Updated: Mar 12
The new year is here and most people have some kind of health and fitness goal. The path to reach any health and fitness goal has steps you must take if you want to be successful. Read on to learn the steps must take this year and every year to reach your health and fitness goals. Set a goal Whether you want to be a bodybuilder, lose weight, or simply start a new workout routine for general fitness, goal setting is the paramount activity in reaching any goal. If you don't know what your goal is, you cannot create a plan to work toward it. This applies to anything in life, whether work, school, training, nutrition, relationships, or other tasks. For example, it is not uncommon for someone to begin college with an undefined major. A person with an undecided major has not determined his or her end degree. This is less than ideal. Sure, these persons can earn general college credits that apply to all degrees, but if they take this path too long, courses that may not apply to their end degree begin to accumulate. For example, if a person is undecided, but takes classes toward a business major, only to decide on an IT degree, then those classes could equal wasted time and money. The same idea is true for health and fitness. If your goal is one thing, but you complete tasks that lead you toward another, then you're wasting time (and maybe money or other resources). For example, if your goal is to improve basketball performance, but you follow a bodybuilding program, then you're headed down the wrong path. Conversely, if you want to lose weight, but you use a nutrition strategy that provide enough calories to maintain your current weight, then you're not going to reach your goal. Think about it If you are reading this, you have a goal for health and fitness. You're not here for our colorful personalities. Think about what that goal is. Ask yourself right now "what do I want to achieve physically?" You might come up with one goal or multiple goals. That is fine. If you have trouble visualizing your goals, speak them out loud. Take some time to really think about what you want to achieve, looking at problem areas, such as health, fitness, or physiques, to determine what you want to work. Articulate these things aloud to yourself. You might consider enlisting a friend or loved one. Now, we understand this might seem silly or even embarrassing, but it can help. You want to pick someone supportive but honest. You don’t want someone who won’t support you setting goals, who will say it is stupid to do so or try to hold you back, but you also don't want someone who is a yes man and won't provide you quality feedback. When we set our goals, we talk to each other about them. Write it down Write that goal down. If you have multiple goals, write them all down. If you have multiple goals, put them in order of importance. Next to each goal, place a number noting it as more or less important. For example, if you have three goals, a number one should go next to the most important one, a number to next to the second most important one, and a number three next to the least important one. Now rewrite the list in order from most important to least important. Keep it in sight Place that list of goals in a place where you will see them. You might keep it in your purse or wallet. You might put it on the fridge or bulletin board. You might keep it as a digital sticky note or on your digital reminder. It doesn’t matter where you keep it if you can see it on a regular basis. It's really that simple Setting a goal really is that simple. Think about what you want, write it down, and keep it in plain sight. Prioritize your goal In our newsletters as well as blogs, and indeed through other mediums such as social media, we've covered goal prioritization many times. It is that thing that will largely make or break your success, coming in second to motivation (although, really, the two are connected). One of the main newsletters we sent out (multiple times in fact) that approaches the idea of prioritization was "Time is a killer." This post was also featured on our blog multiple times. Motivation and time are two of the biggest issues individuals note when expressing what holds them back from success. When considering paying for fitness related services and products such as an app, personal training, or nutritional planning, cost is a close third. Putting price aside for the moment—since even if you don’t have money you can do something on your own, free of charge, using that thing called the internet to find resources—we want to talk about time and motivation. In "Time is a killer" we stated "It seems as if time is always working against us. Many people say they never have time, but then again, if you never make time, how can you have time? You will have time if you make time" and that statement remains true today. If you want to be successful at something, you will make the time. If you don't, you won't. In that same newsletter we included: "But it wasn't my fault" "I had not control over the situation" "It couldn't be prevented" "I can't" "I don't have the time" We've all made and heard excuses like these before. Sometimes they're legitimate reasons, other times they're not. When someone else makes one of these statements and you know they're making excuses, you likely roll your eyes, call bullshit, or otherwise dismiss their attempts to deflect responsibility. But do you do the same things when you're making bullshit excuses? Maybe it's time you do. Sometimes things in life are beyond control. Personal and professional problems arise and this is a part of life. But at times you know you make bullshit excuses. You know you have the time, you know you can control the situation, etc. If you always say a situation is outside of your control, you can never take responsibility and change the situation. Only when you own your responsibility can you enable change in your life. If you're making bullshit excuses, STOP! Take control of the situation. You'll feel better when you do and life improves as a result. The point made in the italicized quote remains true today. You have to take responsibility for your actions and for your success. While obstacles may get in the way, if you don’t succeed, you only have yourself to blame. Your failure is your fault. Your success is your achievement. Motivation is the problem In most instances, barring some aggravating circumstance, if a person is not successful at something it is due to a lack of motivation. You must be motivated and prioritize your goals as well as the plan to reach the same. You might ask "how do I do this?" That depends on your situation. No two people face the same life circumstances. Even if similarities occur between situations, significant differences are always present. You must look at your particular situation to determine how to fit it in. For example, imagine that you can achieve your best results working out five days per week, but your schedule only allows for three days—then you can only workout three days. It would be ideal to workout for five, but your training frequency is partially dictated by your schedule. At the same time, imagine your schedule permits working out five days per week, but your body can only recover from three days per week. In this case you should only workout for three days per week until your body can handle more, and then increase frequency, if other situational factors such as schedule permit.
Here are a few ideas. Some of these come from previous newsletters.
Look at your goal list. Make sure it is well developed, meaning it lists all your primary goals, lists them in order of importance, and provides enough detail about each goal.
Think about when you can fit things in. For example, can you fit workouts in during the morning, afternoon, or evening; do you have 30 minutes to make meals each day, can you meal prep for the week on Sunday, does it make sense to do all your grocery shopping on one day or spread it through the week, etc.
If needed, talk to a doctor-while we would love to tell you to jump head first into a new nutrition and exercise program, you may need to visit a doctor. If you are obese, have underlying health conditions, or some other aggravating factor, it is a god idea to have a doctor check you out, determine if any issues are present, and have the doctor provide recommendations or restrictions. This will help you, a trainer, or a nutritionist select the best course of action.
Talk to a fitness professional and/or access online resources-even if you do not have the money for a trainer, nutritionist, or another fitness professional, talk to one. An individual session is not very expensive and many professionals, us included, will provide you with a free consult. The goal here is to talk to the fitness professional about your goals, what the doctor said, and any other issues you face, while also providing you an opportunity to ask questions and get real answers.
Develop a plan-whether on your own or with the ongoing support of a doctor and/or fitness professional, create a plan for exercise and nutrition, with the goal of losing weight and improving health. Be sure to put thought into it and create a plan that focuses on now and the future. Create a detailed plan at least three months in advance, with an outline for 12 months. The specifics will vary and should be based on your situation. No cookie-cutter plans.
Implement the plan-put in the work. Adjust as needed over time. Don't make excuses. Don’t give up.
At the same time, remember the process takes time and there is no such thing as magic, both of which ideas we presented in various newsletters over the past couple of years. Some of the content below comes from those newsletters. Consistently put in an honest effort There are no magic programs, no quick fixes (such as the 21-day Fix), or easy workarounds. You have to follow the ideas included above. Even if there was a magic program, if you don't follow it, it won't work. You must have a plan, follow that plan, put in the work, and give the process time. The journey takes time The journey takes time and indeed is an ongoing process. Depending on how robust your goals are, the length of the initial journey—that is, the time it takes you to reach your initial goal—may vary. If you want to lose or gain 20 pounds the process should be shorter than if you need to lose 100. Be prepared to put time into the process both to reach your initial goal and then to either maintain your success or move toward another goal. We encourage everyone to initially dedicate 6-12 months to reaching any goal. This timeline applies whether you work with us, another professional, or go the process alone. This has nothing to do with paying for a trainer, but rather with knowing what it takes to reach goals. Your goals require effort Nothing worth doing is easy and your health and fitness goals are no exceptions. People often look for the fastest way to lose weight, when the fastest way is honest effort repeated over time. Whether gaining or losing 20 pounds or 100, or seeking improvements in fitness, effort will be required on the path to success.
Remember that you get out what you put in. This might seem cliched or commonsensical, but people often don't put in the necessary effort. In the context of this newsletter, we use effort as a way to talk about the amount of energy you put into working out and nutrition. The body is an adaptive machine, but in order for to elicit change, you must give the body proper stimuli. For example, if you can run but always walk during cardio, the time it takes you to reach your cardio goal will be longer than if you had put in more effort. Conversely, if you want to lose weight, but are not willing to watch what you eat, then you will likely never reach your weight loss goals. Success demands commitment Time and effort, or perhaps we should say effort over time, take commitment. You must be dedicated to the process over time, putting in the required effort. If you show effort for only a short time, then your commitment wanes or you give up, you will either have a hard time reaching your goals or never reach your goals.
Your commitment—that is, your motivation and dedication to doing the things you need to do to progress—will make or break your success. If you want to reach your goals, you'll be dedicated. If you don't, you won't.
Nathan DeMetz holds degrees in Exercise Science, Business Administration, and Information Technology as well as certifications in strength and conditioning, sports nutrition, run coaching, and other areas. His credentials come from organizations such as Indiana Wesleyan University, Ivy Tech College, and the International Sports Sciences Association. Nathan has 17 years of personal and professional experience in the health and fitness world. He works with people from across the globe, including locations such as Kuwait, Australia, and the USA.