The headline probably grabbed your attention, but if you’re expecting this step-by-step guide to be full of ‘quick tips’, ‘six pack shortcuts’ or ‘foods you should eat to torch belly fat’ then I suggest you stop reading now. This isn’t a get-fit-quick scheme.
Besides, I’ve never understood how you torch belly fat, unless you use a blowtorch of course (disclaimer: Bangkok Fitness neither endorses nor recommends this action).
I have worked with and spoken to hundreds of people about their fitness goals. I’ve seen great success and I’ve seen people struggle and regress. This experience has helped me identify some of the common traits for success with regards to health and fitness.
If you can consider these points then I believe you’ll be more prepared for sustainable progression towards your long-term health and fitness goals.
Step 1: Make a decision to take real action
In my experience, the people who don’t move forward are the ones that make a half-assed decision to do it. They adopt a ‘I guess I should do something about this’ attitude, and then they pay a trainer to sort it out. They’re more interested in buying some new workout gear to train in rather than use it. They research and debate the pros and cons of a new diet without making any significant changes to theirs. They train to look good on their 2 week beach holiday.
The people who have the best results are the ones that really want it. Often this comes from an epiphany or, to quote Samuel L Jackson, what alcoholics refer to as a ‘moment of clarity’. Something that really makes you think ‘Enough! I’m going to really do something about this!’
This could be a health scare, becoming a parent or an untactful comment about your weight. It could be that you suddenly realize you’re not getting any younger, and you truly make aging strong, well and gracefully a priority in your life. It could be that you’ve deeply unhappy with your body image or you had to stop playing 5-a-side football after 5 minutes and felt weak and embarrassed.
When I first got into this industry I thought that I’d learn how to train people and tell them what to eat, and then sit back as they reaped the rewards. I now know that until that true decision for change has been made, it’s very unlikely that anything lasting or significant will happen.
So be honest with yourself and decide if you’re here yet.
If not, look for that inspiration.
If so, let’s move on.
Step 2: Set performance goals
The majority of people train for aesthetic goals such as ‘lose 5 kilos’ or ‘get a six pack’. Everyone wants to look good, I get that, and there’s nothing wrong with having these as part of your goal setting. For the sake of discussion, I will refer to these as ‘vanity goals’.
Performance goals vs vanity goals
Other people set performance goals such as ‘run 800 metres in 3 minutes’, ‘barbell back squat my bodyweight’ or ‘become an all-round kick-ass athlete/football player/sumo wrestler’.
The problem with vanity goals is that it turns the process into a means to an end. Training and eating well turn into painful things you have to do to look good. And what happens when you hit that goal weight or get some abdominal definition? It rarely results in real satisfaction and often results in going back to the old habits and quickly regressing.
Performance goals, on the other hand, celebrate the process. You gain your satisfaction from improving the capabilities of your body, from performing things you couldn’t do before and from becoming a fitter and stronger version of yourself.
People who strive for performance goals are far more likely to stick with it for life. Having the scales read 65kg can only be done one way, by losing body mass, but performing better can be done an infinite number of fun, exciting and motivating ways.
And the best thing about having performance goals? If they’re set correctly then you’ll usually end up hitting all the vanity goals along the way, as well as having fun and truly adopting a long term change.
And if you still don’t have a six-pack you’ll have become a bad-ass motherf*@k%er along the way!
Step 3: View negative behaviour in a different light
Once you’re primed for performance and progression you’ll start to view things that regress you in a different light. Eating junk food tastes good, but with your new found focus the short-lived good taste won’t be worth the long-term set back. Smoking might relax you in your work breaks but being able to play football with your kids in the park becomes more important. Getting wasted on a Saturday night can be fun in the moment but you start to see it as a setback for your goals that carry over until Monday or Tuesday. This isn’t just health and fitness based too, this extends into relationships, work and life.
For the record, I’m not saying indulgences can’t be enjoyed, but frequent excess and binging becomes a lot less appealing when you can see their impact on other areas. Besides, when you do it less often it’s all the more tasty/fun when you do hit it!
Step 4: Enjoy the process, experiment and have fun!
Regular readers of my site know that I promote an experimental and fun approach to health, fitness and life.
Anything that makes all this fun will mean you have positive associations with health – take your partner to a new organic restaurant, join a friend at a kickboxing or Zumba class, experiment with making some awesome smoothies, learn a new skill like rock climbing or wakeboarding, or learn to do a handstand, backflip or roly poly.
Enjoy finding out more about what kind of movement motivates you and turns you on, how your body reacts to different foods and factors and what goals strive you to constantly improve.
No-one honest said getting fit, strong, healthy and in shape would be easy, but if you follow and consider these principles it’ll set you up for success not just for your holiday, but for life.
Steps 1 and 2 require the most work. Once you’ve got these right, 3 and 4 just come naturally and makes the process easier, more sustainable and more enjoyable.
I hope this guide has helped you out. Comment below if you’re stuck or you have any awesome ideas worth sharing… Good luck! : )
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