The process I am about to reveal to you is a proven method for setting and achieving your fitness goals. That being said, it requires some work on your part. You can follow the process step-by-step, but it’s going to take some effort on your part. Unfortunately, willpower is a finite resource. You cannot depend on this alone for your success. Set some specific goals, determine your why, set up support systems, and plan it out as much as possible. The more you do that, the easier it will be. 🙂
In order to be successful, you need to have reached the breaking point where you are no longer comfortable remaining in your current situation. You have to be uncomfortable with where you are. You have to be ready to make a change, and you need to be excited about it. If you are simply at the stage where you think it’d be nice to achieve so and so but aren’t really excited about it, then you might as well not read this. However, if you are excited about the prospect of achieving a new set of goals and you no longer want to continue with your current situation (or the trajectory of your current situation), read on!
I’ve broken this process into 8 steps. You may be surprised to know that most of these steps and most of the work that you do won’t actually be in the workouts and healthy habits themselves. The more you focus on these steps that lay the groundwork for the work you need to put in to achieve your fitness goals, the easier it will be to apply your energy and effort to the workouts themselves.
Here are those 8 steps:
1. What is your “Why”? Finding your source of intrinsic motivation.
You need to figure out what it is that is motivating you to achieve your goals. Before anything else, you need to figure out your purpose, and how your purpose relates to the attainment of those goals. As this relates to yoga, your “why” may because you have done yoga in the past, and you feel much better physically when you are doing yoga on a consistent basis. It could also be because you are an athlete, and you notice that you perform better and are less stiff when you are doing yoga. Figure out your “why” – why are you doing yoga? You must figure out this “why”; your internal source of motivation, before anything else. This can be supplemented by external sources of motivation later on (music, pump-up videos, support systems, etc), but you need to have your own source of intrinsic motivation you can draw on.
I want to do more yoga because my body feels better when I do it.
I want to do more yoga because I do not want to be injured again.
I am interested in doing more yoga because I want to become stronger, and increasing my mobility will help.
2. Determining your goals
What are your goals? Now that we know your purpose and your reasons, let’s be as specific as possible in determining your goals. There’s a great acronym for this, referred to as SMART goals.
S – Specific
M – Measurable
A – Attainable / Achievable
R – Realistic
T – Time-oriented
Essentially, you need to figure out a goal that is realistic, as specific as possible, and on some sort of timeline. You should set up a goal that is realistic at first, and not necessarily a reach goal, because initially meeting your goals (no matter how modest they are) encourages you – it shows you that you CAN do this. It shows you that you CAN be successful, and it emboldens you to set higher goals, and higher STANDARDS for yourself. For example, if I have not been doing yoga for a couple of months now and my goal is to get back into yoga on a regular basis, it would be unrealistic to set a goal to do yoga every day for an hour for the next month. That’s a tough goal to meet. However, you can probably set a goal for yourself to do yoga for 20 minutes per day, 3 days per week, and be successful. This is realistic, specific, and time-oriented. From there, you can work on setting loftier goals – but only after you’ve had initial success with more modest goals. The reason for this is because if you do not meet your goals when you first set them, you are subconsciously telling yourself that you are unable to meet goals you set for yourself, and that you are doomed to failure even before you start. Set a realistic, time-oriented, and specific goal, and make your first pair of goals modest enough to achieve.
I will do yoga for 30 minutes per day, 3 days per week, on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at 5:30 PM, for the next 4 weeks.
I will do yoga for 10 minutes per day every day when I wake up for the next 4 weeks.
I will do for 45 minutes of yoga, 2 days per week, on Tuesday and Saturday at 7:00 AM, for the next 4 weeks.
3. Setting up support systems
Will power is a finite resource. I’ll say that again, and put it in bold letters. Will power is a finite resource. Contrary to what you may have heard, at some point, your will power runs out. Your instinctual brain takes over, and your internal life coach is snuffed out. Because of this, it is important to have external support systems in place. Pump-up videos featuring Eminem are fantastic. But what you really need is the support of the people around you. The way that I would approach this is to explain to them what your goals are, why they are important to you, and how they can help. Perhaps the most important part of this is explaining to the people around you WHY you are setting these goals. You shouldn’t place all the burden of you setting an alarm and doing your workout on them, but you can ask them to give you that extra nudge should your intrinsic motivational tank be running on empty.
Note: I would be remiss to not mention the Man Flow Yoga Community here. If you want to join a supportive community focused on improving health and fitness through yoga, join the Man Flow Yoga Community. We encourage one another, answer one another’s questions, and share our successes. Going further than that, everyone who signs up for the Man Flow Yoga Community is paired with a Manbassador, a Man Flow Yoga brand ambassador, to provide motivation and inspiration, or just point you in the right direction in terms of a workout or workout program. Click here to learn more. You can also join a Challenge. We hold these on a regular basis, and these are excellent opportunities to held hold yourself accountable while working out with a community. Click here to get on the email list and know when the next one is coming. (Hint: It’s after Labor Day in 2016, and it focuses on mobility.)
Talking to your significant other – I want to be in better shape, because I want to be healthy for myself, for you, and for our [future] children. In order to do this, I need to spend 30 minutes per day on fitness. Will you support me by holding me accountable to my daily workout commitment? (Going further, ask if they would like to join you!)
Talking to your workout friends – I’m sick of feeling sore all of the time. Let’s give this yoga thing a shot. I’m going to stop going to the gym for the next couple of weeks, and focus on yoga instead. If my goal is to continue to get stronger, I know that mobility is the only way that I can get there while being injury-free. Don’t get on me for not doing weights every day this week. You know what, why don’t you join me? This Man Flow Yoga thing sounds pretty sweet…
Talking to your dog – Hey Flowtron, do you want to come running with me and then watch me do yoga in the park while you run around with other dogs? You get to go outside more, and we can play together more. Sound good? Cool.
4. Plan as much as possible
One problem that many people have is that they make the commitment to work out, they set aside the time, but they don’t plan out their workouts ahead of time. They either try to create a workout from scratch or they use part of their workout time to figure out what they will include in their workout. This is a BIG mistake. Your time to work out should be spent DOING your workout, and not planning your workout. In fact, you want to be as specific as possible when you are planning your workouts. Within the Members’ Area, we make it easy for you to select a workout that you need based on your availability, desired focus of the workout, and skill level, but even with the filtering options you could be wasting your time selecting a workout instead of doing the actual workout. My suggestion is to sit down at the beginning of the week (at a time designated specifically for planning your workouts) and CHOOSE the exact workouts you want to do. Make sure you know EXACTLY what you’ll be doing during your workout. This allows you to focus your effort on the workout, instead of figuring out what to do next. If you need more help with choosing a workout, go straight for a workout program, found in the Workout Program section of the Members’ Area. If you’re not a Member of the Man Flow Yoga Community and this doesn’t apply to you, you can still do this with your training program or workouts as well.
On Monday, I will do workout A. On Tuesday, I will do workout B. On Wednesday, workout C. (If this is a video follow-along workout, knowing which workout is enough. If the workout is not a follow-along workout, know exactly what you intend on doing, including the amount of sets, reps, weight, and order of the exercises. Knowing just the focus of the workout (chest, legs, etc) is enough. You need to know the exercises, and the reps & sets involved.)
Every day at 6:45 AM, I will wake up, have a glass of water, and then start my workout at 7:00 AM. I will finish at 7:30 AM, take 2 minutes to be grateful for my ability to do my workout, and then start my day.
On Monday evening, I will do workout A. On Thursday evening, I will do workout B. On Friday, after weight training, I will do cool-down workout C.
5. Doing the work.
Now that you’ve set up your support systems and planned your workout as much as you can, it’s time to put in the work, and putting in the work actually comes down to a decision you make within the span of 5 seconds. These critical few seconds are the seconds you spend making the decision to do your workout or not do your workout. After you’ve made the decision, you have your video workout in front of you, and all you have to do is give it your all. You don’t have to worry about what’s next, what you’re having for dinner, or about an argument you had earlier that day. The ONLY thing that matters when you are following along to your workout is doing your workout to the best of your ability. In my opinion, the decision to keep pushing in your workout is the easiest decision you’ll ever make. When the goal is to hold a posture for 5 more seconds, there is no preparation involved. You don’t have to spend hours studying or days preparing. You don’t need to learn something first. The only thing you need to do at that given moment is to apply effort for a tiny fraction of a minute. It’s much easier than preparing for a test or a presentation.
Furthermore, whether or not you decide to push yourself in your workout is a huge indicator of whether or not you choose to push yourself in other situations as well. If you can’t make the decision to try a little harder for 5 more seconds in your workout, why would you make a difficult decision to apply yourself for days, weeks, or months at a time to a project you’re working at that requires more than mere physical effort? By not following through with effort in your workouts, it’s clear that you aren’t willing to put in the work in other areas as well.
Waking up at 6:30. You’re tired. You consider going back to sleep. Then, you think about why you’re doing the workout. You think about how you’ll feel guilty about it later if you don’t do it now. You spend 5 seconds doing this, and you make the decision to open the video, hit the play button, and DO YOUR WORKOUT.
You’re halfway through the workout. You’re exhausted, but you still have 10 minutes to go. You should stop now, right? Are you a quitter? Can you tolerate 10 more minutes? Do you want to tell yourself that you aren’t able to do it? Will you survive? If the answer is YES then you DO YOUR ******** workout!!
6. When things get tough
When things get tough (and they usually do), it’s time to revisit steps 1 and 3. Remember – why are you doing the workouts you are doing? Why are you involved in a workout program? Why are you doing yoga? WHO are you doing this for? What is your intrinsic motivation? You can also look to your support systems. Talk to your friends or your dog. Have your friends ask you why you aren’t doing your workouts. “It’s hard!” you say, “I have all of these things to do, and the workouts are difficult, and I’m not seeing results quickly enough.” If you have good friends, they’ll empathize with you somewhat, but they’ll also remind you that this is something that you really want, and in order to get results you need to put in the effort. (No offense, but if your friend just agrees with all of your excuses and doesn’t help make you a better person, you need new friends.) Thirdly, this is where you can look to external sources of motivation. Watch people with ACTUAL problems – people who have lost limbs and are still working out. People who are twice your age, but putting in the effort. People with full-time jobs and kids, but are waking up early and doing their workouts anyways. There is motivation EVERYWHERE on the internet – on YouTube, on Facebook, on Instagram. Pick some inspirational figures that you can relate to (or people that you WANT to relate to), and use them to help motivate you.
My note to whiners: You can spend your time complaining, or you can DO something about it. If you make excuses to me, I could NOT care less. It’s not my health that’s affected. It’s not my life quality that suffers when you make an excuse not to do your workouts. It’s YOURS. I’ve given you the tools, resources, information – hell, I’ve even given you the workouts to do! Whether or not you do them is up to you, and that tiny, five-second decision to complete or not complete your workout. The only person who’s being hurt by you not doing your workouts is YOURSELF.
Recognize that you do have the ability to create time in your life for things that matter to you. If you have time to watch TV, there’s a good chance you have time to do your workout. If your health matters, then you have the time to make yourself a healthy meal.
I only have one hour of free time today. I have demands from everyone around me. I think I’ll just skip my workout today. I’m tired anyways. I’ll do it tomorrow though, I swear. – NO. You do your workout now. YOUR HEALTH is more important than a 15-minute task that you can do later. YOU are more important than the demands from those around you. In fact, if you don’t take care of yourself, you won’t be able to satisfy those demands at all! And you want to help people, right? Make sure your body is capable of doing so.
I don’t want to make a healthy meal. It’s so much easier to just get a quick meal to-go. One meal won’t hurt me, will it? – One won’t. But that crap adds up over time. Would you rather spend a few minutes making a healthy meal, or spend a few thousand dollars on medical bills? Up to you. Make the 5-second decision and recommit to your goals. The more you do it, the easier it becomes.
7. Rewards & Punishments
Exercise typically takes a LONG time to yield results. Back when we were all farmers, the concept of putting work over many months in order to see results was a simple concept. We understood that it took months to grow a plant, and we didn’t place a seed in the ground and expect it to instantly grow into a stalk of corn. Now, hoever, we expect nearly instant gratification. Amazon Prime makes it so that our new standard of ordering a product is a 2-day delivery. (Compare that to the 6-8 weeks for delivery you remember from infomercials, or the horseback delivery service from the 19th century.) Social media likes give us instant gratification. Text messages and emails provide instant transmissions of communication. Because of this, we live in a world where we want everything instantly, and if it doesn’t work right away we tend to move on. Because of this, it’s important to reward yourself with some form of instant gratification when you stick to your workouts. (Side note: When I say reward yourself, I mean with something HEALTHY. Don’t eat a donut, for f**** sake.) Take a few minutes after your workout and be grateful that your body works and you’re able to exercise. Take your significant other out on a date. Sit down and relax afterwards. Do something you like. (If everything you like is unhealthy, get new habits!) Your rewarding yourself could be as simple as taking a few moments to pat yourself on the back. Share your workout completion on Instagram, or with a fitness community, like the the Man Flow Yoga Community.
Conversely, you need to set up punishments in case you don’t do your workouts or stick to your plan. The fear of failure is a great motivator. You can even get more extreme than this. Make a promise to mail a check for $50 to a political organization that you disagree completely with should you not meet your goals. Create an arrangement with your friends stipulating that if you don’t do your workouts this week, you owe them each $10 per workout. Or tell your partner you aren’t allowed to have sex that night – maybe that will help them be a better support system. (We would hope so, at least!)
2 weeks into your workout program. Maybe you’ll take a break. You went really hard yesterday and you should reward yourself. Wait – you want to reward yourself by NOT doing your workout? So you’re telling yourself that NOT doing your workout is to be rewarded? That logic seems flawed. You should probably… DO YOUR WORKOUT.
I didn’t meet my goals. Now, I have to send a $50 check to the Trump campaign. – Don’t send money to Trump. Meet your goals, instead, and make the world a better place.
Every few weeks, it is a good idea to evaluate your goals, your methods, and to adjust accordingly. Have you been able to meet your goals? What is preventing you from reaching your goals? Do you need to scale down your goals? Do you need more support from people around you? Do you need to become more clear about your purpose for setting the goals? Sit down with a notebook and write all of this down. After you’ve written this out, look back and ask yourself: Is the person writing this the kind of person that I want to be? Do the notes here suggest that this person is working hard toward their goals? Or is the page littered with complaints, excuses, and the blaming of others for not being able to meet the goals? If the answer is the latter, is that the kind of person you want to be? Maybe that will give you some motivation to change your approach.
Looking back, I was easily able to meet 30 minutes per day, 3 days per week. My body isn’t as sore as it was when I started, either. I think I can do 5 days per week. If I can do it 3 days per week, I can definitely do 5!
45 minutes per day was tough. My body was too sore, and I just didn’t have the time. I’ll set my goal at 30 minutes per day, and then I’ll reevaluate again in 2 weeks.
Reading journal: I had too work, so I couldn’t do it. My mom called me so I had to talk with her. My dog had to be taken out. My parents were in town. I was tired. – WOW. If this was in my notebook, I think I would slap myself. This looks like a big list of excuses, and most of them blame other people! If you’re going to complain or make an excuse, at least acknowledge your ability to affect the situation you are involved in. You are not a pawn in your life – you are in control! Instead, write in your notebook about things YOU could have done to complete your workouts.
This is a concrete, effective plan for helping you set and achieve your fitness goals. USE IT. And share it with a friend!
Want to get involved with a community that WANTS to see you succeed? Join the Man Flow Yoga Community. Get access to workouts, workout programs, community support, and more. Click here to sign up.