Every year, millions of people will make a declaration that this will be the year they finally lose weight, and more importantly, keep it off. These declarations are typically smooth sailing in January, but once mid-February rolls around—those aspirations are a distant memory.
It’s not a lack of motivation or intellect that snips away people’s fitness goals. What ultimately suffocates the flames on people’s fitness goals is them overlooking the intangibles.
Diets are essential, supplements are helpful, and training is a necessity for any fitness plan, but the intangibles are what makes it into a cohesive picture.
Think as if you’re a basketball team with ultra-talented players and state of the art of equipment. Talent matters, but the intangibles such as team chemistry, accountability, trust, the sacrifice of players ego, and discipline will ultimately serve as the glue to winning the championship. The same philosophy applies to your fitness.
As you look to keep your promises on your resolutions and achieve lasting success this year, here are three overlooked intangibles that can ultimately make or break your year.
- Lack of preparation and not knowing yourself
Should I do keto? Or carnivore? Maybe Paleo? How many carbs can I have? Should I do full-body training, a body-part split, or merely an upper-lower split?
All of these are valid questions, but you’re getting ahead of yourself.
At the beginning of the year, and with any new goal, the early stages run on adrenaline. However, just as the fresh new car smell wears off, your adrenaline and excitement will taper off. Once the excitement wears off, it’s more challenging to stay on track, especially when you don’t have a solid strategy.
A big mistake that people make with their resolutions is blindly taking action without any strategy behind it.
People who successfully transform their body and keep the weight off master the critical first step of understanding their psychology. It’s crucial to diagnose yourself, identify past tendencies, and anticipate future behaviors and potential obstacles.
This is front-loading your work. Think as if you’re a financial advisor who advises people to set aside accounts for their retirement, kid’s college tuition, unforeseen accidents, and adventure. When you front-load your work, you’re attempting to predict future events that could prevent you from accomplishing your goals. While you’ll never be able to predict all future events, you’ll be able to forecast at least the ones that have a high chance of derailing your fitness goals.
A common struggle that many have with their fitness revolves around having a busy schedule. When you front-load your work, you can prepare for this problem through meal prep, for example.
Here are some other questions to ponder as you front-load your work and create your plan:
- What’s the goal?
- Am I highly stressed or not-so-much (this plays a big part in deciding the nutrition plan)?
- Do I like to eat the same things each day, or do I need variety?
- Do I like to frequently eat or not?
- Will this training plan fit within my daily routine?
- How many days do I want to train?
- Will I (actually) enjoy this plan?
- Will my fitness plan support the life that I’m trying to create both professionally and socially?
- Being goal-oriented instead of process-oriented
In basketball, the goal is to win a championship, however, you very rarely hear the coach continually harp on winning the championship. Instead, what you hear is them focusing on practice, the next game, and overall daily improvement.
You win championships through established and robust systems—better known as the process. The same applies to your fitness.
Being fixated on the outcome, such as losing 15 pounds in 60 days, isn’t serving you because you can’t precisely predict nor control the exact moment when your 15 pounds will come off. You can calculate calories and estimate based on your current weight and body fat, but ultimately, all fitness plans come with a degree of uncertainty.
Weight loss is tough, and if you only focus on 15 pounds, it can feel as if you’ll never get there. Instead, focus on getting small wins through strictly judging wins based on the quality and consistency of your daily habits and actions.
You don’t have full control over when the weight will come off, but you do have complete control over how you’ll move your body and what you’ll put in your mouth.
- Lack of structure and standards to your day
If you think about it, our default environment isn’t set up for us to be our healthiest selves. The default environment offers up convenience and comfort. It’s much easier to get fast food and “pretend” healthy foods than a salad or cold-pressed juice.
The default environment is here to zap your energy. If you’re looking to maximize your performance and health this year, you must guard your energy.
This begins with scheduling your day with precision. If you don’t claim and take control of your time, someone or something else will, and I can guarantee you that your fitness goals aren’t a top priority. To schedule your day, start with optimizing the bookends of your day: morning and night.
These two bookends are the perfect opportunity to prime your mind and body for success, along with aligning your circadian rhythm. Set aside 90 minutes for each; inside this 90-minute block, include whatever you need to ensure you start and end the day on the right track. This can be morning workouts, healthy breakfasts, connecting with loved ones, meditating, meal prepping for the next day, and reviewing your workday, amongst many other potential options.
While getting in shape is discussed and viewed from a physical standpoint, success with your fitness is an inside-out job, not the other way around.
After having the bookends of your day completed, here’s a simple three-step process to help plan your week and each day.
- We all have to work. Go ahead and schedule your daily regular work hours in your calendar for the entire week.
- Using a different color for each activity, schedule your miscellaneous events and hobbies in your calendar.
- Lastly, choose a few days and times that you’ll exercise.
By getting organized, you’ll realize that you have much more time than you thought.
New Year’s fitness resolutions don’t fall apart overnight—they slowly drift away, so slowly that you don’t even realize they’re drifting away. To prevent this potential drift, take some time to solidify your intangibles so you’ll stay on track.
Julian Hayes II is an author, host of Optimal Health for Busy Entrepreneurs, and is the founder of The Art of Fitness & Life. He helps busy entrepreneurs and professionals optimize their brain, body, and energy with precision.