We are so often told what to do: eat at this restaurant, add this new exercise into your routine, buy this, wear that! What if, instead of doing more and adding more, you would benefit by letting some things go? Bad habits can weigh you down and make your life harder.
My challenge to you is to identify which of these habits you can change for your benefit, and start applying them today. Please feel free to reach out to me if I can help in this process. I’d be honored to help you start living a happier life!
1. Stop Attaching Your Ego to Your Body
Your self worth and your body are two unrelated things. Yes, I want you to feel great about your body! It is a fantastic thing to have an outward symbol of your hard work and be proud of what you have achieved with your physique. Committing to a workout routine also helps develop discipline and faith in a process.
But these things do not make your self worth.
They do not make you kind or intelligent or worthy. Even if you skip a workout, break a leg, or gain fat, you are still all the good things you were before. Keep working toward your fitness and physique goals, but remember who you are, what you are good at, and the people you help. Then hold that in your head regardless of your physical status.
2. Stop Going After Other People’s Goals.
For some odd reason, strangers and non strangers alike feel compelled to offer their unsolicited opinions and judgements regarding others’ workouts. “Don’t get too big!”, “Don’t do this exercise or you’ll get bulky.” “I don’t want to be onstage in a speedo!” (It’s not a speedo, by the way; nobody’s swimming here.) Why this is acceptable is beyond my comprehension!
You own your body, your time, and your effort, so you get to pick what you work for.
If you want to be a powerlifter, train hard for strength! If you want to compete in a physique contest, it’s ok if your social circle doesn’t understand. You’ll be infinitely more motivated when you are honest with yourself about your goals. Then go at them!
3. Stop Comparing Yourself to Others
I encourage you to find a training environment where people work hard, have structured goals, smart programs, and compete. I cannot overstate how important it is to be surrounded by people who are smarter, more experienced, and stronger than you are. Training in this type of environment will improve your motivation and results tremendously. You will learn and it will drive you to be better.
However, this does not mean you should look at someone who is the same age, the same weight, or has some other factor in common, and think you should be able to do exactly what that person is doing. Absolutely not! Why? Because you have a different body. You have a different training history.
Work as hard as you can to reach your goals, and your training potential. This might include having mentors and workout partners, and even competitive rivals. That is great! Chase them! But do not put yourself down because you don’t have the exact abilities as someone else.
4. Stop Procrastinating
You aren’t going to be in shape, disciplined, and experienced when you start. Just start! You’ll get stronger and work smarter as you go. Just start!
5. Stop Pushing Through Injuries
Many competitors, or people with competitive personalities, are the exact opposite of lazy. This trait is what drives them toward excellence and success, but like Achilles, can also be a downfall. If an injury doesn’t respond to a short period of rest, frequently recurs, or causes debilitating pain, it is not worth pushing through. Know when to go see a doctor to save you damage and time in the long run.
6. Stop Making Excuses
There is a psychological benefit to making an excuse. It removes control from you and places it onto another factor, which makes you feel better your actions or inaction. Blaming your busy work schedule for skipping workouts is easy to do, and easy to justify. You have to make ends meet, right? The problem is, it doesn’t help you. It doesn’t help your family you are working so hard to provide for.
Ever heard the expression, “There is nothing new under the sun”? Literally every problem you can think of, someone else has overcome. Someone out there has had that problem, a worse work schedule, more children to take care of, and still figured out a way to practice healthy habits. If it’s important enough to you, be honest about what you can do, and do it!
7. Stop Doing Things That Take You Farther Away From Your Goals
We all know the things we should do. Do your workouts, eat your protein and vegetables, go to the dentist, etc. We check those off a list when we do them. (And you list makers, I know you write them in to your list when you’ve done them, just so you can check them off. Hey, I do it too.)
Consider all the small things that take you farther away from your goals. Skipping a meal, not eating enough protein, not drinking enough water, and staying up too late. These things seem small but they add up. If you are serious about changing your life, your body, and your habits, identify these issues and address them.
8. Stop Drifting
Write down goals and work toward them. If you don’t have specific goals you are working toward, you roll into the gym when you feel like it, work what you feel like working, and go home when you feel like it. This is okay sometimes. It happens on reload weeks, or on vacation when you are improvising in a different gym, but it really won’t serve you best in the long term. For what to do about this, see below.
9. Stop Program Hopping
One of the biggest keys to success is following a well designed program. Sure you can make progress without a program, but you’ll get there faster with a program, and who doesn’t want to get there faster? An effective program has a plan, structure, and a big picture. It will stay consistent, or change only slightly, for a period of weeks. Stay with it!
Do not change simply because you’re bored. Do not attempt to “shock your body” by adding a bunch of random crap to your workouts, or by sticking your finger in an electrical socket. Squeeze all the effectiveness you can out of a program by improving upon the workout each time you do it. That’s hard to do when it changes more than you wash your coffee mug.
The best way to find a good program is to seek out a qualified trainer who has experience programming. Talk to the people in your gym to find out who they have worked with, who they liked, and what brought results.
10. Stop Being in a Rut
This sounds like a contradiction to the previous point, but it is not. Hear me out. A rut does not progress, never changes, and does not deliver results. It may be comfortable, and it may have even delivered results at one time. It doesn’t anymore, but hey, it’s better than nothing, right? Maybe. But why settle for better than nothing? Go for better than that!
11. Stop Obsessing- Live Life!
Do a little bit of research to find a workout plan that you can stick to. Have faith, give it time, and do it with gusto! Balance out your hard work a positive attitude, good food, and enough sleep. Then go out and have fun! Enjoy your newfound energy, vigor, and live your life!
I’m excited to share these tips with you and cannot wait for you to apply these strategies and experience the benefits in your life. I’m ready to see you succeed!
About the author
Kathryn Alexander is a strength coach and personal trainer in Austin, Texas. She loves hiking, college football, and the feel of a perfectly knurled barbell. Read more about Kathryn here.