Over the last couple of months I have been keeping an eye on what is going on in the health and fitness industry in relation to the coming spring and summer and how different fitness operators and facilities are attracting new clients.
By far the most common method is to run a “new season, new you challenge” in whatever form that takes. We have even tried it ourselves and are about to start our 4 week challenge. Interestingly the biggest take up has been from current members. I think there is a lesson in that for me and I will give it some thought.
This has got me thinking about all the thousands of people who are about to embark on a challenge which will run for anywhere between 4-12 weeks. How many of them will be successful? Anecdotally, very few in the long term. Many of them may as well take their money and donate it to to a charity where it will be better spent.
You can break success down into three parts.
Short term success – Successfully lose some weight or gain strength/fitness (depending on objective) over the duration of the challenge.
Medium term success – (the most common I think) Be successful on the challenge, be fired up and continue for a while until life gets in the way and then gradually stop. Find yourself back where you started in a while.
Longterm success. Embrace the challenge as an opportunity to change your lifestyle, realise it is only a starting point and work hard and consistently to reach your goals.
So what does it take to ensure long term success besides the obvious improvements to your nutrition and exercise regime?
Rewrite Your Story. We all have personal problems, injuries, emotional baggage, body issues or any number of things. You can’t change these things overnight, accept that. Plan to work around them and do the things you can. Then commit to your plan!
Be an adult. Only you are responsible for what you put into your body. If you want success, put your big girl panties on and stop putting crap in your mouth. Get out of bed and exercise. You won’t see results if you don’t put in the effort. And no, once a week is not enough!
Commit. Do you REALLY want this? Are you going to keep showing up to training when you’re a little tired or are you going to stuff your face with chocolate cake when you’re a little down? Commit to the process and have the discipline to see it through. It’s a lifestyle change, we are not olympic athletes and yes life happens. We don’t need to fall off the wagon completely if we have a bad day, just get back up and continue. You will have good days and bad days, don’t let a bad day derail you completely.
Set your rules. Create some boundaries for yourself. Nothing is absolute and we need a little wiggle room. Sometimes something will work and sometimes it won’t. Find those things that work for you, experiment a little and after a while you will instinctively know how you should be eating and exercising. Just stay within your boundaries and you will avoid the guilt of not following your plan.
Keep it positive. Don’t set “I’m not allowed” rules as this will end badly and more than likely in a feeding frenzy on the kitchen bench. Rather change your language to “I’m going to have a …”
Language and thought is an extremely powerful tool. Talk about “when I” not “if I” and imagine yourself as you want to be. There is a reason elite athletes and soldiers use visualisation techniques – they work!
Don’t overcomplicate things. KISS. Keep it simple stupid. If things are too complicated you wont stick to it no matter how motivated you are at the beginning. Just do things which fit into your life and are easy for you to get done.
If something isn’t working change it. You are the master of your ship. Regardless of what some trainer or guru tells you. If something doesn’t work for you just change it to something that does. It is as much an art as it is a science.
So what is the most important ingredient for training or weight loss success? At the end of the day it all boils down to your mindset. If you want to lose weight, gain strength, be fitter, run a marathon or whatever, you will commit to the process and make it happen. If it’s important enough you will find a way, it’s human nature. Don’t be one of the many who will spend their hard earned on a challenge and then take it nowhere. Use your challenge as the beginning point to reach your health and fitness goals. Develop a laser like focus on achieving long term success, don’t let anything sway you off course until you can stand back and say “I’ve done it”! You will find that when you are in that place it will seem easy to keep yourself there regardless of what life throws at you.