Recently, I've been penning a series of articles on the key components to achievement that people most take for granted.
Most of you seeking physique transformation and weight loss get way too caught up in magic workouts, magic formulas — or what the best tracking apps are — and all the rest.
But the diet and fitness industry has a history of putting the cart before the horse, and putting specifics ahead of generalities.
And almost always, this is a recipe for failure overall.
What I have seen over and over for 40+ years now is that people don’t fail because of the wrong information or simply because of bad guidance.
They fail because they do not set themselves up for success.
It really is this simple, but no one wants to accept this and start with this plan of addressing general lifestyle structure first.
But if you really and truly want to achieve your fitness you have to get your house in order and set yourself up to achieve your goal!
“Not this topic again”? HABITS
Look, this all starts and ends with HABITS.
But no one wants to hear about this.
“Not this again!” *eye roll* … is often the response of people seeking magic answers when the topic comes up.
People who want to succeed at physique transformation need to start facing what the task really is for sustainable physique transformation.
And that task is a change in lifestyle. PERIOD.
And… all lifestyles boil down to one simple word: HABITS
Earlier, I said get your house in order and set it up for success. No house of accomplishment is built without a solid foundation. And the bricks and mortar of this foundation are composed of your habits – good ones combined with absence of bad ones!
Look I don’t care if you read Charles Duhigg, James Clear, Jim Rohn, Stephen Covey, Carol Dweck or our own Michael Forest—whose books on habits can be found here (regarding cravings) and then here (regarding journaling).
If you really and truly want to achieve your weight loss and transformation goals, then you need to read and heed what these people have to tell you. It will be far more important and instructive for you than sets and reps and calories and grams!
The very simple truth is this:
You cannot accomplish what you haven’t truly prepared yourself to accomplish!
And preparation for accomplishment has everything to do with habits. Jim Rohn said “Success is nothing more than a few simple disciplines, practiced every day.”
BOOM! Imagine that. (But instead of imagining it, start believing it, and start practicing it.
Recently, I ran into a man at the grocery store who is well known in the fitness community around here. He’s in his mid 50’s and he looks fantastic. A decade ago, he was obese, out of shape, and addicted to drugs and alcohol. He had a personal trainer in the gym (where I met initially met him) and he was going nowhere with that because of his lifestyle habits.
Drugs and alcohol were his lifestyle, and those were his habits: destructive ones.
Nthing changed for him as long as his house was not in order nor set up for change.
He wanted a physique transformation but he had not prepared himself to achieve it.
So how did he change?
He didn’t practice magic diets and magic workouts to change all that.
He merely swapped lifestyle habits, from his existing destructive ones to newer constructive ones. (In other words, a few simple disciplines practiced every day.) He put his house in order—in order to make the way for his achievement.
You can do the same. But you have to start by honestly and earnestly addressing your habits
Any result or current condition of your life is a direct indicator of your habits. For instance, your finances reflect your spending/saving, your weight reflects your eating—and on and on it goes.
This means that “habits” are what you need to address if your current condition is unsatisfactory to you. “We are what we repeatedly do.” There is no real mystery to your current predicament. You only pretend there is. Your inner work—or lack thereof—will always be reflected in your outer reality:
So here is the secret, for good or ill:
“A POWERFUL MENTAL HABIT LEADS TO A POWERFUL BEHAVIORAL HABIT”
You think a certain way, you will act a certain way to reinforce that thinking.
This means you have to constantly want to change more than you want to stay the same!
You think it was easy-peasy for the man above to give up drugs and alcohol?
That kind of transformation is a monumental task. It requires more than wanting an end result.
It requires wanting to be a different person.
REALITY BYTE + Exericse:
If you want to know who you really are, then first ask yourself who you believe you truly are.
Write it down, and then address—honestly—whether your daily habits reflect who you believe you truly are.
The discrepancy between these two points is your degree of self-delusion vs your authenticity.
If you really and truly want to achieve your transformation goal this time around, then it starts by honestly looking at your habits—ALL OF THEM.
You will find that the sum total of your habits is a mirror.
Your habits tell you who you REALLY are and what you are REALLY about.
That can be scary or it can be incredibly clarifying—but it can also be liberating, as it was for the man above.
Your habits are like compound interest, again, for good or ill. That insignificant habit you don’t think much about may not look like much, but over 2 years or 10 years one or two small habits can change everything about you. No one ever gained 50 lbs. overnight. If you have ever gained that kind of weight, then you did so because certain habits creeped in. Or, habits that had minimal impact in your younger years started to have some major impact as you aged.
The effects of your daily routine and habits, multiply over time and that is how you answer the question ‘How did I get here?’ or “How did I let this happen?”
So, do you still thinking looking at your habits is a yawner of an exercise?
Just think about the power a habit can have over you when it takes a decade or more to develop.
And then be warned, “The chains of habit are too light to be felt, until they are too heavy to be broken.”
Every single person I have seen who failed at a transformation goal did not fail because they lacked a solid information or guidance. They failed because they couldn’t adequately and effectively alter their habits to make good information and guidance work for them beyond some initial honeymoon period.
And if you really and truly want to achieve your transformation goal then you must accept the reality that every big achievement really boils down to repetitive baby steps that result in habits which eventually no longer require in-depth mental and emotional investments.
At this level of habit, you no longer “have to,” or feel a “need to” intellectualize or overthink every little detail. It’s just who you are and what you do.
You can be like a person who goes from drugs and alcohol to a healthy and active fitness lifestyle.
From my own background I can tell you a habit story.
I got lucky with some of my better habits. They formed by accident.
In university, unlike most other students, I seldom went out at night to party. The simple reason was that I couldn’t afford it. But not going out meant I never overslept, slept in, or skipped classes. And, since I just plain enjoyed working out, I woke up at 5:30 every morning. It became a habit. On days I didn’t work out, there was ample quiet time to study because other students were seldom awake
It was just a habit I got into. It was a habit choice I made.
But it was also “preparation” for success.
All these years later, I get up at 4:00 a.m., because I like to and I chose to. It isn’t “an effort” for me. It is a habit. And at that time of day with the whole world asleep and nothing open, nothing going on—it sure seems to be a great time for me to be productive and get the day’s work done.
Even as I write this article, it is early in the morning. I have, by habit, answered all my emails, had my breakfast and coffee, and I am now starting this article before my workout.
This is my morning routine. Which is to say that it is just a connected series of habits. Routines are composed of a series of habits. This is also true for good or bad.
What amazes me to this day is how many people do not want to consider this kind of things. They make a weight loss or transformation goal but they prioritize none of what it actually takes to reach that goal.
They don’t think about a series of small habits that can effect change.
No one achieves any goal without routines, behaviors, and habits that ensure the steady repetition and process that are required to achieve that goal, just as Rohn’s simple quote above indicates.
But here, again, is another essential consideration of the impact of habits: organized people actually don’t have to spend loads of time or mental energy on organization!
Think about the value or lesson in that irony. Getting these things “right” provide the foundations for achieving any goal. Without them, everything is harder. With them, it's all much easier. And all of them are based around a few simple disciplines that can be practiced, honed, and consistently repeated.
This all sounds very simple, I know.
And, maybe because this all sounds so simple, you'll ignore it. You'll ignore the importance of addressing daily habits as a starting point to achieving your goal.
Indeed, when it comes to physique transformation goals, way too much time and energy are spent thinking about and fantasizing about the final results.
But to truly be successful, you need to put your emphasis on your starting point, and you need to keep your emphasis there until you have automatic habits and routines in place—habits and routines that eventually will require very little effort in advance.
It will just become how you live. And THAT is how you will achieve—and live—your goal.
Some of you will get it.
Some of you will not.