This past week I was up at my parents in New York for the holidays. As fate would have it, a bunch of friends I hung out with in high school were having a get together and I was invited. I hadn’t seen many of these guys since I enlisted in the Marines, so it was a good time to see them and catch up over a few beers. At one point an old buddy took me aside and told me that he had heard about what I do for a living and asked for some advice on losing some weight and getting in better shape. He had gained quite a bit of weight since the days we were on our HS wrestling team together and a lifetime of construction work gave had given him some injuries and health issues also. We talked for awhile and I got his address to send him a copy of my book, to help get him started. We had a good conversation and while I’m hoping for his success, my long experience tells me otherwise. Not to be negative, but I’ve seen this movie too many times and know how it normally ends.
Now, New Years resolutions aside, there is one main reason people fail to achieve their fitness goals and it’s probably not what you think. It’s not because people are stupid, lazy, weak willed or really aren’t serious. The main reason is that they set themselves up (unconsciously) to fail before they even get started. How? No (real) plan and unrealistic goals. “Lose weight and get in shape” isn’t a goal. “Eat better” isn’t a plan. A plan is what you’re going to do daily. When? Where? With what? How are you going to specifically change your diet? How you are going to measure your progress? You have to think about these things and honestly they aren’t all that complicated, but they do require some thought and must be done if you expect to succeed. This is especially important if you haven’t exercised in a while. With that your plan also has to first be developed around real goals and if your goals aren’t realistic, your plan is dead on arrival.
Now, what do I mean about an unrealistic goal? First off, I will never be one to tell anyone they can’t do something, as over the years I’ve had too many people try to tell me I couldn’t do something. Setting high goals in of itself is not really the issue and I find most people understand that. Fitness goals range widely from person to person in any case. The issue is the unrealistic expectation of how quick people think they can reach a goal, is the real problem. People who have hardly done any serious exercise for years, will often set out with very lofty goals (and expect quick results) for themselves. This is especially true of former athletes and military people, who have fond memories of their glory days as athletes and hard charging young troops, and feel that with just a little effort (and short time) investment and they’ll be right back to that. I get that confidence, trust me. But, I also know from long experience that is not the reality. The fact is this is a very common trap that people set for themselves, the trap of instant results. To be truly successful you have to think long term and give yourself much more time than you probably think you need. Have some patience bro, what’s the rush anyway? I’m sure the vast majority of you reading this don’t have a PFT/PRT in your future. The point is that you do eventually get there and then; stay there. As I always say “Long term results, not short term fixes” is the only successful mindset for maintaining fitness and a healthy weight. It doesn’t matter what your goals are either. It could be to run a marathon, lose 25lbs, hike a mountain, or all of those. They all require a plan that is broken-down into daily effort and evaluation. Legendary football coach: Vince Lombardi said that “Our character is formed by the small choices we make everyday”. Your health and fitness are formed the same way, small everyday efforts made over the long term, a lifetime in fact. Sit down and come up with some real goals and a detailed plan that supports those goals. Give yourself a break on the amount of time you need to get there and then just get to work, one day and one meal at a time. This isn’t as hard as people make it, IF they don’t make it so. My book can help you get started, but in the end it’s up to you. Step #1 is to change your thinking and the rest will follow.
I hope the start of the New Year finds everyone healthy and ready to kick off 2017. Needless to say 2016 was one for the books and 2017 looks to be more of the same. So buckle up your chin straps people and get some!