How to Get in the Best Shape of Your Life
I get asked a lot of questions. Did you hear about that new celebrity diet? How about the new detox the latest TV doctor is touting? What about those secret foods that are supposed to boost your metabolism and fight off years of aging?
The thing is, everyone is asking plenty of questions, but the wrong ones. Anyone familiar with me knows two things:
- I understand that 95% of fitness is big business supported by gimmicks and fads
- There is a huge difference between training and exercising
With that being said, I thought I would cut to the chase and tell you what it takes to really get in shape. Yes, diet is a huge factor and you need to be on a specific training program. There’s plenty of content related to both here on the UEFP website as well as plastered all over the internet. Most of us know the fact that if you want to get in shape, at some point you need to make the decision to get up and start moving. After all, no one ever got in shape sitting around and thinking about it.
But that point of getting up to move is where people tend to fall flat on their face. Getting fit, whether it be trying to get stronger, leaner, or both, takes commitment. Commitment is a strong word (for some) and it tends to be reserved for things that are considered to carry a bit more weight. For instance, asking my wife to marry me was a big commitment, but no one thinks that trying to drop 20 pounds is that big a deal.
Well, it’s definitely not the same as taking a bank loan out or deciding to join the military, but the lack of seriousness from most people tends to cause them to shoot themselves in the foot and allow failure to become a self-fulfilling prophecy from the get-go. Getting in shape takes commitment. It also requires focus, dedication, determination, and proper goal setting. I always tell clients that you have to make time for exercise, not find time. If you’re thinking about dedicating a small chunk of your personal time to becoming a better you through training, trust me – it’s not such a bad investment.
This is where the rubber meets the road. Fifty percent of people who start an exercise program will quit within 6 months of starting it (1). Why they quit depends on the individual, but the most popular answers were lack of time, not seeing any results, and too much time spent at work or with other commitments. So right here, we have an issue: do people who get in shape simply have more free time? Do those who get lean and reach their goals actually not have a job? Do they live in a gym and thus have all day to burn calories and rev up that metabolism?
I can tell you that it’s pretty disingenuous to assume that if someone got in shape, they did it because they have tons and tons of free time and their life is just oh-so easy. When I show clients before and after pictures of successful clients, most ask the same question:
“How many times a week did they workout? Because if it was more than twice, I can’t do it – that’s unrealistic!”
Unfortunately, most people have unrealistic expectations of what results that they can get from exercise. So unrealistic in fact that they end up quitting because they’re not seeing any results (2).
So we have quite an issue here: everyone wants to get in shape but everyone thinks it shouldn’t take a lot of time and should be a quick fix. But the fact is that in order to get in shape you have to make that commitment and it has to be a strong one. It doesn’t come down to exercise intensity and fad diets, but actually rearranging your priorities.
Everyone has time to exercise but not everyone is willing to admit what’s important and what isn’t. Here’s what I tell clients: keep a 24 hour journal for three days. For every hour, on the hour, jot down what you do. At the end of the 3 days, you’ll notice all the holes you have in your schedule. Trust me – the holes are there.
Now you just have to sit down and figure out the few things that need to go to the wayside and everything else that needs to be re-organized. For most of us, family obligations and work come first and that’s perfectly fine. Some of us may have a few other things to do, like to take care of an elderly relative or a few hours of volunteer work. But after that, you’ll actually notice that you have plenty of time to exercise and that’s where the decision needs to be made: how strong of a commitment are you willing to make to get in shape? Is it really that important to you?
If you’re not willing to organize your leisure time, then it’s not really that important to you. You don’t need to give up your social life and become a gym rat. After all, we’re only talking about dedicating 2.3% of your week (four hours a week) to working out. The other 97.7% is dedicated to those things you have to do as well as what you want to do.
It’s been said that if it’s important to you, you’ll find a way. If it’s not, you’ll find an excuse. All you need to do is figure out how important it is to you.
1. Wilson, K. Brookfield, D. “Effect of Goal Setting on Motivation and Adherence in a Six Week Exercise Program.” (2009) International Journal of Sport and Exercise Physiology. 6, 89-100
2. Whaley, D.E., Schrider, A.F. “The Process of Adult Exercise Adherence: Self-Perceptions and Competence.” (2005) The Sport Psychologist 19, 148-163