If January 1st is the date you choose to start working on your goals, cool. If you’re ready to start now or aren’t starting until February, that’s cool too. I totally understand that the start of the year is a common time to start, I just want you to realize that you can start right now. Literally right now. It’s kind of like saying you’re going to wait until you’re ready to start having kids. Well – you’re never ready, but, if you have kids you know (and if you don’t I bet you can imagine) that they are worth it in every way and you will wonder how you did life before them. Starting your fitness/nutrition journey is the same thing (dramatic, I know). You’ll never be “ready”. No one is, just jump in. The whole reason I’m writing this article is to give you a real approach to losing fat and starting to exercise.
(See what I mean? You can’t possibly be ready for the cuteness in this picture. I can’t even.)
You may be thinking you’re going to drop sugar, drop alcohol, drop skittles and hit the gym 5x/week for an hour because you’re motivated to reach your goal and you plan on “sticking to” your resolution this year. I have no doubt that your intentions to reach your goal are pure. I want to accomplish everything I set out for myself. Surely you’re the same way. Reality tends to be a lot tougher than the utopia that sits between your ears. You probably know this because changing your eating habits and exercising more is perennially the most common New Year’s Resolution.
Let’s flip the script on the concept of going from rating your nutrition and activity a 1 out of 10 to skipping everything in the middle and turning it up to 10 too quickly. Nowhere in the book of making changes does it say that you must go from working out 0 times/week to 5. I can’t find it written down that you must go from being a fast food savant to eating chicken and rice every meal either. Start slower. Make slight changes to your eating. Exercise a couple of times a week. Choose diet soda rather than the regular. Start filling your emotional bank account by stringing together “little wins”.
I know, this seems counterintuitive. I know it doesn’t make sense because with this approach the results will be slower. You’re right. Results this way compared to going all in will be slower. Here’s the catch: you can sustain the slow approach much easier than going all in. I get it, it’s natural to want results now. It may even start off “easy” and you’re killing it. But, 3-4 weeks in when reality sets in and the newness wears off, it starts to suck. You start to creep back into old habits. Once you reach this point you feel like a failure because you’re not exercising “enough” (at least what you think is enough, anyway) or you’re not making the “perfect” food choices you were at the start. You literally can not mess this up. You just can’t. Eat a bad meal? Eat a good one at the next one? Miss a workout? You’re back on track when you hit the gym again. I’ve had this conversation so many times I can’t count them anymore, but, every time I do and frame it like I just did a light bulb goes off in their head. “Messing up” does not mean failure.
Fitness/Nutrition success for you won’t be the same as it is for me. Winning in the kitchen will look different for you than it does for your best friend. That’s why I struggle with blanket recommendations. One size does not fit all. Set goals that meet YOU where YOU are, not by following what someone in the Reddit Fitness thread told you to do.
To show you what I mean, let’s play out a scenario that takes Bill from accounting and shows Bill’s current routine compared to an “all in” strategy and what it looks like to take it slow by using “baby steps”.
Bill knows that his current schedule isn’t conducive to a healthy lifestyle. Knowing and taking action on what you know is the hard part. This is why the “all in” plan can and will give you fits.
Making the decision to change your life is a huge step. I truly mean that. I just want you to reframe what it means to make a life change in the first place. Changing doesn’t mean that you must do a complete 180 from what you are doing now (unless it’s going to kill you, obv).
Bill’s “all in” plan is cool and would yield results no doubt. The reality, though, is that drastic changes like this are very hard to maintain. If you don’t maintain it and fall off the wagon, the results that this plan would have gotten are out the window. Look at the baby steps plan; changes? Yes. Complete overhaul? No. Now tell me which of the two changes would be easier to maintain. I love you, but if you said “all in” you’re lying.
By mastering the baby steps, it makes it easier to progress on a regular basis without completely shocking your mind, stomach and muscles. Of course you’ll get sore and of course you’ll get hungry, but, it won’t be that OMG breathing hurts sore or the “I might eat my shoe lace” kind of hungry. Getting results from fitness and eating right takes time. Why not make the journey a little more doable for yourself? So what if this way takes 6 months when the all in plan may have taken 3-4 (assuming you made it past day 10).
Steady progressions in your fitness and eating habits will get you where you want to go. It’ll take time, but, you’ll make it a habit, a lifestyle. “All in” plans look good on the surface but are fool’s gold. If you were able to change our lives at the flip of a switch don’t you think more people would be healthy by now? It’s the same thing as if exercise was a pill – it would be the most utilized prescription drug on the planet.
You may have noticed that I put *Mason Woodruff Recipe* in the baby steps column. That was not an accident, his recipes are literally the best fat loss recipes I have tried. Not only are they delicious and tasty, they are incredibly easy to make even for a technically challenged chef like myself. Check out his site here and give a few of his recipes a try.
Not to beat a dead horse, but change is hard! It’s ok to admit that. It’s ok to “fail”. It’s ok to want to give up. All that matters is that you try again. You keep starting over.
The only way to truly fail is if you give up for good.