When it comes to pursuing health and fitness, the difference between those who succeed and those who fail is often a willingness to take bold action.
You may be surprised that the term BOLD does not require super-human powers. I will frame this essay within the context of goals related to food and fitness. I may use my own experience as an illustration, not to be boastful or arrogant, but simply because I can write with some degree of authority about my own results.
Element One – Successful people are: Focused
To achieve a long range goal, one has to look far into the future. If one has packed on forty pounds and can’t walk up the stairs, it is safe to assume that this didn’t happen to that body overnight. It most likely took years. In my case about 25 to 30 years. So to expect to overcome this with a 30-Day challenge is a silly fantasy. It may be a great way to develop some momentum, or optimism, but there is a long road of behavioral modification ahead of you. Be focused, keep your “eyes on the prize”. This is a lifelong commitment to eating and moving properly.
Element Two – Successful people are: Deliberate
If your plan is to lose 25 pounds (and keep it off forever) then you must be purposeful. In the example of food, you must study what foods are healthy and effective for your level of activity. You must consider your age, genetics, family history, etc. You must plan meals. More importantly you must execute on those plans. If you have prepared a weekly menu, purchased the groceries and then left the steaks in the freezer before you left for work, then your plan is useless and you will be likely to gorge on Chinese take-out this evening.
If your plan is to lose an inch off your waistline, by changing your body composition, then you had better commit to getting up early in the morning and exercising. I will admit my bias is towards CrossFit, but any varied regimen that provides resistance training with bodyweight or lifting will benefit you. Sleeping in and wishing you “had time” to exercise doesn’t cut it. Purposeful people do not have any more time than you do, they “make the time.” It is willful. It is a conscious effort to build these priorities into every day. Pay Yourself First!
Element Three – Successful people are: Consistent
Back to my fitness example. If you commit to working out three days a week, and you sleep in Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, what are the odds of you getting up on Thursday, Friday and Saturday? My guess is slim to none. Please note, I am not suggesting that you book every moment into your calendar, but I am suggesting that you develop a habit and live with it, before giving yourself permission to take a day off. You earn your day off by proving yourself to be focused, deliberate and consistent. Remember, you are trying to overcome a lifetime of bad behavior that included too much sedentary activity and too much junky food.
Element Four – Successful people are: Relentless
When you begin moving your body after decades of doing nothing, everything hurts. Bones, joints, muscles and even hair (if you have some) seem to hurt. In addition, you are probably weak. You cannot move your own body weight doing a sit-up or push-up. You can’t squat. Your knees are screaming at you. Your shoulders want to disown you and move to another coach potato’s body. But you must push through. You push through a few weeks of pain, self-consciousness and questioning of your sanity. When you get to the other side, you realize that this is short term pain (which doesn’t really go away, it just adapts to the new you), but it is worth it, because you have already made the commitment to stay focused, deliberate and consistent.
In thirty days, squats, sit-ups and push-ups will be easier, but there will be a newer, tougher challenge for you. Relentless people do not stay in their comfort zone.
It was not that long ago that I faced all these “Day One” challenges myself. I have embraced these four key elements into my daily regimen. Though the desire to change must come from within, it does help immensely to surround yourself with supportive people who will encourage you when you think you cannot do one more lift, or push-up. They won’t let you settle for less, they will help you when you are weak and ready to give up.
One more thing before I wrap this up. Be prepared for setbacks. There are days you will be disgusted with yourself. There will be days when you are discouraged. But the sun will rise tomorrow and you will get to try it again, with a refreshed body, mind and spirit.
Get Defiant! Get Well!