Now that we’ve covered Procrastination, Self-Doubt, and Willpower, we can apply what we’ve learned to something a little more specific . . . getting in shape. Because in order to get in shape, it requires that we quit procrastinating and start training with confidence and consistency.
This limiting belief is one stubborn bastard – if we don’t honestly believe we can ever get in shape, we will give only a half-assed effort before we soon lose interest and give up. This only reinforces our belief further. Sadly, this is how it plays out for most people. I’ve been there, and my guess is you have too.
What happens is you get all pumped up come New Year’s, and so make your wild resolutions to get in the best damn shape of your life. You hit the gym hard, going 4 days a week, and keep strictly to your diet – no cheating whatsoever . . .
For a few weeks anyway.
Then you start skipping gym sessions, scarffing down the occasional can of Pringles, and soon enough you’re spending your days with ass planted to the sofa, watching reruns of “The Biggest Loser” and wondering why you can never seem to stick with it. You’re completely back to your old ways and February’s not even half over. Just like last year. And every year before that. Fuck.
How did it go so wrong?
I believe there are two main issues at play. First is a misguided choice of diet. I’ve written about this in my article “Your First Step Towards Sustainable Weight Loss.” And I’ll be writing more about real food in the coming weeks.
The second problem is borne of expectations. We’re constantly bombarded with outrageous proclamations:
“Lose 30 pounds in just 21 days!”
“Add 20 pounds of muscle in just 4 weeks!”
“Get chiseled abs in just six minutes a day!”
Claims such as these, while great at generating sales, are poor at bringing results. When people see a best selling fitness book called “The 4-Hour Body,” they infer that there is a quick and easy route to ideal health. Now, I like Tim Ferriss as much as the next guy. And to be fair, I have not read his book so I cannot offer a review of it. But the title alone sets very high expectations.
What happens when something fails to meet our expectations? We move on to the next thing, that’s what. And after years (and for some, a lifetime) of trying and failing to meet such lofty expectations, it’s no wonder so many have developed the limiting belief that they just can’t get in shape. It’s too damn hard.
Well, you know what I say about that. If something challenges us, then that is what we must seek. The only way to fully dismantle this limiting belief is to Just. Prove it. Wrong. So quit fucking around and get this fitness thing under your belt. But be smart about it.
Here’s how . . .
Set Realistic Expectations
I’m going to break it to you. This shit ain’t easy. If you’re anything other that some fresh-faced twenty-something genetic lotto winner, then this is going to be a challenge.
You want the challenge. You want the sweat . . . the pain. You’re ready to fucking do this!
But will you keep that motivation week after week? No. You won’t. That’s nothing against you, it’s just a fact. As I love to say, motivation is fleeting. Use it to get yourself started, but don’t count on it to see you through. For that you’ll have to rely on persistence. Only persistence will get you through those workouts when you just aren’t up for them. Only persistence will bring you results.
Ease Into It
I know you’re all gung-ho and ready to blast some heavy squats before running a half-marathon, but slow down there killa. This is not a race. Results take time – lots of time. More time than you think. Don’t go burning yourself out in the first week. Start slow. Just a few simple exercises, or maybe even just some easy morning walks here and there.
The point isn’t to build the body of your dreams by spring. That’s not going to happen. What you are trying to do is develop a habit. It is through habit that you will begin to see the accumulated results of your daily routine. Habit is powerful, but takes time to develop – don’t rush it
You might have the most insanely hardcore workouts of anyone in your gym . . . pushing yourself to the edge with each session. It doesn’t mean shit, though, if you only show up every other week.
Consistency is absolutely required if you ever hope to have something to show for your efforts. Figure out your schedule and stick to it. When in doubt start small. Just twice a week to begin with. You will get more out of mildly taxing twice-weekly workouts than you will balls-to-the-wall infrequent irregular workouts.
And we’re back to persistence again. Yes, it’s that important. You must develop persistence or you will never see long term sustained results.
Persistence is akin to meditation. It’s something you practice on a daily basis. Something you get better at over time. But don’t be fooled by my new-agey analogy. Persistence is not here to bring you in touch with your inner child. Persistence is brutal. It cares only that you keep going.
Regardless of the pain, regardless of your obligations, regardless of your excuses; you can rely on persistence to see you through.
With persistence, you will finally prove that you can get in shape. And this time, you will get in the best fucking shape of your life.
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