Since the Super Bowl half-time show aired, I’ve been getting questions about Shakira and J-Lo’s abs and buns.
Lots of these questions came with caveats like “I wish I could afford a live-in chef and personal trainer like they can”
Sure, they do have advantages you and I don’t, but there are lots of articles freely available on the internet that go into their daily routines and fitness regimens, and this is a short-list of the common threads posted by my colleague Derek Stanley:
- They both stay active daily and have been dancing for 30+ years.
- They both eat a lot of vegetables and lean protein.
- They both drink a lot of water — and they don’t drink alcohol (even socially).
- They both prioritize sleep despite demanding schedules and having kids.
- They both do a combination of cardio and strength training
- They both minimize sugar consumption.
- They both focus on their mental wellbeing.
So, sure, it’s not fair to compare yourself to them because being rich and having incredible genetics gives them a leg up.
But, at the end of the day, the biggest key to their success is the habits they’ve developed over the years.
In this article, I’m not going to give you J-Lo or Shakira’s workout routine to try to duplicate, because that’d be setting you up for failure.
Instead, we’re going to focus on the foundation of change. That’s where the battle is won and lost, and it has nothing to do with your diet or exercise plan.
Be Kinder To Yourself
First of all, I’m going to tell you something super important.
Move in closer.
OK, it’s just me and you now.
You need to stop being your own worst critic.
Easier said than done, I get that. I have a tendency to be very critical of myself. Far worse than any anonymous internet troll could be.
But, please stop stressing so much about the scale… the pace of change… the desperation to get “there” (wherever there is) and cut yourself some slack.
I’m reading a great book called Love Yourself Like Your Life Depends On It. It’s not about ego or delusional self-belief, but rather understanding the process of change and growth in any area is only possible when you love yourself.
When you don’t love yourself, negative emotions lead to negative outcomes. Most of the time our reality is self-constructed.
We create one, long negative feedback loop on repeat in our head. Your job today is to develop new “loops.” Rewire your subconscious for good through positive belief, and the outcomes you want will become easier to achieve.
I know this is a bit “woo woo” and guru sounding, but hear me out. Imagine a thought loop as a pathway laid down by constant use. Visualize a downtrodden path through the field.
If you have a thought once, it has no power over you. The field looks unchanged, almost like no one walked through it.
But repeat these negative thoughts over and over again and the path becomes so downtrodden that it becomes your reality and controls you.
My old loop on repeat was “I’m an introvert and I can never talk on stage in front of people”
Many years before that it was “I’m destined to be the fat guy forever”
Squashed that a long time ago, too.
But everything is a learnable skill, and you can change any aspect of your life with belief and effort. But it starts between the ears. For better or worse.
Any of the following are negative loops stuck on repeat.
“I know I’ll never be skinny”
“Ugh I hate working out, it’s so hard”
Instead try this:
“I’m on my way to being in better shape because I know I’m worth it”
“I used to hate working out but I found a way to enjoy the process and the benefits of doing it”
Always phrase things in a positive light.
When you look in the mirror each day, do you dissect your imperfections? If you do, even the slight day-to-day changes won’t register for you and you’ll miss the signs of progress.
The funny thing is, when you accept yourself now for where you’re at, the whole process of change becomes easier.
It’s less pushing to see a number on the scale and more naturally doing the things that lead to better health (and a leaner body as a by-product).
Because, let’s face it, the more we desire something, the further out of reach it becomes.
(Think of the needy ex texting you every few minutes…)
So embrace the process, cut yourself some slack and love yourself for who you are. You damn well deserve it.
The Domino Effect
OK, hopefully, you now understand the mental state you need to be in to create lasting change.
Now, you have to follow belief with action, and it starts with small changes.
One workout has zero effect. You intuitively know this. However, working out 150 times in the next year will.
Visualize a line of dominos, where each sequential domino gets progressively larger.
Get a small win today and knock over the first little domino. Maybe that’s a quick walk before work. Opting for a side salad instead of fries. Finding time for the gym.
These are all little dominos, but when you add it all up, they have a major impact on your health.
When you start your weight loss journey, the very first domino knocked over is tiny. When it drops, nothing is felt or heard. You see no change in the mirror.
However, its velocity is enough to knock over the next, slightly larger domino. As the dominos get bigger and fall, suddenly you start hearing and feeling their impact.
You notice your pants are fitting differently. You look and feel younger. That snooze button isn’t getting near the same workout every morning.
The process continues until the last domino tumbles over, a gigantic domino symbolizing your goal— and it started with a tiny, insignificant domino.
It’s the little things that cause the big things, so start by doing something today. And be kind to yourself in the process. It’s truly the magic formula to success. You’ve got this.
Mitch Calvert is a weight loss coach and regular contributor to Men’s Health and Muscle & Fitness, among others. If you’re ready to get direct mentorship from Mitch, his next intake of the Drop 2 Sizes pilot program opens Mar. 3. Send him an email firstname.lastname@example.org with the word “Interested” in the subject line to get more information.