Are you struggling to achieve your fitness goals? If so, you're not alone. Millions of people each year set out to get in shape, but only a fraction of them are successful. Why is it so hard to achieve our fitness goals?
In many cases, it's because people don't have a clear plan of action. They don't know what they need to do or where to start. If you want to achieve your fitness goals, you need a comprehensive plan that covers everything from diet, exercise, recovery, and sleep to motivation and goal setting. That's why I've put together this guide to help you get in shape. Follow these steps, and you'll be drastically increase the chances of hitting fitness goals.
In this article, I cover an 8-step guide to achieving your fitness goals. This guide includes choosing the right diet, exercise, setting goals, leveraging habits, motivation, a schedule, consistency and rewards.
1. Choose A Diet That Suits Your Needs
The first step to achieving your fitness goals is to choose a diet that suits your needs. There are many different diets out there, so it's important to find one that fits your lifestyle and preferences. There is no one size fits all. Especially be aware of the fad diets or any other popular new ideas promoted by Instagram “gurus”.
If you're a vegetarian or have food allergies, for example, you'll need to find a diet that accommodates those needs. Many people who want to get shredded opt for a keto diet. But it is not magic. In fact, there is no magic diet. You will have to put in the work and discipline. If you want to learn more, you can, for example, visit www.drberg.com and see the benefits of such a diet. Keto essentially means that you'll be eating mostly fats and proteins, with very few carbs. This can help you lose weight quickly, but it's not for everyone. There are other diets out there that may be more suitable for you. Here are some of them:
- The Atkins Diet: This diet is similar to the keto diet in that it involves eating mostly fats and proteins. However, you'll be able to eat more carbs than on a keto diet.
- The South Beach Diet: This diet is all about eating healthy foods and reducing your intake of bad fats and sugars.
- The Mediterranean Diet: This diet focuses on eating healthy fats, proteins, and carbs. It's based on the traditional diet of countries like Greece and Italy.
- The Paleo Diet: This diet is based on the eating habits of our hunter-gatherer ancestors. It involves eating mostly meats, veggies, and fruits.
2. Create A Workout Plan
Once you've chosen a diet, it's time to create a workout plan. This will be different for everyone, as it depends on your fitness level and goals. If you're just starting, you'll need to find a beginner's workout routine. There are plenty of these available online, in fitness magazines, or on Youtube. But choose carefully. There is also a lot of crap available.
Once you've mastered the basics, you can move on to more advanced routines involving heavier weights for strength training, or technically more challenging exercises. If you're short on time, you can also look into HIIT (high-intensity interval training) workouts. These are designed to get your heart rate up and help you burn fat quickly.
Find A Workout Partner
Working out with a partner can help you stay motivated and on track. It's also more fun than working out alone. If you don't have any friends who are interested in getting in shape, there are plenty of other options. You can join a sports team or a fitness class, for example.
Find A Coach or Personal Trainer
Hiring a coach or personal trainer may be more costly but it’s a very effective way to reach your goals. They have the experience and they know what works and what does not. Good coaches also do not just impose a standard routine on you but first go through a detailed assessment of you and your situation and then provide you with a customer program.
3. Set Concrete Goals
It's important to set the right but also realistic goals when trying to get in shape. Otherwise, you'll likely become discouraged and give up. Start by setting small goals that you can realistically achieve. For example, if you're currently overweight, your first goal might be to lose some kilos/pounds. Once you've achieved that, you can set a new goal, such as losing becoming more toned, stronger, more agile, or better in your favorite sport. Make sure to have a structured way to write down and manage your goals so that you can track your progress.
Pro tip: Goals are typically not enough. You also need strong systems. I wrote more about this in my article Goals are for Losers: How to Use System Thinking to Improve Fitness.
4. Get Rid Of Bad Habits
If you want to get in shape, you need to get rid of bad habits that might be holding you back. This includes things like smoking, drinking, and eating junk food. These habits will not only make it harder for you to reach your fitness goals but can also hurt your health. As we all know this is tough. But the good news is that research shows that good habits can be formed and then followed sustainably.
If you're having trouble breaking these habits, there are plenty of resources available to help you, such as support groups (like the Live better, not perfect community that I mentioned above), articles, online courses, and books. One of my favorites and very comprehensive book is Atomic Habits by James Clear.
How Alcohol Affects Your Fitness Goals
Alcohol is a common culprit when it comes to derailing fitness goals. It's easy to drink more than you intended when you're out with friends or at a party. And the next thing you know, you've consumed hundreds of empty calories. Alcohol can also lead to poor decision-making, such as eating junk food or skipping a workout. Moreover, alcohol is simply poison for the body. If you want to get in shape, it's important to be aware of how alcohol affects your body and your goals.
I know it’s hard. But try to reduce it or ideally eliminate it completely if possible.
The Negative Effects Of Nicotine On Your Workouts
Nicotine is a highly addictive substance that's found in cigarettes. It's well-known for its negative effects on health, but few people realize that it can also have a major impact on their fitness goals. Nicotine decreases your lung capacity, which makes it harder to breathe during workouts. It also increases your heart rate and blood pressure, which can lead to an increased risk of heart disease. If you're trying to get in shape, it's essential to kick out the nicotine habit.
5. Find A Reason To Stay Motivated
There will be times when you don't feel like working out or sticking to your diet. This is normal. But if you want to achieve your fitness goals, you need to find a way to stay motivated. One way to do this is to find a reason to get in shape. Maybe you want to improve your health, fit into smaller clothes, or have more energy.
Whatever your reason, make sure it's something that will keep you motivated when things get tough. A good way to find this reason, is to find the reason behind the reason. I refer to this as the “noble reason”. You may think that you want to improve your fitness to lose weight. But may be the reason behind that reason is to improve your health. And the reason behind that reason may be that you want to live longer healthier so that you play with your grandchildren without any pain or suffering.
A good method is to write your reason down and make it visible for you every day. Pin it to your fridge, for example.
6. Make A Schedule
It can be hard to stick to a workout routine if you don't have a set schedule. That's why it's recommended to make time for exercise just like you would for any other important appointment.
Figure out when you're going to work out and put it in your calendar. Set a reminder on your phone or write yourself a note so that you don't forget. And if you can't make it to the gym one day, try working out at home, going for a walk, or follow and active morning routine.
Or get a coach for some ass-kicking.
7. Be Consistent
The most important thing to remember when trying to get in shape is to be consistent. It is one of my key principles to achieve better health and fitness.
You won't see results overnight, and there will be times when you feel like giving up. But if you stick with it, you will eventually achieve your goals. So keep going, even when it's tough, even when you face a plateau. It’s totally normal and everybody faces that. How you handle it, makes all the difference. Stay consistent. And soon, you'll be able to look back and see how far you've come.
8. Reward Yourself
When you reach a fitness goal, it's important to reward yourself. This will help you stay motivated and focused on your goals. But don't use food as a reward. That would obviously be counter productive. Instead, treat yourself to something that isn't related to diet or exercise, such as a new outfit or a day at the spa. And make sure your rewards are proportional to your goals. For example, if you lose some weight, don't buy yourself a new car.
Also, remember that your health and fitness is a process. It’s a lifestyle. It’s not a one-off thing. That is why most diets fail. People stick to a (fad) diet for 8 months. Lose weight. Are amazed that the diet works so well. Then stop everything. Go back to their previous lifestyle and habits… and… BOOM… the previous weight is back (or even more). Yo-yo effect.
Summarizing My 8-Step Guide to Achieving Your Fitness Goals
Reaching your fitness goals is a process that takes time, effort, and dedication. But if you follow my 8-step guide to achieving your fitness goals, you will drastically improve your chances of success. In this guide I covered choosing the right diet, exercise, setting goals, leveraging habits, motivation, a schedule, consistency and rewards.
Nobody said it’s gonna be easy. But don't give up, and keep pushing towards your goals. You can do it, and your future self will thank you.
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