When you sit there and imagine how comfortable and confident you feel being around people on the beach, you know you’ve got the body you’ve always wanted in life.
But, how do you get there?
What is it that you need to do to feel that great?
These seven steps are simple: they’re not overly difficult, but they’re not easy either. If you follow them, you’ll be well on your way to feeling confident, full of energy and happy with life.
Step 1 – Make a plan
This is where people often go very wrong and it’s only the start!
I’ve had quite a few conversations with individuals who want to improve their health, fitness and well-being. We talk about making a plan, but often times I hear statements like:
“That’s it! I’m going low carb!”
“I’m going on the 5/2 plan.”
“I’m going to train every day of the week! I’ll be looking fab in no time!”
Unfortunately, what they fail to realise is that for any programme to work, you need to first plan it out.
This means setting some SMART goals:
- Time bound
But, wait… there should be an extra T in there too!
This is around what you want to see from your hard work.
What should you plan?
Make your first plan to write a lifestyle diary.
This isn’t going to just log things. It’ll be a diary about what you ate, how much you drank (all drinks whether you think they’re good or bad) and how you slept (don’t forget that good quality sleep is critical to your energy levels, so if your sleep is starting to suffer then your results will too).
Plan how long you’re going to stick to your plan. If you start off with a plan that says, “I’m going to not eat chocolate” and you don’t put a time frame in there then it’s possible you won’t achieve it.
Also, plan in some days off: for both what you eat and the days you’ll exercise. We all need some days where we relax the restrictions a little (a good rule of thumb is for this to be no more than one tenth of the time).
This includes planning a reward into your week. No one is going to be 100% good for a full 12 weeks without a slip up. We all love a little treat now and then. If you start things on a Monday morning then by Tuesday dinner a lot of people are ready to give up: it’s not been even 48 hours and they’re ready to stop.
Also, it’s rare to find a 12-week block when nothing “comes up”. Remember that sometimes the best laid plans still go to pot, so planning will help you get back on track quickly if those slipups come.
The plan should also include: what you’re going to train, how often you’ll train and what programmes will be on what days. A common error with training programmes is the lack of consistency by not having the following in place:
- A well-designed training programme (or several)
- A real format for what to train on what days
- A progression plan for increasing the intensity of the programmes as you progress
Remember: the body adapts by repetition and increased stimulation, so consistency is key to maintaining a programme. And, sometimes this adaptation can take longer for some individuals.
Once you have the plan, review it daily and review how the week went.
This is where having some support can really help: they’ll see things that you could miss and will be able to highlight your activities from a different point of view.
Step 2 – Learn about food and nutrition
Reading the nutrition labels on the food that we buy makes good sense. I know we’re all in a bit of a rush at the supermarket, but try to take an extra ten minutes when you’re doing your weekly shop to see what’s on the label.
Important things to look out for are the amounts per 100g (which I’m sure you do), but also look at how much the producer suggests as a “portion”, as that might be only part of the “per 100g” or it can be significantly more.
Learning about additives and other ingredients that food manufacturers add to food will also be beneficial.
The point here is to learn to read food labels and learn what you’re actually eating.
Let’s take an example. I don’t react well when I eat gluten, so I ensure that before putting something in my trolley that I:
- Double check the ingredients
- Understand what I’m going to be eating
- Help other people get great results without being bored
Myth: healthy food doesn’t have to be boring, but it’s up to you to make things interesting; however, interesting doesn’t always come in a packet.
In my 15 years’ experience coaching people, the one complaint I hear a lot is that when someone chooses to eat more healthily what they eat becomes boring. Well, it only turns out that way if you let it.
Not even Gordon Ramsay can make chicken taste interesting if he’s only using chicken. It takes seasoning and extra ingredients, so don’t be afraid to try adding different seasonings to your meals.
Top tip: buy a good cook book and try a different recipe every week.
Your aim with this should be to become a master of knowing how to make several healthy meals that you enjoy eating and can cook easily.
If something is hard work or it doesn’t taste too great then there will always be an excuse for not doing it, which is a little like when someone always finds an excuse to not go workout.
When it comes to food labels, it takes time but once you know what you are looking for it’s easy to spot many of the hidden issues.
Step 3 – An exercise programme that’s right for you
Movement as part of your exercise sessions at the gym or fitness club, as a whole, will be a huge part of achieving your goals.
Depending on what type of exercise you do, you can increase the base amount, and this is where having a specifically designed exercise programme comes into play.
Why? Because just walking into the gym and doing a random training programme will help, but walking in there and completing a programme that is specifically designed for your body – to help improve your posture, correct any weaknesses and shape your body to how you want it to look – is so much better.
I see people in the gym who are training, and I can see a difference between the people who have had personal trainers and people who have literally stumbled into there with the “I’m going to do it myself!” mindset.
That is fine, but if they “read the instruction manual first” then they’d see better results!
A well-balanced exercise programme is just as important as a well-balanced food plan. When we meet new clients we always assess them to understand their goals and what they’ve been eating. If someone is neglecting things then it can show in their posture or in areas where they are suffering with undiagnosed pain.
When you start training it should always reflect your goals and improve your body’s ability to move, not make things worse.
For example, doing press-ups every day with help strengthen your chest, but it will also not be good for your posture. Balancing this exercise with an exercise for your back muscles is a must.
Step 4 – Drink more water
Dehydration can seriously affect what you want to achieve. Your body uses water for a whole host of things: repairing your muscles after going to the gym, carrying minerals to different parts of your body for energy, and giving you more clarity when you’re at work.
Lots of people are currently dehydrated. So, what’s the general advice about hydration and ensuring you consume enough water?
Take 0.037 and multiply it by how much you weigh in kilograms. If you tend to sweat a lot during training sessions then you should drink more than this.
Can you drink too much water? Not really.
And keep in mind that although teas and coffees are made with water, they shouldn’t contribute to your water total. So, however much water you should be drinking a day, only count clean, clear water (and no, wine doesn’t count ?).
Step 5 – Seek professional advice
Professional help will reduce the amount of time it will take you to reach your health and fitness goals.
Think for a moment: if we were to go skydiving then we wouldn’t just charter a plane, grab our parachute and jump out at 10,000 feet hoping to have a really good time. Not without some kind of direction, guidance or lessons from a professional.
Well, it’s the same with health and fitness. Anyone could come and see me, as a professional in the industry, and after a short assessment to identify the right exercises they’ll have the right plan to carry out what they want (even if they have chronic pain or an injury).
Let’s take an exercise as an example: the squat. This exercise is GREAT for everyone because it’s a powerful motion that provides stability, movement and focuses your body on using energy for a sustained period.
If you were doing a regular squat then there are a lot of different ways to change your stance, and how the movements are carried can have a real impact and effect on the body.
Then, if we altered the angle of one of your joints by just 15 degrees the body considers it to be a completely different exercise (for example, this could be turning your legs outwards during the movement).
This turns your regular squat into more of a sumo squat.
Sounds complicated? It is in reality. That’s why it’s advisable to hire a good personal trainer.
A good personal trainer is a like a good accountant: they save you time, money and a lot of pain!
Step 6 – Reward yourself the right way
When you’re putting your plan together it’s important to reward yourself along the way.
These rewards can come in 100s of ways too. Things like:
- A massage
- A cheeky drink at the weekend
- Buying something special
Just remember: you don’t want to undo all of your hard work by treating yourself too much.
This means that you could have 3.5 gin and tonics to a pint of beer.
And, if you’re not really one for going out and celebrating then you might want to reward your hard work with a nice purchase.
Something like a nice watch or a handbag can serve as a helpful reminder for your hard work each time you look at it!
If you’re on a meal out, don’t forget to check the place’s menu online beforehand (after you check the reviews for what’s nice to eat, of course!); plan a little and be prepared to make the best choices for you.
This ensures you have the information for when you’re all there around the table deciding what to choose and sizing up what everyone else is having.
And, it’s probably going to be a special meal with your friends and your partner, so there are some social expectations set already. The best thing is to be prepared.
Step 7 – Be focused and ask for help
Take responsibility, but don’t be afraid to ask for some help.
It can be a long lonely road trying to get the body you’ve always wanted, and most people struggle for two reasons:
- Focus on your plan will be higher on some days than others. It’s important to recognise when the “other” days are.
- Friends will want to reward you for being good, but that might not be great for you all of the time. Accepting “treats” from friends and family are great, but they could hinder your progress.
So, get them involved. Ask one of your friends to be a backup buddy as well as a professional, to help keep you on track. Your backup buddy should be someone whose path aligns with yours.
This can be a partner, as long as they understand that you’re going to have days when you won’t be your usual self.
When you have someone there to help you along the way you’ll be more likely to succeed and keep going. So, seek out as much as you can.
It’s important that they’re aware of the plan too. If not, they might get in the way of all the hard work – not because they want to but because of love through rewards for being well behaved or sticking to the plan.
This can be avoided at the start by bringing them into your circle and making them aware of what you’re planning.
7 Steps To Your Success
Seven simple steps to getting the body you’ve always wanted. It’s going to be a great journey and I’m sure you’ll enjoy most of it.