You can amaze yourself. If you are like most Americans — and an increasing number of people outside the U.S. who live American lifestyles — eating fast food, driving to work and wondering why your waistline continues to grow, prepare to be amazed.
Your body is designed to do so much more. Yes, it was designed to eat much more food than is required for a sedentary lifestyle. How many generations ago was it that your ancestors survived only by doing physical labor after walking miles to work, then walking miles to get home, or by working all day on the farm? Most of us don’t need to look past our great-grandparents to find them. They certainly ate whatever they liked and probably still looked great. You’ve got the genes for this.
If you’d like to get into better shape, here’s how to do it:
1. Make a plan
. Getting in better shape requires more work and time than you are committing now. To pull that off, you’re going to need a plan. Get out a blank sheet of paper and your calendar to start writing out your plan.
2. Set some goals
. Be realistic about your goals. If you are just getting off the couch, it won’t be reasonable to run a 3-hour marathon in 90 days. It is likely possible to be ready to finish a 5k race (3.1 miles) in about 90 days. You may want to set some short and long-term goals. If your weight is of concern, make some reasonable short and long-term goals for your weight, too.
3. Plan your workouts
. You’ve got to put exercise on your calendar and make it a high priority. You’ll want to treat that time like any other important commitment. When friends say, "Hey, let’s go get pizza," during your scheduled workout, treat it like you would any other important commitment and say, “I’m sorry, I have an important commitment at that time, could we go later?” Keep in mind that sometimes, more important things will come up. Decide now that your rule will be that you will find an alternate time for your workout. If you normally work out in the morning and the boss insists you get to work early for a special meeting, move your workout to the evening.
4. Get support
Get your spouse or a friend to hold you accountable. Your spouse may be tempted to undermine your effort without realizing it. If your spouse tries to distract you from working out, remind him that you need his support. If your spouse wants you to be happy and healthy, you need some time to work out. Optimally, your spouse will push and help you.
5. Record your workouts
. Make sure you record what you do with each workout so you can measure progress. If you lift weights, record how many reps and sets you do. If you go to a Zumba class, record that you went and how it felt. If you run or ride your bike, record how far you went and how long it took. Record the number of calories burned using a heart rate monitor. Gather as much objective data about your workouts as reasonably possible. You can use a variety of digital tools and toys to help, making it much more fun. Most such tools allow you to brag about your workouts on Facebook. Go ahead. Brag a little.
By following these simple steps, you can take yourself to a level of fitness that may seem impossible today. The total transformation time depends on where you are, where you want to go and how hard you work to get there. Even if, you are obese today, if you want to run a marathon in two years, you can do it. Make the plan, set the goal and do the work.
Devin Thorpe, husband, father, author of Your Mark On The World and a popular guest speaker, is a Forbes Contributor. Building on a twenty-five year career in finance and entrepreneurship that included $500 million in completed transactions, he now champions social good full time, seeking to help others succeed in their efforts to make the world a better place.