Ask people to list their goals, and losing weight and getting in better shape often is in the top three. Maybe that's why we spend so much money on diet and exercise; health clubs alone take in over $75 billion a year in revenue.
But maybe spending money isn't the answer, especially since so many people look in the mirror, decide they need to lose weight and get in better shape... and fail.
And feel terrible about themselves.
And look in the mirror, and try again.
And then feel terrible about themselves.
It's a vicious cycle.

Want to escape that cycle? The first step is to look inside yourself, not at the outside.
The following is from Lee Daugherty, a former colleague (years ago we worked together at a manufacturing plant) and the owner of Boonsboro Endurance, Agility and Strength Training (BEAST).
The name is fitting, because Lee is himself a beast: he's run twelve marathons, completed a number of endurance events, and holds a variety of national certifications.

I asked him him one question: What are three or four effective ways the average person can start to get fitter... especially when they feel like nothing has worked for them before?
Here's Lee:

So many people have tried and failed at diet and exercise programs that they no longer actually believe they can succeed. Their internal dialog continues to reinforce the failures of the past, even when they begin to see positive results from whatever "diet of the month" they're following.
I start by asking new clients to tell me what they see when they look in their "internal mirror." Inevitably the feedback is negative.
Then I ask, "Can you see yourself any other way? Do you have a clear picture of a fit, healthy and strong version of you in your mind?"
They usually say no, or that they hadn't thought about it. (I'm guessing you probably can't, or haven't though about that either.)

Step 1: Visualize your "ideal me."
After they have that picture in their mind, I ask how their current lifestyle habits differ from those of the ideal person in their mind.
Usually, after a little self-reflection, they actually start to find their own answers for how to identify and overcome many of the challenges that keep them from success.

Step 2: Start living your life as though you already are your "ideal me."
Finally, after some discussion and sometimes even tears, I ask them to begin living their life, right here and now, as though they were already the ideal version of that person in their mind.
You don't have to wait. Picture what your "ideal me" would do, and start doing it. I know that sounds easier than it really is, but you would be amazed by how powerful it is to think of yourself as the "ideal me" and not the "current me" you see in the mirror.

Step 3: Link your ideal "me" to a divine purpose.
This step isn't about a belief in God, although in some peoples' case it could be, but is about believing that each of us are put on this earth to fulfill a higher purpose.
That purpose may be becoming the best father or mother you can be, or being the best manager or CEO you can be... everyone has their own purpose, and striving to fulfill your purpose is incredibly empowering.
I worked with a client who was so ashamed of his weight gain that he would no longer attend his daughter's sporting events. He felt he was letting his family down and failing to fulfill his divine purpose. That gave him the motivation to make the sacrifices necessary to become fit, healthy and strong in every area of his life -- especially as a father.

Step 4: Embrace some fundamental principles that seemingly have nothing to do with fitness.
There are some principles I encourage my clients to embrace in order to better define their purpose and build a strong mental and emotional foundation.
The first is love for self and others. Love for self establishes that you have value; not come from an ego perspective, but from the belief that we are all put here on earth to serve a higher purpose -- therefore we all have value. Love for others also means that we care deeply for the people who are close to us, and when we take care of our mind, body and spirit, we can then be a better blessing to them.

Next is mercy. Most people are very hard on themselves, which usually means when they mess up... they give up. One bad meal can often send people on a downward spiral that ends in quitting. Show yourself some mercy when you feel you've made a mistake. Own it, learn from it, and keep moving forward. No one is perfect. What matters is that you keep trying.

Another is simplicity. The act of doing a few simple things consistently and uncommonly well often leads to tremendous results. I encourage my clients to keep a written journal of their exercise and nutrition habits for two weeks. Afterwards, we review the journal and identify a few areas we can target for improvement. I keep it simple and encourage them to do the same. Paralysis through analysis is the downfall of many a diet and exercise program.

Step 5: Rework your nutrition.
Here are some simple yet extremely effective ways to eat healthier:
  1. Get most of your calories from nutrient-dense foods. Nutrient dense foods are rich sources of vitamins, minerals and macro-nutrients your body needs for optimum health and vitality. A five-hundred calorie doughnut just doesn't provide the same nutrients as a five-hundred calorie veggie omelet. While the total calories are the same, the way those calories will be used in your body is very different.
  2. Eat based on your activity level. On days that activity levels are higher, add another healthy snack or two. On days you're chained to your desk, your adjust meals and snacks accordingly. Also, look ahead at your week and plan for social gatherings that may impact your normal eating habits. If you're going to a happy hour on Thursday after work, eat a little less on Wednesday to create a cushion.
  3. Eat carbs early in the day. Carbohydrates are our primary energy source, and because we need energy to start the day, start with a carbohydrate source. Fresh fruit, half a bagel topped with Neufchatel cheese (a good alternative to cream cheese) or an English muffin topped with natural peanut butter and apple slices gets you off to a good start. Then transition to fewer carbs in the afternoon and evening, choosing quality lean protein and vegetables for meals and snacks.
Step 6: Rework your fitness.
And here are some simple yet extremely effective ways to eat healthier:
  1. Strength training is the fountain of youth. No one will ever tell you that you're too strong. Getting stronger helps you complete everyday tasks like carrying groceries, bounding up a flight of stairs, picking up your grandchildren, shoveling snow... Plus, it will give you a body that turns heads no matter what your age. Also keep in mind muscle is metabolically active -- that means your body expends energy maintaining, growing and repairing muscle tissue while you are at rest.
  2. Elevate your heart rate. Cardiovascular exercise comes in many forms. Walking, jogging, hill sprints, jumping rope, and even strength training can produce a cardiovascular response. On a scale of 1-10, 1 being easy and 10 being very hard, try to keep your cardio exercise between a 6 and 8. If you drop below 6, pick up the intensity. If you rise above 8, slow down a little. Just do that for 30 to 60 minutes a day and you're well on your way to improving your cardiovascular fitness.
  3. Register for a running event or obstacle race. Why? Because you'll have a goal to work towards, you'll be surrounded by other fit people, and it's fun!
  4. Hire a good trainer for a few sessions. If you're going to invest your time and effort into a training program, don't you want to maximize your results? Exercising with proper technique not only improves the benefits you'll get, it also reduces your risk of injury. So seek out a good trainer. Ask him or her to train you how to do a few foundation exercises really, really well (squats, dead lifts, pushups, overhead presses, etc.) Keep it simple.
  5. Develop a support system. Your support system should include books, magazines, audio, video, friends and family that support you. Surround yourself with information and people who will challenge you and elevate you to reach for your full potential.
Step 7: Remember that being healthy is a lifestyle, not a program.
Nutrition and exercise isn't one size fits all. Nor is it something you do for a week or month. That's why starting with the basics is so important -- if the nutrition and fitness plan you adopt isn't simple and easy to follow, you're much more likely to get frustrated and quit.
And that's also why the process starts with looking inside yourself and not in the mirror. What is your purpose? What are you goals? What is your "ideal me"?
Answer those questions and you'll build a great foundation for a lifestyle that keeps you healthier, fitter, and a lot happier.

Via: Inc.