I'll be the first one to admit it; the thought of trying to get lean, fit, and trim after years of doing little to no exercising, is daunting.
The thought of all the hard work and sacrifices that need to be made, stops many guys dead in their tracks even before taking one step on that treadmill.
"It's just too damn hard" they think. Or "it will take too long to see results". Or "I can't do this because (fill in the blank)".
Plus, it's far easier to do nothing, stay fat, and think of all the reasons you can't do it than getting off your ass and doing something about it.
I'm not here to judge you but this is just human nature; most people will settle for the path of least resistance.
But since YOU are different and aren't willing to carry around that spare tire for the next 40 years, you need to do something about it.
But what? Where do you start? It's all so confusing and there are thousands of fitness "experts" all saying different things.
I don't have all the answers but I do know a few things and one of the most important is this...
It's All About Small Steps
When most guys are ready to start training and have committed to losing those love handles and overhanging gut, they think they need to go all-in with everything. Their mental "to-do" list might look something like this:
- Join a gym
- Throw away all bad food in the house
- Get spouse on board with diet changes
- Go shopping for organic and healthy foods
- Buy new gym gear, sneakers, gloves, belts, etc.
- Go to GNC and get some supplements. Maybe some pre-workouts, post workouts, whey protein powders or meal replacements, and some creatine
This list could go on for days and because it may seem like there is SO much involved in getting fit, so few go through with it and actually do the work it takes .
I've been a fitness coach for the last 19 years and can tell you straight up that there are no shortcuts (without drugs) to building a lean, athletic and fit body but it doesn't have to be as hard as you think.
At its very core, losing fat, building lean muscle, having more energy, and becoming healthy isn't all that difficult. It comes down to a few basic principles, making smart choices, being committed and inspired, and sticking to it.
And the foundation on which all of that is laid is taking small steps every single day towards a larger goal.
If you can do ONE thing every day that will get you closer to your goal, you will succeed.
This is actually a principle made popular by the best selling book by Gary Keller, The ONE Thing. I own it and have read it several times and it makes perfect sense.
And his main point comes down to one thing. Asking yourself this question every day: What's the ONE thing I can do such that by doing it, everything else will be easier or unnecessary?
Think about that for a moment. What if you could do one thing every day that made all your other fat loss efforts easier? It could be as simple as drinking 8 more ounces of water that day. It could be running up and down that hill for 10 minutes.
Think big with your long-term goal and then think small every day when it comes time to take action.
Vince Lombardi said "Success demands singleness of purpose" and it's a great point. Focus on the most important thing and keep that focus narrow.
Your To-Do List Is Bullshit
When your goal is getting fit (or really anything else), to-do lists are pretty useless. Those tend to be filled with all the things you "could" do and the only important thing is what you "should" do.
We all know that putting off the most difficult things or the things we don't want to do is how most of us live. But the thing that will separate you from those who fail is taking on those things first.
For example, when I was freelance writing a few years ago, I took jobs that paid me well but that I had little or no interest in.
Like having to write 1,000 words on the importance of lawn care or editing a book about homeowners insurance. I just didn't care about it and my first thought was always to put it off until I worked on stuff that I actually wanted to do.
But I didn't. Why? Because when I did, I rarely got around to doing the work I didn't want to.
And the same goes for anything in your life, fitness included.
So here's what you're going to do (this is not a to-do list):
- Stop making "to-do" lists
- Start making daily "must do" lists
That's it. Every day, write out 3-4 things you MUST do that day and then choose the ONE that answers the question "What's the ONE thing I can do such that by doing it, everything else will be easier or unnecessary"?
Habits Get Easier
Now this may sound all well and good but you and I know it takes time to develop good habits and get rid of the bad ones. And your habits will make or break you, this I promise.
In his book, Gary Keller says it takes an average of 66 days to form a new habit and that's probably as good a number as any.
Remember, success is built sequentially. It takes time and it takes work, but if you do it in small steps, it's very manageable and before long, you've got yourself a new habit.
Trying to do too much all at once is a very quick way to failure. This is why I break down goals into small chunks for new clients, especially those new to fitness. Telling someone they have to start training 4 days a week, completely change their diet, and give up all the things they love, doesn't work.
And if it does, it doesn't last long.
Instead, it might be as simple as replacing their daily Coke with water. Then it might be going out to lunch one less time per week. Then it might be driving past Wendy's without stopping on Thursday nights.
These all add up and will lead to BIG changes over time. But you have to give it time.
And remember, once you've formed a new habit, it takes less discipline to maintain it and won't be the struggle you probably imagine it will be.
For example, you might be addicted to soda like I was for so long and figure that if you cut it out, you'll go crazy. And you might for a short while and you'll want to kill someone for a sip of Mountain Dew once in a while, but after you've dumped the soda habit, it will not require much willpower to say no.
But you have to get there first.
I believe in each one of you and have no doubt that your healthiest life is waiting out there for you. Coaching dads is what I do and I've been fortunate enough to be a part of hundreds of massive transformations over the years.
And I know you can do it too.
So let's put away the to-do list and start working on that ONE thing.