You’re reading this because you want to be successful.
You’re one of the few people who refuse to sit on the couch and watch life pass by.
You want to get up and do something to better yourself so you can enjoy life to the fullest.
I respect that, and I respect you for being here.
Because I know how important your health and fitness is to you, I want to honor you by giving you five behaviors of health fitness success.
If you adopt these behaviors, you will be successful.
Success Behavior #1: Showing Up
I used to have a fear of writing.
Actually, I wasn’t afraid of writing—I was afraid of people reading what I wrote.
What if I sound stupid?
What if what I’m saying is wrong?
What if my style sucks so bad wish you were staring a brick wall instead of reading my work?
Then I got a job writing a health and fitness columnfor the Statesman Journal. (That’s also when I learned its other name: the Statesman Urinal. People were quick to clue me in on that nickname.)
If I didn’t submit my column by the deadline, I wasn’t getting published, paid, or permission to continue working with them for another month.
I had to show up.
When I look back at my early publications…I cringe.
The writing wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t very good either.
My progression since then is remarkable.
I used two strategies to become a stronger writer: I studied and I practiced.
That’s what you need to do to reach your fitness goals: study and practice.
Studying looks like actively paying attention to your technique while lifting.
The most successful exercisers don’t just come in, zone out, and haphazardly exercise all willy-nilly.
That’s how you get injured instead of getting results.
The most successful take their health and fitness seriously and actively concentrate on becoming a better exerciser.
Hone in on the cues we give you.
Focus on what we say and how we correct your form.
Give us your undivided attention when we’re demonstrating exercises so your mirror neurons teach your brain how to execute the movement the exact same way.
This isn’t like a train ride where you just show up, relax, and magically arrive at your destination.
This is going to take work and effort on your end, and you have to be present and focused to maximize your results.
Practice means treating every day as an opportunity to practice being a healthy person.
When you’re making a decision that affects your health, ask yourself “would a healthy person do this?” If the answer is no, you may want to rethink the decision. (note: this doesn’t mean you have to be super neurotic. Healthy people still snack and have sweets and that’s OK—we’ll cover that in nutrition series coming up next week).
If you do this well, eventually you’ll look back at your old self, your habits, your attitude towards exercise, and even your technique, and you’ll feel like I do when I look at my early writing.
You’ll cringe a little bit.
And that’s a good thing, because it means you’re much better off now than you were then.
When I say the number one key behavior to success is showing up, I don’t mean just maneuvering your body into the weight room (although that is an important step).
I mean being present, active, and engaged in all areas of life, not just in the gym.
That’s where you’ll strike gold.
Take home: bring excellent focus and effort every time you train and practice healthy living every day.
Success Behavior #2: Consistency
Jerry Seinfeld, one of the greatest comedians of all time, was once asked how to become a better comic.
“The way to become a better comic is to write better jokes and the way to write better jokes is to write jokes every day.”
He said to post a giant calendar on the wall, and after writing a joke, put a big red “X” through the day on the calendar.
After a few days you’ll have a chain of red X’s on your calendar.
Seinfeld then said “don’t break the chain.” Google that phrase and dozens of results pop up.
If you want to get better at something, Seinfeld’s advice is to do it consistently.
I’m not going to advise you to exercise every day—although, that’s not a bad idea—but I am going to urge you to make your training sessions week in and week out without fail.
It’s not realistic to nevermiss a training session.
Life happens sometimes. And that’s OK.
But if you have to miss a session, make it a priority to get right back on track.
You can even use Seinfeld’s method: post a calendar and mark a big red X over each day you workout. You’ll start seeing vertical lines down your calendar if you workout the same days each week.
From there, don’t break the chain.
Take home: consistency is the path to success. Stay the course.
Success Behavior #3: Learn to Love the Process
When Tom Brady was a kid I doubt he thought he’d become the greatest quarterback of all time, playing in nine Superbowls and being the only player ever to win six.
As a senior in college he nearly got benched to a freshman, wasn’t a standout player compared to the other college QBs, and almost didn’t get drafted into the NFL.
But I’ve got no doubt he loves playing catch.
In fact, I’d wager my minivan on it. (Sorry for bringing up my minivan again. Two kids and one on the way, remember? Don’t hold it against me.)
And because he loves tossing the ol’ pigskin he’s probably done it a few hundred thousand times.
After a couple hundred thousand reps of doing anything, I bet you get pretty darn good at it.
But imagine how daunting it must be to look at something like that and say “in order for me to get to that point, I have to put in how much time? I have to do how many reps?It’s going to take how long?”
You think 21 year old Tom Brady looked at how much work it would take to be great and got scared off?
Because he loves playing catch.
And he probably loves practice.
And watching film.
And everything else it took for him to become the player he is today, with his beautifully tight spiral, crisp ball release, and chiseled jawline.
He not only loves the result—being as good as he is and winning so many games—but he loves the processit took to obtain that result.
And because he loves the process it became second nature for him. It’s part of who he is. He actually looks forward to doing those things.
For him, the process itself is gratifying, and the result is the cherry on top.
For you to be successful in the long-run, you, too, must learn to love the process.
Focusing on the result is important. But you have to take steps in order to get to that result, so focusing on those steps is the key to reaching your goals.
Learn to love exercise.
Learn to love eating well.
Learn to love being active.
Learn to love and respect yourself enough to do these things regularly and make them part of your identity.
You’re a healthy person.
You’re a healthy eater.
You’re an exerciser.
You’re a person who knows it’s ok to treat yourself now and then but doesn’t get completely derailed after some ice cream or missed workout.
The more you love and look forward to the process—getting your tail in here and doing the work—the more fun you’ll have, the more you’ll look forward to exercise, the more consistently you’ll show up, and the more successful you’ll be in the long-run.
You’ll lose that weight and keep it off.
Gain that strength and keep it.
Find the confidence you’re after and cherish it forever.
With a little targeted focus, you can become your own Tom Brady.
Take home: loving the process makes it easier for you to reach your goals because you’ll look forward to taking the necessary steps rather than dread them.
Success Behavior #4: Building Relationships
If you like the people you see here you’ll be more apt to coming in and maybe, just maybe, look forwardto coming to the gym (gasp!).
So get to know your trainer or the other regulars who you always see in the gym.
Let them ask you questions.
Open up as you feel more comfortable.
Relationships can make or break the likelihood of you getting your butt in here.
And while knowing your trainer is great, but what’s even more important is building strong relationships with the others in your group.
People bond when they experience discomfort together (misery loves company?).
Exercise isn’t comfortable, and it’s not supposed to be, so use that to your advantage and bond with the people you exercise with.
Talk about how hard you saw that person working on their last set, or how you’re a little nervous about how hard your next set is going to be.
The more you know and like the people you work out with the stronger your habit of exercise will be. You’ll know you’re not in it alone.
Plus, as an added perk, you might make a few new friends along the way
Take home: liking the people you work out with will make you more consistent.
Success Behavior #5: Avoid Injury
The most successful exercisersdo everything they can to avoid injury.
Not exercising is the fastest way to back slide.
Strength, muscle and endurance decrease really fast during prolonged periods of no exercise.
That’s why injuries are major setbacks. It’s like taking two steps and ten steps back.
Maybe you’ve even been in this cycle yourself.
Workout really hard, see a lot of progress, then get hurt and have to take time off, only to find when you start exercising again you’re back to square one.
One surefire way to put yourself in that loop is to train through pain.
Sure, squatting while your knees feel like they’re on the verge of exploding might make you feel like you’re working hard (no pain no gain, right?), but what about 6 months down the road when your knees ache 24/7 and the doctor says you might need surgery?
Really hard to workout when you’ve just had surgery.
If a movement hurts, you should not do it.
It will only make your pain worse, not better.
If you find that any of the exercises you do while training cause pain, you mustspeak up and let your trainer know so we can find an alternative that accomplishes the same goal without causing pain.
This is the essence of good training: finding ways to reach goals while avoiding all possible negative outcomes.
Working through pain doesn’t make you tough, it makes you sidelined.
A little burn in the muscle because you’re lifting weights and working out super hard is A OK.
But pain in a joint, like the elbow, back, or knee—that’s not productive and will only make things worse in the long run.
Remember the tortoise and the hare?
Be the tortoise—slow and steady and constantly progressing—not the hare—moving at 100mph then suddenly stopping.
Take home: getting hurt is a great way to stall your progress or move backwards. Don’t train through pain.
Two Bonus Tips:
#1) Be patient. Change takes time. Trust in the process.
#2) Track progress. Changes in how your clothes fit and how much weight you lift are great progress markers.