Get Thin Quick with an Extremely Motivating Journal
The old adage says: if you fail to plan, you plan to fail. Though this phrase is overused, and even a bit silly, it holds true in all of life's worthwhile endeavors. Any successful businessman will tell you that if you don't have a formal business plan, complete with a mission statement, goals, directives, and milestones, your business will fold up within a year.
When considering your health, undoubtedly your most worthwhile asset, the same concepts apply; if you fail to plan, to create a realistic, motivating health plan, you plan to fail. Staying motivated is the biggest roadblock on your path to fitness. Luckily, there is a bomb-proof shield against lack of motivation; the solution is a well constructed plan. You should never begin any significant endeavor without a set of goals, methods, and a matrix of success measurements along the way. So lets roll up our sleeves and line out exactly what you will need to lock in your fitness success.
STEP ONE: YOUR FITNESS JOURNAL Before laying out your plan, you will need a place to put it. You need a fitness journal. When selecting a journal, don't just pick an off-the-shelf, spiral bound notebook. Go for something special. Go for something cool. You will be pasting photographs of yourself, writing notes, attaching clippings. You need a robust book that can hold all of these materials. But you also need something portable that you can pick up and take with you to the gym. Once you have your fitness journal, put it in a special place. It will become one of your most valuable tools. You don't want to lose it.
STEP TWO: PAGE 1 - YOUR MISSION STATEMENT Any good business plan starts with a compelling mission statement. In a business plan, this statement, in one or two paragraphs, lays out the entire vision and directive of a company. Your fitness journal should start with a motivating mission statement. This statement should be rich with ideals and primed with motivating fuel. Before writing your mission statement, put down a list of reasons why you want to be fit. Do you want more energy to play with your kids? Do you want a six-pack? Do you want to be more attractive to members of the opposite sex? Do you want to compete as a bodybuilder or as a runner? It's all up to you. The important thing is to write it down. Writing your thoughts out on paper solidifies your intentions. It turns nebulous thoughts into tangible reality. You can't pick up an intention and show it to someone. You can pick up a sheet of paper with your intentions written on it and show it off; a written mission statement is a real thing -- concrete.
Once you have listed your reasons for getting fit, put them down in a paragraph or two. You may only fill one third of a sheet of paper with your mission statement, but its content, not its length, is the important thing. Your mission statement might read:
I, Jane Johnson, am an active person. I love to exercise because it makes me fit. Exercise trims me down and tones my body. When I exercise, I feel more powerful and motivated to accomplish many other worthwhile endeavors. I exercise to have more energy and focus at work. I exercise to have the energy to keep up with my two children. I exercise to stay attractive to my husband. I know that, with my good habits of exercising and maintaining a healthy diet, I will live longer and improve the quality of my life in every aspect.
By reading Jane's mission statement, it is easy to tell that she is excited about exercise. Her reasons for exercising are obvious. With a mission statement like this, why wouldn't Jane stick to her fitness program?
Once you have written your mission statement and made it into page one of your fitness journal, refer to it often. It will remind you why you exercise, why you watch your diet, why you want to be fit.
STEP THREE: PAGE 2 - YOUR GOALS A goal unwritten is nothing more than a wish. A study at Harvard Business School between 1979 and 1989 attacked the effectiveness of written goals head-on. The 1979 Harvard MBA graduates were asked this simple question: "Have you set clear, written goals for your future and made plans to accomplish them?" Of the graduates asked, 84% didn't have any specific goals, 13% had set goals but had not written them down, and only 3% had taken the time to sit down and draft their goals and plans in ink. Ten years later, the same graduates were reviewed again. The 13% who had mentally set goals but not written them down had made twice the income of the 84% who had no defined goals. The most staggering fact was that the 3% who had actually committed their goals and plans to paper were making, on the average, ten times the income of the other 97%. This study shows that the mere act of committing goals to paper can increase your success by up to ten times. With that in mind, why wouldn't you take a few minutes to write your goals and review them often?
There are three components to a well-written goal:
A well-written goal is measurable. To set a goal merely to lose weight is not measurable. It is better to set a goal to lose a certain amount of weight, perhaps ten pounds.
A well-written goal is realistic. To set a goal to lose 50 pounds for a 5' 10" man who weighs 160 pounds is not only unrealistic, it is unhealthy. For weight loss goals, you should look at slow, steady progress as the norm. You might set a goal to lose one or two pounds of fat per week.
A well-written goal has a time limit. To set a goal to lose 24 lbs. accomplishes the first two components of a well-written goal; it is both measurable and realistic. But how long should it take you to lose 24 lbs.? At the rate of 2 lbs. per week, you would lose 24 lbs. in 12 weeks. Now were talking. Your goal is to lose 24 lbs. in 12 weeks. This goal adheres to all three components; it is measurable, realistic, and has a time limit.
Once you have a set of two to five goals, commit the second page of your fitness log to nothing more than writing these goals down. Every time you take out your fitness log, review these goals. It is important to not only write your goals down, but to review them on a regular basis. You will use your fitness log every time you workout, there is no better time to glance over your goals than when you are about to visit the gym or hit the streets for a run.
Some ideas for goals might include steady performance gains-gain ten pounds to your bench press over the next eight weeks, perform twenty pull-ups in one set within 12 weeks, run a 5k in twenty-five minutes within sixteen weeks. Body measurement goals are also excellent-lose two inches around the belly in ninety days, gain a half-inch on the upper arms in ten weeks. There is no limit; use your imagination. Perhaps you are training to climb a mountain, run a marathon, play competitive sports; whatever your pleasure, base your goals around your final objective.
STEP FOUR: PAGE 3 - YOUR BEGINNING MEASUREMENTS Every race has a starting line. Every business has an inception date. Every story has a beginning. With your fitness log, you plan to get stronger, leaner, more active, and feel younger. It becomes difficult to track your success along the road if you can't look back and see how far you have come. To see your success along the road, you have to take a snapshot of your state at the beginning of your journey. This is where your beginning measurements page comes into play.
You must put three essential elements on your beginning measurements page:
A photograph of yourself. The old adage, a picture is worth a thousand words, holds true in your fitness log. Photographs don't lie. When you strip down to a swimming suit and stand in front of a camera, there is no room for anything but pure honesty. When the print comes back, whether you are satisfied or unsatisfied with your body, you must paste it on your beginning measurements page. Remember, this is only your starting point. In a few months, after you accomplish your goals, you will look much better. You don't need to show anybody your before picture. But one day, after you take your after picture, you may be proud to lay them side by side before your friends to show what you have accomplished. The important thing is, without a before picture, you can't easily see your progress and you will lose out on the extremely motivating power of good honest images of you along the way.
Measurements of your body. The details lie in honest measurements. You will need a vinyl tape-measuring device and possibly the help of a friend to get these measurements. You should write down the circumferences of each of the following body-parts in inches:
Left and right upper arms (biceps/triceps)
Left and right lower arms
Belly (at naval level)
Hips (around the largest area of the glutes)
Upper legs (thighs)
Lower legs (calves)
You should also log your scale weight and body fat percentage
Notes about your physical/mental well-being. Along with a photograph of yourself and your measurements, commit the lower half of your beginning measurements page to a paragraph or two about how you feel. Write a little about your energy level, your satisfaction or dissatisfaction with your body. Write about your mental state; are you able to concentrate? Are you getting the things done that you need to at work? You will find, if you are diligent in your fitness program, that your whole life will change. You will feel better physically and mentally. It's a good idea to take a snapshot of your entire persona, including your physical makeup and your mental stasis, so you can notice your over-all positive life changes.
Once you have finished your beginning measurements page, place it in your fitness journal as the third page. You will regularly take measurements of yourself along the way and will want to flip back to your original measurements to compare your body changes to your original data.
STEP FIVE: WORKOUT SHEETS One of the saddest and most surprising observations at the gym is the lack of workout logs. At even peak hours when gyms are saturated with people, rarely do gym patrons write notes in any kind of book between sets of exercises. If only they knew that training results can be doubled and even tripled by merely documenting exercise performance in a notebook.
Each time you workout, whether it be lifting weights, running, preparing for a competitive sports, swimming, or any other form of exercise. Make sure you write all measurable data about your workout into your training journal. You should commit one sheet of your journal to each workout and bind them chronologically.
Though this article does not teach an actual workout system (I would recommend you hit http://www.totalhuman.com to find out about Virtual Trainer Pro, the absolute best online personal trainer on the market), any system should have concrete, measurable data that you can write into your journal. For example, if you are on a strength training system, you should write your lifting weight and the quantity of your sets and reps. If you are training for running speed, you should write the distance you are running and the speed in seconds at which you are completing that distance. Without consistent measurable data, you can't hope to see progress in your training endeavors.
As you workout, keep consistent data from workout to workout. You can use data from your last workout to push yourself even harder on your next workout. Reach to improve your times, beef up your weights, and increase your stamina. Soon you will stretch yourself to levels that you might have thought were unattainable.
STEP SIX: MONTHLY MEASUREMENT SHEETS To stay motivated, you must track your body measurements. If you see positive changes in your performance, if you see your body fat melting away, if you notice increases in your concentration, if you feel consistently happier and more energetic, there is no way you will give up on your fitness training. The best way to track these changes is to insert monthly measurement sheets. Each monthly measurement sheet should include all the elements of your beginning measurement sheet: a photograph of yourself, your body measurements, and notes about your physical/mental well-being (see STEP FOUR).
You should include one extra set of notes on your monthly measurement sheets: a review of your initial goals. Spend a minute to write your thoughts about progress towards your goals. Are you right on track? Are you ahead of schedule? What do you need to do to up the ante so you can accomplish your goals by their deadlines? Get it all down in writing. You might also include other information that comes to you along the way; notes about training, newspaper clippings about your area if training interest, tips you have discovered along your journey.
Your monthly measurement sheets will be a chance for you to check in with your body, to evaluate the fundamentals, diagnose your progress, both physically and mentally. These sheets will become one of your greatest motivators.
STEP SEVEN: GOAL CLOSEOUT SHEETS Undoubtedly, if you are dedicated and if you keep an organized fitness journal, you will hit your goals. Each time you reach your marks, include a new sheet in your training journal to close out attained goals. Write your thoughts about reaching your goals. Put down improvements in your life that have resulted from your reaching your goals. With each goal you set, you will be all the more motivated to carry on the fight. You might take an extra picture of yourself and include it on your goal closeout sheet. Lets say your goal was to get a six-pack. You should take a picture of your ripped abs and paste it on your goal closeout sheet as proof that you followed through on your commitment to yourself.
STEP EIGHT: NEW GOAL SHEETS Never rest on your haunches. Each time you hit a mark, set the target higher. When you accomplish a goal, you must write a new goal sheet and place it in your training journal. Remember to include every aspect of a well-written goal; goals must be measurable, goals must be realistic, goals must have time limits (see STEP THREE).
IN CONCLUSION You are interested in getting fit and improving your life or you would not be reading this article. You can do it. You can have the body you want. You can lose that fat. You can gain more strength and stamina. You can become leaner, stronger, and faster. But it will take time and work. One of the best ways to speed your journey to good health and fitness is to keep an organized and up-to-date fitness journal. If you follow the steps in this article, you will be blown away by how quickly you can shed unwanted pounds and increase the quality of your life.
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- Craig, Nybo
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