Over the years, I have consistently heard testimonies about how the concepts I teach are just as effective for improving various aspects of one’s personal life as they are in helping one achieve success and fulfillment at work. I absolutely love to hear these stories of triumph over the past and I’m sure my readers get a boost of energy and motivation from them just as I do. In this post, I’d like to share one of my own victory stories, having to do with physical fitness, which has been an area that I have personally struggled with for as long as I can remember. I’m sharing this not to push a certain diet or exercise routine, but rather to energize and mobilize you to pursue whatever path suits you best when it comes to restoring or maintaining your fitness. And I’m sharing this with you because, if I can claim such a victory after what seems like a lifetime of struggling, there’s nothing to stop you from doing the same by pursuing your goal with intentionality and rigor. Remember that it is not knowing what to do, but doing what you know, that makes all the difference I the end.
Those of you who are regular readers know that I have been pretty authentic about the challenges I have struggled with throughout the years, and the one that I talk and teach—and joke—most about is my never-ending battle with my “on again, off again” exercise program. In fact, one of the reasons I believe audiences are drawn to my sessions is that we have “real” conversations and we don’t just talk about the theory of what it takes to achieve success and fulfillment, but how exactly to do so in practical terms. We get real about why we are not doing what we know we should do, instead of piling on more tips and techniques and making ourselves feel even worse about why we are not in action. The power of this transformative approach to identifying what’s in the way is that when you see it and get it out of the way, you begin to experience a holistic shift in the quality of your life almost instantaneously and effortlessly.
Back to my fitness woes though, I think my story of my struggles could be characterized as, “Good is the enemy of great,” as Jim Collins says in his book, Good to Great! Like most people, I have never been severely overweight and completely out of shape and, as a result, like most people I never felt compelled to do anything drastic about my mediocre fitness. Recently, as I have reached my mid-50’s and “rewired,” I began to see the folly of my previous thinking. While there was nothing wrong with my mediocre fitness up until this point, at least I had some pretty good excuses why things had gotten to be this way! After all, I was always traveling or working or I just didn’t have time to exercise or eat right all the time. But after my “rewirement,” I was now working from home and setting my own hours, and it began to dawn on me that I had finally run out of excuses not to get in shape! As a result, I also realized that, from this point forward, no matter where my health and fitness ended up, it was only going to be because I had chosen for it to be that way.
So, thanks to the encouragement and constant nudging from my son, and compelled by one particular testimony of a past participant of my sessions who lost 60 lbs and achieved several other victories in his life, I decided to take my fitness to the next level and not quit until I achieve my goal. In Nov. 2017, I set a goal to lose 15 lbs and become more physically fit and I am proud to announce that over the past 5 months or so, I have been consistent in sticking to my new routines, with little temptation to fall off the wagon. And just this past week, I’d like everyone to know, I achieved my initial weight loss goal! In case you are curious about my particular path, it involved four components:
- Used an app called a “MyFitnessPal” to set targets for calories and macro-nutrients. Once you get the hang of it, it is so easy to use and it helped me sensibly restrict my calories while ensuring I was getting the proper nutrients. Available for iPhone and Android.
- Set a schedule for High Intensity Interval Training on the treadmill, which has been far more effective than just running or walking alone.
- Did the 7-Minute Workout three times a week, and worked up to doing 3 of those per session.
- Adopted intermittent fasting or time-restricted eating, which for me meant that I have been eating only 8 hours per day and staying away from caloric foods the other 16.
As I said before, I am not suggesting this is the right program for you, but wanted to mention it so you have an idea about the regimen I adopted to achieve my goals, and see that there was no magic bullet to making it happen.
If you are in the least bit intrigued by this and at all interested in figuring out how to break through whatever has been stopping you from improving your own health and fitness, or any other goal, here is a partial list of the insights from my teachings that I was able to use to get in action and stay in action:
- Get clear on why your fitness is important – For me, one reason was that I have seen too many people in poor health once they become elderly, and I was determined not to live the last 10-15 years of my life on medication, bedridden, in a wheelchair, etc. I also wanted to look physically fit and demonstrate to myself and my audiences that my pursuit of excellence is not limited to only certain areas of my life, but the whole thing. If you don’t have a compelling reason, you will be able to start, but you likely won’t be able to hang in there when the going gets tough. What’s in it for you and others in your life? What’s at stake? What are the negative consequences of you maintaining the status quo and what positive outcomes could come out of you being in action? What is it that inspires you about being physically fit, or any other goal? For more on this topic, see: Why We Don’t Do What We Know We Should.
- Upgrade commitment to 100% – Most of the commitments in our lives are partial and conditional, and these are the ones that cause us frustration and drain our energy. We think of ourselves as 100% committed, but we have conditions and limits that prevent us from being all in. I had to make up my mind that I was no longer going to tolerate being partially committed. And yes, I did fall off the wagon a few times in the journey, but I got right back on track. The key is not to never fail, but to remind yourself of the future that you are committed to and course correct and get back in action immediately when you do stumble. For more on this topic, see: The Profound Power of Unconditional Commitments.
- Employ the magic of “always” and “never” – Once you identify the program you want to follow, decide what you are always going to do and what you are never going to do, and organize your life accordingly. This is the first step in what I call “creating a structure for integrity,” and it helps you decrease your reliance on your willpower to make decisions on the spot. For instance, if you are going to give up sweets and you put that in your “never” category, when it’s time to order dessert, you immediately bypass the whole “Should I? Shouldn’t I?” debate, because for you, sweets simply aren’t on the menu. For more on this topic, see: Behold the Power of Always and Never
- Do what you can with what you have – What’s holding you back is not the absence of a gym membership or a personal trainer or fancy equipment or some miracle supplement. (Unless you are an astronaut, we all have the floor and our bodyweight to use.) The choices I made required no investment. They required sacrifice. What small steps could you start taking right now while you are waiting for the perfect conditions to emerge?
- Behave your way into a new way of thinking – I cannot tell you how many times I have had to do this in the past few months. I caught myself trying to think/talk myself into getting up and exercising on those days that I just didn’t feel like it. But because I knew that wasn’t going to work and my little voice was going to convince me otherwise, while that conversation was going on, I got up and got ready and started exercising. In some cases, even a few minutes into the workout, I was still not very motivated to do it, but once I got going, it would eventually shift my mindset and thought process completely. Do you try to think your way into a new way of behaving? Try behaving your way into a new way of thinking instead. Are you willing to just get in action while you are having that conversation with yourself? Try it. It works. For more on this topic, see: 6 Hacks to Achieve Your Goals in Spite of Yourself
There are several other aspects of my teachings that could be very effectively used to supercharge your commitment to your fitness, but these are the ones I picked to share in this post because they had the greatest impact on my own journey. For those of you who are curious about learning more however, I suggest you check out the rest of my blog posts and podcasts at my website (including a previous one on fitness), and read a free chapter of my book while you’re there. You can even check out the testimony that really helped supercharge my commitment by clicking here.
The final advice I would offer you is that transformative realizations have an expiration date. If you don’t use them immediately, they go into the pile of stuff you have known that have done you no good. As a result, you discount them as useless and try to learn new things that might help you because you figure the old things haven’t. And when you don’t immediately use the new knowledge you acquire, the vicious cycle stars all over again. If you are not clear on “why” it is important for you to pursue excellence in your health and fitness or any other aspect of your life, no amount of “how” and “what” will do you any good. But once you get clear on the “why,” nothing can stop you from using whatever knowledge and resources you have available to you to make it happen. I wish you the very best in supercharging your commitment and taking the steps you need to take to restore and maintain your fitness.
ATLANTA: Join me on Wednesday, May 9th at 6:30pm, for an author talk where I'll be talking about my book, The Transformative Leader, and sharing proven methods to achieving breakthrough results in your life, both personally and professionally.
When: Wednesday, May 9th, 6:30pm-7:30pm
Where: Wolf Creek Library Branch (3100 Enon Road, Atlanta, GA 30331)
This is a free event and there is no registration needed.
Hope to see you there!
About the Author: Amir Ghannad is an international keynote speaker, author of The Transformative Leader, leadership consultant, culture transformation champion, and founder of The Ghannad Group. He has made it his life's work to guide leaders and equip them with the tools, skills, and the mindset necessary to create extraordinary workplace cultures that deliver breakthrough results. Download his free e-book, titled 5 Practical Steps to Make Your Culture Transformation Stick by clicking here.
As always, have a great week! May you Boldly Declare, Courageously Pursue, and Abundantly Achieve the Extraordinary!
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