Whether you want to impress that guy or girl you like, finally get the abs of your dreams, or run a marathon — there are a few common reasons why people continue to fall short of their goals.
Perfected through years of competitive weightlifting, marathon running, and racing IRONMAN triathlons — these five principles are battle-tested and proven to be incredibly effective. And they’ll help you avoid the common mistakes people make when trying to get in better shape.
1. Don’t Worry About Your Gear
I have a friend who constantly tells me he wants to get healthier, lose weight, and start exercising more. Because fitness is a huge part of my life, this makes me super happy. Nonetheless, he always seems to get stuck planning to get healthier rather than actually executing on it.
My friend is really interested in cycling, which is a great way to start building healthier habits. He already owns a nice road bike, a helmet, cycling shoes, and all the gear he needs.
Nonetheless, he’s constantly shopping for sunglasses, a better cycling jersey, or a bike computer — instead of just going out for a ride.
Like most people trying to get in shape, he spends more time planning and preparing than doing the thing that will actually get him healthier.
I get it — it’s hard and uncomfortable to build a new habit. But at a certain point, you just have to suck it up and start. No amount of planning or preparation will make getting started easier.
The best place to start is with what you have. You don’t need any fancy shoes, clothes, or gadgets. Grab what you have and just do it.
Eventually, the better gear may help. But don’t let a lack of fancy gear be the reason you don’t start in the first place.
2. Stop Waiting for the Stars to Align
If you want to get in better shape, you have to stop waiting for perfect conditions. For the stars to align and the motivation to punch you in the face and drive you towards action.
It’s hard starting something new, let alone trying to build new habits. The perfect conditions would be ideal. But this mentality is never going to help.
The perfect time to start isn’t coming. It’s a fantasy. A hoax. A trick. The conditions are never going to be ideal when you’re getting started.
Regardless of if you start today, tomorrow, or Monday morning, it’s going to be uncomfortable. You’ll sweat just as much, feel just as sore, and struggle just the same.
The only difference is that if you start today, come Monday morning, you’ll feel better, more confident, and it will be that much easier.
3. Consistency Builds Proficiency
When I started running, I was 6'4", 240 pounds, and could barely run a mile without being forced to stop at the risk of passing out. I was big, bulky, and my preferred form of “cardio” was walking to the gym to lift weights.
Fast forward three years and countless miles later, I’ve run two half marathons, two full marathons, and even completed an IRONMAN 70.3 — a long-distance triathlon consisting of a 1.2-mile swim, a 56-mile bike, and a 13.1-mile run.
When I started on this endurance journey, I was terrible. I mean really bad and in awful endurance shape. However, by consistently running, cycling, and swimming, I slowly built myself into an endurance machine.
I’m not special, gifted, or naturally talented — however, I’ve done some things that very few people have or ever will do. And consistency is the reason I was able to do any of it.
What you lack in natural talent or ability, you can more than make up for with consistent action.
Consistent workouts. Consistent running. Consistent effort banging on your craft. The longer I stuck with running, the better I got. Consistency built my proficiency as an endurance athlete.
4. You’re Not Always Going to Want to Do It
As with anything in life, there are going to be times when you don’t want to workout. But just because you don’t want to do something doesn’t mean you shouldn’t.
- I don’t like going to work, does that mean I shouldn’t go?
- I don’t like taking showers and wasting time on the toilet; should I opt out of those too?
- I don’t like making food, should I stop eating?
In life, there are going to be things you don’t want to do. Things that suck.
Oftentimes, it’s the things we don’t want to do that provide us the most benefit of all. Working out and getting in shape is no different.
There are going to be days when you don’t want to workout. Do it anyway. Just like how you only smell good if you shower — you’ll only be in good shape if you work out.
5. Nothing Changes if Nothing Changes
Before you take a sing step, lift a dumbbell, or start a workout, you first have to commit to making a change. If you really want to get healthier, feel better, or finally get abs — you have to be willing to give something up.
It’s not enough to make a resolution to get in better shape. You have to be willing actually to change something in your life.
“Nothing changes if nothing changes.” — Brian Mazza
- It could be walking around the block three times after work. That’s a significant change.
- It could be packing a healthy lunch instead of hitting the food truck. That’s a big change.
- Or it could be exercising 30 minutes a day, four times a week. That’s a huge change.
To change your body, you first have to be willing to change your lifestyle. Getting in better shape is a give and take — to get healthier, you have to give something up, usually in the form of a lifestyle change.
As with most things in life, one of the biggest determinants of fitness success is consistency. Can you shut out all the noise — the self-doubt, wanting new gear, waiting for the right time — and just get the job done? Can you consistently take action towards a healthier you?
Every day will not perfect. Or easy. Or straightforward. But every day that you take a step forward — regardless of how big or small — you’re one step closer to the person you want to be. And that’s what makes all the difference when you’re trying to get in better shape.