“I Can Do It! Oh Wait…No I Can’t.” (A 5 Step Guide to a Successful Fitness Journey)

By Michael Rankin. Michael is a Del Monte Pro Team member.

The holidays come to an end. Our bellies are full, pants a little too tight and the New Year is fast approaching. But this year is different. We tell ourselves; this is OUR year! We have decided that this time we will reach our fitness goals and finally achieve our dream body.

It’s January 1st and we hit the ground running. We are going to the gym five days a week and eating healthy. “Look out world; here we come!” Nothing can stop us this time!

Fast forward three weeks later…and suddenly it’s harder to make it to the gym. The excitement and motivation has been replaced by a feeling of dread and obligation. Our food is bland and our bodies are tired. Suddenly we decide, “You know what? This just isn’t for me.” Maybe next year…

If this sounds familiar to you; trust me, you are not alone. So why is it that some people can achieve their fitness goals; while the majority of us fail? What separates the average from the extraordinary? Contrary to what most people think, fitness and health goals are not achieved by the body; but by the mind. Once you get your mind right, your body can no longer hold you back.

In this article, I will give you a five step guide to help Bullet Proof your Mindset. No longer will circumstances dictate your results. So let us put down the cake, open up our minds and work on our brain GAINZZ.

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Step 1: What, Where, Why, When

It is common practice when deciding to start a fitness journey to start with the what and where:

What gym am I going to sign-up with?

Where will I buy my new workout clothes?

What the hell is protein powder?

As important as these are, we are getting a little ahead of ourselves. Worrying about the details can lead to paralysis by analysis. We can’t find a gym we like. We don’t like the way we look in our workout clothes. What in the hell is protein powder?! We get discouraged; or worse, we give up before we even begin. Let us take a step back for a moment.

Before we get into the what and the where, the key is to cement the why and the when.

WHY are you beginning this journey? When do you want to achieve your goals by? Spend some quality time diving deep into your why. Why is this goal important to you? How will you look and feel when you achieve it? Let that feeling engulf you and sink deep into your bones. No, really, stop reading and envision this. Believe it and absorb it. Now, let’s put a deadline on it. When will you achieve these goals by? Set a very specific date. Next, tell all of the people you are close to why you are going to do this and when you will achieve it by. This will give you accountability and a really good form of pressure.

Once you have all of this in place, the nice thing is that the what and the where will just happen. Your why will pull you along and keep you motivated. The when will keep you focused and driving forward to meet your deadline. Throw in an added bonus of your friends and family knowing your goals, and constantly asking you how it’s going, and you are ‘golden’ my friend.

Step 2: There Will Be Pain!

First off, don’t be scurred. Pain can actually be a great motivator and character builder. Any time you try to change your life for the better, you will encounter various forms of pain. This, my friend, is a guarantee. So, take a deep breath and remember this is normal.

Here are some examples of the pain you may encounter while embarking on your fitness journey. Remember, we need to sort these out NOW; so we don’t quit later. First, I’ll give you the problematic perspective that may lead to dread and loss of enthusiasm. Then, I will give you the empowering point-of-view that will keep you motivated and full of heart.

Problematic

  • Physical Pain: I am so sore! This can’t be normal. I am just not cut out for this.
  • Self-Esteem Pain: Wow! Everyone in the gym is in such good shape. I feel so embarrassed and judged. I don’t belong here.
  • Hopelessness Pain: I’ve been going to the gym for months now and I am nowhere near my goals. I’ll never get there.
  • Diet Pain: I am so sick of this “healthy” food. I just want a mother freakin’ COOKIE!!

Now, let’s take a look at the same scenario but from an empowering perspective.

Empowering

  • Physical Gain: I am so sore! Damn, I am really pushing myself. Being sore is just my body waking up!
  • Self-Esteem Boost: Wow! Everyone in this gym is in such good shape. Imagine where I’ll be if I keep going. I feel re-energized and proud of myself for taking this big step. This is where I belong.
  • Full of Hope: For months now, I’ve been going to the gym. I may not be at my goal yet, but I know I am three months closer. It’s just a matter of time until I get there!
  • Diet Reward: I have been eating really well and sticking to my plan. I am proud of myself and I DESERVE a mother freakin’ COOKIE!!

As you can see, whether you get discouraged or motivated by various forms of pain, all comes down to your perspective.

One of my favorite quotes by Steven Callahan, sums it up perfectly:

“A view of heaven from a seat in hell.”

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“Wait, wait, wait. We are talking about fitness here. That doesn’t make any damn sense.”
Well, give me a chance here and I’ll explain.

Imagine yourself overweight, sick and unhealthy, out-of-shape. You are not eating healthy, are not going to the gym and are miserable in your own body. Now, in this case, you have created your own personal hell. You are not taking any steps to escape this, so that view from heaven (a healthy body, looking the way you want and feeling better); haunts you. It is downright torturous!! You become overwhelmed with sadness and discouragement.

Now, imagine the same scenario but let’s change just a few things. You start going to the gym. You get on a diet plan and are sticking to it. You are beginning to feel better. You may still be in your own personal hell; but all of a sudden, that view of heaven (a new you) becomes inspiring and motivating. You know you are moving in the right direction. You will get there even if you have to crawl one inch at a time.

We must face the fact that at times during our fitness journey, there will be pain. Embrace the struggle and hold on to that view of heaven. It will be well worth your effort.

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Step 3: Accept It or Regret It

What are you willing to go through to transform yourself? When making a physical transformation, you must first decide what sacrifices you are willing to accept. If you don’t do this, it will lead you down a one-way road of regret and dead end at giving up.

Now, first you’ll need to figure out your goal and work backwards. Being a fitness competitor, gaining 15 lbs. of muscle, just being healthy, running a marathon, losing 100 lbs., or hell, just running around the block; all require a different level of sacrifice. My advice, be realistic with yourself. What are you willing to do on a consistent basis will determine which goal you will be able to achieve. For example, if you will not go to the gym regularly or stick to a strict eating plan, then a fitness competitor goal is probably not for you. So, spend a little time figuring out what your initial or next fitness goal should be.

With that out of the way, let’s move on to the key point with the “accept it or regret it” strategy. With whichever goal you decide to pursue, your actions will have to be congruent with what it will take to achieve it. You may have to skip having drinks with friends. Perhaps, you won’t eat fast food for the next few months. You might have to skip your favorite night time T.V. show, so you can get up and go to the gym at 5 A.M. You must accept this now! Otherwise, in the heat of the moment, you will cave in, go off your plan and then regret it.

On the flipside, even if you stick to your plan but feel as though you have deprived yourself, you will still regret it (I know. It’s a bitch, right?) You may tell yourself, “Oh man, we should have gone out. We missed such a great time.” This is why you MUST accept these things NOW before you begin.

We are faced with tough decisions when going after a life-changing goal. Take comfort in the fact that you are now living life on your terms. You have made the decision to get healthy. You are NOT depriving yourself. You are striving for a better version of what you can become. So remember, ACCEPT IT now or REGRET IT later!

Step 4: “Shhh, I’m giving up.”

There are two completely different ways to ‘throw in the towel’ on achieving your dream body. One is very obvious and everyone around you can see it. You stop going to the gym, you no longer follow your meal plan and eventually you even tell people you gave up or quit! Perhaps, it was too much for you right now and you intend to get back after it later once things slow down. This form of quitting is obvious and transparent. At least you know where you stand.

The second form of giving up is much more subtle and secretive. The people around you will probably have no clue. By all outside appearances, everything is right on track. You are hitting the gym five days a week. You always seem to be eating healthy. You pass on all drinks and sweets. But look what we find when we take a slightly closer look…

Sure, you are going to the gym five days a week. However, you haven’t really broken a sweat or pushed yourself for the last three weeks. Maybe, you stop at 8 reps when you damn well know you could have pushed and got 12 reps. When doing cardio, you are planning on doing 20 minutes, but you quit at 17 minutes. When the burn sets in on a set of squats, you stop instead of setting a new standard for yourself (Remember, there WILL be pain).

In public, your diet looks great! In private, it’s a different story. One extra scoop of peanut butter, here (By the way, peanut butter is awesome!); a few handfuls of chips, there. Instead of drinking a gallon of water a day like you planned, you are only drinking a half a gallon. DON’T get me STARTED on the mother freakin’ COOKIES!!

Wow! It is crazy how easy it is to slip off track just enough to stop getting results. I get it! Changing your body is hard. The key is to cut yourself some slack and just be honest with yourself. ‘Own up’ to where the problems are. This will allow you to move forward and work on overcoming these temptations.

“Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.” – Thomas Edison

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Trust me, you are closer to your dream body than you think. Take one step and one habit at a time. These will be the building blocks of a new and improved YOU. Keep pushing, do not dwell on the slips-ups or setbacks and above all NEVER GIVE UP!!

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Step 5: Build an Ark

In today’s world, we are constantly bombarded with negativity. From the news, certain friends and family members, perhaps our spouse, gossip, etc. From the time we wake up until we go to bed at night, whether we know it or not, our sub-conscious is being FLOODED with dream-killing bad news and energy draining pessimism and negativity. If we stay in this pattern, it is just a matter of time until our thoughts, conscious or unconscious, become our actions; and our actions become our habits.

“The chains of habit are generally too small to be felt until they are too strong to be broken.” – Samuel Johnson

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Before we even realize what happened, we become a reflection of our world and our surroundings, when what we really wanted to become was an inspiring story of someone who rose above it all and took control of their body and health.

So what do we do? How do we safeguard our mind? We must ‘Build an Ark’! Grab your goal of a healthy body and take it aboard. Let all of the naysayers, doubters and negative thoughts drown out around you. Stop watching the news, don’t gossip, and don’t listen to all of the surrounding noises. Instead, flood your mind with positivity. Listen to motivational speakers (Les Brown and Tony “Banana Hands” Robbins being a couple of my favorites). Find likeminded individuals who share your passion for health and fitness. Let them on the ‘ark’ with you. Changing your life can be challenging and you’ll need encouragement along the way. So, as the world around you is drowning in negativity and ‘fighting for air’, stay focused on your goals; while safe and secure on your ark with your new found supporters.

Now You Can Do It: Final Thoughts

Changing your body WILL be hard (Let’s, let that sink in for a moment.), but that’s okay. It is supposed to be hard. That is what makes it so great!! You may be behind on your dreams. You might be tired and worn out. JUST DON’T GIVE UP! It’s really just that simple and just that damn hard. Nothing tops the feeling of continuing when you feel like giving up. It changes everything, because it recalibrates your frame of reference. There is an old running proverb that says, “You run the first half with your legs, the second half with your mind.” When starting out on a fitness journey to change your body, it is easy to be motivated at first. Then, guess what? Our life, habits and thoughts get in the way, ‘melting away’ our drive and vision. ‘Guys, anyone can start strong and then fade. That is NOT YOU! NOT THIS TIME!”

This 5 step guide will allow you to get your mind ready for what you are about to go through. Changing your body will be fun, motivating, frustrating, hard, and confidence building all at the same time. But hey, the ‘sweet’ is never as sweet without the ‘sour’. So buckle up, suck it up and get ready for the ride. Your new life and new body is waiting for you.

Michael ‘MikeyjoeFit’ Rankin

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Comments

5 thoughts on ““I Can Do It! Oh Wait…No I Can’t.” (A 5 Step Guide to a Successful Fitness Journey)

  1. Very motivating! I have been a skinny guy all my life and have been on and off the bulk up and get fit mission for the past 3 years now. I have made some progress but every-time some thing happens that breaks the rhythm. For instance, a back pain that tells me I am not doing this right and should quit or some life issues that stress you out and leave you not feeling good enough to want to exercise. But you have to push through, and that’s the only way. Thanks for this article. Going to read it again now.

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  2. Great article Mike!

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  3. Great read, and a post I think people will come back to throughout their journey. I found that setting annual goals, then breaking them down to monthly targets helps a lot with focus. I review my goals every morning with my first coffee of the day and mentally prepare to work towards them. Might be overkill, but it works for me!

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    • Thank you Stuart! Sounds like you have a great strategy in place brother. I do very similar things myself.

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