Editor’s note: This is a guest post from Andrew of Go Healthy Go Fit.
The journey of transforming your body from out of shape to fit as a fiddle is a long one with many twists and turns. It behooves you to focus on the end result at the onset of that journey because you may lose motivation as results come slowly. But if you can’t visualize the possibility of going from one extreme to another, you won’t be able to stay the course.
I know from experience, having gone from being classified as obese at 245 pounds (25% body fat) to now being classified as an athlete at 175 (9.5% body fat).
So how do you stay motivated during the process?
Staying motivated during this process is arguably the most important part of the journey. If you start doubting yourself, you will fall off. So go the other way with it and get yourself pumped up! Here are a couple of tricks that can help you stay motivated:
• Set goals to reach, like being able to do 10 pull ups
• Use your favorite movie quotes to motivate you
• Find a line in a song that sends shivers down your spine when you hear it
• Write down your progress (your weight, body fat percentage, the amount of weight you can lift for a specific exercise) but only compare it on a long timeline
• Pick someone with what you would consider to be an ideal body and aim for that
• Write down the jean size you’re going for
• Create a fitness equation that breaks down, by percentage, what you think it’s going to take to get the job done. Here’s mine (15% Heart, 10% Dedication, 20% Will Power, 5% Luck, 10% Desire, 10% Reflection, 20% Consistency, 10% Humility)
Whatever you chose to motivate yourself, customize it for you and print it up. You can put it around your mirror, computer screen, in a private diary, etc. This is all about what motivates you, so don’t worry about what anyone else would think about your choice or music or movie line, because what they think truly doesn’t matter.
Know Which Whole Foods You Can Stick With
I’m assuming that we all know and accept that eating nutrient dense whole foods, green leafy vegetables for example, is a key factor in weight loss and sound health. But you don’t hear enough people talk about picking the whole foods that you like. In order to consistently eat healthier, you have to enjoy what you are eating.
However, you can’t say that you don’t like vegetables! That one just isn’t in the cards. So if you enjoy Spinach more than Brussels Sprouts, enjoy the Spinach! Look up recipes that you can put your favorite vegetables in. There are tons of great food blogs out there that showcase their healthy recipes.
Know Which Foods To Stay Away From
Everyone has certain foods that seem to do more damage than others when it comes to their fitness. Processed foods, candy bars, jam-packed-with-sugar-Jamba Juices (yeah, I said it) are usually some of the big culprits. So find out what food or foods seem to keep you from losing weight and only have them on the occasional cheat day, if at all.
This list of foods may change as your goals change. If your ideal look is that lean, muscular/toned Hollywood physique, than I will tell you from personal experience that staying away from carbs such as grains, potatoes and pastas may help you out.
Find Your Favorite Exercise And Own It
My buddy Rusty talks about this all the time. In the world of fitness, everyone always says you should switch it up, and it does help your progress. But if you like a classic and effective workout, such as pull ups, as much as I do, keep doing them until you are a pro! You will be proud of yourself for getting good at an exercise that you enjoy. If possible, try and chose a good compound exercise like bench press, pull ups, push ups, dead lifts, etc.
This Is A Lifestyle Change, Not A Diet
This is a whole new life, not a month long excursion into healthy eating and/or fitness. It’s not important if you get it all right off the bat or if you do it gradually, but consistency is where the results reside. Counting calories is not a necessity, but understanding the cost of them is paramount. In your former lifestyle, you ate “X” amount of calories. In this new, healthy lifestyle you will be eating “Y” amount of calories. I had to understand that concept before I saw any gains (or losses for that matter). At least at first, writing down what you eat can help you begin to understand how many calories you should be eating (a.k.a. your caloric deficit).
Same goes for exercising. You’ve got to be consistent. I know Leo talks about this in The Power Of Less, and he’s right on point. Its like the tortoise and the hare, slow and steady wins the race. So figure out how many days a week you can go to the gym and stick with it. Then adjust it as your goals change.
Accepting That Your Life Will Change For The Better
Most think that this is an easy part of the journey, but it’s really hard… and scary for that matter. Change is always hard to deal with and transforming your physical appearance is no different. My whole life, I was always the token fat funny guy. That’s who I was, it was a part of me. During my switch to a healthy lifestyle, I had to come to grips with the fact that I would be received differently by others, which brings me to my next point.
You won’t believe the difference in how people listen to you. Before I lost the weight, people would of course hear what I had to say, but they were much more focused on what they were going to say after I was done. Then I lost the weight and I started to notice that people were much more invested in what I had to say. It’s amazing to think that a person’s appearance can change the way people interact with that person, but it’s true.
Never Stop Seeking Out Good Advice
When it comes to the difference between hearing what people say and actually listening to what they’re saying, it goes both ways. Being able to open your ears and listen to what others have to say will help you for the rest of your life, especially in health and fitness. Three of the main tools currently at my disposal are in direct contradiction to how I used to think. If I had shut myself off to others suggestions, I would never have experienced the benefits of Intermittent Fasting, Paleo eating, and High Intensity Interval Training.
Make It Fun!
The best thing about getting into shape is that it opens doors to fun activities. You’ll get better at sports, feel more comfortable in revealing swimwear, be able to hike up higher mountains, the list goes on as high as your imagination wants it to go. I was so happy the first time I got to the top of Half Dome. I was proud when I did the entire hike in 6 and a half hours. So enjoy yourself, cause it’s going to be lots of fun!
Read more great health and fitness posts from Andrew at his blog, Go Healthy Go Fit.