I wanted to do something special for my first post of the year, since the new Wold Fitness Bootcamp facility will be opening in just a few days. When I think back on the hundreds of people I’ve worked with in person, online, and at seminars I’ve helped succeed with fitness, health, and weight loss, I wanted to share some of the secrets of people who’ve transformed their lives the most.
To that end, I’ve made some New Year’s Resolutions for you.
That’s a pretty “in-your-face” thing to do. But this list is some of the easiest things to implement in your life, and it’s made up of the things that separate the people who get there quickly from those who just muddle along and never make any progress.
Any and all of these make great New Year’s Resolutions – so much so that I personally guarantee you results if you do these things and stick to them.
The Only “Improve Your Life” 2011 Resolutions You Need
1. Get Out Of Your House
You can’t improve something you’re not working on.
In the phenomenal book “Outliers”, Malcolm Gladwell shows that anyone who is great at what they do has put in approximately 10,000 hours of ‘practice time.’
Now, he’s talking about elite like Michael Jordan in basketball or the Beatles in music.
You don’t need to be anywhere near 10,000 hours to have a rockin’ body and glowing health – but you do have to practice.
A great mindset shift many of my clients have had is to think of health and fitness as ‘practice time.’ Not only time spent in the gym, but time cooking delicious meals, getting fresh air, and spending time with fit friends all count as ‘practice time.”
How much practice do you need? Generally, more is better. 3-5 hours a week of exercise, and a few hours a week of preparing food is a good starting minimum.
Can you commit to this?
2. Get A Good Group
A workout partner or group motivates you to get out of the house, lets you learn from their successes and failures, raises your mood, and makes losing weight much, much easier.
If your regular friends aren’t a good fitness group, train them! (Or send them to my bootcamp and I’LL train them for you J )
A study from Harvard University found that hanging around with overweight people makes you much more likely to become overweight. Tony Robbins says that your weight will be the average weight of your five closest friends.
While I’m not telling you to ditch your friends, spend more of your time with positive people who are moving towards something, not with negative Nancys or with people who just don’t care.
Here are some of the benefits of a partner or group:
- Peer pressure to do what you said you would
- Having a friend try something with you reduces the anxiety that comes from getting out of your comfort zone
- Exercising with friends is more fun. Good moods are contagious and stick with you.
- Faster improvement. You can watch and learn from your fitness friends (I always get great meal ideas and food strategies from my friends). Plus, friends know you better than anyone – it’s really hard to analyze your own progress and you almost always need someone to help.
If your friends aren’t trainable, find some pre-trained. The best place for this is at bootcamp and at fitness-based social events like highland games, 5ks, and the like.
Seriously, exercise and nutrition alone are far better than nothing, but you’re making it much tougher to learn, much tougher to stick, and much tougher to succeed. Get a good group!
3. Decide What You Want
If you don’t know what you want, if you don’t know how to get it, if you don’t know how to tell when you do get it, then your odds of success are very small.
Don’t just say you want to “lose weight.” The scale sucks for measuring health, fitness, and vitality. Decide you want to fit into size four jeans, or have visible muscles in your stomach.
Don’t say you want to “feel better.” Decide that feeling better means no headaches, no energy/mood swings, and sleeping through the night.
Don’t cop out with “be healthier.” Decide that you’re going to get off blood pressure medication, stop taking ibuprofen throughout the day, and never touch an antacid again.
And don’t just say you want to “look better.” Decide that you’re going to upgrade your wardrobe, change the hairstyle you’ve had since the 90s, lose 4 inches off your waist, and start using moisturizer. Which actually leads us to…
4. Upgrade Your Hair And Wardrobe
Weird advice on a health and fitness website, right?
But I have a theory (stolen from my sister) that people keep the hairstyle from when they thought they looked their best, no matter how it looks on them now.
I see women with the same hair they had in high school in 1985. I see bald guys growing their fringe out long. Hair and identity are wrapped together very tightly.
By changing your hair you signify to yourself that you’re taking charge of your life. Who cares what you looked like in college, you can look great RIGHT NOW!
Seriously, losing fat and toning up is going to totally transform your life. But as I’ve said before, you can make immediate changes in how you look and feel by changing your hair and your wardrobe.
Closet full of baggy black clothes? Get rid of them!
Knowing what you’re doing is the only hard part, since the clothes that will make you look your best are very different than runway “high fashion.”
For your hair, find a good stylist. (My totally awesome client Victoria cuts my hair. The only direction I give her is “Make me look sexy.” Here’s a video of me in her office: Eyebrow Waxing Ouch!)
Women, get Clinton Kelly’s books: Freakin’ Fabulous and Oh No She Didn’t
Guys, it’s highly controversial, but I recommend Brad Ps Fashion Bible (Caution, everything else he’s written is for mature audiences only!)
Getting your hair and clothes handled is crucial, but not time-consuming. You only have to work on your wardrobe once this year – if it looks great tomorrow it will still look great in December!
Oh, one last thing, if you’re joining bootcamp or going on a weight loss diet, don’t wait to start upgrading your look until you’ve lost the weight. Like I said, hair and identity are intertwined. Losing weight and getting in kick-butt shape will be much easier if you look and feel good while you’re doing it.
5. Track Your Progress
It’s fascinating that any measuring will improve your progress.
There are infinite variable you can look at, but the first and simplest is keeping a food journal. Interestingly, people who write down everything they eat and drink – even when they’re not on a diet – lose more weight that people who don’t write anything down.
And if you don’t like writing, here’s a cool trick that’s almost as effective: Use your phone to take a picture of absolutely everything you eat or drink and upload it to an online album.
The next step is measuring your body. Monthly pictures in your underwear will motivate you like nothing else. (Don’t want your spouse to take a picture of you in your underwear? That’s a signal that you should make some changes!)
Scale weight is an ok starting point, too. But scales can also be demotivating if your weight swings up just a little when you’ve been working out super-hard. And a scale won’t tell you if that extra pound is muscle, fat, or just bloating.
It’s much better to take circumference measurements around your hips, waist, thighs, chest, and arms, and to check out your bodyfat percentage.
To get really serious, twice-yearly blood tests will tell you what’s going on with your health.
6. Take Up A New Hobby
What you spend your time on should be things that you’re passionate about. I can’t overemphasize how important this is to your happiness.
It doesn’t even have to be something fitness related – last year I started drawing and I’m still having a blast! This year I’m working on cooking (expect some delicious recipes soon!)
And hey, leave a comment at the bottom of this post, I’d love to hear what your hobbies are!
7. Stay Up To Date
I’ve been a trainer for a long time now, and I’ll be honest with you: It would be a lot easier to keep saying the same stuff I thought I knew back in 2000. But that wouldn’t be good since I’ve learned so much in the last 11 years.
The pendulum swings in what’s popular in the fitness world, but the more people I work with the more I see what really works.
High carb, low fat diets paired with lots of jogging was popular 30 years ago, but it’s failed the test of the real world. The same with machine circuits, step aerobics, “cleansing” diets, and all the other fads.
Fitness has come a long way in even the last 5 years, and any problems that someone has using an old system have probably already been fixed.
At my seminars and on this website I like to share the latest studies to support what works.
The biggest changes I’ve seen lately have got me really excited, they include:
- Research into Paleolithic diets. Switching to paleo eating makes weight loss easy and helps prevent almost every modern disease (diabetes, obesity, alzheimers, heart disease, etc)
- Shifting to training with more “real world” tools like kettlebells, suspension trainers, ValSlides, and especially your own body
- Focusing on raising metabolism rather than burning calories
- Group functional workouts instead of solo aerobics and weight machines
- Fixing body imbalances to make every workout more productive and to get rid of chronic aches and pains
I spend a lot of time and money making sure I’m up to date with what really works. If you want to do the same start reading books and blogs, going to seminars, and investing in information products developed by trainers, nutritionists, and doctors who know how to get results.
8. Take Something Out
It’s much easier to add something in (exercise, supplements) than it is to take something out (processed carbs, negative friends)
I know you don’t have a lot of free time. And to add to your life you need to create time for yourself.
I don’t know exactly what your life is like so I can’t tell you exactly what to do here.
However, a lot of time-wasters, lifestyle-killers, and fat-adders have these things in common: indoors, non-social, can take a lot of time, and sucks all your energy.
TV and computers fit into all four of these.
If that’s how you relax, cool. But give yourself a limit and stick to it. The only TV show I watch is Entourage with my bro John, and other than that maybe a DVD or two per week. I know people who watch more TV than that EVERY DAY!
Here’s a few ideas of things to take out that will leave you with more time for your health and fitness goals:
- Facebook/iPhone games
- Drinking (go out, but not 3 nights a week. Once or twice a month is plenty to have fun)
- Hanging out with people who suck
9. Expand Your Comfort Zone
Do things that push you out of your comfort zone.
Go scuba diving. Ride a roller coaster. Go camping. Sing karaoke. Learn to dance. Do something!
Breaking free of self-imposed limits frees your mind and energy so much that losing weight is just another challenge, not some all-consuming dreadful monster that will take over your life.
Getting out of your comfort zone applies to working out, too.
Push yourself hard. Learn how to use something cool (tire flipping anyone?). See what you can do.
And of course, we all have food comfort zones.
I’m always trying new vegetables and spices, or new ways of cooking. Hey, sometimes things don’t taste the way I wanted them to, I just chalk it up to experience J
10. Ask For Help
I confess – I wasn’t great at this for a long time. (It was too far out of my comfort zone)
Now I’m a help-asking MANIAC. I get people to show me cooking techniques. My trainer friends video exercises for me. I get pointed to all of the right resources.
Guidance gets you to where you want to be.
Most people want to get their body from point A to point B, so they join a gym. But joining a gym doesn’t get them there.
If you wanted to get from one town to another you’d think the solution would be a car, right? But it’s not. It’s actually directions, driving instructions, and a full tank of gas. A car is useless if you don’t know where you’re going.
A gym membership or home workout machine is just the car. To get from point A to point B you need directions, instruction, and fuel.
If you haven’t already, make 2011 the year you ask for help and take control of your life.
So… that’s it. Nothing in here is that hard or unrealistic. 10 simple New Year’s Resolutions that will get you where you want to go.