Why You’re Not in Shape (Yet)

“Why can’t I do this? I know what I need to do to get in shape, and I just can’t get myself to do it. I’ve yo-yo’d for years.”

I’ve been running Nerd Fitness for 8 years now (holy crap), and I have seen some of the most dramatic success stories from people of all walks of life that give me the biggest smile.

Single moms working two jobs, married couples that got in shape together, people who have been overweight their entire lives, and others who began powerlifting at the age of 50.

In that same time, however, I have seen tons of people who have been reading NF for years and struggled to find success. They might succeed for a short amount of time, or even a few months, before backsliding into old habits, and they just can’t seem to make things stick.

What’s interesting is that with both groups, they knew what they needed to do: more vegetables, more movement, less junk food, fewer calories on average, and a healthy exercise routine.

This wasn’t surprising: we all know what we need to do to get fit. So what separates the group of people who have fundamentally changed their lives and become new people from the other group who continue to struggle with little to no results?

I was curious, so about a month ago I sent a survey out to NF Rebels asking them for their honest answers on why they have (or haven’t) succeeded, and the responses really surprised me.

For starters, we had over 10,000 responses with people pouring out their hearts, proudly proclaiming their successes, or honestly sharing why they believed they hadn’t found their path quite yet.

About 25% of the responses came in saying they had made permanent changes, while the other 75% were still working on making enough progress and building enough momentum to make changes permanently.

So, why is it that some are kicking ass, and others are still warming up their kicking legs?

Newsflash: You Are Not A Unique Snowflake

unique

You are not a unique snowflake.

I don’t mean this in a bad way, and I’m not saying that your problems aren’t real! But I mean that we all have baggage that we are dealing with:

  • Some people are working crappy jobs with bad hours.
  • Some people are working multiple jobs.
  • Some people are raising children on their own.
  • Some people have genetic challenges thanks to unhealthy parents or medical conditions.
  • Some people are struggling with behavioral or psychological challenges that sabotage any efforts to live healthier lives.
  • Some people just feel down and out, like they can’t change because they’ve lived this way for so long.

These are all VERY real problems that can help explain why people haven’t succeeded. These are the things we all grapple with (in different amounts) every day. However, I noticed something when studying the answers of people who were struggling to get results.

People who weren’t seeing the results they wanted wrote that many of their issues were UNIQUE to them.

So often we think our problems are special, unique challenges we’re facing. We feel like we’re in a boss battle with no hope, fighting an overpowering beast with no weaknesses. “I can’t succeed because of [insert VALID and REAL excuse here].”

We feel powerless trying to stand up to the momentum of our lives. Reading through the thousands upon thousands of responses we received, we saw the SAME things over and over again. It felt like an episode of Black Mirror – everyone feeling so alone, but they’re all fighting the same bad guys.

Here’s a word cloud of the responses: the bigger the words, the more often it was mentioned.

time

When we asked the question: “Why do you think you haven’t achieved success yet?

Some people assigned blame to the physical things in their life: “my job” or “my kids” or “my medical condition.” Others went down a level, and tried to explain their root feeling:

  • I get bored and then find excuses not to do it even when I know I should.
  • I have no accountability for when I mess up my healthy routine.
  • I’m really good at self sabotage, and I get frustrated very easily when I don’t see immediate gratification.
  • It’s hard to say…Probably energy and motivation.
  • I find it really easy to lose my momentum – I’ll start an exercise plan, but then if I get sick or some personal family drama comes up, or a million other things that throw a wrench in my planned schedule, then everything unravels very quickly and no progress is made.
  • I haven’t set myself up for success; there’s no discipline to leave my comfort zone.
  • I believe that I am scared to change, so my commitment to starting to eat better is pretty much nonexistent, leaving me with no motivation to succeed.
  • I feel defeated before I even start. Hate to exercise. I stress eat.

Most us feel like this: we’re so sure of our situation. Sure that we’re doomed. Sure that there’s no hope. Sure that we know what there is to know. We feel beaten. We feel buried.

We feel like Sisyphus, climbing a never ending mountain with a boulder too large to bear. Like we don’t have time. Like our kids have to come first, and we can take care of ourselves later. Like we lack motivation.

Like we can’t get ourselves to do the things that we want to do, and that’s just the way it is. It feels like an insurmountable battle that we can’t win.

And then something happens.

Newsflash: Somebody with your challenges HAS succeeded before!

Assorted LEGO characters

With 10,000 responses, I saw something powerful in the messages from people who HAD succeeded.

Everyone has their own set of unique problems, but we saw it was the same 10 or so problems in different amounts, over and over again.

Those who succeeded ALSO have their unique mix of baggage. They also work shitty jobs. They don’t have a lot of time. They struggle with mental health issues. They are single, divorced, and raising kids.

They have bad parents and unhealthy habits. They love to eat junk food and struggle with motivation. The things that kept them unhealthy before are NO different than the things that keep the other 75% unhealthy.

So what’s so different between those who succeed and those who don’t?

There’s a few key things that happen:

  • There’s no drastic declaration. Life changes just a little bit. A small win here and there. Or they wake up one day and do one thing. And then do that one thing again.
  • They kept at it. Some people we heard from had to fight through 10 boss battles in order to find the solution and final habits that worked for them. Some people had larger, longer boss fights.
  • They start to see cracks in their previous “limited mindset” of themselves. “Hey, look! I DID do something and changed. Maybe this time CAN be different…”
  • Instead of seeing excuses as to WHY they aren’t in shape (“I can’t find success because [insert valid excuse here].”), they instead see those things as obstacles to overcome (“Okay, I have [insert same valid excuse]. What steps can I take to overcome it?”). They stop believing their own excuses and start to step up to the plate.
  • These small victories build momentum. Changes become permanent slowly over time.

As one Rebel replied, “Once you find a rhythm, it’s not actually that hard. And it feels sustainable.”

Now, I hear ya. If it seems like there is a LOT in your way, it might seem unsustainable. A dream.

But remember, that person who said “it’s actually not that hard” was surprised. For years and years, it WAS hard. They didn’t believe they could change…until they found a rhythm of small changes and had the epiphany: “WOW!” Until then, they were part of the “still searching” group. They found some momentum and started to see how change really happens.

Remember, we’re all in this together. What if there was someone in this Rebellion, with a life just like yours, who found a way to slay the final boss?

Your reasons ARE valid. They are a real part of your life. However, we have to acknowledge them and move beyond them to see any lasting results. That’s what it means to change. 

But if someone else with your same types of challenges (from genetic, to habits, to job and family) has succeeded, MAYBE there is a path to success if you attack it the right way! If they can change, you can too.

Yup, even with the shit you’re dealing with in your life. With your disadvantages. With your limitations. Yup, even with the limited amount of time you have.

This response in particular really jumped out at me. I GUARANTEE you can relate to this:

The biggest surprise is that it was possible in the first place. You spend your whole life thinking “I can’t do that, I can’t get up in front of people and tell them things.” And then you take a class and you start doing it and suddenly you can get up and give a speech.

You spend your whole life thinking “I’m a quitter, I can’t finish anything to completion let alone actually build (and keep!) healthy habits” and then you just decide to start and suddenly you’re on day five and you know you can exercise every day for a week, and then you’re on day 27 and you know you can make it to the end of the month, and then you’re on day 42 and you know you can do this for the rest of your life because it’s changing you, it’s changing who you are.

Your back is straightening out for the first time since you were a child, your scoliosis is fading away, you relish the sore muscles, and you know you can do this.

Read that response again. This is somebody who had told themselves all their life that they couldn’t do things, and success was light-years away. So they stopped worrying about light-years and instead just did the things they could control that DAY. Then that somehow became Day 5, which became day 27 and then day 42 and then counting was no longer necessary because it just became part of their new persona.

This is a brand new person. And change happened so slowly and in such small ways that it wasn’t until they looked back months later and said “holy crap, I’m a different person! That was easier than expected.”

Your success will come as a surprise to you.

et surprise

Response after response from the people who HAD made permanent changes stick used the same word over and over – it was “surprising” how it happened.

You see, when we have lost hope, we can’t even imagine eating healthy and working out feeling fun. So when we give half-efforted attempt, we use the lack of success to reinforce our mindset of, “this won’t work…I’m doomed.” It’s easier to tell ourselves, “This is the way it is.”

But then you find a tiny bit of success, and cracks start to form: “Maybe I DON’T know everything. Maybe… Maybe change is possible.” And we develop a tiny bit of hope. Hope that we were wrong, and we weren’t seeing the whole picture before.

And we all know how powerful hope is. After all, Rebellions are built on hope, right?

And that tiny bit of hope combined with a little bit of action, repeatedly, eventually results in surprising, drastic change when we don’t even realize it.

We asked what surprised those of you who have found success:

  • I’m happier!
  • Once you create the habit, it’s so easy to maintain. The habit of working out and eating healthy is easier to keep than going out of your way to eat poorly or not work out. It becomes like a self-perpetuating machine.
    How I started liking foods that used to be absolutely disgusting, but now help me further my goals of becoming stronger. Also now I can run off walls and jump off any set of stairs and continue dashing like a free-running freak. That’s nice, too.
  • How much of a mental game fitness really is. Mind and body are truly linked.
  • Why didn’t I do this sooner?
  • Might sound cheesy but it feels good to feel good. Once you accept you are progressing at your own pace, that there will be ups and downs and not let them affect you as much as before, everything is becoming so much easier.
  • I feel lighter and more free.

Sitting there believing deep down you can’t change – that your problems are unique – is the very thing that needs to be looked at carefully in order to change. If you are part of the 75% who say you haven’t had success (yet), who just want to get rid of some belly fat, have some more energy in the day, fit into size 8 pants, feel comfortable in your own skin, who just want to be happy….

We have a message for you:

It IS possible, and it is absolutely worth it.

I want this for you so badly, because I’ve seen it happen to thousands and thousands of people in this community. A switch flips, they start to believe, and they then look back months/years later and discover just how much they have changed.

What will be different this year?

Most of us know what to do already. We know we need to eat less and move more. We know we need to change our relationship with food. We know we need to exercise more. At the 4,000 foot level, we get it.

As Morpheus tells Neo, “There’s a difference between knowing the path and walking the path.”

Ultimately, only through action can we understand how change really happens. But remember that we are all in this together: fighting against an entire world that seems designed to keep us down.

Looking through responses from thousands of people DID see lasting success with healthy habit changes, I noticed 5 big patterns repeating:

  1. A growth mindset rather than a limited mindset.
  2. Focus on the day to day habit building.
  3. Not relying on motivation.
  4. The right environment.
  5. They started.

Let’s dig into those a bit more:

1) GROWTH MINDSET – The feeling that change isn’t really possible often sneaks up on us: “I ran on a treadmill and starved myself and I hate my life. I cannot get in shape.”

But when we looked through people who had success, they seemed to view that same event in a different way: “Okay, that didn’t work. Maybe this time I’ll try something different, like eating some more vegetables and going for a walk. I can do that.”

These people told us that they had to make a perspective shift:

“I have kids and a tough job and no time. I can’t get in shape.” becomes “Okay I have kids and a tough job and no time. What CAN I do with these limitations? I shall try that.”

Often, this involves needing to give ourselves a break. We DO have a lot of limitations and a lot of challenges to overcome. We should look clearly at them, acknowledge them, and then acknowledge that we are worthy of change and deserving of a better life. So, let’s work for it.

We then start to see previous attempts at getting fit as just that: attempts, not failures.

I loved this response too: How did you succeed? “By forgiving myself when I mess up but not letting it take over and sabotaging my quest.”

You didn’t fail, you don’t need to feel shame. You tried something, it didn’t work. Move onto the next one. You don’t need to feel guilt or self-loathing. You can change right now. Today.

Sometimes when I work on a puzzle game, I feel stupid when I can’t get it. But when I finally crack it, there’s no guilt or shame. I just change my behavior because I understand how to solve it now.

People who found their path to success said that more permanent changes didn’t get weighed down by their failures or missteps, but instead they turned them into opportunity to find what COULD work given their situation.

2) DAY TO DAY HABITS: The journey to Mordor happens one step at a time.

We cannot control what happened to us yesterday. We cannot control what will happen tomorrow. We can only control our actions today.

This realization is something we heard again and again from those who found success. Like this response:

“I broke goals down in very small steps and made each step ridiculously easy to accomplish.

And it makes sense: We look at our lives… the weight we have to lose. The effort that change will take. How behind we feel… and we feel this dread and impossibility. It’s paralyzing. And that’s where the surprise comes in from those who actually start walking, taking one step at a time… it really is shocking how it becomes effortless.

Just do the next thing that you can control, and try to do it the best way you know how: We call this the “Minecraft method.”

3) NOT RELYING ON MOTIVATION: We saw a LOT of responses from people struggling who said they needed more motivation.

We all wish we had more motivation. What’s interesting is that there’s no secret energy tank in successful people compared to unsuccessful people. It’s not like those struggling don’t have motivation while those who have succeeded have TONS of it. They possess the same amount and have the same parts of their lives that zap motivation.

Successful people seemed to tell us that they didn’t rely on motivation!

Motivation pales in comparison to momentum. Here’s one response we received: “Once you create the habit, it’s so easy to maintain. The habit of working out and eating healthy is easier to keep than going out of your way to eat poorly or not work out. It becomes like a self-perpetuating machine.”

Like rolling a tiny snowball off a hill and watching it build size and speed, inertia takes over and it becomes a self-growing, unstoppable force. Check out these articles on building discipline and systems.

4) THE RIGHT ENVIRONMENT:

We found a lot of responses from successful Rebels who knew that shaping their environment would lightly “nudge” them over the course of their day to greatly improve their chances of succeeding.

Like the Rebel who “threw [their] junk food in the bonfire and stopped buying it.” That’s a fairly dramatic response. But motivation is not necessary when you don’t have that food in your apartment to eat!

We heard so many different ways that people made their job EASIER. Many of us work hard, stressful jobs. And the natural response for many is to binge eat or quickly grab fast food to compensate for how hard or long we work. But a few tweaks in your work environment can go a long way.

Batch cooking helps to remove the willpower temptation for unhealthy food. Rebels who joined running clubs, The Nerd Fitness Academy or Camp Nerd Fitness Facebook groups found it easier to do their workouts. They cited these groups as huge reasons why they succeeded.

So many who succeeded talked about how they found supportive influences in their life (whether animate, or inanimate objects!). You can pick your friends, and you can pick your nose, but you can’t pick your friend’s nose.

Choose wisely!

5) TAKE ACTION:

Yes, as we learned from Rogue One, Rebellions are built on hope. But hope without action would have made for a painfully boring movie. We can hope for a better life. We can believe we CAN get to a better life. But action, even if it’s imperfect and incorrect, is better than no action.

Every single person who said they succeeded took action… often with a small tweak to something they’d done before.

This seemed to be the slogan that so many followed: “The idea that doing something, ANYthing, is better than doing nothing has been key.”

Do something different, and do it today.

Hope needs action. Otherwise it’s no different than hopelessness – nothing will happen.

So get started and do something today:

But do something!

I want to put you on this list.

rock-1573068_1280

We asked people who have succeeded what they are most proud of. I want 2017 to be the year you get to respond to the next survey with an answer like the following…

What are you most proud of?

  • Feeling better about my body.
  • Losing 120lbs. Because I don’t want to die in my 40s.
  • I am most proud of allowing myself to be vulnerable within the Nerd Fitness community and ending up with so many friends as a result. I am most proud of this because I have always been embarrassed or ashamed by how I felt about my body and my struggles. Finding this community has helped me understand that everybody has struggles and there is nothing wrong with that. It also gave me the environment I needed to start admitting my goals to myself and start working toward them.
  • Fitness wise–hitting a half marathon PR because I trained really hard for it.
  • I fixed my relationship with my spouse.
  • I finally valued myself enough to leave an abusive relationship.
  • I haven’t drank soda in a year. Soda was one of the hardest things for me to give up. I still drink coffee, but I don’t want to give that up.
  • Making exercise into a regular habit. I never exercised before I found Nerd Fitness, and now I do it regularly, so that’s a pretty big change. I still haven’t accomplished a lot of the dramatic goals like a handstand and a pull-up, but I now have the framework to make progress and I AM making progress.
  • Being able to give birth naturally to my daughter.
  • Losing 25 lbs and making exercise a regular and enjoyable part of my week.

I want to hear from you below. How are you going to make 2017 different?

What SPECIFICALLY are you going to change? We’re going to be hitting these topics hard in early 2017 to help you finally crack the code. In the meantime, don’t forget this:

It starts with hope, but it only happens with action.

-Steve

PS: We’ve created a cool experience that helps people conquer all fo the challenges above called Rising Heroes. It turns habit-building and self-improvement into a fun, exciting adventure! Head on over to check it out here.

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  • Darkaine

    Boy I wish I had wrote losing 120 pounds because I don’t want to die in my 40’s because that’s totally what I’ve done so far lol….alas I can never think of good things.

  • Jane D

    @Darkaine:disqus. Thinking of good things isn’t the important bit – it’s doing them!

  • Katie Holmes

    2017:
    1. I signed up for a cooking class, and I will complete it by the end of March, because I want to stop eating out and eating convenience food simply because I feel overwhelmed by the process of meal-planning and cooking.
    2. Train for and run one 5k every month to build both my endurance and speed.
    3. Learn basic boxing skills and spar with other women. Attempt to feel less afraid of getting hit, or at least feel the fear and do it anyway.
    4. Lose 40 pounds by June 2017.

  • Jillian Rosenberger

    2017: I will become a mom in June! So that had to put some of my weight loss/fitness goals on hold for a while! (Although I *did* lose 25 pounds over the summer, which helped me get pregnant in the first place. So yay!) My goal is to have a healthy pregnancy and a healthy kid, and with the approval of my medical team I’m aiming at a close to zero-weight-gain pregnancy. That way once the little one arrives, I’ll still be around 10 pounds away from my first goal weight!

  • Jillian R

    2017: I will become a mom in June! So that had to put some of my weight loss/fitness goals on hold for a while! (Although I *did* lose 25 pounds over the summer, which helped me get pregnant in the first place. So yay!) My goal is to have a healthy pregnancy and a healthy kid, and with the approval of my medical team I’m aiming at a close to zero-weight-gain pregnancy. That way once the little one arrives, I’ll still be around 10 pounds away from my first goal weight!

  • FredZ

    My goal is to eat better lunches, which is tough because I like to leave the office and I hate to pack. but, it seems like the most achievable goal. I still lack the ‘hope’ and figure that this won’t do much, but maybe….maybe it will get the ball rolling.

  • Tony Langdon

    2017 will be the year I work on rapid movement. I have autism related coordination issues, which often require a different approach to training. This also makes it more challenging to work out what I am actually doing.

    My plans are:

    1. Continue working on the events I suck at – javelin, discus, shot put.
    2. Try other events – pole vault, hgh jump, hammer throw.
    3. Incorporate more rapid movements into daily training – skipping, drills, etc.

  • Nicole

    For 2017 I’ve scheduled 1 smaller race a month until my big race in September for constant motivation.

  • Stacy

    Perhaps if it’s not the icy north where you live, you could take your lunch outside? That helps me when it’s not winter! (That is the trouble with starting anything in January – it’s January!). It would help you get out of the office and maybe you could sneak in a 5 minute walk while you’re out there. If that’s not possible try to find a spot in the building that isn’t your desk to eat. Batch-cooking lunches and pre-packing them is also a great help. Good luck!

  • Joe

    In 2017 why not get rid of your stomach and get toned abs? It is made possible by much determination and is made easier with help from http://www.abworkoutsonline.com/free-exercise-ebook/

  • http://www.Meechity.com/ Meechity

    It would be hard to eat without a stomach…

  • AlexB

    Currently hit that point in Final Fantasy games where, despite the heroes’ best efforts, the world gets turned upside down anyway. Regrouping is taking time, and a lot of grinding is required to beat old enemies that are now at much higher levels, but determined to see it through.

  • Arrowan

    I’m going to participate in at least six NF challenges, because the process of setting goals and the interaction with the community is of immeasurable value, and the sense of pride and the momentum I get seeps into all aspects of my life.

  • http://batman-news.com Steve Place

    Dude. Good article. I don’t remember if I responded to the survey, but I’ve done well in 2016. Being 19 eliminates a lot of the standard excuses like too old, not enough time, kids, etc.

  • Kristine Brasser

    Drop the Mt. Dew and dropping the sweets and cookies; losing that sugar addiction.

  • Calluna

    I enjoy scouting healthy lunch places near my work, and save them for reward days. If there aren’t any healthy places to eat out, maybe you can find a hack for some of the menu items. Or maybe start out half way, eat out some days and eat in others…

  • Calluna

    1. Respawn: Break the sugar addiction, all over again.
    2. Make a better holiday food strategy for winter 2017.
    3. Continue with NF workouts, and do one solid push up by the end of the year.
    4. Level up – take harder yoga and dance classes, and gain consistency.

  • Julia Burns

    If it helps, I hated packing lunches because I didn’t like how soggy the bread got. So at first I packed all the ingredients separately and then made the sandwich at lunchtime. Now I make rice, veggies and chicken breast and freeze it, keep it in the freezer at work and chuck it in the microwave during my break. Work out what annoys you about packing lunch as a first step I reckon 🙂

  • Megan Joan Phillips

    1. Be able to do a wall-stand
    2. eat more paleo ish
    3. Dance

  • goshawke

    Hey about the boxing thing – it can be done. I started kickboxing having never been hit, and the first good shot I took to the nose sent me to the bathrooms to cry (at least 60% from embarrassment that I was crying). I was NOT tough, at all, and I hated the contact. But here’s the thing: you don’t have to be tough, you can LEARN tough. Stick with it, let yourself feel the shock and fear of impact, and with compassionate sparring partners willing to work up with you your body and mind will gradually get past it. Getting to the point of being tough is one of the things I’m proudest of, and I love seeing another woman starting down this path. So this is me, giving you a great big thumbs-up and Bravo Zulu: just setting this goal for yourself, and saying something like “feel the fear and do it anyway” is an awesome and courageous thing to do. =D

  • Annie Jones

    Oh man I so feel you on that, I think that’s pretty much where I sit right now haha

  • Jennifer Nelson

    In 2017, I will do the following things:
    1. Work out four times per week. (I did this in 2016, too, and it makes me feel better!)
    2. Do ALL my physical therapy exercises, as prescribed, so I don’t miss workouts due to neck strains and tension headaches.
    3. Drink up to three alcoholic beverages per week. (In early 2016, I was drinking 7-8 drinks per week; I’ve cut back considerably and it has helped me lose a few pounds and enjoy those drinks more)
    4. Draw every day. I’m a 35-year-old beginner. I want to see how my drawing improves after a year of solid practice.

  • Jo-Anna Brereton

    I am a HUGE thinker/planner but not so much for follow through.

    For 2017 I am focusing on 3 elements that I believe will work well for me.

    Minimize. Simplify. And KISS.

    Minimize from my life that is not necessary or desirable to make room for what is important to me.

    Simplify my environment, schedule, agenda and mindset in order to make sustainable realistic changes in the direction I want to go.

    And finally don’t over think things. If a goal seems to big – break it down. If my mind dwells on everything wrong – think it through then let it go. Don’t let overwhelm and the pursuit of perfect be the nemesis of good enough. KISS – Keep It Simple Stupid (and my brain is my biggest boss challenge for this).

  • Kit

    I eat lunch during a break and then head out to walk at lunch. If I can do it in frigid Ohio, it’s totally possible elsewhere!

  • Kate Semple

    I have so many things I want to work on in 2017! I made exercise a regular habit in the last 4 months of 2016 and now that I have that under my belt I’m going to keep at it and start working on eating healthier. I really have almost no excuse. I already batch cook and freeze lunches for my 1-2 days a week at work. I do all the grocery shopping and I’m home 5-6 days a week cooking all the meals. So not only is this going to be a good year for me I can make it a good year for my whole family.

    1) I’m going to cook more from scratch

    2)Stop buying candy and chips and pop.

    3) Quit fast food.

    2 and 3 are my biggest challenges. I love twizzlers and McDonald’s and coffee in a paper cup.

  • Dave Koester

    My wife and I have set a goal to RunTheYear! Together, we will run/walk/hike 2017 miles in 2017. This is so we can get healthier together, as well as be an example for our children.

  • Jenni Hicklin

    I actually started my new active routine last November. Over the last year, I lost 40 lbs, and I’m not afraid that I’ll die from a heart attack before I’m 30.

    For 2017, I actually want to stop measuring my weight. I tend to obsess about it and will even cut down my accomplishments if I didn’t reach my goal. So, for New Years, I will be smashing my bathroom scale and “measuring” myself by activity level, how many inches lost, and overall happiness and feel good attitude.

    If I weigh 185, but I’m ripped, fast, and happier than I’ve ever been; that would be the peak for me.

  • Stephanie Cudo

    Small, daily habits and a way to remember them. That is the key for me and that is my plan. I’m going to break everything I want to change form into smaller, easier changes that can be done nearly day to day and measure that. That will be my success. Thanks, Steve.

  • Calluna

    Be like the squirrel, girl, be like the squirrel! Take all your problems and rip them apart. Carry them off in a shopping cart!.

    (from Jack White through me to you… I must be taking some xp in Bard today)

  • Joshua Tenpenny

    “Okay, that didn’t work. Maybe this time I’ll try something different” << This right here is the key for me. Looking at it as problem solving. Instead of seeing it as some kind of a test of how good a person I am, like "Oh, that didn't work, because I'm a quitter and have no discipline."

    I've done just over a year of challenges on the Nerd Fitness forums, with mixed results. When the survey came around, I was feeling really down on myself, because a lot of the "habits" haven't stuck. If I am not actively working on a specific challenge goal for fitness, or diet, or sleep, or whatever, I am no more likely to "habitually" do those things than I was a year ago. Eating veggies still isn't a habit. Going to bed at a decent hour still isn't a habit. Working out isn't a habit. Practicing violin isn't a habit. So when I saw the survey, I felt pretty discouraged. I started to reply, but didn't finish it. Instead I posted a long whiny thing on the challenge forums.

    Reading this article, I realized that WORKING ON CHALLENGE GOALS is the habit that I have stuck with. It is "just something I do". Every 5 weeks, I look at where I am at, and what my goals are, and I decide what I am going to work on. It doesn't matter if I "feel motivated" to set challenge goals. I just do it. It doesn't matter if last month went great or if last month was a total bomb. I just make my list, draw up a chart, and keep going. If I bombed something last month, I don't say, "I'm a loser. I need to TRY HARDER!" I say "Okay, what went wrong there? How can I approach this differently?" Or I say, "Welorking on that goal was a miserable grind, and I never want to do that thing again." and I focus on something else.

    So for instance, I learned what sort of physical activities I absolutely loathe, what I enjoy, and what gets me good results without being too much of a grind. I learned a lot about how I need to eat to get leaner, and I learned that it isn't worth it to me. I'm at a healthy weight, and losing five vanity pounds isn't worth the strict diet I'd need to maintain it. So I just work on eating more veggies, and don't worry about tracking and macros and all that.

  • Bridget Downing

    I’m going to use my kids to help me work out! They get the play time and i get the work out! Helping build that family bond at the same time!

  • Allyson

    I was drinking a cherry vanilla Pepsi my roommate had given me while I read this. I closed the cap and tossed the sucker.

  • Sam Eckman

    Its hard getting In shape but definitely worth it in the long run! Got to set goals and slay them in 2017! Would love if you guys could look at my blog and give me some feedback! its: http://www.baikfitness.com! Any help would be much appreciated!

  • Briniel

    In 2017 I will go back to eating healthy and cutting sugar and white wheat flour from my diet. I know I can do it because I’ve done it before and that’s giving me one hell of a confidence boost. I’ve slipped back into bad habits the last few months because I took up a second job and felt like lots of my energy went into that… but that’s just an excuse and my skin, my weight and my bowles have suffered from it 😉 I also want to do so many more things, like starting my day with yoga again and working out regularly and keeping my home tidy and practice my singing more and so on and so on but I will start with the diet and go from there. I’m prone to trying to do all the things and failing because I take on too much and feel discouraged when I slip up. But not this time 🙂

  • Mark Dowding

    “Once you find a rhythm, it’s not actually that hard. And it feels sustainable.”

    This is spot on. Can only find it by starting and experimenting until it finally clicks.

  • Goran Dimic

    More knightly stuff. That’s my plan. That’s what I need. That’s what the world needs.

  • Ashley Mayo

    Well, I’ll be graduating college in May so I’ll basically be starting my life next year! I plan to transition my diet to a more Paleo lifestyle and to get back into working out. This year I pretty much stopped caring and have put on a little too much weight for my liking. I really need to eat more vegetables and to cut out all the junk food I exist off of lol. It’s time to make the change especially since I took a break, I can get myself back on track. It’s harder to change my habits in a household that completely goes against what I’m trying to do but I’ll figure something out. Luckily I’ll be on campus for a while with my own kitchen.

  • Ambaphar

    Try making it part of your evening ritual. I will pack my lunch right after I eat dinner. Pop it in the fridge and it’s ready to grab in the morning.

  • 1p0

    The last MRI shows that runners and high impact sport people have bad hearts, and that’s preferable to do mild moderate sports and movements, like dancing. Can you research and write something on that? Google mri runners heart, and athletic heart syndrome.

  • Bob weaver

    Small steps lead to big changes I agree. I started in February 2016 to get serious about running. I worked on my form and technique and began trail running.
    Now i love to run trails and to do 5K is well easy. I did my personal best distance of 5 miles
    2 days before my birthday in December. I am 64 never too old. My next goal is 10K

    Thanks to Steve I do what is fun for me.
    Bob

  • FredZ

    Thanks for all these suggestions!

    I’m not going to lie, though – although I recognize that every suggestion here is a better choice than just eating out every day, I’m still have trouble with the fact that it’s more enjoyable and less effort to eat out. And, then that feeds back into my self-defeating mantra “I can be healthy or happy, but not both”.

    By the way (thanks to this conversation), I remembered why I stopped bringing my lunch so many years ago. I recall the frozen meals, finding room in the office freezer, waiting in line for the microwave, being unsatisfied with the portion of the food, not enjoying he piece of fruit or dessert that I brought in to counter that the ‘meal’ wasn’t enough food. I would sometimes walk afterward, but it’s too hot in the summer to do that without being drenched in sweat (I did enjoy the walk, though). But, overall, it was not a pleasant daily routine.

    So – is there a way to make that process better? I’ve got to make it at least close to the feeling that I get from ‘leave the office behind, find a nice meal where no one talks to you and then go back refreshed for the rest of the day’, otherwise I have a hard time thinking I can make it work.

  • Emily

    I have a ton of goals for this year with regards to my fitness:

    1. Run a marathon in the fall (I miss racing so I wanted a BIG goal to get me back into it.)
    2. 175 pound back squat
    3. Complete a free-standing handstand at Pingvellir in September (ICELAND!)
    4. Learn to rock climb/rappel
    5. Spartan Super
    6. THE EVER ELUSIVE PULL UP

    Notice what’s not on there? A goal weight. While I do have a goal to lose 10 dress sizes (from my current 18 to an 8) I don’t have a specific goal weight. I actually don’t know how much I weigh right now and I will be making a concerted effort to not weigh myself in the future; progress will be measured on a measuring tape, by body fat, how my clothes feel, and what I’m able to do physically. I want to be as fit as possible and as STRONG as possible.

  • Lori McAdams

    Yes! I’m newer to the rebellion community and I’m proud to be here! I love this article, thank you for sharing.

    2016 was an incredible year for me. Talk about personal growth which includes my health. I shed shy of 50lbs in a single year…and I feel stronger than ever. Not with muscle, but with energy and power! I learned patience, persistence, consistency, new routines, mental strength, and I’m the happiest I’ve ever been.

    I wish this journey to anyone who is ready to step up, raise their standards! We don’t always get our goals, but we always get our standards.

    I strongly believe you are your rituals. To tie back to personal growth, I learned a lot of shedding the weight had all to do with my mindset. Today, I wake up, drink a glass of water, jump on my mini trampoline for 1 minute, meditate for 10, and write in my gratitude journal. The days I don’t do these rituals…and yes I’ve tested myself…I’m all over the place with no time!

    My biggest tip is to not set goals that are activity or thing related. Focus on the feeling. Instead of saying my goal is “I’m going to lose 20 pounds” say “I’m going to look at myself naked in the mirror and not laugh ever again. I’m going to transform my body and reframe myself. I want to feel younger, stronger, more vibrant than ever before! I want my energy to really make my life work. It’s tough out there and I want to be the strongest I’ve ever been!”

    Good luck!!

  • Skelejon

    1. Practice the piano three hours a day (living that music major life y’alls)
    2. Find a way to stay active that’s enjoyable and sustainable
    3. Find a way to eat healthy that’s enjoyable a sustainable

    I guess we’ll see how it goes!

  • BrienneofOakland

    I commit to losing 50lbs so that I can play freely with my children and be a great example for them.

    I commit do doing the work to be more flexible so I can train with less or no pain.

    2017 is MINE.

  • PositiveBlue

    If you eat out everyday now, maybe finding the healthy places to eat; or if there is a place with a food court nearby (a mall or even some grocery stores), then you can bring food with you and still get out of the office. At my last job, I used to just drive around in circles to escape the building and would eat lunch a little early instead.

  • Austin Armstrong

    Thank you so much for sharing this article! There are unfortunately so many myths about fitness and people performing exercises completely wrong, that not only will impact the potential but can hurt them! I wrote a similar article about fitness myths and tips that I would love to get your opinion on if you have a second? http://therapycable.com/blog/fitness-myths-and-tips.html regardless, thank you again for this amazing article!

  • Abandon Window

    I’m making 2017 different by giving up on the false hope that I’ll ever change. Most people never change. I’m not special, and I probably won’t change. So I give up. I quit. I’ve accepted that I’ve never really cared about my health and only ever wanted to change so that other people would like me. I’ve accepted that I’m probably always going to be a fat out-of-shape mess. Maybe if I’m lucky I get real fucking sick or something in the next ten years and it becomes literally ‘stop eating garbage or die,’ but once more…probably not.

  • Ambaphar

    I’ll eat lunch in my car–to escape from people, but also because I’ll take a quick (10-20 min) nap afterwards. Because I bring my lunch, that allows more “me time” during lunch where I can even watch few a YouTube videos while eating. I’ll watch something I enjoy, but wouldn’t normally watch. I park on the roof and it can be really nice to get some sun/fresh air. I live in Boston, so in the winter, I’ll throw a blanket in the car and snuggle up for a nap and if it’s sunny out, I may not even need the blanket. In the summer, I open all the windows for fresh air. I know that not everyone can take a nap, but it’s something I look forward to everyday. Perhaps there is a website/YouTube video you like that you can allow yourself to watch on days where you bring lunch.

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