Your Unconscious Mind is Making You Fat

There I am.

  • Sitting on the couch watching NHL playoff hockey at the end of a long day.
  • The wife offers me some of her potato chips.
  • I decline

I’m a personal trainer dammit, and personal trainers don’t eat potato chips.

Fast forward 20 minutes…..

I am now sprawled out on the couch…..totally immersed in the game…..screaming at the referees for blowing another call….and absent mindedly reaching over and grabbing a handful of potato chips out of the bag…and then another…and then another

your unconscious mind is making you fat

WTF!!! What just happened?

I don’t eat potato chips….seriously. So what happened? Where did my will power go?

I’ll tell you what happened.

  • When my wife first offered the chips, my conscious mind did a quick pro/con calculation and decided to take a pass on the salty/greasy delight.
  • Soon after, my conscious mind became fixated on the hockey game.
  • Soon after that, my unconscious mind snuck behind the back of my conscious mind, and by using a mixture of sensory inputs, old memories, emotions, brain chemicals and hormones, managed to hijack my body and convince it that eating those chips was suddenly a great idea.

Damn you unconscious mind!!!.

  • This is a big reason why diets fail.
  • Your bad habits live in your unconscious mind.
  • Your bad habits have built up powerful connections within your mind and body.

And if you let your unconscious mind run the show, you WILL return time and again to your old habits…your over-eating, under-exercising, making you fat kind of bad habits…

Next PageThe Unconscious Mind…and why it loves making you fat…

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The Cure for Obesity

Earlier today, I discovered the cure for obesity… and it isn’t a diet or a fitness program or a supplement or a drug or a surgery, medical device, hypnotism or magic pill.

It’s a single paragraph from little self-help/positivity book that I have never read and is wrongly attributed to Charlie Chaplin.

And it goes like this…

“As I began to love myself I freed myself of anything that is no good for my health – food, people, things, situations, and everything the drew me down and away from myself. At first I called this attitude a healthy egoism. Today I know it is “LOVE OF ONESELF“.

And IMHO, love of oneself means…

  • Eating food that nourishes your body…not junk-food programmed to activate the pleasure centers in your brain
  • Being physically active every day…not sitting on your butt watch crap tv shows
  • Spending time with ‘real-world’ friends…not just your Facebook ‘friends’
  • Getting enough sleep to recharge for the next day
  • Drinking more water and less soda
  • Resisting negative peer pressure
  • Developing positive willpower
  • Ignoring what you want…for what you need
  • Etc, etc, etc….

just say no mcdonalds

Reference

When I Loved Myself Enough

As I began to love myself I found that anguish and emotional suffering are only warning signs that I was living against my own truth.
Today, I know, this is “AUTHENTICITY“.

As I began to love myself I understood how much it can offend somebody. As I try to force my desires on this person, even though I knew the time was not right and the person was not ready for it, and even though this person was me.
Today I call it “RESPECT“.

As I began to love myself I stopped craving for a different life, and I could see that everything that surrounded me was inviting me to
grow.
Today I call it “MATURITY“.

As I began to love myself I understood that at any circumstance, I am in the right place at the right time, and everything happens at the exactly right moment. So I could be calm.
Today I call it “SELF-CONFIDENCE“.

As I began to love myself I quit stealing my own time, and I stopped designing huge projects for the future. Today, I only do what brings me joy and happiness, things I love to do and that make my heart cheer, and I do them in my own way and in my own rhythm.
Today I call it “SIMPLICITY“.

As I began to love myself I freed myself of anything that is no good for my health – food, people, things, situations, and everything the drew me down and away from myself. At first I called this attitude a healthy egoism.
Today I know it is “LOVE OF ONESELF“.

As I began to love myself I quit trying to always be right, and ever since I was wrong less of the time. Today I discovered that is “MODESTY“.

As I began to love myself I refused to go on living in the past and worry about the future. Now, I only live for the moment, where  everything is happening.
Today I live each day, day by day, and I call it “FULFILLMENT“.

As I began to love myself I recognized that my mind can disturb me and it can make me sick. But as I connected it to my heart, my mind became a valuable ally.
Today I call this connection “WISDOM OF THE HEART“.

We no longer need to fear arguments, confrontations or any kind of problems with ourselves or others. Even stars collide, and out of their crashing new worlds are born.
Today I know “THAT IS LIFE“!

money-muscle-health-healthhabits-fitness-exercise

Treat Your Fitness Like You Treat Your Business

My busiest clients are almost always my most dedicated and most successful clients.

Despite working 18 hour days, they still find the time to workout and prepare healthy Paleo meals. And it’s all because they approach their fitness routine in the same way they approach their business.

  • They schedule workouts just like they do business meetings.
  • They realize that a good trainer or nutritionist is an cost of doing business…just like an accountant or some other business consultant.
  • They plan time to shop for and prepare healthy meals.
  • They understand that a fitness plan is just as necessary as a business plan

Something to think about…the next time someone tells you that they don’t have time to exercise.

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ray lewis pissed off for greatness motivation

Instant Exercise Motivation #18

Ray Lewis surprised the Stanford Cardinal basketball team prior to their 2012 NIT semi-final game with this unbelievably awesome motivational speech.

ray lewis pissed off for greatness motivation

Enjoy…and get ready to take on the world.

Instant Exercise Motivation #15

Giving in to temptation is giving up on this summer’s six-pack.

A Different Kind of Health Habits…..The I CAN DO IT Conference

This weekend, I will be attending the I CAN DO IT conference in Toronto.

Founded by Louise L. Hay four years ago as a forum for kindred spirits to gather, commune, and heal themselves and each other. The I Can Do It! Conference is intended to revitalize your soul, charge your body’s subtle energy centers, and bring a sparkle to your eyes.

And while my friends and family will tell you that I am not the typical sparkly eyes kind of guy, I do have an open mind and an obsession for improving my health, fitness, knowledge, etc…

So, starting tomorrow and running through Sunday, I am going to head down to the Metro Toronto Conference Centre to improve my emotional & spiritual health, boost my energy centers, and perhaps run into Oprah.

Here are some of the speakers attending the conference.

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I hope to see you there.

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Successful Fitness Motivation or “how I finally whipped my lazy butt into shape”

Let’s be honest.

We all know what it takes to be in good shape

  • Exercise daily
  • Eat healthy, nutritious food
  • Stay hydrated
  • Reduce your stress
  • Get 8 hours of sleep
  • Quit smoking, Quit McDonalds, Quit drinking gallons of Coke, etc….

And for some lucky people, working out and living a healthy lifestyle come naturally. They Just Do It™

muscle_baby

However, for the rest of us, the effort required to “get into shape” takes too much…..effort.

  • It costs too much
  • It’s too hard
  • I don’t know what to do
  • Fitness people are jerks
  • People will look at me
  • People won’t look at me
  • I’m too fat
  • I don’t want to get all sweaty
  • I don’t have enough time
  • and it’s still too hard

So, we give up, give in and get out of shape. If that sounds like you or someone you care about, read on and find out:

  1. Why we do what we do,
  2. Why we don’t do what we should,
  3. And how you can re-program yourself to actually enjoy exercise.

The Best Fitness Tip you are ever going to get

Your biggest impediment to getting in shape isn’t a lack of money or knowledge or natural ability.

  • It’s your emotions.
  • It’s the beliefs you hold that exercise is too hard and diets don’t work and you have fat DNA.

And I am here to tell you that until you change these beliefs and the emotions that come with them, you will never, ever get in shape.

In fact, every single day, I work with people who are desperate to get in shape…but they don’t believe they can.

But, lucky for them, I do believe. I believe because I have seen it happen over and over again. So, I lend them my confidence and my emotions.

True, I work them hard and I yell at them for breaking their diet. But, I always make them understand that they can get in shape and that I am going to make it happen. And like magic, when they start to believe, they start to improve.

For some people, it’s right away. For others, it takes a few weeks.

But eventually, my beliefs and emotions become their beliefs and emotions. And it’s those emotions and belief in themselves that drives the improvement in fitness.

And if you don’t think that emotion influences performance, ask this guy…

The meanest personal trainer in the world
The meanest personal trainer in the world

But, let’s say you don’t have access to a charging bull or don’t want to pay for the airline ticket to fly me to your home town.

What do you do?

You need to make 3 Decisions

  1. What are you going to focus on?
  2. What does getting in shape mean to you?
  3. What actions are you going to take?

FOCUS

  • Are you going to focus on your past failures? – NO
  • Or, are you going to focus on your fantastically fit future self? – YES

What you focus on creates emotions. We want/need positive emotions

MEANING

  • What does living a healthy life mean to you?
  • Does it MEAN fatigue/pain/sweat/expense/pain/lack of confidence/pain??? – NO
  • Or, does it mean feeling great, looking great and actually being great? – YES
  • Is it a punishment or is it a reward?

Meaning creates emotions. We want/need positive emotions.

ACTION

  • Your emotions WILL control your actions…positive emotions = positive actions
  • And, when you are ready to take positive action, you will find that there are more than enough resources available to transform your body from fat to fit.
  • But, of course, you should start by looking through the Health Habits archives.

And, if you need more help with creating these positive emotions, you can start by watching this TED talk by Tony Robbins.

See, I told you there were lots of resources available.

And, before anyone starts thinking that they don’t need that Tony Robbins motivational crap, keep in mind that there are a whole bunch of big brains hanging on Robbins’ every word…including Al Gore. So, don’t go getting all cynical on me now.

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My Unconscious Mind is Making Me Fat – Part 1

There I am.

Sitting on the couch watching NHL playoff hockey at the end of a long day.

The wife offers me some of her potato chips.

I decline

I’m a personal trainer dammit, and personal trainers don’t eat potato chips.

Fast forward 20 minutes…..

I am now sprawled out on the couch…..totally immersed in the game…..screaming at the referees for blowing another call….and absent mindedly reaching over and grabbing a handful of potato chips out of the bag…and then another…and then another

couch_potato

WTF!!!

What just happened?

I don’t eat potato chips….seriously.

So what happened?

I’ll tell you what happened.

  • When my wife first offered the chips, my conscious mind did a quick pro/con calculation and decided to take a pass on the salty/greasy delight.
  • Soon after, my conscious mind became fixated on the hockey game.
  • Soon after that, my unconscious mind snuck behind the back of my conscious mind, and by using a mixture of sensory inputs, old memories, emotions, brain chemicals and hormones, managed to hijack my body and convince it that eating those chips was suddenly a great idea.

Damn you unconscious mind!!!

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This is a big reason why diets fail.

Your bad habits live in your unconscious mind.

Your bad habits have built up powerful connections within your mind and body.

And if you let your unconscious mind run the show, you WILL return time and again to your old habits…over-eating, under-exercising, smoking, etc…

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In Saturday’s post, I will discuss some techniques you can use to help your conscious mind fight back against your unconscious mind.

Some of this stuff is going to sound a little new-agey, touchy-feely, so if that isn’t your cup of tea, I won’t be offended if you decide to give Health Habits a pass.

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If you like what you see here, click here for updates

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A Better “Best Life” Weight Loss Plan

Health Habits

In yesterday’s post, I rambled on and on about Oprah’s “Best Life” weight loss plan.

oprahs-best-life-series-your-weight

And what I found most unique about her new weight loss plan was her focus on how our emotions and thoughts impact our relationship with food.

While I and others have written about this before, somehow I think that Oprah’s opinion carries just a little bit more weight with America’s obese.

dietbooks2008In fact, because of Oprah’s influence, I predict that the next big wave of popular diet books/programs will all include some form of psychological/emotional/spiritual philosophy.

And this could be a good thing…or it could be just another gimmick to sell books and supplements and pills and gym memberships and…..well, you get my point.

We all know, that for most of us, losing weight is not as simple as reducing our intake by 500 calories and increasing our output by 500 calories. If it was, all of us would be lean and fit and earning extra money posing as swimsuit models.

While weight loss is easier for some of us and incredibly hard for others, we all know that it isn’t simple. There are many factors at play.

And, as a personal trainer who relies on word of mouth to earn an income, I need to figure out which of those factors are keeping my new clients from being as fit and healthy as they want to be.

If they don’t see results, my bills don’t get paid.

But, seeing as none of you are my clients and, in the spirit of everything being free on the internet, I hereby present to you, my multi-faceted, mind, body and spirit, guaranteed to work, new and improved for 2009 Health Habits Weight Loss Plan.

Enjoy.

And if you are reading this prior to January 16, could you please click here and throw me a vote for Wellsphere’s Health Blogger Award. As of today, I am sitting at #16 and I could use a little charity.

The Plan

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When it comes to losing weight, it always comes down to lifestyle.

I can give you the most effective diet and exercise plan known to man (just send $19.99 to…), but unless you are willing to address your negative lifestyle influences, you and I are wasting our time.

You might as well join a fat acceptance group and learn to embrace your inner fatty.

Your Formerly Fat Lifestyle

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To begin, I am going to break your Formerly Fat Lifestyle into 3 parts:

  1. Physical
  2. Mental / Emotional / Spiritual
  3. External

Let’s start with the physical:

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Nutrition

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This may sound strange, but thanks to our Western Diet, most overweight people are actually undernourished. Overfed, but undernourished.

What do I mean by this?

I mean that the food that most of us eat doesn’t even deserve to be called food. Sure, it provides calories, but it doesn’t actually provide the nutrients that our bodies need to perform at their best.

As a result, even though our bellies may be full, our cells are screaming for more. And in their quest for more nutrients, they call on a whole bunch of hormones and brain chemicals and food-related memories to MAKE YOU EAT MORE AND MORE AND MORE.

So, one of the first things I do is to change the types of food my clients are eating. We don’t even discuss calories. For most people, improving the quality of their diet drastically reduces appetite.

Note – I will go into much more detail in future posts, but if you can’t wait, check out these archives:

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Exercise

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This may sound strange coming from a personal trainer, but up until fairly recently, human beings had no need for “exercise”. Our ancestors stayed fit through their daily activities.

But, unless you are planning to quit your desk job and take up a life of hunting and gathering, you NEED to exercise. You will never get enough exercise in your day to day life.

NEVER.

And when it comes to weight loss, not all exercise is created equal. Oprah was on the right track when she decided to cut back a little on the cardio training and replacing it with more resistance training. While cardio is vital for the health of your heart and lungs, it is a poor choice for weight loss.

Now if only we could get her to quit the bodybuilding-type program Bob has put her on. Considering her goals and her schedule, she needs to find a program that maximizes fat loss and strength and minimizes bulk and wasted time. And her current program…is at least 5 years out of date.

For most of my clients, we are trying to:

  • Build strength without bulk
  • Focus on functional strength that improves “real life” activities
  • Improve balance and coordination
  • Increase short term and long term metabolism
  • Improve joint mobility and muscular flexibility
  • Increase speed, quickness and agility, and oh yeah…
  • Burn a lot of calories

And like I said before, I will be going into more detail. Here are some links for the impatient:

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Injury Prevention and Rehabilitation

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At first, this topic may not seem to have much to do with a weight loss program.

But when your knee is killing you because a tight IT band has caused your patella to track laterally and grind away causing pain, inflammation and swelling, you may see the benefit of including some pre-hab / re-hab training in your weight loss program.

We are all getting older. As kids, we could abuse our bodies and count on them bouncing right back. As adults, we need to use some of that wisdom we are supposed to have been accumulating to avoid the problems before they happen.

More info to come. Here are your links:

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The Mental/Emotional/Spiritual aspects of weight loss:

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This is the part of Oprah’s new program that I found the most interesting.

Whether or not it proves to be effective, Oprah’s search for the mental/emotional/spiritual reasons behind her eating disorder is a big step forward.

oprahs-weight-loss-confession
click pic for Oprah's weight gain confession

And while the psychological community debates whether or not disordered eating patterns (like Oprah’s) constitute an actual psychological condition, it is obvious to those of us who struggle with obesity, that obesity and emotion go hand in hand.

So, as part of Oprah’s new weight loss program, she asked herself 5 not so simple questions:

  1. Why are you overweight?
  2. What are you really hungry for?
  3. Why have you been unable to maintain weight loss in the past?
  4. What in your life is not working?
  5. Why do you want to lose weight?

And assuming, that she/you/me answer those questions on a deep & meaningful level, we may be able to understand or even release some of the emotional “stuff” that has been contributing to our weight gain.

Or maybe not.

While I think these 5 questions may be psychologically enlightening and a source of motivation at the start of your program, I question whether they will have any staying power. What happens in 3 months when the initial “aha” moment has worn off?  How is knowing the “truth” about your weight gain going to keep you from falling off the wagon?

You need some tools to take you from enlightenment to realization.

beck-diet-for-lifeAnd one of those tools could be the Cognitive Behavior Therapy for Weight Loss Program by Dr. Judith Beck.

In fact, it’s likely that some of you may already have seen this book. It’s been one of the big sellers at my local bookstore. And with good reason.

If people are excited about Oprah’s new psychological/emotional approach to weight loss, they should be overjoyed to find Dr. Beck’s program.

Next week, I will post a review of the book.

But for now, I will let Dr. Beck provide a brief description of her plan:

Most people struggle with losing weight and keeping it off because no one ever taught them how. It’s not just a matter of willpower and a healthy eating plan. To be successful, you have to learn a set of cognitive (thinking) and behavioral skills. Other weight-loss programs assume that dieters know how to keep themselves from cheating. Dr. Beck respects that dieters are human; she expects mistakes and her unique program teach dieters exactly what to do immediately following mistakes, and how to solve and prevent them in the future.

By following the Cognitive Therapy techniques dieters learn to:

  • think differently and overcome common dieting pitfalls and sabotaging thoughts
  • eat favorite foods while steadily losing weight
  • feel in control in the most challenging situations
  • feel confident in their ability to follow a healthy diet and exercise plan
  • remain motivated to maintain weight loss for life

Sounds pretty good, doesn’t it?

But, to be fair, I am a little biased. While I don’t agree with every part of Dr. Beck’s program, I have,  in the past few years, weaved aspects of Dr. Beck’s program into my own pseudo-psychological mind control program. And it has been very successful.

In fact, one of my clients is following Dr. Beck’s program. In the coming weeks and months, I will be reporting on his progress.

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The External Stuff

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mcheart-attackTime Management

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So, you have the perfect nutrition plan and the perfect workout plan and your thoughts and emotions are all pointed in the perfect  “let’s get ready to burn off some body-fat” direction, but…… you are swamped at work and the kids need to go to soccer practice and you just don’t have time to make it to the gym and you “had” to stop at the Golden Arches and pick up one of those new McCoronary meals.

And the next thing you know, you have gained another 10 pounds.

Let’s face it.

Your regular day to day schedule does not have any available space to add in daily exercise and meal prep and meditation and sports massage and all of those other things that you should be doing to get your body in tip top shape.

Something is going to have to go.

foot_massageYou need to prioritize.

You need to exercise. Cancel something else.

You need to eat real food, not grab take-out on the way home from work. Cancel something else.

You need to calm your mind…be it meditation, prayer or even a good foot massage. Cancel something else.

If Oprah can do it, so can you.

It won’t be easy.

But you need to make this commitment to your health.

And it doesn’t stop there.

There will be other roadblocks in your road to physical fitness.

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The Cost

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Each January, like lemmings, hordes of people trudge down to their neighborhood health club and fulfill their new Year’s Resolution by purchasing a brand new 1 year membership.

And 60 days later, 80% of those people are never heard from again.

Weird, huh?

But wait, it gets weirder.

We may be the worst trainers in the world, but damn, aren't we sexy?
We may be the worst trainers in the world, but damn, aren't we sexy?

In the past 10-15 years, the biggest money maker in the fitness industry hasn’t been those wonderful people who overestimate their desire for fitness.

It has been the personal trainer.

And boy, have they made a lot of money for the health clubs.

And boy, can they cost you a lot of money.

But, if you find a good trainer, who has a good reputation and is willing to stand behind his work, the benefit can outweigh the cost hundreds of times over.

Remember, if you are going to pay for fitness, make sure that you are paying for results…not promises.

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Social Support

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  • Will you be able to stick to your diet as your husband shovels another slice of greasy pizza into his pie-hole?
  • Will you stick to your workout schedule when your kids demand a ride over to their friends’ house?
  • Will you go to bed at a decent hour when your posse has just fired up the dvd player for a Quentin Tarantino movie marathon?
  • Or will your family support your decisions to re-gain your health?, and
  • Will your friends join you at the gym in a show of support?


Unless you have some sort of unshakable iron will, your friends and family will impact your weight loss success or failure.

So, you need to sit down and discuss your plans with those people in your life who might just throw a monkey wrench into your weight loss plans. Let them know that you need their help. Let them know that your health  is at stake. Let them know that you love them and appreciate them and…..

Get them on board. You know them better than I do. Figure out what buttons need to be pushed and get pushing.

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Okay, that’s all for now.

In the next few weeks, I will be fleshing out the bones of this “better than Oprah’s” Your Best Life weight loss plan.

In the mean time, if you have any questions, please comment at the end of this post

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If you like what you see here, click here for updates or Share this Post with the rest of the world.

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11 Steps to Avoiding The BIGGEST Workout Mistake…That Almost Everyone Makes

For the past 19+ years, I have seen people come to the gym in an attempt to get fit, lose weight, gain weight, lower their blood pressure, stave off old age

Most of them stick around for a few months and then gradually disappear. I would estimate that this group makes up about 75% of a typical health club’s membership.

The remaining 25% become regulars. They come to the gym between 2 and 5 days a week. They usually fall into 1 of 3 groups.

  • The Cardio Junkies
  • The Weight Lifters
  • and The ‘Group Class’ Ladies

Within each of these groups, only about 25% make any significant improvements after the first 6 months.

And if my math (25% of 25% is 6.25%) is correct, that means that only 6 percent of gym-goers make any significant improvement after 6 months.

WHY?

Because 94% of them make the single BIGGEST Workout Mistake…That Almost Everyone Makes.

They don’t PLAN for success.

  • They plan to lose body-fat by following the diet of the month.
  • They plan to increase their aerobic fitness by following the program recommended by Lance Armstrong.
  • They plan to sculpt their body by following training programs pulled from Men’s Health
  • And 94% of them fail.

How to Plan for Success

  1. Before you do anything else, realize that your mind and your emotions WILL determine your plan for success. You can have the perfect diet and the perfect training program, but if your mind and heart are not onside, you WILL fail….Period.
  2. Realize that you are unique and that the program / diet that works for someone else may not work for you.
  3. Understand that even if a program / diet does work for you, it may not work forever. Your body adapts to the stresses that you impose upon it.
  4. Have a definite goal. I know that it is a cliche, but make it a S.M.A.R.T. goal.
  5. Keep a journal. Track your nutrition, your workouts, your thoughts and feelings. Ups and downs. And I know that most of you will never do this. Especially the guys. But I am serious. I just can’t say enough about what a great tool a health/fitness/workout/diet journal is for guaranteeing your success. I don’t know if it forces you to be more accountable to your success. I just know that it works.
  6. Educate yourself. Hire a trainer. Ask questions. Go online. Surf through the archives of my blog.  Read a book….Something. At the very least, you should know how to improve the function of your cardio-vascular system. You should know the difference between muscular strength, power and endurance… and how to develop each of them. You should understand how important structural balance is to keeping injury free. You should know the impact that different types of food have upon your body. Learn about the importance of sleep to your fitness success.
  7. Step outside of your comfort zone. Try something new. Apply your knowledge to a new training method.
  8. Remember that your fitness progress requires your fitness program to progress.
  9. Enjoy yourself. This isn’t work. If you don’t like what you are doing, fin something else.
  10. Rest and relax. It is during your periods of rest that your body repairs and improves upon the functions of your body necessary to handle tomorrow’s workout
  11. This one is up to you…figure it out for yourself.

Like this article???

If you like this article, don’t forget to subscribe to @healthhabits. When you subscribe, my friends at MailChimp will make sure to send you an email every time I post something new here at the blog.

As well, you also get access to the series of Supplement Reports that I am publishing this year.

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