Raise your hand if you have jumped into a diet blindly, hoping to lose weight permanently, but you ultimately reverted back to your old lifestyle?
Ok now everyone put your hands down.
While I am a huge proponent of the just do it mentality, there are a few things (which most people skip over) that will be the difference between falling back into big-belly-syndrome and being a really successful greek-god-looking stud.
It’s like building a house with a foundation. If you plan ahead and build that foundation, your house is much more likely to withstand the test of time. If you don’t, it could crumble at any time.
Ok, I know you are chomping at the bit and you have your diet or your workout plan ready to go – so let’s get started.
WRITE DOWN YOUR GOALS
Your Forehead Is A Great Notepad
The most important thing you can do to ensure that you become a strong, fit, specimen of a man, is to write down your freakin’ goals.
And make sure that those goals are in front of your face everyday.
I know it sounds easy, but it pains me to see that most people blindly jump into a cookie-cutter workout that they find online without figuring out specifically why they are working out.
I feel that pretty much anybody can follow pretty much any workout and get decent results.
However, without a goal there is no light at the end of the tunnel to keep you motivated to keep crushing your workouts.
What else is going to get you to get up at 6am to hit the gym?
What else is going to get you to spend your hard-earned money to buy spinach and organic chicken at the grocery store instead of the frozen meat-lovers pizza that’s not delivery?
The answer is a goal. A goal to remind you “oh yea, THAT’S why I have to do 50 burpees tonight – because I want to look like a stud for my wife in the bedroom” or “I want to do a triathlon next year.”
Whatever your goal is, it will guide you through a rather large lifestyle change that would otherwise end up at a Dairy Queen.
So start here, do it now, right this second – write down 1 or 2 specific goals and why you want to reach them.
Something like “Lose 20lbs of fat. Complete a 5k race. Because I’m a man.” – is fine, but you have to stick to it.
Now you have to make sure that those goals are somewhere that you look everyday.
Scratch that, it has to be somewhere that you pay attention to everyday.
So the background of your phone probably won’t work – honestly without looking can you remember what’s on the background of your phone?
Good, because I can’t.
Instead of just setting your alarm every morning to get up, set a reminder on your phone that says “20lbs. 5k. I’m a man.” Then set that reminder to go off at your regular wakeup time.
This will get your morning started in the right direction to make sure you don’t skip breakfast or schedule an appointment during your workout time.
Be careful with this strategy however, it’s easy to get used to seeing this message so much that your brain becomes immune to the reminder.
If you’re anything like me, your A.D.D. quickly steals your attention from reminders like this.
For this reason, we use an additional tactic.
There is an awesome little product called FollowUpThen. If you use email as much as I do, this is a fantastic tool.
FollowUpThen uses simple email addresses to send reminders to your email inbox.
If you need more email like you need a hole in the head, then you can opt for text message reminders instead with the ‘sms’ function.
It’s like having a coach right there everyday to remind you that you want to live a better life.
firstname.lastname@example.org will send you an email to your inbox 3 weeks from the date you submit the message.
email@example.com send you a recurring reminder in the form of a text message every day at 6am.
Now you might be thinking – why would I want to worry about on more place to get reminders?
Well if you’re even a little bit like me you use more mobile apps daily, then you have fingers and toes – so the last thing you need is one more push notification popping up on your phone.
So instead let’s utilize email and text messaging reminders!
Now with your goal reminders coming up on your reminder apps, in your email and through text messages, it will be tough for you to lose track of your goals.
That is, unless you decide to consciously avoid these reminders by snoozing, archiving or deleting them without taking action.
In that case, you’re doomed!
Just kidding, but you better get your priorities straight if you plan on changing your life for the better.
GET IT OUT OF YOUR SYSTEM
Eat All The Cravings Out Of Your System
Nutritionists around the world are going to cringe at this, but in my professional experience, a ‘last meal’ acts as the perfect trigger to begin your fitness journey.
It allows you to put your cravings behind you for a few weeks while you work hard and achieve progress.
So imagine this…
You’re about to go to an island paradise for the rest of your life that serves only food you have never had before; but you get one more day to eat whatever you want.
What would you eat?
Here’s a list that might contain some of the things you are dreaming about right now:
Taco Bell Gordita Crunch
In And Out Burger Double Double
Chicago-style meat lovers pizza
Chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream
Loaded nachos with “the works”
Mom’s homemade spaghetti and meatballs
Fried chicken and dumplings
French fries (my personal favorite)
General Tso’s chicken and fried rice
These are some of the most delicious foods in the world, but they won’t get you any closer to fulfilling your dream of running a marathon, or turning heads as you walk down the beach in your Speedo.
Because delicious fried, fatty and sugary foods tease our brains like a matador does to a bull, it is very important that you get it out of your system (at least for a while) and get your mind right about your goals.
Give yourself a solid start date to begin your fitness journey.
This date cannot budge, no matter what.
No matter if you’re sick, didn’t sleep well, or if your friends want you to go to your favorite pub for a few beers instead of working out. It doesn’t matter, nothing matters as much as building a healthy life for yourself and your family.
Once you pick your start date, you can schedule an all-you-can-eat feast for the day before if you want.
Or if you don’t want to spend the night testing the durability of your toilet, you can just select your favorite restaurant and go have a delicious meal.
I recommend the latter.
Out of Sight, Out of Mind
Root through your cupboards and get rid of all the junk
Ok now it’s go time.
You probably have bags full of Reese’s Peanut Butter cups, Snickers, and Chips Ahoy! cookies in the cupboard above the microwave.
You might also have 3 frozen pizzas in the freezer, along with some Hot Pockets and a few tubs of ice cream.
Then in the pantry your hoarding cake mix, some gummy worms, some Cheez Doodles and more chips than you could eat in a year.
Sound familiar? Insert whatever junk food you really have in your cupboards and refrigerator, and be honest with yourself as to what qualifies as “junk”.
Be careful that you don’t fall for the “healthy” junk food misconceptions.
There are foods that people might not realize that they are indeed working against them getting in better shape.
Some examples of “healthy” junk:
“healthy” canned soups
any quick “healthy” frozen meal
wholegrain crackers & chips
Condiments and dressings
…and pretty much anything with hydrogenated oils and added sugar
Sorry guys, but if you want to lose that gut, you’ve got to nut up.
Want a body like a greek god?
Well you need to get this stuff out of your house, period.
It’s gotta go.
My suggestion: Give as much of your non-perishables away to a local food pantry, then throw a huge party for you and your friends, cook all the food and drink all the soda and beer.
Wife and kids?
Yup, you guessed it – if your family is hoarding treats in the pantry, chances are your sweet tooth will find it’s way there.
So you have a big family dinner – a healthy one like fire-grilled lemon cajun chicken with mushrooms – then you pull out all of the junk food in the house and say, “I’m going to cook like this for you much more, so that everyone can be healthy, happy, fit and strong.”
Then point to the pile of junk and say, “that will only make you less athletic, more tired and be harmful to your healthy body.”
You might catch a little flack – but hey, if you want to build a healthy, strong family, you need to feed it like one.
This is your family we are talking about, teach them how to live awesome.
Plan It Out
Develop a solid nutrition strategy
You’ve tried diets a hundred times before and they haven’t worked, right?
That’s because you’re dieting, instead of planning a healthy nutrition strategy.
Diets have an end to them, eating healthy does not – it’s a way of life.
Developing a nutritional strategy can be tedious and time intensive if you are training professional athletes or medical patients; but if you are looking to drop a few pounds or cut up a bit, it’s not rocket science.
It’s really not, now let’s go!
Close your eyes: Imagine going through your typical day – waking up, getting the kids out of bed, eating breakfast, getting ready for work, working, lunch, after work activities, family time, before bed activities, etc.
Now imagine where you can fit in 5 meals/snacks spaced out relatively evenly.
Quick write those times down.
Now multiply your bodyweight in lbs times 10-12.
(example: 250 x 10-12 = 2500-3000 cals)
This is your general daily caloric intake for weight maintenance or loss (if you add in exercise and conditioning).
Divide this by 5 and you get the number of calories per meal you should be eating.
(example: 2500-3000 / 5 = 500-600 cals)
Finally, try to get roughly 30% protein, 30% fat and 40% carbs for a balanced diet
3000 cals x 30% = 900 cals for protein and fat
3000 cals x 40% = 1200 cals for carbs)
(Note: calorie requirements rely heavily on activity levels, age, and body type – these are very basic recommendation that have worked for many men)
After noting the above ‘note’, please rest assure that if you do calculate this, exercise and stick to it, it will work.
For general fat loss, it really is that simple.
You’ve Gotta Shop the Shop
Write down your grocery list and get to the market
Ok time to get your kitchen on track.
Now this is the tricky part – there is no way around it – you have to refrain from buying anything that will throw you off course.
Just because you buy a bushel of kale, doesn’t mean you can buy a box of Zebra Cakes® to treat yourself.
If you really want to earn an awesome body, you have to have an awesome grocery list.
There are a variety of different ways to eat healthy, and many people have different nutritional requirements – but here is a grocery lists to get you going (Pick at least 2-3 from each category):
|The Awesome Grocery List|
- Grass-fed Beef (It’s high in protein and antibiotic-free)
- Pastured Chicken (It’s high in protein and raised in it’s natural environment)
- Wild Salmon (again, natural environment with less pesticides, diseases and waste)
- Kefir (High in protein and has tons of active cultures that help digestion)
- Pastured Eggs (see Pastured Chicken)
- Quinoa (Protein-packed grain that is gluten-free)
- Protein/ Meal replacement powder
- Black Beans
|The Awesome Grocery List|
- Steel-Cut Oatmeal
- Whole Wheat pasta
- Brown Rice
- Ezekiel Bread
- Sweet Potato
- Bran Cereal
- Swiss chard
- Organic Apples
|The Awesome Grocery List|
- Flax seed
- Almond Butter
- Macadamia nuts
- Brazil nuts
- Sesame seeds
- Pumpkin seeds
- Olive, canola, and peanut oils
Ok now that you have a grocery list to pick from, you can stock up on muscle-building, fat-burning, stud-producing super foods.
But how do you turn these groceries into power-packed meals?
I could spend hours diving into nutrition plans, but for the sake of the just do it format of this post (thanks Nike), I have listed a few sample meal plans to get you started.
(The sample meal plans below are based on a 200lb male and are meant for reference only)
– 10 egg whites
– 1¼ cups oatmeal (dry measure)
– 1 cup mixed fruit
– 8 oz. chicken breast
– 2 slices of Ezekiel bread
– Whey protein shake (2 scoops)
– 1 small to medium apple
Meal 4 (post workout):
– 8 oz. turkey breast
– 2-3 cups cooked regular pasta or white rice (starch carbs for energy replenishment)
– 8 oz. ground beef (95% lean)
– 1 slice low-fat cheese
– 2 slices whole-grain bread
– 1 piece fruit
– Whey protein shake (2 scoops)
-1 cups oatmeal
-2 cups kefir, 10 strawberries
-1/2 block of extra firm tofu, scrambled with spinach and peppers
-1 almond butter sandwich: 2 slices of Ezekiel bread, 2 tbsp almond butter
-Black bean chili with 1 can black beans, 1/2 pack seitan, and veggies
-1 baked sweet potato
Meal 4 (post workout):
-Protein shake or 2 cups kefir & Banana
-1 large spinach salad
-1/2 cup lentils, cooked with veggies and spices over -1/2 cup brown rice
-1/2 pound steamed broccoli
-2 tbsp almond butter spread on celery sticks
Invest In Your Accountability
Or Get Someone Else To
For most of us, the hardest part of living a healthy, fit lifestyle is accountability.
Do you notice how much easier it is to follow a fitness routine when you have an appointment.
Or how about if you spend $400 on a 12-week boot camp – it’s much easier to stick to it because you have invested in that program; in yourself.
Investing in and maintaining accountability is the single most important step to ensuring a lifetime of health and fitness.
Setting up an accountability system is the most important step to your success; but only if you are absolutely serious about changing your life.
Let me tell you a quick story:
A few years ago a young man came to the facility that I was training at, looking for a place that could help him learn how to live a healthier lifestyle.
He was 280 lbs.
He had tried every diet under the sun: The South Beach Diet, The Atkins Diet, Weight Watchers.
With every diet that he tried, he lost 15-30 lbs – but as soon as the diet ended, he reverted right back to his old, ‘comfortable’ lifestyle.
Because these diets had and end to them, he lost his accountability after every single one of them.
When he walked in the doors of Trillium Fitness Center, a weight loss facility in Syracuse, NY and the club I was training out of at the time, he had all the accountability in the world for as long as he needed.
Trillium offered programs and nutritional plans that were flexible and customizable, the coaches tailored everything to the individuals that needed it, and most importantly the community of others who were struggling with the same issues was surrounding him.
He lost 100 lbs in 6 months, safely.
While this story is only one example of one person, it shows that accountability is such a powerful step to setting yourself up for success.
My suggestion is to do one of the following things to invest in accountability and ensure continued success:
- Join a program that has a low-cost maintenance program that allows you to remain in their fitness community. This will allow you to keep your head in the game while changing your programs up for continued success.
- Get a workout partner who has similar goals to your own. Commit to that person that for an entire year, you will give them your undying support and motivation towards their goals – if they will do the same for you.
- Seek a mentor who has been through what you are about to embark on. Someone who has successfully lost weight and kept it off for more than a year.
By establishing one of these accountability systems you are solidifying that you can’t just stop your journey without answering to someone invested in your success.
If you want to lose weight and never, ever put it back on – take a few days to really plan your attack.
There are a million resources on the Internet where you can find free workouts and diets – but nothing will work without the foundation.
Think carefully about the six steps above and plan for ultimate success.