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The Brick By Brick Approach To A Better Body

If I had to point to perhaps the biggest mistake I’ve seen over the years with those just starting out or returning to a body transformation regiment, it’s attempting to do too many things at once.

In the majority of cases this is a sure-fire recipe for frustration, discouragement, and unmet expectations.

An example would be the individual who goes from being on a poor diet and doing little to no exercise, to an attempt of hitting the gym five times a week and following a strict diet. While a small minority of individuals will have the discipline to jump right in with massive lifestyle changes, the majority of folks will find this overwhelming.

This is one of the main reasons the parking lots in most health clubs are packed the first few weeks in January, but then quickly clear out as people drop off from their routines and return to old habits. Expectations are set too high and there’s not enough time for new habits and lifestyle changes to become established.

Did you fail if you slipped up on your diet some or didn’t make it to the gym every day?

Of course not, but that becomes the mindset for those who don’t set realistic goals and expectations. A better approach is to frame your big picture goal in the context of building your pathway to success one brick at a time.

I want you to be completely honest with yourself and think about something for a minute.

With everything that you’ve got going on in your life, all the things that demand your time and attention, how many new habits will you be able to focus on (and actually do) at one time? This is an area that I believe a lot of people really over-estimate.

There’s only so much you can bring into your universe at one time and maintain focus on it. The secret is focusing only on one or two new actions at a time until they become a habit and part of your subconscious thoughts.

What you’re doing is in essence building layer upon layer of habits that help you achieve your goal. This is in stark contrast to heaping all those changes on your plate at once.

I see this all the time with coaching clients who struggle to gain consistency with their diet. They do really good for a short time, then fall off the wagon, and repeat this cycle over and over. It’s the old “one step forward and two steps back,” thing going on.

It’s not that an occasional indulgence completely negates an otherwise clean diet, although that’s the mindset of many. What really derails progress is breaking free from discipline, structure, and habit with one’s diet for days and weeks on end.

Here’s a tactic I like to use that I’ve found a lot of success with.

Instead of doing a major overhaul with your diet and exercise routines, look to make 1-2 small changes at a time. For example, if you’re not eating a supportive nutrition breakfast on a regular basis, start there first and focus your attention solely on establishing that habit. If you don’t make the best choices at lunch or dinner, don’t beat yourself up about it, keep pressing forward and stay focused on eating a good breakfast.

Once you’ve established consistency (aka- habit) with getting a decent breakfast in each morning, shift your attention to the next item and keep tackling your obstacles one by one. Here’s another tip along those lines.

Look to start with making changes that will have the most impact on taking steps with getting closer to your goal. For example, let’s say that you’re not making the best choices at lunch time and frequently eat out, grabbing something on the go. At the same time, you’re also having several glasses of wine each night to unwind from the day.

Which one do you think is playing a bigger role in keeping you from losing fat?

There’s no question about it, you’ll want to address the booze before you focus your attention on packing a healthy lunch.

In short, don’t major in the minors in the beginning. Focus your attention on what’s most important. It’s not about being perfect, now or ever for that matter. It’s about working to get better day in and day out, getting one step closer to where you want to be.

I encourage you to step back and take a good look at what things you think you can improve on to have a better body. Make a list and write them down on a piece of paper. Next number each one in order of priority.

Put that list up on the fridge, bathroom mirror, or somewhere else that you’ll be forced to see it on a daily basis. Start with number one on that list and focus on it until you’ve got an established habit. Once you’re there, cross it off and move to number two on the list and so forth. You’re never jumping around or over items on the list until they’re crossed off.

I know this sounds crazy simplistic, but that’s the whole idea, simple is best. The beauty of this system is that you’re giving yourself positive reinforcement as you go. It’s a good feeling to cross something off the list, you’ve achieved success. That builds momentum and provides a sense of accomplishment.

You’re going to have good days and bad days, know that going in; it’s part of the deal. Those who ultimately achieve their goals with a body transformation do so by just keep chipping away. Never giving up and always persisting, regardless of set-backs.

Here’s the other extremely beneficial part of making a list like this. By clearing off items one by one you should begin to see improvements and progress towards your goal. If you get all the way through your list and find yourself stuck in a plateau, it may be a sign that something needs tweaked or perhaps there’s a need to dig deeper into hormonal imbalances, etc.

This is where someone with expertise can help you find personalized solutions, but the thing is a good coach will always look to see that a foundation for body composition change is already in place.

If someone came to me for help with troubleshooting fat loss and I discovered they were only getting 60 minutes of physical activity in for the week, I sure as heck wouldn’t be looking for signs of hormonal imbalances just yet. I’d go with the most obvious causes of what’s keeping them stuck and work down the list.

If you’re not content with the way your body looks and feels right now, start by doing an honest assessment of what you believe you need to change. Make your list and number according to priority.

By all means get some accountability and coaching to make the changes if that would help. You certainly don’t need to wait until you’ve crossed all the items off your list. You can do that with your coach and benefit from guidance along the way.

A word of caution though, if you meet with a so called “fitness professional” and they want you to immediately start giving up every bad habit, exercising for an hour every day, and adhering to a strict diet, don’t walk, run the other way. They’re setting you both up for failure.

Find someone who will help you set realistic expectations and hold you accountable to them. Someone who will help you cross items off your list one by one and not dump them on you all at once. This is what I look to teach my coaches at Shaping Concepts to help them be more effective with getting results for our clients. If I can ever be of assistance with coaching please don’t hesitate to let me know.

Just remember, it’s brick by brick and step by step. Rome wasn’t built in a day and a leaner, more toned and defined body wont’ be either. Just like a masterpiece sculpture, the artist chips away at it little by little with patience. Follow the same approach with changing your physique and you won’t be disappointed.

Shane Doll CPT, CSCS is a certified Charleston personal trainer, fat loss expert, speaker, and founder of Shaping Concepts Fitness Training Studios. Learn more about the Shaping Concepts difference and then schedule your free no-obligations consultation today.

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