss that one tooth you win.
The same super simple habits can kick-start your weight loss, simply by committing to walk to the end of your block every single day, rain, sleet, snow…
Just get to the end of the block.
Ideally, the work expands as you go and you go longer and longer, but some days just make it to the end of the block and you’ve accomplished your goal.
When people reach a low point in their lives, like facing a massive weight loss goal, they often decide to drastically change their life over night.
For example, you might jump on some fad diet and resolve to cut out all sugars and never cheat.
That’s a big change and is setting you up for failure.
Bottom Line: Focus on just one new habit at a time, and they’ll become second nature. Start with just 10 minutes of exercise each day and only progress up from there when 10 minutes is a part of your daily routine.
Tip 4: Plan For Obstacles
You need a plan.
Once you know your triggers, set out a plan to deal with them slowly but surely. Set up scenarios to help blow past potential obstacles by establishing good habits.
Maybe you always prep your meals on Sunday afternoons.
Maybe you always start the day with a smoothie.
Maybe you work out at the same day and time each week.
Here’s an easy tip you can start with.
Have a little calendar reminder that beeps on your phone on the days you plan to work out:
Or on Sundays:
******Prep that chicken, lazy ass******
And you’ll have extra accountability from the device you hold closest to your vest every day. Let’s face it, that phone is always in your palm.
Bottom Line: Of course, setbacks and the odd missed workout are a part of the journey, though. Relax, dust yourself off and get back on the horse. It’s the big picture that matters. One day of bad eating doesn’t derail your weight loss. Remember that and you’ll be less likely to quit at the first sign of trouble.
Tip 5: Remove Temptations
The toddler is still in there, with its impulsiveness and short attention span. You used to be rewarded as a kid with candy and sweets (or comforted with the same when you hurt yourself or felt sad). That’s a tough habit to break, but with some “systems” you can help matters.
- Remove sources of temptation from sight. I read a blog that reinforced this: When you’re dieting, openly displayed jars of Nutella and pizza delivery flyers are bad. One study showed a serious reduction in candy consumption at the office when it was hidden in a drawer. Out of sight, out of mind.
- Place constructive reminders in your environment instead. A picture of yourself in underwear on the fridge? Or have your gym bag placed by the back door the night before you leave in the morning, so you have no choice but to grab it on the way out? Put on your gym clothes as soon as you get home if you have a workout scheduled that night. Write down your BIG goal on the fridge to keep it front of mind when you consider reaching for that ice cream. Invest in a program with your time and money and you can bet you’ll put more effort into it. Etc.
Bottom Line: Remove your triggers from plain sight and make your environment work for you, not against you.