How to: Guarantee your success by automating your fitness
Jason is a 4HB friend who started with his 4HB Journey back in December 2010. Since then, he’s had some great results, and has helped other people get going with their own 4HB lifestyles too, through his website Finding My Fitness. I invited him to share some of his tips with us, and he wrote about one of the most important factors of having success in any new regime – setting things on autopilot so that your desire turns into a habit. But he explains it all better than me, so over to Jason!
You get home from work after a long day and the last thing you want to do is figure out what to make for dinner. Better yet, you decide before you leave work that you don’t want to fuss with it when you get home, so you get something quick on the way (quick almost always means terrible for you).
You go to bed saying “I should get up early and work out.” When the alarm goes off, you hit snooze telling yourself you’ll work out when you get home. When you get home, you’re too tired to do it and say you’ll do it for sure in the morning. Rinse and repeat.
After enough of this, you get upset and beat yourself up over bad decisions. Two or three months later, you haven’t made any progress – maybe even made regress – and you wonder what happened. The negative way you react to yourself only makes the “depression” worse.
There’s a better way than this!
I’ll be completely honest with you: I’m totally speaking to myself. What you’re about to read are the things I’m doing to get myself going again.
You see, I’ve been in a slump lately. I don’t remember when it started, but I know I’ve said the same thing to myself over and over: tomorrow’s a new day; it’ll get better. And it’s true, tomorrow is a new day, and it will get better. My problem – and probably yours too – is that tomorrow never comes.
You gotta start right now, and I’m about to tell you how you can take control and start seeing progress again.
Automation is everywhere
You probably have automated more things in your life than you realize. For example, you’ve probably set up at least a few of your recurring bills to pay automatically. Literally everything I pay regularly is automatically deducted from my checking account a few days before its due date. Doing this is keeping me on top of my bills, and it’s also helping me pay down debt in a very systematic and predictable way.
You’ve automated your lifestyle too, and you don’t even think about it. Your alarm wakes you up at the same time every day. You’ve got a programmable thermostat. You have the same thing for breakfast every day. You get your coffee from the same barista at the same Starbucks at the same time every day.
Why do we do that? Because routine is easy. Things become habits when you automate them. That’s the goal with this lifestyle change you’re trying to implement.
In fact, companies already know this. They know what you watch on TV. I bet if I asked you what you watched last Tuesday, I can tell you what you’ll watch this Tuesday and next Tuesday. Advertisers place ads in front of you constantly because they know what you like because of what you watch. They want to automate into your life the purchase of pizza and wings for Monday Night Football, and they’re successful at it.
They mean it for evil; you can mean it for good.
What I’m doing for myself, and what I’m teaching you about, is to automate fitness into your lifestyle.
So how do I do this?
You have to build a routine.
The first step is making a plan or a schedule. Identify the specific behavior that you want to change and focus on it. Mine is working out 3 days a week, so let’s examine the process of turning the idea into a routine.
I know I can’t fit it in my current schedule, so I need to make room. I know I won’t work out in the evenings, so it’ll have to be in the morning. I can’t do it with the current morning schedule I use, so I have to adjust. I’ll get up 20 minutes earlier and use that time for my workout. I heard Dr. Oz say once that if you wake up at 6:30, the best time for you to work out is 6:35. Get it done, and then it’s done for the rest of the day. Knowing I’ve done my workout before I even get to work will make my day feel more productive. Monday, Wednesday, and Friday sounds reasonable, so I’ll use that schedule.
Now that I know when I’ll work out, I need to decide what to do. I’m going to start by using a website called Max Capacity Training. It’s 16 minutes long, 3 days a week. A perfect fit for my goals. It also uses body weight, from what I understand, so I don’t need to buy any equipment. There are no excuses for me not to be able to do these. That’s exactly what I need. Plus, the website tells me exactly what my exercises will be. There is literally no planning on my part.
I’ve just automated my workout.
Once you have your schedule, turn it into a daily checklist. Post it where you’ll see it every day all day, and check things off as you complete them. Each item you check off is a “quick win” that will keep you inspired to keep going.
Quick wins will get you far
Sometimes, though, the idea of the plan is daunting. Nip it in the bud by getting one quick win today.
Start with something so dead simple that you can’t fail at it. I don’t know what that is for you, but I’m sure an idea just popped into your head. Here are a couple examples:
- within the next 10 minutes, drink a liter of water. You’re probably thirsty enough to need it.
- ask your coworker to move their candy dish a little further away from where you can get to it easily. People are always willing to help out when others want to get healthier
- start parking about 10 spots further away at work. Even that short distance will make you feel good about making changes (trust me)
If you’ve done something just now to begin the change, you’re already making progress!
Go slowly and let it build
Start with one behavior you’d like to automate and work on that for a few weeks. Then pick another, building on the first. If you are trying to change your diet then just worry about breakfast for a few weeks. Then put your breakfast on autopilot and start working on lunch. You get the idea. Slow and steady.
What happens when I fail
Notice I didn’t say “if I fail”. You will fail; just accept it. It doesn’t mean you suck at what you’re doing, so don’t beat yourself up. Thomas Edison didn’t; neither should you. Instead of getting upset about it, figure out what might have caused it and adjust your situation so you can avoid it in the future.
Did you snack on the way to work? Maybe you didn’t eat enough breakfast. Make sure you’re getting a quality breakfast before leaving the house. Find ways to make it easier to eat what you should.
Did you hit snooze too many times and not work out? Maybe it’s too easy to snooze. Move your alarm clock far enough away that you have to actually get out of bed to turn it off. Or try going to bed earlier the night before.
From the right perspective, failure just teaches you how to avoid it in the future.
Accountability will be key
If I’m the only one who I tell about this then it’ll be too easy to put it off and not make any progress. Look what I’ve just done though: I’ve told thousands of people what I’ll be doing. Now you guys can keep me accountable, and honestly I’d truly appreciate it. Ask me about it on Twitter or in my own blog comments. Don’t let me skip!
I can’t recommend strongly enough setting up a system like that for yourself. A lot of people do this with their food by posting pictures on Twitter every time they eat. It’s automatic: if it goes into their mouth, it gets tweeted. Some people blog about their food and workouts. The point is they keep themselves accountable.
I’d be happy to keep tabs on you if you’d like. I’m sure Luke or Kat would as well. We’re here to help you reach your fitness goals, even as we’re reaching our own. We’re all in this together!
Start with one action step right now
Do something right now – right this second, literally – that will help you start you down the road again. Here are a few ideas:
- Is your water bottle empty? Fill it up. Try to drink it all within an hour.
- Are you feeling lethargic? Go to the bathroom and do 30 squats in a stall or take a 5 minute walk around the office
- Don’t know where to start with meals? Start with this quick lunch or dinner: chicken breast, spinach, and canned lentils. Heat and eat. (breakfast: eggs, spinach, and lentils)
- Need accountability? Call your best friend and tell them what you want to have accomplished by tomorrow, and ask them to call you tomorrow to see if you did it. Knowing they’ll call tomorrow will encourage you to get started today.
Congratulations! You’re well on your way to your goals.
In what ways have YOU learned to automate your own fitness? Let me know by leaving a comment below!
One day Jason got tired of being fat, so he created FindingMyFitness.com to help him get skinny. He shares tips, recipes and lessons learned from his experience with The 4 Hour Body.
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