“Sometimes you have to dive in head first” – Admiral McRaven
Although I am sure a lot of people have said this quote before, to me it is most memorable coming from Admiral William McRaven, a Navy SEAL, in his UT commencement speech. With regards to health, fitness, and weight loss, so many people don’t know where to start, so they never do. They spend so much time trying to find the best diet plans and exercises that they never begin to achieve their health goals. To live a healthy life you do need to learn some basic skills such as how to prepare healthy food and how to workout, but these will be learned over time. If you are just starting out, I believe it is most important to dive head first into the deep end and begin exercising using your current skills. Get your workouts in, and learn as you go. Never procrastinate and keep the momentum up.
“How old would you be if you didn’t know how old you are?” – Satchel Paige
“I’m getting old” is a common phrase I hear from someone who is groaning while standing up, hand on their lower back supporting the tightness and pain. A common reply might be “age is but a number”, and this is very true. Our age often defines us, but what if your birth date was never recorded. If the record of your age is only how you look and feel, what age do you think you would be? If your real age is 40, if you are in great shape and healthy the answer may be lower, and higher if you are carrying a few extra pounds and added stress. The truth is once you get older, age may as well be measured as years remaining rather than years lived. So how old are you?
“Most people never run far enough on their first wind to find out they’ve got a second” – William James
For runners, the idea of a second wind is that when you are running and you are beginning to hit the wall, you will get to a period where you will begin to feel refreshed for seemingly no reason. While on a run, getting a second wind is often the motivation and the feeling you need to keep going and to finish your run. In order to get your second wind, you may need to run miles on empty. During this period most people decide they are too tired to continue and quit their run before they get to their second wind. The trick is to push yourself through the tough times knowing that soon you will reach that second wind which will drive you home.
“Thinking and doing are two very different things”
I have heard friends and family say all too often “I’m going to get back in shape” or “I’m going to lose weight”. Those are my least favorite quotes. Those quotes show good intentions but not good actions. Thinking you are going to reach your health goals is nothing without the actions to support it. Do not skip the step that turns thoughts into plans, and plans into action, because to reach your health goals, your goals need to come off out of your mind and into the physical world.
“Don’t stop when it hurts, stop when you’re done!”
We will all have those workouts where we get 3/4 of the way through and our lungs are burning, we can’t talk without gasping for air, and our muscles want to quit. Even when it hurts, it’s important to remember that you will get the most out of your workout if you push through and finish what you started. Your body might tell you no, but your mind is more powerful than your body. Go in with the mindset that it will be challenging, and that you will conquer the challenge, regardless of the effort it takes. Then when you’re done, you will know you are in full control of your mind and body.
“I’m not telling you it’s going to be easy, I’m telling you it’s going to be worth it” -Art Williams
Whether you are doing a regimented health challenge or you are taking your own steps to become a healthier individual, set your goals knowing it’s not going to be easy. Along the way you will encounter sweat, tears, and often a lack of motivation. You must push through because health goals are worth it in the end. There is no better feeling that hitting that first weight milestone, running your fastest mile, or increasing your weight on the bench press. In order to reach that feeling it won’t be easy. Push on, work hard, and stay motivated. It’s going to be worth it.
“You’re never too busy, it’s just a matter of priorities”
When you aren’t finding enough time to exercise or to plan and cook healthy meals, then it is time to check your priorities. Conduct a time audit, look and see what you are doing throughout the day and ask yourself if it is more important than a workout. If you discover that you spend an hour a day watching TV, then that time could instead be used for some exercise. Rank your daily activities in order of importance, and make sure something that benefits your health is near the top of your priorities list.
“Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional.” – Haruki Murakami
When you are exercising pain is inevitable. The pain often begins with the sound of an alarm clock and continues until the last muscle is no longer sore. You attitude toward this pain means the world to your progress. To ensure you are getting the most out of it, don’t see it as suffering. If you perceive your workouts or healthy meals as something that is ‘the worst’, then your attitude won’t allow for long-term progress. Embrace the pain, but never suffer as a result. Always keep a positive attitude.
“If you get 1% better at something every day then it is a successful day”
Let’s look at an example of this. If you want to get better at walking, and you get better at it 1% every day, how far will you be walking after a year of 1% a day increases? If you started by walking 1 mile before you were burned out and could not walk any farther, by the end of the year you would be walking almost 38 miles before you were done! That’s the power of compounding. So if you choose something and get better at it 1% a day, by the end of the year you’ll be 38 times better at it.
“If you want to succeed, you have to commit to it wholeheartedly”
Many of us are afraid of commitment. Whether it is commitment to a new significant other, a new pet, your work, or your health, commitment can leave us feeling vulnerable, like we are going to miss out elsewhere, or it could even make us feel trapped. Commitment is also scary because we are required to take away time from one area of our lives and transfer it to a new commitment. Our bodies, unless tended to continuously, will not stay healthy unless we fuel it with good foods and exercise. That is why we must wholeheartedly commit to living a healthy life. Without complete commitment, any health gains will be swiftly lost when our fear triumphs over previous efforts.
“Don’t complain, 80% of people don’t care and 20% of people are happy you have them” – Lou Holtz
When you complain the brutal chances are the person you are talking to does not care. This doesn’t have to be because they are mean people, but when you are working out it should feel uncomfortable, for everyone. Complaining about how much pain you are in or how sore you are will cause the other person to roll their eyes because they are feeling the same thing. There are also the people who are happy you are complaining because it makes them feel better about themselves. If you complain about being unable to lose weight, they will be happy you are overweight because it makes them feel better about their weight. Then the only benefit of complaining is for the other person to feed off of your complaints. So when it doubt, stay positive and keep your complaints to yourself.
“People will choose unhappiness over uncertainty” – Tim Ferriss
In general, we are not risk takers. Once we get into a routine, that routine becomes very hard to break. So instead of changing, we choose to stay the same partly because we do not know what the results of the change will be. Getting into a rut that is not good for your health, such as eating junk food or not exercising, can be hard to break, especially when there is a voice in the back of your head saying that no matter what you do, you won’t be able to reach your goals. Although there is uncertainty in making a lifestyle change, you cannot let your previous actions stay and become your future actions, because you will stay where you are currently at, and will not make the progress you want to see.
“You are one decision away from a totally different life”
Have you had a moment in your life when everything seemed to change, such as meeting your future spouse, having a kid, or a near death experience? These experiences are the ones that define and change who we are. While events like these are often unexpected, they can also be driven by decisions that you make. Choosing to make changes now to live a healthier life, even if they are small, could be one of those life changing events. One decision to make a small change to your diet or exercise patterns could lead to a happier, healthier life.
“Don’t ever, ever ring the bell” – Admiral McRaven
William McRaven was a U.S. Navy SEAL, and during SEAL training if you wanted to quit, all you had to do was ring the bell. Quitting was easy, succeeding in training was not. If you set a health goal for yourself it is very easy to ring the bell and give up. But don’t ever, ever ring the bell. No matter how hard it gets, always keep your goal in mind, and keep pushing yourself until you achieve it.
“The best way to predict the future is to create it” – President Abraham Lincoln
This quote is a good example of one that wasn’t intended for health but fits well. If you have a vision for your future self, the only way to become who you want to become is to take action. Sculpt and create yourself so that your vision becomes a reality. If you fail to take action toward your goals, the future becomes uncertain, filled with “ifs” and “I don’t knows”. But if you take the steps to own your future, then it can easily be predicted.
“It’s not whether or not you get knocked down, it’s whether or not you get back up” – Vince Lombardi
Failure is always an option. You will always have up and downs during your training, and your mentality and your perseverance will determine whether or not you can turn that failure into success. Getting knocked down is part of the process, but the only option you should put on the table when you get knocked down is to get back up and keep going. Sometimes it will feel like you are taking 1 step forward and 10 steps back. This is when you shouldn’t be afraid to keep taking that 1 step despite the outcome. No matter how long it takes or how many times you find yourself on the ground, keep getting back up, and never stop moving forward.
“Age is no barrier, it’s a limitation you put on your mind” – Jackie Joyner-Kersee
Telling yourself you are too old to do something is a lie. You’re never too old to make a life change. If you have a health goal, go for it and do not use your age as an excuse. I’ve seen people over 100 years old run marathons and both power-lifters and triathletes in their 90s, yet sadly it is usually people in their mid-lives that I see using their age as an excuse to change their eating habits or to lose weight. Contrary to popular belief, you can teach an old dog new tricks, so do not mentally limit yourself because you believe you are too old to do something.
“Persistence can change failure into an extraordinary achievement” – Marv Levy
I can’t stress enough that if you want to meet your health goals, you will have setbacks and failures, you will have days where you want to quit, but the key to success is being able to persist through failures. Even if you are failure free, health goals should be lifestyle based and should persist throughout your entire life. Never let your guard down with your health. Be persistent with your workouts and healthy diet, and you will find that you will achieve goal after goal.
“If you fail to prepare, you’re prepared to fail” – Mark Splitz
Preparation is the key to success. If you have a goal, you need to prepare a plan to achieve it. If you don’t have a plan before you begin a workout plan or a diet, then you are not setting yourself up for success. Your preparations need to be both long term and short term. Long term, prepare to set aside as much time as you need over the coming months or years to achieve your goal. Mentally prepare for the time it will take. Short-term preparation can be anything from making sure you get a healthy meal before a workout to layout out your clothes the night before. Always take the time to prepare, or you will be prepared to fail your goals.
“What makes you something special is not just what you have to gain, but what you feel there is to lose” – Andre Agassi
The common fitness goals I hear people setting for themselves include them wanting to look better and feel better. People want to improve their lives when they go on a diet or an exercise program, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with this. People generally focus on the gains when it comes to living healthier, but unfortunately I never hear anything about what people have to lose by not working out or eating healthy. By not living a healthy life you risk losing your health and thus your money in medical bills. You risk having less time with your family either because of your lifespan or your inability to get around. You risk being able to play sports or go to the park with your family, friends, or pets. Your younger self had a lot of plans for later in life and in retirement, do not lose the ability to have the life you want because you skipped taking care of yourself.
“Excellence is the gradual result of always trying to do better” – Pat Riley
When you take the first step to achieving a new goal, sometimes you don’t realize that you are walking a tightrope suspended above your fears and harnessed by your discipline. To keep your balance you must take one careful step at a time, slowly moving toward your goals with patience and grace. Health and fitness are not attained through half-hearted thoughts, but rather through actions repeated and refined over time. The first step may be difficult as you step out onto the line, yet the more you walk, the gradual progress will shape your excellence. Without the discipline and motivation to improve, you will fall into your fears.
“Don’t say you don’t have enough time. You have exactly the same number of hours per day that were given to Helen Keller, Bill Gates, Michelangelo, Mother Teresa, Leonardo da Vinci, Thomas Jefferson, and Albert Einstein.” – H. Jackson Brown, Jr
Probably the most common excuse I hear preventing someone from exercising is they don’t have enough time to workout. In this quote, it is brought up that we all have the same amount of hours in a day, but some people, such as the successful icons in this quote, still accomplished extraordinary feats. The same can be applied to everyday health and fitness. Any time you set a health goal and feel like you do not have enough time, just remember there is someone out there that had the same goal and the same time constraints, but still managed to achieve it. Try to learn from the people who have already achieved the goal you want to achieve, because they too struggled in the beginning, but their mental toughness was too strong not to succeed. If they can do it, you can too.
“The body is a mirror of how we live our lives” – Lissa Rankin, MD
When you look in the mirror what do you see? Your reflection not only shows you your physical appearance, but is a reflection of your work, hobbies, family, discipline, mind, and faith. The health and fitness of your body are a direct representation of you. If you choose to binge your favorite shows on Netflix every day after coming home from a desk job, your body will reflect that. If you choose to workout every day before work, your body will reflect that as well. Your body is not a separate entity from the rest of your life. It is important to connect the body and mind so that when you look in the mirror it shows the outcome of your thoughts and goals.
“Always keep moving, even if you’re just walking”
We all start our health and fitness goals at different levels, but the end state can be the same for all of us. The secret is no matter how far behind you feel, just keep moving. Momentum and consistency is what will lead you to success. If you aren’t getting the results you want right away, then do not give up. Keep walking, crawl if you need to. The goal is to keep moving forward, to never give up, and to establish good habits.
“Limiting the time you’re inactive is even more important than exercise” – Tom Rath
What is more beneficial, taking 10,000 steps over the course of a day, or exercising for an hour and taking 5,000 steps during that one hour workout? I would take the 10,000 steps over the course of the day. Having a healthier lifestyle is not just a formula of exercise and dieting, it goes much deeper into how we spend our day. If we work a job that requires us to be on our feet all day, we will already have a leg up to staying healthy. Sometimes we cannot choose a job that allows us to be active all day, but we can choose our weekend and week night activities. On family night instead of playing a board game, try going to the park. Or instead of hiring a company to mow your lawn, do your own yard work as a way to stay active. The more sedentary you are throughout the week the more likely you are to acquire health concerns, even if you exercise regularly.