4 steps to finding motivation

We’ve heard from lots of people over the last few weeks, and there’s been some common themes through a lot of what we read.

Firstly, for newcomers, reading about other people’s results gives anyone starting a little more reassurance that it’s worth doing, that they’re not the only one crazy enough to try this out. I really appreciate people coming from this angle, because I know how hard it can be to get moving on something, even after you’ve decided it’s a good idea.

There’s another key group who are well into their slow carb and exercise phase, who have seen some results, but who are finding the going a little bit tougher than they’d hoped. It’s only natural to want to see great results week in and week out, and it can be discouraging if you see good results one week, and then no results the next.

For both groups, I think there’s great power in a few simple steps. These can be useful for those just starting, or those who have hit a wall.

Step 1 – Decide on the BHAG (Big, Hairy, Audacious Goal)

There’s no point in doing something just for the sake of it. Committing to something that requires ongoing action means you’re going to need a valuable reminder sometimes about why you’re actually doing this. For me, I start off not with the goal in mind, but with the reason in mind. ‘Why am I doing this’ is my first question. The answer needs to be important and life changing. For those who read the book, this is the key behind the ‘Harajuku moment’.
Mine: I am doing the Four Hour Body for fat loss and muscle gain so that I can feel more strength in my body, and feel more alive with energy, which has been a goal for years, especially since I had to go gluten free.

Step 2 – Set the end point

This is the fun part. Right now, your only focus is to figure out the measurable parts of where you want to get to – and define them specifically. This is the ‘what’ that answers the ‘why’ – they work together. ‘A bit stronger’ doesn’t really cut it here. We need concrete numbers or facts, so we can check along the way. Dream big!! This is not the time for compromises, or setting ‘realistic goals’. I find that idea just insulting to anyone who is taking the time to commit to something like this. If you’re going to the effort, then set some BIG goals. They’ll help you keep on track too.
Mine: I want to weigh 175 pounds, with 10% or less body fat by April 30, 2011. I want my average week to include 5 energetic days. I also have cm measurements of key body areas on my fridge – the numbers I want to be seeing when I’m finished. (This is 10 pounds heavier than I ever have been, lower body fat that I’ve been recently, and is a short time period. Perfect.)

Step 3 – Figure out the best approach

Here’s where all that reading comes into play – where you set your knowledge in action. This isn’t just about what you’re going to eat, or what you’re doing at the gym. This is about the complete picture. Map it out – sketch it, then color in the bits inbetween. It could be something like ‘a lifestyle aimed at weight loss that includes slow carb meals with 3 cardio sessions per week’ – that’s a good outline. But you need to include more details – so, let’s go with ’4x slow carb meals, mainly black beans and chicken, 4 hours between each, 3x 25 minutes running Monday, Wednesday and Friday’. Now that’s starting to sound like a plan you can follow without thinking.
Mine: I will use a slow carb diet as base – 4x meals per day, 4 hours apart, 1/3 brown rice (uncooked) for lunches 1 and 2, protein shake 1/2 morning and night, PAGG, creatine, l-glutamine, Occam’s Protocol workout sessions by the book – increasing rest days as the weights go up, no cardio allowed, walking only 3 times a week maximum.

Step 4 – Relax and execute the plan

This is the easiest part, but also where a lot of people fail, so listen carefully and I’ll let you in on a secret.

Get dumb and get relaxed.

You’ve done the hard work, you’ve done the planning. You have your goal set, and most importantly, you know why you’re doing this. All you need to do is follow the plan. Don’t rearrange it, don’t adjust it. You’re too close to the trees now, you can’t see with perspective. Stick with your plan, like a robot would follow their programming. If you need to adjust, or even think at all, then your Step 3 wasn’t thorough enough. If you really think you’re not on your way to success, then re-assess and start all over again. But start at Step 1. Generally though, it’s only impatience, or disbelief that sends you away from a good plan. Stick to it, and check your progress after the calendar time you gave yourself. Then you can create your next plan, starting from Step 1.

All you need to do now is measure what you’re doing, keep good records, and follow your plan. Whenever your plan says you are finished – be it calendar based, or measurement/weight/other number based, follow your plan until you’re there.

And that’s it.

As you can tell, in fact the 4 steps here are about how to achieve success. These actually can be applied to anything you want to achieve in life that requires ongoing effort – be it school, work or health. Once you have started following your plan, knowing you are on your way to success is a very powerful thing, especially with the ‘why’ in mind, and finding motivation will be a simple question and answer routine. Motivation will no longer be the unanswered question that can derail even the best ideas and plans. With these steps behind you, motivation will come naturally and you won’t have to fight for it.

All the best with your Four Hour Body, let me know how you’re doing!

P.S. Remember to share this with friends, family and colleagues – you never know who might be interested (hint: almost everyone!).

You might be interested in reading these too:

  1. Starting Occam’s Protocol workouts Well, the time has come for the next phase of our Four Hour Body experiment. Having gone through a fat loss phase, using the slow carb meals and nothing more, we're moving on...
  2. 7 steps to preparing for the 4 Hour Body Lifestyle and Diet So we've written a lot about what it's like to start, and even what to expect, but I felt like it would be worth just noting down how I would prepare for the...
  3. Want Results? Just 2 weeks on Occam's Protocol… results! I've done 3 'A' Workouts, and 2 'B' Workouts, across 2.5 weeks. The numbers really speak for themselves, I have seen gains on all lifts and exercises, and have seen a gain on...

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9 Responses to 4 steps to finding motivation

  • Luke says:

    Thanks to @rburger11 for this addition – weight-loss motivation isn’t natural; it takes practice. Practicing motivation builds motivation!
    I agree with this – motivation, or the process of success detailed above is a skill, and like any skill, it needs to be developed. This is good news! Because it means no one needs to be hard on themselves the first time they try.. this isn’t something you ‘should’ just ‘be able’ to need immediately. Practice it and over time you get better and better at this.

  • katie says:

    I have been on the 4HB diet for about 4 weeks now. I went into the whole diet looking at it as though it were an ‘experiment’ because I had always lead a pretty health lifestyle previous to reading the book. I have not been able to do the supplements due to finacial reasons but have gotten a pretty good grasp at the meal plan. I am a smaller framed person to begin with (5 foot 3 inches and 117lbs) and want my results to include fat loss/toning and to gain control over my insane sweet tooth (it got a little out of hand around the holidays)! I have seen results in forms of energy, focus and a little weight loss. When I first started the plan I stopped most excercise until I had felt comfortable with the diet. This was hard for me because I am a runner. I have slowly started increasing my running (about 3-4 times a week at 3-4 miles…which is still low for me) and have also started kettlebell routines. I know that some carbs can be included when you start cardio but I didn’t know what was really excepted or if I am doing enough cardio to include the carbs. I don’t know if I need them or not but I have thought about including a protein bar post-run’s. What is your take on this? Also, I have done many search’s to try and find someone of my same build that has taken on the 4HB diet. I am very interested in seeing/hearing about their results. Thanks for your blog…I really enjoy reading it and hearing about your experiences!

  • MEK says:

    Hi Katie,
    I’m similar to your build, 5’3″, 129lbs…you’re at my target weight, actually. I used to be at that weight in the good ol’ days :-) . I’ve been on the SCD for 5 weeks. For the first four weeks, I did about 5-6 miles/week and followed the diet strictly and dropped 6 lbs. For the past week, I’ve been running longer distances (need to prep for a 10K) but decided to experiment by dropping the cheat day and including a few carbs each week after the workout, which also includes some resistance training. My weight has been steady during this time but it’s only been a week so I can’t say I’ve had conclusive results yet.

    Kat and Luke, I’ve enjoyed reading your site for the past few weeks. How is Kat’s progress after she adjusted her diet?

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  • Dan says:

    Thanks for this article! “You’re too close to the trees now, you can’t see with perspective.” – So true. The amount of times I’ve considered changing my eating habbits & I’m only a few weeks in!

    • Luke says:

      Hey Dan,

      Thanks for your comment. It can be easy to do! It’s so much easier if you involve a printed calendar – digital calendars can be far too easy to change! With a printed calendar, you can plan out 6 weeks or 8 weeks, and then stick to it. Come back at the end, and decide what you’ll plan for the next 8 weeks.

      All the best,

  • Graham says:

    After many trials and errors, I found that there were a few things that really motivated me (videos, books, old pictures of myself), and a few things that especially demotivated me (financial setbacks, fights with my wife, unplanned meal times where I “had to cheat”).

    So what I have done is to try to increase the former by adding more of that to my life, and prepare for the latter, knowing those situations will arise and being ready to deal with them when they do.

    • Luke says:

      Hey Graham,

      Thanks for your comment. It sounds like you’ve got a great balance in your life. The value of motivation *anything* is so large – and for each person, it can be different things. So it’s a great idea to find what works for us all, and stick with, and make sure we make time for it, no matter how busy the schedule gets.

      All the best

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