Your Fitness Outline: A guide to long term success
Your Fitness Outline: A guide to long term success by Kyle Hopkins
It's February 11th 2018. Here we are 6 weeks post new year. Public gyms are slowing down. The regulars are getting their space back. The masses are fading. The quest for a "new you" has taken a back seat to jobs, daily rituals, ingrained bad habits, fatigue, and good old excuses. Why? Where was the breakdown? What could have been done to avoid this? Is it too late or can you get it back on track? You need a fitness outline! "What's that?" you say. Keep reading......
Remember when you had to write papers for school? Your teacher would provide topics, give you a tone or style to write in etc. and then the first step was to create an outline. A template for what you intend to present and the order and format in which it will pan out etc. You NEED to do this with your fitness goals! I want you to copy and paste this portion below into a document on your computer and then I want you to do something crazy! Use it! Fill it out. Print it. Put it up somewhere in your house that leaves you no choice, but to see it everyday. PUT IT INTO ACTION. Here it is and then I will explain.
Body composition: Weight and basic measurements of chest, shoulders, arms, waist, thighs.
Motivation: short term and long term
Long term goal and timeline:
Short term goal and timeline:
3 Most important steps in your action plan:
Things you can sacrifice:
Things you won't sacrifice:
Where are you going to train: Pick a gym/facility (box if Crossfit is your thing) that meets your needs and goals.
Okay....copy and paste this and print it off. Now. No seriously....why are you still here? I'll wait. Go. Do it..................
Okay, we're back. Thats it. That's the template. This is your plan. So let's break it down.
1: Date This is today's date. Why today: Because tomorrow isn't a day of the week! Tomorrow sucks. There is only today. You should be reading this with a printed copy in hand by now. So put today's date because today is step 1.
2: Body composition and measurements. Why is this important? Because the proof is in the pudding. (Don't eat the pudding!) Numbers don't lie. Take your weight and measure these key areas with a measuring tape. Don't do this daily. Do this bi-weekly. Same day. Same time. Bi-weekly. If weight loss is a goal then we need to see these numbers moving. Specifically the measurements. Scales can be dirty lying bastards! You lost 5 lbs of fat and gained 5 lbs of lean muscle? AWESOME!!! Scale doesn't think so. The scale says you didn't do a damn thing. The scale is lying to you!!! Measurements don't lie. A smaller waist doesn't lie. Yes if you have a significant amount of weight to lose then the scale should move over time. Just don't let it be the sole marker of your progress.
3: Motivation: Why are you doing this? Brutal honesty is your best friend here. Noble reasons like longevity, overall health, general wellbeing etc are great. They are and should definitely be a huge part of your long term motivation, but what has you fired up right now? Want to feel less self conscious in a bathing suit at the pool this spring/summer? Fine. Run with it. Want to make your ex-grilfriend sorry she dumped because you look AMAZING? Great...go!!! I don't care what it is. Does buying new gym shoes or clothes get you going? Time to do a little shopping. Motivation can be fleeting. Higher goals are great, but take whatever has you fired up TODAY and make it fuel for your fire! Use a vision board. Corny? Maybe, but whatever. Cut out or print pics that motivate you and put them on a board in a place you can see it daily. Listen to eye of the tiger, the Rocky theme song, and We are the Champions a couple times a week! I couldn't care less how menial or corny these things may seem. Basic psychology can tell us all about how powerfully subliminal messages and visual images can affect us. Find the fuel and make the fire. Keep it burning.
4: Long term goals and a timeline: This one is pretty easy. Where is your happy point? What is it that you have in your mind that completes the sentence "if I could just.....?" If I could just lose 50 lbs. If I could just get stronger. If I could just put on those old jeans I love. If I could just feel comfortable in my own skin. If I could just have more energy to play with my grandchildren. There are LOTS of "If I could just..." stories. We all have one. What fills in the blank for you? What's a reasonable timeline? If the goal is to lose 50 lbs then a month is NOT a reasonable timeline. A year is reasonable. Set yourself up for success here. Be realistic. Talk to your coaches and trainers about reasonable timelines. If they tell you that you CAN lose 50 lbs in a month then simply look for a new trainer!
5: Short term goals and timelines: This is one of the most critical steps in the outline. Success leads to confidence and satisfaction which in turn leads to motivation. There is a cycle forming here! If you set out to lose 5 lbs in a month and repeatedly fail to accomplish this you will quit. It's that simple. Nobody wants to feel like a failure. Setting these short term reasonable and attainable goals AND being successful with them will keep you going. The big picture is great. It's everything really, but it takes patience. We don't live in a society of patience. We get what we want and we get it fast these days. Services are fast, information is fast, food is fast. We want it NOW! (Ever get frustrated because your phone is showing you the spinning wheel of death? "Smart phone my ass!!!! Come on you stupid thing!!!!" You have a super computer in the palm of your hands. It is currently checking the capital of Uzbekistan for you so you can settle an argument with your buddy at your favorite watering hole and you are pissed because it's taking exactly 7.3 seconds longer than you want to wait! Settle down Sparky. It's coming. Welcome to the give it to me now society! Tashkent is the capital by the way. Yes I had to look it up.) I digress. SET ATTAINABLE GOALS AND MEET THEM!!!!
6: The 3 most important steps in your action plan: What steps do you need to take to meet your short term goals. Here's an example. 1: Bring gym clothes to work with me and go straight there. If I catch sight of my couch it's over! 2: Prep my meals for work and stop going out for lunch or going to the vending machine. 3: Contact my workout buddy and make sure he/she is getting their butt to the gym today too! Identify 3 areas that you fall short on and figure out how to fix them/avoid them. Create proactive steps that leave you no excuses!
7: Accountability: Create a system of accountability for yourself. Tell your friends your plan. Announce it on facebook. Find a workout buddy. Hire a trainer. Join a gym that actually cares if you show up or not. (If we haven't seen you in a while you WILL get a text or an email from us making sure you are okay and getting you back in our doors if we can.) Set up some small rewards for yourself if you stay on track with your weekly or monthly goals. Find a way to keep yourself checking in to see if you are getting it done. DON'T give yourself room for excuses.
8: Things you can sacrifice: Identify the things that you know you can and should sacrifice regularly. Chips and cookies should be gone. Bye soft drinks! Excessive amounts of alcohol. Eating out regularly. Every game night with your friends. This doesn't mean these things need to be gone for life. Just identify problem areas and realize that they need to be moderate and occasional things if you are going to meet your goals. Cut back on them significantly.
9: Things you can't/won't sacrifice: We all have something we just won't give up. Cream or some honey in your coffee. A couple squares of dark chocolate at night. That glass of big bold red wine you love so much. That cold dark beer you love. (Be right back....i just got hungry and thirsty!) You don't have to be inhuman to meet your goals. You just absolutely MUST exercise moderation. If your "Can't sacrifice" is 4-6 beers nightly or 4 big glasses of wine every day then you simply aren't ready for this. (And maybe you should go to AA. Just sayin...) This needs to be a small pleasure that won't have a massive effect on the grand plan. Be reasonable and honest here. Taco Bell 3-4 days a week isn't going to work.
10: Pick where you are going to train: Where you choose to train can have a profound effect on your consistency and results. Pick a place you love. Pick somewhere that has some community. Making friends at your gym of choice is big. It makes the whole experience much more enjoyable. Choose a facility that has quality trainers and coaches who care about your progress and goals. Choose somewhere that fits your budget and schedule. As a Crossfit affiliate I will say my small piece on price point. Are we more expensive? Yes. Is it worth it? Yes! If you are in a good Crossfit box you should have superior and well organized programming, accountability checks (we know if it's been 10 days since your last visit and we will call you out on it!), a close relationship with the owner and staff who know your name and care about you, and an experience that is as close as you'll get to personal training without the much larger price tag. Big box gyms can be great if you have a plan, know how to execute it, are highly motivated, and don't mind being member number 77675.2A. Just be mindful of what you get for the price you pay. A membership to the local $12 a month and "we hope you never show up" fitness center does you no good if in fact you don't show up or waste your time wandering around when you do. Simply skipping a single night at the bar and a night eating out at your local Mexican Restaurant once monthly will pay for the membership. A pretty fair trade I'd say!
You're done. That's your fitness outline. You have a plan now. You have a starting point. Post it where you see it every day. Check your progress weekly, monthly, quarterly. Stay on track with the short term goals. CRUSH them! Change and reset them repeatedly. Reassess your motivation regularly. Maybe it started with looking good at the pool. Maybe you are more interested in running a faster mile or squatting more weight now? Great! Change the motivation. Print new copies of your outline. It should be evolving constantly.
Every single person that has ever managed to make big changes in their health and lifestyle eventually started really believing "I CAN do this!" It takes several small victories to get to that point. This belief breeds consistency which will lead you to long term success. They had a plan and they stuck to it. YOU have that plan now. It should be sitting right in front of you on paper. Be patient. It won't happen overnight, but it will happen over months. Allow yourself some failures without quitting. You won't meet every short term goal. You'll have bad days and a bad week here and there. Do not listen to that stupid voice in your head saying "Just quit. You aren't cut out for this." That voice is an asshole! Silence it. Get back on track immediately and get back to work. Surround yourself with people who believe in you and support you. That positive energy is infectious and it will keep you going. Go get what you want. You deserve it and you'll feel so good and be so proud of yourself that it will spill over into every aspect of your life. You've got this!
Go forth and lift all the heavy things! Kyle Hopkins.