While most of us would agree that our health is a top priority, many of us fail to reach the “best shape of our lives” year after year. Whether it’s a lack of time, the know-how, or just plain willpower, life is not always conducive to staying healthy.
The good news is that there are a few time-proven principles that you can apply to your lifestyle to help make your fitness goals a reality. Will it be easy? Not necessarily. Will it be simple and achievable with a little determination? Absolutely!
Know your why
99% of the time you fail it’s not because you can’t, it’s because you don’t want it bad enough. Having a reason that motivates you even on days where you’re not feeling up to it is what separates the successful from the failures.
If I gave you 10 million dollars to wake up every day at 5 a.m. for a year and run 1 mile as fast as you could, could you do it? You bet your ass you’d be up every morning with a big smile on your face ready to get after it, no excuses.
This is because your why is 10 million dollars, a huge source of motivation. In this same way, every person who has a goal has to have a strong enough why behind it in order to keep their motivation high.
Some common whys include better overall health including lowered risk of heart disease, cancer, diabetes, depression, and anxiety. Sometimes your why might be something a little less tangible like wanting to be healthy enough to play with your future grandkids.
Whichever the case, if your why is strong enough, you will figure out how to meet your goals.
The trick here is to set fitness goals for yourself that are big, yet achievable. You’ll never get in the best shape of your life by setting extreme goals, realizing the lifestyle needed to reach them is not sustainable, and then quickly giving up.
Once you have a reasonable goal set, break it down into smaller sub-goals. For example, if your main goal is to lose 20 pounds of fat, one of your sub-goals could be to lose 1 pound per week. You can go even farther by breaking that goal down into a smaller sub-goal of being in a 500 calorie daily deficit (more on that later).
Losing 20 pounds might seem like a daunting task but when you break it down to day-by-day goals you’ll see that it is extremely doable to cut 500 calories from your daily routine.
Track your food daily
The most important thing for weight loss (or gain) is your diet. You can’t outwork a bad diet. Fortunately, we can use this knowledge to our advantage by optimizing our diets.
At the end of the day, it’s all about calories consumed compared to the calories you burn. If you consume more calories (energy) than you burn, your body will store this excess energy in the form of fat to be used at a later time (you have your prehistoric ancestors to thank for this ever so annoying survival adaptation).
My suggestion to you is to use some sort of online calorie calculator to see what your daily caloric needs are. You simply plug in your physical stats like height, weight, and age and it tells you how much someone your size should be eating. Of course, this number will vary from person to person but it is definitely a good starting point.
Once you know your daily caloric needs (~2,500 is the average for men) then you simply subtract 500 calories from that (if you want to lose 1 pound a week). In this example, your goal would be to eat 2,000 calories a day, 7 days a week. The reasoning for this is that a pound of fat contains roughly 3,500 calories. 3,500 calories divided amongst 7 days a week requires a daily deficit of 500 calories in order to lose a pound of fat a week.
Of course, this is a simplified explanation and you’ll have to make some minor adjustments according to your personal goals, but you get the gist.
Track your daily exercise
The second most important thing for getting in the best shape of your life is exercise (bet you didn’t see that one coming). An alternative to cutting 500 calories a day from your diet is to burn off an additional 500 calories through exercise.
If you were to be active throughout the day and burn 3,000 calories and only eat 2,500 calories, you would still be in a 500 calorie deficit.
One thing you should keep in mind is that it is a lot easier to accurately count your calories consumed than your calories burned. Even calorie counters like Fitbit or the Apple Watch can severely overestimate how many calories you burned in a workout. This is why it’s recommended to eat in a caloric deficit and then use the extra calories burned from exercise as icing on your fitness cake.
At the end of the day what you eat is not as important as how much you eat. With that being said it’s not an excuse to eat garbage, but it does mean you can enjoy some dessert once in a while if you plan accordingly.
A lot of times people get on a fitness kick and they start to weigh themselves multiple times throughout a day to see how they are progressing. If you do this you’ll drive yourself crazy!
I know it’s cliché, but Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither will the best version of yourself. Set a goal, achieve your daily goals, and in a few weeks, you should start to make some noticeable progress. Which leads us to the next step.
Track your progress
Tracking your weekly progress is a great tool for staying motivated. It also serves as direct feedback to see what’s working and what’s not. As your body changes so too will the intensity of your workouts.
If you are meeting your weekly goals, then you don’t have to change anything. If you notice your progress is slowing down, reevaluate what steps you need to take to insure your progress doesn’t stall.
Once you have gotten into the best shape of your life, be sure to let everyone know that you are better than them.
Seriously though, getting in the best shape of your life is about doing what’s best for you. If you get some positive attention from others along the way that’s just an added bonus.
It’s okay to be proud of your achievements but don’t be one of those guys that puts others down for failing to reach their goals. Instead, if they’re interested, tell them about your fitness journey and what worked for you.
How much you eat is more important than what you eat (in terms of weight loss or gain). If you eat healthy, low-calorie foods throughout the day and you have room left over in your caloric budget for a cupcake, don’t be afraid to treat yourself once in a while!
Know yourself. If you’re the type to get drunk and devour an entire Taco Bell party pack every weekend, maybe cut back on the drinking.
Surround yourself with good influences. Your parents were on to something when they told you to choose your friends wisely. People who share similar goals as you are a great asset when it comes to getting in the best shape of your life.
Place motivational items where you’ll see them every day. For some, it might be something as simple as a picture of your family. Others might choose something cheesier like a sticky note reminding you that you’re a badass. You do you.
Self-care is very important. Without a healthy body and mind, all the riches in the world won’t make you happy. This is why it is so important to always make time for yourself and your fitness goals.
Of course, being the best version of yourself doesn’t stop at getting in the best shape of your life. No, it takes much more. Luckily, Ulituber has valuable info regarding everything you need for self-care. If you liked this article, you might also be interested in “Time Saving Self Care You Can Implement on a Budget“.
What tips have you had the most success with? I’d love to hear about them in the comment section below!
As always, thanks for reading and good luck with your goals.