What’s Your ONE Thing?

//What’s Your ONE Thing?

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

the one thing

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.

That's it.

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

the one thing

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.

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  1. Mike N. October 4, 2016 at 9:20 pm - Reply

    My one thing – Move every day for at least 30 minutes.

    • SteveRoy October 4, 2016 at 10:40 pm - Reply

      That’s a solid idea, Mike

  2. MLF February 3, 2017 at 9:59 am - Reply

    I started doing pushups daily at 14. In the 38 years since I have missed 31 days total (because of stupidity in one form or another, injury and surgery…possibly in that order). I capped them at 110 at some point because of time constraints. It has become something in my mind that I will not skip unless doing them would/could cause permanent injury.

    The effects of only 110 daily pushups is immense. When I have slacked off on every other form of exercise for whatever reason, they pull me back. That few number of pushups is only a thin rope of a life line in terms of fitness. At the same time it is a constantly present rope, both mental and physical. It has surprised me how much cardio those stupid pushups provide…it takes 2 to 4 minutes to do them so it doesn’t seem like it would matter but pushups are a good cardio workout and even that few per day seem to matter.

    I hate them, mainly because I do them at night when I am tired and ready for bed but my disorder won’t allow me to sleep without getting them done. When my wife falls asleep on the couch and then simply gets up and goes to bed I wonder what that would be like; to sleep as soon as I am tired. Yet it is a perverse discipline to maintain this habit (given my personality it’s probably an obsession) and while I hate it I also love it. My brother used to try and make me laugh while I was doing them, or mess me up however he could…so now I never do them around anyone else, even my wife. I have delayed other important and desirable things in order to complete my pushups at bedtime. I suppose that in some way they will always be there, and in life there are very few things that have that kind of reliability. They are within my control by and large, especially at times when little else is (thinking of life with young kids/babies). They provide a physical outlet for energy, anger, stress…whatever you want to label it.

    That’s why I do them. I suggest everyone develop a healthy daily obsession, whether it be a daily walk, limits on eating, pull-ups, jumping rope…whatever. View it as your decision/choice and after you decide to do it that day you’ll feel something akin to the feeling after a workout. Then build on that on any given day. Don’t overload your ‘must do’s’, keep it that one thing but then remind yourself that you do that every day so maybe this day you can handle adding a little more. It’s not really about achieving a goal it’s about self discipline and continuing on and maintaining a stable place no matter what. These are hugely important things in their own right and they will carry over to other areas of life.

    • Steve February 9, 2017 at 5:21 pm - Reply

      Interesting take on this, man and I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone who has done something like this for so long a period. Can I ask what your disorder is?

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