Tuesday, December 27, 2016

A different approach for a successful 2017

With a New Year approaching, we begin a new journey with expectations to accomplish big things in the upcoming year.  What will you do differently in 2017 than you did in 2016 to make for improvement?  Because if nothing changes, well then nothing will change.  And if you want 2017 to be your best year yet, evolving as a person is key to continued improvement.  Let's think outside the box...here are some unique strategies to help you gain personal growth and health in 2017:

  1. Forget the New Year’s resolution. Think goals. If you want something bad enough you will create a game plan to achieve that specific objective. Many people give up on the resolution thing so what’s the point. Write out the things you want in the upcoming year. Ask yourself, “How bad do I want these things?” and “How much work am I willing to put in?” If the desire is strong enough, then move on and create action steps. Once the action steps are formulated, start and be consistent!
  2. Run hard and run motivated. Without work ethic, goals do not get accomplished. Without motivation, you will lose focus and derail from the plan, so my recommendation is to “run fast and do not look back”.  If we become stagnate, we quickly go the wrong direction. Be afraid of mediocrity!  Look for things that internally drive and motivate you, find positive people to be around, and move. Don’t except, “Just another year”. Honestly, that is laziness. You should be a little overwhelmed and spread thin, that means you are pushing yourself to become better. Continued forward progress is the recipe for success in 2017. 
  3. Short term first. I am always advising long-term health as the answer to health and fitness.  In order to create this long-term habit, we must break down our goals into short-term steps first. We can get a bit overwhelmed staring at a challenging goal that seems unreasonable. Instead of looking at the big goal, break it down into smaller, more realistic steps. For example, say you want to lose some weight in 2017. Great! Let’s do it! What are the action steps of this goal?  Break it down to the daily habits that are needed to move you towards achievement.  Drink 72 ounces of water each day, eat a sensible diet, exercise 5 days a week, etc.  Winning each day sets you up to win the week and then win each month.  Big goals are achieved by breaking down larger goals into more manageable steps.  The goal is now more realistic and attainable.  ACTION IS REQUIRED!  
  4. Be a silent assassin. I usually advise telling a close friend or family member your goal to create some accountability for yourself. But forget that! You do not have to tell anyone you are starting an exercise program or looking to run you first half marathon, just start! Action is needed to accomplish your goal so be the person that decides to make it happen. No boasting or bragging is needed. Just plain ol’ hard work and the results will happen. 

I leave you with a powerful quote by Viktor Frankl who was a Holocaust survivor,

"The last of the human freedoms is to choose one's attitudes.” Viktor Frankl

We have ability to control our attitude. Decide to make yours great in 2017!

Peace and Love,

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Getting and staying lean, speaking from experience

This article is definitely not my way to boast about myself.  I am simply talking from experience.  I have been in the fitness industry, in the trenches training and coaching people for over 15 years.  I have worked out myself for over 20 years, following everything from bodybuilding routines to Ironman triathlon training and everything in between.  I have seen many fad routines and systems come and go.  The below points are strictly from my own learning experience.  They are not sexy.  I can’t tell you that they will work for you like they did for me.  What I can tell you, hopefully to inspire you, is that these strategies have helped me stay within the same weight (135-145) for over 15 years.  They have also helped me stay below 10% body fat.  Not only have these strategies helped my body stay lean over the years, but they have guided me to achieving some cool athletic endeavors.  Hopefully you can learn something from seeing what has worked for me. 

(These are not written in order of importance.  Combined together and done consistently as been the key)

1.     I rarely skip breakfast.  Seriously, in the past 10 years, I have probably skipped 2 or 3 breakfasts.  Whether it’s something light to get my day started, a pre-workout snack or a full-fledged veggie scramble, I do my best to not skip this meal.  For me, it’s a performance thing.  If I have an early morning workout, getting in a quick and easily digestible snack makes for a better training session.  If training is not on the docket, it’s about job performance.  My job takes mental energy so getting food in my system first thing in the morning helps me “wake up”.  Most of the time, my breakfast choices are: yogurts, eggs, pancakes (post workouts), fruits/veggies or oatmeal. 
2.     I have eaten a banana 90% of the mornings.  So to run with my first point, with my breakfast, 9 out of 10 mornings, I start with a banana.  Nothing too special here or no real significance.  I think the key is that I have created a healthy habit and that one habit helps me form other healthy habits.  This is key to living a healthy lifestyle.  On the nutritional side, a banana is a healthy carbohydrate that is packed with potassium.  In terms of performance, I need carbohydrates and potassium throughout the day to keep my muscles functioning at a high level. 
3.     When in doubt, I workout.  At home, at the gym, on the road, on vacation, light routines, hard routines, structured routines, hung over, not feeling well, whatever state I may be in, I make sure to workout.  I have followed long term structured training plans aiming for specific athletic goals.  I have also had times when I give myself flexibility to go to the gym and do what I feel like.  I know my goals and what I want to accomplish at any given moment.  Shit, sometimes I need to just sweat because I went out and drank 8 beers the night before.  I really value working out and the positive affects it has on my mental and physical health. 
4.     With that said, 85% of the year, I focus on performance oriented goals.  The past 10 years, I have always had an athletic focused goal.  Triathlon and running are my sports of choice.  I have done everything from Ironman distance triathlons, to 5ks and everything in between.  I have constantly challenged and stretched myself and invested in my athletic career.  This, for me, has been vital in staying lean and healthy.  And not only that, every race completed, every workout finished, the journey is what I am most passionate about and has helped make me the man I am today.  I don’t focus on weight or body fat numbers.  I focus on training and racing goals.  The byproduct of this type of thinking is a lean physique.  I try and teach people to focus on creating this type of mindset.  Make it a goal to perform 10 bodyweight chin-ups or to run a mile in under 7 minutes.  I also bet you will lower your body fat percentage. 
5.     I’m flexible with my nutrition plan.  I’m not a fan of “dieting”.  In fact, I have never been on a diet in my life.  I have always looked at it as a lifestyle habit.  Now with that said, I have played around with specific nutritional protocols to see how my body would respond.  But for the most part, I have followed a pretty sensible healthy food plan that gives me flexibility to eat whatever I want.  What I do, and what I teach, is to manipulate your macronutrient intake according to your goals.  Most of the time, I am eating nutrient dense foods: Lean proteins like chicken, turkey, eggs, red meat and fish; a variety of fruits and vegetables; healthy carbohydrates like potatoes, rice, oatmeal and pastas; and healthy fats like peanut butter, avocados and raw nuts.  I also eat beans and low fat dairy products like milk, cheese and yogurt.  I use bars like cliff bars and powerbars before or after workouts.  I have times throughout the year where I am strict and going for an A- in regards to nutrition.  And I have times (like the Holidays or vacations) where I allow myself to drop to C level nutrition and eat what I want.  Again, most of the time, I am sitting around B+.  You do not have to eat some perfect diet to be lean and healthy.  Find the balance that works for you and be consistent.  Be flexible with your plan. 
6.     I focus on recovery.  Lack of recovery leads to injury, burnout and overtraining.  These three detriments can force me to skip workouts.  If I can’t workout, well there goes point #3.  Results happen with uninterrupted training.  If I am not recovering, my chances of injury dramatically increase. Sleep is the most important here.  Most nights, I try and get 6-8 hours.  I am far from perfect.  With three kids (one being a newborn), some nights I get less, but I make it a priority to at least get that consistent six.  If I know consistent sleep has not been achieved, I adjust my training sessions.  I also add in mobility and flexibility sessions, low intensity work and off days to my schedule to make sure that I am fully recovering. 
7.     I focus on smart training.  I push myself in my workouts.  But my goal is not to overcook my system.  I must find the right amount of stress that is needed in order for me to get the results I am looking for.  This is something that is very difficult to write up in a program.  One of my strongest traits is my workout intuition.  I am very aware of my body and the signs it’s throwing at me.  If I feel lethargic and flat as I begin a workout, I will adjust the training session right there.  I do know the difference of laziness versus mental/physical fatigue.  This intuitive mindset is something I teach the athletes that I train because I think it is very important to express.  “Listen to your body.”

8.     It’s all about consistency.  None of the above strategies work without a consistent approach.  And over the past 20 years, I have been consistent.  I do not aim for some perfect diet or perfect workout regimen.  I am realistic with where I am at in my current state and the goals I want to go after.  I aim for long term sustainability.  That’s how big results happen.  Remember quick fix is BS.  

Friday, December 16, 2016

Success in the New Year starts with your mindset

The New Year is around the corner and if you are looking to have a successful year, I want to encourage you to build and strengthen your mindset.  As a fitness coach, I spend lots of time in the gym helping people work on their physical strength.  But the longer I have been in this industry, the more focused I am on guiding people to improve their self-worth and confidence.  Lacking in these areas will force people to give up on their goals and aspirations.  I am surprised at how many people set limits on themselves and do not believe in their own abilities.  Creating a confident mindset and believing in yourself are such key components to accomplishing your goals.  But just like strengthening your physical body needs exercise, building a strong mindset will take daily work also. 

Here are a few practical mindset conditioning strategies to start with:
·      Start with 5-20 minutes of daily reading.  Topic ideas: Mindset, fitness, nutrition, self-development, inspirational/motivational, autobiographies, sports performance, leadership, spiritual.  Getting your mind right each day by reading positive and inspirational books or articles is key to creating optimism in your life. 
·      Meditate 3-5 times a week for 5-10 minutes.  Simply sit in a quiet place (or listen to calming music), and focus on deep inhales, followed by a pause, then a deep exhale, followed by another pause.  This practice will deflate anxiety and stress and assist in self-awareness.
·      Exercise 3-6 times a week for 30-60 minutes.  This could be as simple as daily walking or as intense as training for an Ironman triathlon.  Know that fitness will tremendously strengthen your mind.  Exercise helps release the brain chemicals dopamine, serotonin and endorphins.  These chemicals activate happiness.  In other words, after a workout, you feel more confident and mentally stronger.  If you are training for a specific event, you do not need to overcook your body.  Find the minimum dosage required to get the result you are looking for.  Overtraining leads you away from your goals.  The key to your fitness goals is to be consistent.  Fitness and exercise does not have to be everything you think about, but you do need to implement it into your life. 
·      Eat a nutrient dense breakfast every morning.  Get a good mix of your important macro-nutrients: protein, fat and carbohydrates.  From there, make healthy decisions most of the day.  Eating a nutrient dense diet supplies the body its vital minerals and vitamins.  The more nutrients you consume, the better you will mentally and physically feel.  Food choices: Eggs, yogurt, any fruit, dark greens and other vegetables, avocado, natural peanut butter, whole grain toast, potatoes and beans.  Limit processed sugars, simple carbohydrates, and fatty foods.

If you want 2017 to be your best year yet, work has to be done.  Daily action needs to be achieved.  And you must be consistent because this is not an overnight success type of thing.  The year will go by fast, so take advantage and attack your goals with a vengeance. 

Monday, November 21, 2016

How to build habits

Ultimately, when striving for some type of goal or objective, it’s the consistent habits and rituals that are built that will move you to achievement.  Many people have this misconception that it “just happens”.  Like you just get in shape.  Or you just become a fast runner.  Or you just build a million dollar business.  Or you just write a New York best seller.  I hate to bust that fairy tale bubble but it doesn’t work that way.  Reaching levels of success, fortune, fitness and performance, business or anything for that matter is determined by the daily habits you have built in your life.  It’s pretty plain and simple.  You are a direct reflection of your daily rituals.  Whether they support your endeavors or not, know that your habits will dictate your movement. 

Let’s chat about strategies to instill new habits into your life…

First, I think the key is to write down two, no more than three new (or former) habits on paper at a time.  For example:

Habit #1: Floss for 30 days straight
Habit #2: Read from a book 10 minutes everyday for 30 days
Habit #3: Every conversation I have, be intent and in the moment; focus on this

These can be things that can guide you to a larger goal or can be more processed oriented goals.  For instance, maybe you want to read a 200 page book in one month.  Well reading 10 minutes each day will add up to 300 minutes in the month.  And since the average person reads 1 page a minute, that’s 10 pages a day and 300 pages in a month.  There’s your goal of reading a 200-page book achieved, and you even started another book.  Many people overwhelm themselves by looking at the end goal and it gets daunting.  My strategy for you is to break down the goal into smaller, more feasible steps.  Be successful in your daily routine, and the big goal will eventually happen.  Vice versa, lack of execution, your goal doesn’t get achieved.

Another example:

Goal: Lose 30 pounds by February 28th
Habit #1: drink 72 ounces of water every day – DO NOT MISS
Habit #2: Meal Prep every Sunday evening
Habit #3: 5 workouts a week

Your outcome-based goal is to lose 30 pounds.  But that doesn’t happen without the daily actions.  Focusing on the process each day, will lead you to your goal and will help you build substantial habits that will stay with you even when your date arrives.  Because, why would you want to lose 30 pounds, not build any habits, only to gain it right back?  That’s not that smart. 

From reading different material, and my own personal experience, I feel it takes somewhere between 30-200 days to instill habits.  This depends on the compliance of the individual and the nature of the habit.  Some things just take more time.  (Example: playing Jingle Bells on the piano versus a piece written by Beethoven)

Once you have built the habit, the hard part is over.  You now have a habit, it’s routine for you to read 10 minutes a day.  It’s natural.  You do not have to think about doing that task as much as you used to.  Good job.  With that said, you cannot lose focus on staying consistent.  If your routine gets mundane, you chance losing specific habits.  I see this in the fitness world all the time.  People get busy, leave town or life changes and the first thing to go is their fitness routine.  In order to really build long lasting habits, you must be consistent and do it no matter what.  That’s how you build it into your lifestyle and it becomes a natural thing to do.  Brushing your teeth is a great example.  Hopefully you do this two times a day.  Odds are you started doing this early in life and from encouragement (and sometimes yelling) from your parents or guardians.  It took years for your parents to tell you to do this.  Then eventually, it became such an instilled (and healthy) habit, that you now do it without thinking about it.  You can form healthy, productive and personal development habits this way also.  You just have to be consistent and accountable.

Just like good habits can lead you to achieving big goals, bad habits can lead you down the wrong path, so be very cautious to what your daily rituals and practices are.  If negative or self-destructing habits are occurring, you need to quickly rearrange and change for the better. 

That’s if want to achieve specific goals and work on yourself.  Totally up to you.  

Peace and Love

Monday, November 14, 2016

Making small changes to see big results

First, let me point out that fitness results are not just in numerical form.  Results can come in the form of confidence, energy, leadership, strength and fitness gains, nutrition awareness, positive thinking and overall life vitality.  If all you look at is the scale to determine your results, you will just be defeated.  Yes, you might be looking for physical change but the mental change is just as important.  Those who continue to strive onward and live a consistently healthy lifestyle will be the ones to really benefit from their fitness program.

Here could be a few reasons you might not be seeing a physical result:
1.     You are eating healthy but your calories might need to be adjusted. MyFitnessPal is a great tool to help you assess your calories.  You might need to adjust your calorie intake to see the change you are looking for.  Consistency is the key component.  What will you do over the next 90 days?  Don’t just look at the next week, be driven over a longer period of time to really see changes. 
2.     Your activity/workouts needs to be adjusted.  Maybe you need more cardio. Maybe you need more strength training.  Maybe you are not recovering properly.  Find the piece to the puzzle that is needed to jump-start your results.  Push yourself in the gym.  Add in extra cardio sessions.  Let's see what you can do!
3.     You are stressed and overwhelmed.  Stress raises your cortisol levels due to excess cortisol secretion during times of physical or psychological stress.  Cortisol stimulates fat and carbohydrate metabolism for fast energy, and stimulates insulin release and maintenance of blood sugar levels.  This disruption of cortisol secretion may promote weight gain.  Add in quiet/meditation time to release tension so you can be less stressed in your everyday life.  Take 5-10 minutes a few times during the week to breathe and relax your muscles and quiet your thoughts.  This activity will recharge your mind, rejuvenate your body and supercharge your energy.
4.     Not giving it time.  Getting results in a fitness program takes time.  Too many people want a quick fix or to see a result in a few weeks.  A few weeks is just the tip of the iceberg.  When you have been dialed in and on track for months, the results will come.  But go back to what I was talking about above, results are not just numerical.  Look for other areas where you might be changing.  I have personally spent years trying to improve my performance and fitness. It's an ongoing process.  My determination leads me to gaining the results I am looking for.  And to me, it's not just about the destination.  As the destination is the icing on the cake, I love the journey.  I love the daily grind of training, eating healthy and the energy it gives me.  The journey is what gives people the self esteem, the vigor to live life and the physical strength to keep on pushing!

Keep striving! Be persistent! Say no to average! Let's make it a great week!

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

If you don't jump, you will never know

Staring down, fear hits you,
You have no clue what to expect.
It seems so risky,
It may be.
Have you done your research?
What are the risks versus rewards?
What are the pros and cons?
Just know, that if you don't jump,
you will never know.
If you don't jump,
no reward can be claimed.
If you don't jump,
you risk mediocrity. 
Jumping and succeeding might be a game changer,
you will want to do it again.
The more you jump,
the more you learn,
the more you expand,
the more you grow.
Along the journey,
you will fail or not succeed,
and land face first.
Get back up, dust yourself off,
learn from your mistakes and keep going.
Just remember, by "jumping", you could change the world!

1.................2................3, GO!

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Finish 2016 on a Health Note

As we hustle into November, the year is slowly creeping to an end.  With that in mind, creating momentum for the upcoming year should be the mindset.  This momentum happens by finishing the year on a strong and positive note.   

Here are a few strategies to help you stay on track with your healthy living plan over the next 2 months:

1.     Challenge yourself up to Thanksgiving.  I encourage you to push yourself over the next four weeks.  Add an extra training session to your routine, clean up your nutrition plan and push your comfort zone.  The weeks leading up to Thanksgiving are a critical time to stay healthy and on your plan.  This sets you up to sustain a healthy lifestyle leading into the winter months. 
2.     Do not miss your workouts.  If you continue to maintain your workout schedule, you will be less likely to gain weight over the next 8 weeks.  The average American will gain 7-10 pounds over the next 2 months.  Lack of activity and consumption of high caloric food is a sure fire way to add pounds.  Don’t let this happen to you.  Simply staying on a consistent workout schedule will aide in sustaining the results you have achieved up to this point.   
3.     Do not wait for “New Year’s Resolution” time.  I am very adamant about this strategy.  Many people wait till the New Year to start their fitness routine.  Why wait?  Get going now.  I see it every New Year.  Many people decide to get on a plan at the beginning of the year only to fall off within weeks of starting.  Do not let this be you.  Start now by adding a couple workouts a week and changing a few nutritional habits.  Then when the New Year rolls around, you have already created sustainable healthy habits. 
4.     Sign up for an event.  Locally, we have the annual Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving, the Tinsel Toy 5k in December and the Resolution Run 5k on January 1st.  Signing up for an event creates motivation and accountability and will get you training consistently so you will be prepared for your event.  Find a group of people and encourage them to train with you.  This will make training and competing in the event a better experience. 
5.     Go back to the 85% rule.  I have talked about this strategy before.  This is a critical time of the year to follow the 85% rule.  Simply put, 85% of your food intake should be healthy choices.  Look at the next 40 times you put food into your mouth; 34 of those meals should be healthy.  That gives you 6 meals where you can indulge on other options.  By following this rule, you will maintain your weight, keep your energy levels high, decrease your chances of getting a cold or the flu and overall keep you healthier. 

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Changing your lifestyle is not a quick fix

Say you burn, on average, 2100 calories everyday.  And let’s say you eat, on average, 2200 calories everyday.  That means you are eating 100 calories over your activity metabolic rate (find out your approximate metabolic rate by going to the link), which is how many calories you will burn throughout the day.  No big deal right?  It’s just 100 calories over.  I agree, it’s not that big of deal, until you have done that consistently for 10 years. 

Let me show you some math:
Let’s say you eat 100 calories over your activity metabolic rate 90% of the year.  That’s 328 days in the year.
100 calories x 328 = 32,800 calories in a year
32,800 calories / 3500 calories (1 pound) = 9.3 pounds
9.3 pounds x 10 years = 93 pounds

Now you may have days over this 10 year span where you burn more calories than you take in or eat right at your average 2100 calories, so you may not just gain 93 pounds in 10 years.  My point is that weight gain does not happen overnight.  It can be a very small climb throughout the years that created the gradual weight gain. 

Have you seen the movie, ‘The Santa Clause’ with Tim Allen?  The part that I am using as a hypothetical example is when Tim Allen (who plays Santa Clause) wakes up one morning and he magically has the belly of Santa Clause and he has gained a tremendous amount of weight overnight.  This does not happen in real life, thank goodness.  (Though, after weekend eating binges, it can definitely feel that way)

Now just like we do not gain weight overnight, we will not lose the weight overnight.  In order to increase your chances of success, you must build a long-term mindset.  Lifestyle change is what you are after, that is if you want to sustain your results.   If the goal is to lose 50 pounds, first ask yourself the question, “How long has this taken me to put on?”  Usually your answer will be a few years. (If you are honest with yourself)  The habits you have ingrained and the lifestyle you now live are in direct result of a consistent way of living.  If you want true change and transformation, the goal would be to slowly move the “lifestyle” dial in the direction of a healthier way of life or a leaner body.   

One of the worse mistakes people make when looking to “get in shape and/or lose weight” is completely overhauling their lifestyle.  They go from sedentary living and eating high calorie processed foods to an extreme workout program and intense low-carb dieting and then they expect quick results.  This is so far from the truth.  What you will be doing with this approach is setting yourself up to fail.  Your internal system will not be happy due to the night and day overhaul.  You will try the diet, sort of follow through, and end up hating your lifestyle.  Then go right back to your old habits. 

Instead of a complete lifestyle overhaul, let’s do this a better way.  Choose 2-3 action steps that are needed to improve your lifestyle.  Then act and be consistent.  I know, not much excitement with this approach but a much better system for you to actually change and attain your goals.  And with this way, you are better off to sustain your new and improved lifestyle. 

Here are a few examples:

·      For the next 30 days, focus on water intake.  Aim for 60-80 ounces of water everyday.   
·      Focus on vegetable and fruit intake.  Aim for 3-5 servings daily. 
·      Exercise.  Aim for 4 days in the week x 30-60 minutes

You are not “going on a diet” or starting some outrageous workout program.  You are going to commit to changing your lifestyle one step at a time.  The only way it happens is to start with the basic fundamentals and build them into habits.  Once you have created the foundation, we then can move on to more complex components.  When in doubt or if you are not sure where to start, begin with the 3 bullet points above.   

True change is a slow and steady process.  The only way you create this change that you are looking for is by consistently following through on specific daily rituals.  Repetition is a needed component to instilling new and improved habits.  You also need to change your way of thinking.  Again, instead of thinking you are “going on a diet”, change that thinking into, “I am going to instill small changes to improve my lifestyle”.  It’s a completely different approach to this thing we call fitness. 

After putting in the years of work to cement the basic fundamentals, when it’s time to step up your performance or find a new level of fitness, you then follow the same system to change.  Find what you need to do on a daily basis, work to make them natural habits and be consistent.  This is the system and process that builds a healthy lifestyle, not just a quick fix program that is not sustainable. 

Friday, August 12, 2016

How will you respond

Perfection is only something in the clouds. 
Striving for it creates a double edge sword. 
Because ambition can be an obsession. 
It can take you to your ultimate dreams and goals. 
It can take you to your best version of yourself. 
But when you allow this obsession to over rule humility and love,
now it becomes a relentless ego. 
When the ego is so relentless that it starts to take control, BOOM! 
Something knocks your world.... And you fall... you fall far and hard. 
How will you respond?

We need to become more humble human beings. 
When Life throws one of those curveballs,
be ready because your humility will be exposed. 
This is the ultimate test,
when you are faced with adversity,
what will you do? 
How will you act? 
What will you change? 
Will you change?
How will you respond?  

Looking at yourself in the mirror...
What do you see? 
Or do you see Love?
Maybe you see a few things.... that's ok.  This is a battle.

Me vs. Me

You vs. You

Who will win?

How will you respond?

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Build the lifestyle to achieve your fitness goals

Building your lifestyle to support your fitness and performance goals is a critical element to achieving success.  Many people view fitness as a quick fix, short-term process.  To me, this is the farthest thing from the truth.  Fitness is a life long journey.  As you may have short-term goals to go after, you must create a long-term mindset.  There must be continued movement after those short term goals.  If you do not think this way, you end up yo-yoing through various quick fix systems, only to end up back where you started. 

I am first going to talk about a few lifestyle strategies that are needed to help with time management, self-awareness and mindset.  These components are just as important when striving for a fitness related goal. 

Time Management: Creating your weekly blueprint is vital to taking control of your time and life.  When you manage time more efficiently, you become responsible for the things you want to achieve.  This should become a weekly task.  Sit down on the weekend and plan the upcoming week.  Add in all of your fixed appointments, your family time and events, any social events, workouts, basically, anything that is a priority.  This sets you up to be successful.  The key is following through, so make sure you do your best to stick to your weekly design.  With that said, allow for some flexibility in your schedule because things will pop up unexpectedly.  For example, say your normal 60-minute workout is not realistic because of a kid’s soccer practice.  Simply adjust, and make the workout 25 minutes.  You can still get in a good sweat in a small time frame.  Something is better than nothing.  The idea is to be flexible with this schedule.  If you want to improve your fitness or run a marathon or lose 40 pounds, managing your time is so important for you to be successful.  Find the system that works for you and complete it every week. 

Self-awareness: I have been talking about this concept more and more because it is so valuable when going after your fitness goals.  Self-awareness is looking deep within yourself and recognizing your true self.  What do you want?  How bad do you want it?  What are your passions?  What are you willing to do?  How do you react?  These are all self-awareness questions.  If you are looking to lose 20 pounds, you must become self-aware and recognize what it’s going to take to achieve that goal.  Then ask these questions, “Am I willing to build the lifestyle necessary to go after the goal?  Am I willing to eat foods that support my goal?  Am I going to be consistent?  What action steps do I need to start?”   If you really want to achieve something, you can do it.  But you must look within yourself first and decide to commit.  Mindfulness meditation is a great practice to improve your self-awareness.  This is an exercise for your mind.  You sit in quiet, maybe listening to calming music, and practice breathing.  Allow your thoughts to come and go, but always get back to your breathing.  Focus on the present moment.  Regular practice of mindfulness meditation will strengthen your self-awareness and rejuvenate your inner energy so you can keep going after your goals. 

Mindset: Your mindset can be your main weapon to achieve any goal your heart desires.  This is if you decide to work on it.  I believe in a growth mindset: a type of mindset that believes we can change, we can gain knowledge, improve our intellect, increase our optimism, get better at a sport, etc.  But just like you must lift weights and workout to gain physical strength, in order to build this powerful mindset, you must implement mental conditioning drills in your program.  One of the best tools I recommend is reading.  Reading is growing.  There are so many books out there that will teach and motivate you to work on your mindset.  When you are consistently inputting positive and supporting words, chances increase that you will build a strong mindset.  Be aware of your thoughts because your thoughts ultimately turn into your actions.  If you can rearrange your thoughts to supportive, positive and encouraging, the mindset will become your weapon to go after your goals. 

Now that your lifestyle and mindset is supporting your endeavors, let’s look at the specifics of setting and achieving certain fitness goals…

First you need a goal.  Without direction, you fly aimlessly and possibly end up in the same place where you started.  This goal does not have to be a concrete, outcome-based goal.  Let me give you some examples…

“I workout to improve my mobility, keep my cardiovascular system strong and to stay energized in my daily life.”

“I workout to maintain the physique that I have.  I love to eat and drink good wine so my workouts allow this sustainability that I am looking for.”

“I workout and eat healthy foods to feel better and look younger.”

“I workout so that I can keep playing adult soccer with my friends.” 

These objectives could still create motivation for you to live a healthy lifestyle.  Many people think they need outcome-based goals but that’s not true.  Outcome based goals are great, if that is what you are shooting for, but they are not for everyone. 

Let’s look at a few examples of outcome-based goals…

“I will lose 20 pounds over the next 20 weeks.”

“I will run my next marathon in sub 3 hours and 45 minutes.”

“I will go from 28% bodyfat to 23%, three months from today.”

Now that you have a direction, what do you do?  Answer: Know expectations.  This is critical.  It takes a reversed engineered game plan to achieve your goal.  There will be things you will need to do everyday to get your desired results.  What will those things be?  This answer varies on the person and their specific goal.  Write out the top three things needed to accomplish your goal.  Do these three things over and over.  Do them everyday.  These daily actions are the fundamentals you need to achieve the success you are in search of. 

I will give you some practical examples…

“I will lose 20 pounds over the next 20 weeks.”
Action #1: I will drink 70-80 ounces of water everyday for 20 weeks.
Action #2: I will workout 4-6 times for 30-60 minutes per week for these 20 weeks.  I need two days of aerobic based exercise (walking, running, cycling, swimming, etc) and 2-3 days of strength and/or interval type training sessions. 
Action #3: Out of 21 meals in a week, 16 of those meals will support my goal of weight loss.  Lower on the carbohydrate side (still needs to be 25% of diet), medium protein, and medium healthy fat. 

“I want to improve my mobility, keep my cardiovascular system strong and to stay energized in my daily life.”
Action #1: I will drink 70-80 ounces of water everyday. 
Action #2: I will commit to this workout schedule for the rest of my life:
·      4 x 10 minute mobility routines (40 minutes/week)
·      3 x 30 minute brisk walk (90 minutes/week)
·      2 x strength training workouts with my trainer (120 minutes/week)
·      1 x 60 minute bike ride (60 minute/week)
            Total: 5.1 hours/week
Action #3: I will eat 3 servings of vegetables and fruits everyday for the rest of my life. 

I want to supply you with some workout strategies as well:
·      When you train, focus on quality movement and good exercise technique.  Don’t just move haphazardly.  Results come when you are controlled and deliberate with your movement in the gym.  Plus, you increase your chances of pain and injury when moving without control.   
·      Listen to your body.  You shouldn’t be in pain when you workout.  If something hurts and affects your movement, stop and find another exercise. 
·      Push something and pull something with your upper body.  Work your legs, both the front side and back side.  And don’t forget to strengthen your core by implementing stability exercises like planks, side planks, hip lifts, birddogs and farmer walks.  Add power drills like medicine ball slams, controlled jumping and sled sprints.  A sample workout could look like this:

Dynamic warm up:
20 jumping jacks
Knee raise pulls x 10/leg
Quad pulls x 10/leg
Straight leg kicks x 10/leg
20 jumping jacks

Power set: 2-3 rounds
Medicine ball overhead slams x 8
Medicine ball chest slams x 8
Controlled squat jump (reset after each jump) x 8

Strength set: 2-5 rounds
Perfect push up x 10
Inverted rows x 10
Goblet squat x 10
Single leg deadlifts x 5/leg
Front plank x 30 seconds
Side plank x 30 seconds/side
Farmer walks x 30 yards

(Google search will show you examples of these exercises)

The game plan has been built and now the execution must begin.  No goal is achieved without action.  Once you start, the key is to be consistent.  If you have a day that strays away from the plan, simply move on, get back on track and keep going.  If you want to achieve your goal, the idea is to stay on course.

If you have any questions regarding anything in this article, please private message me on Facebook. 

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