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Note from Mike: Since it is the season of New Years resolutions I wanted to republish this article from my former subscriptions newsletter Strong, Fit, & Healthy. It outlines a 5 part plan for setting and achieving your New Year resolution. While I wrote this several years ago, the key concepts and messages are still valid. I know you will be able to pull some gems out of it to help you become the better version of you that you desire.
Things are going to be different now right? 2010, you’re going to lose those last 10lbs, create a new positive routine, end an old negative habit. While new year resolutions may be cliché and lots of people make fun of them, saying that they are bound to fail so why bother setting them – I think new year resolutions are the most powerful motivation injectors that you will receive this year (second maybe only to your birthday). Why, because as Billy Crystal’s character in City Slickers told Daniel Stern, you get a do-over.
In the opening editorial of last month’s issue of SF&H, I encouraged you to audit your life and figure out what isn’t working. If you remember I shared two things that weren’t working in my life. One of these was my inability to consistently accomplish my professional writing first thing in the morning when most fresh and alert. After identifying this problem my resolution was to get up before my family does and write for 60-90 minutes each day. I’m happy to tell you that I’m writing this article at 5:37am.
So, what isn’t working for you? I had a client once who was in sales and spent a good portion of his day driving around from sales presentation to sales presentation. The problem that he was having was that as a result of all the driving he either ate out or on-the-go in his car, with both options resulting in him consistently making bad food choices. Once we identified this problem we were able to make a specific plan to deal with this road block. All the excellent nutritional advice in the world would not have worked with this client had we not first addressed the primary issue of his unique daily schedule and how to incorporate good foods into it.
If you haven’t already, then sit down to do a quick audit of your life and identify what is not working. Once you have your list, I’ll help you move forward and problem solve three main areas of your life, mindset, diet, and training streamlined so that you can reach your 2010 goals.
When it comes to diet and losing weight (a very popular New Year’s Resolution of course), the mindset that you need to be successful is often overlook and rarely given enough attention (not nearly as much time as you would spend on your diet or training). This is a mistake as your thoughts frame your feelings and inevitably your actions. If you think of yourself as an overweight person that eats fast food and other junk, then in the end you are going to revert back to that behavior as it is continuous with your own mental image of yourself. World famous speaker and author Brian Tracy refers to this phenomenon constantly in his teaching. He encourages people to identify habits of lean people and do those things, make these your habits, imagine of yourself this way, and you will create a lean physique. I call this the principle of inevitable results. You know you will inevitably get your results because you will never stop.
In Your Naked Nutrition Guide (Update: which is no longer in print – sorry) I talk about people in fitness and modeling professions that plan and pack all their meals at the beginning of the week so that as the week goes on all they need to do is pull out that predetermined meal and eat it. This is without a doubt one of the behaviors that allows them to maintain such low body fat percentages. See yourself as that person, or the person you are striving to be, maybe it’s an old picture of yourself much thinner. Research has shown that one strategy of people who successfully lose weight and keep it off, is always having a mental image of what they want to look like to keep them on track and moving toward their goals.
If in your life audit you find that you lose steam on your goals after 2-3 weeks or you find that you are constantly doubting your ability to lose the weight, focus on putting the ‘inevitable results’ principle into action.
Resources for improving mindset : Goals by Brian Tracy and The New Psycho Cybernetics by Maxwell Maltz.
As a reader of this newsletter, hopefully you have a pretty good grasp on your diet. However, you’ll undoubtedly be able to identify 1-2 areas where you are having problems. I would feel comfortable in assuming that if you are having trouble reaching a weight loss, muscle building, or health related goal then nutritional compliance is an issue. Please start tracking how well you are sticking to your plan. On page 11 (in the Key Concepts section), or issue 3 of SF&H, I included a link to a downloadable compliance tracking sheet. If you haven’t already, then download that file, print it out, stick it to your refrigerator, and start tracking. This one habit will probably make a bigger impact on your success than anything else.
The next piece nutritionally is to identify where you are in the Stages of Nutrition. This is important as it will let you know what kind of nutrition plan you need to develop based on your current nutritional habits. I have made my 50 minute Stages of Nutrition presentation available to you as an added members bonus in the Strong, Fit, and Healthy members section.
Regardless of your health goal this year, whether it is to decrease your risk for heart disease, lose 10 lbs, or gain 20 lbs of muscle, exercise needs to be an integral component. Not only will exercise help you burn more calories and build more muscle it will also keep you invested in your plan.
While I don’t have scientific studies to support this, my own experiences and observations have shown me that people adhere to their diets better while involved in an exercise program. I believe that it has to do with supporting your commitment to one goal in several different areas of your life. If you are staying on your diet AND training hard, why would throw your diet out the window on Wednesday night for a medium pizza when you just spent 60 minutes at the gym working to burn calories and fat – the two actions do not jive.
The Metabolic Workout of the Month is a great place to start getting ideas and variety for your workouts (Update: You don’t have access to the metabolic workouts of the month but here is a link that gives you 27 Metabolic Workouts free as part of the 7 Step Weight Loss Program). Most of the workouts in this section can be added to your current training program in place of traditional cardiovascular activity (running, biking, etc). When picking a training program two very inexpensive but very effective options you should look at are ‘Power Training’ by Robert Dos Remedios, ‘The New Rules of Lifting Super Charged’ and ‘The New Rules of Lifting for Women,’ both by Alwyn Cosgrove and Lou Schuler with the later also co-authored by Cassandra Forsythe, and finally ‘The Female Body Breakthrough’ by Rachel Cosgrove. These books are readily available at Amazon.com or Barnes and Nobles and will provide you with top notch training programs to help you reach your health and fitness goals in 2010.
Regardless of what you choose for an exercise program, the one thing that you must vow to do is MOVE MORE. Over the Christmas/New Year’s break when my family traveled back to Vermont, I had the chance to meet up with a previous mentor at the University of Vermont. She has recently lost 25lbs, looks and feels great. In addition to tracking everything she ate, she attributed her weight loss to moving more. She set a goal of taking 10,000 steps everyday. I commented on how that must be really hard if not impossible as her job requires a lot of desk work. She replied that she realized that but had to make it work so she forced her self to take breaks during the day to go on short walks. It is these kinds of actions and commitments that make the difference. Move More this year. Go to the nearest sporting goods store and pick up a pedometer, track your activity levels. While pedometers are not the world’s most accurate devices they will give you a good idea of how much you move each day relative to the previous one. If you need more convincing read the “Key Concepts: NEPA” article at the back of Issue 3.
The one thing left for you to do IT, or as Reebok hashtag states #getafterit. Identify what isn’t working in your life in the areas of your Mental Muscle, Diet, and Exercise programs. Practice the principle of inevitable results. Vow to track your dietary compliance all 52 weeks this years. Find out where you are in the stages of nutrition and build your nutrition plan accordingly. Finally commit to a top quality exercise program and move more everyday.