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Tips for Success in the New Year

As we continue our stable orbit around the sun, I remember that this is the season many will redouble their efforts to become leaner and healthier. I get questions all the time about tips and advice on how to be successful in getting fit so I’ve put together a list of tips, helpful for the resolutioners as well as the fitness veterans.

  • Set measurable goals – Too often I hear someone say I want to get in better shape. That’s not an end goal and without having a few criteria by which you define “better shape” your nebulous goal will lead to frustration and failure. Start with a general idea and whittle it down to 1-2 specific criteria. 1. Lose 10lbs 2. Run 3 miles in under 24 minutes.

  • Have a plan of attack – How will you go about accomplishing these goals? Do you have the knowledge or experience to develop a plan to accomplish these goals? For most the answer is “Of course, I can just look up how on the internet.” The result, 2,000+ pages of content to search through, dozens of ads for easy fixes, pills, ab equipment (surely this market has died off by now), and after searching through all of that you find a routine written by a magazine contributor with badass exercises and lofty claims for you to tone your legs and tighten your core while adding 30lbs to your bench press in a week. Go and godspeed fitness adventurer.

  • Record your training – The difference between screwing around and science is in writing it down. That and properly utilizing the scientific method, but we’ll disregard those details for now. The more information you write, the more useful you will find recording your training. How did you sleep? Did you eat before, how much? What time did you train? How much water have you had today, yesterday? What weights, how many reps, did it feel slow? All this will help you progress and make adjustments over time.

  • Surround yourself with people with similar goals and more experience – Most people don’t want to exercise with others for fear of judgement or looking stupid. They think that when others see them struggle or even fail they are looked down upon and even thought to be lesser people. If that’s the case you’re surrounding yourself with small minded jerks. Most people started from nothing, and understand the struggle and the process that got them to where they are. Only the egomaniacs look down on those who aren’t as lean or as athletic as themselves, largely because they have inferiority complexes and need to put others down to make themselves feel better. To be in good shape takes a lot of work over months and years, and I speak for all of our coaches and athletes when I say that you have to learn a lot of hard lessons about yourself and overcome a lot of personal barriers to improve. There are few things more rewarding than being able to help someone through something you also had to struggle through. It makes a huge difference to them and makes all the hard work you put in worth it.

  • Stop making excuses – This is the hardest piece of advice for people to accept. It’s also the key difference between the successful and the unsuccessful, as well as the difference between the good and the great athletes. Everyone has reasons not to train that day, why they missed that lift, to eat 6 donuts, to just do the work without trying their hardest. Life is about choices, and progress is about making the difficult choices. It’s not motivation. It’s discipline. Everyone loses motivation at some point, and sometimes it lasts for weeks or even months. It would be easy to stop when you stop feeling motivated. Motivation means nothing, discipline is everything. You can still exercise when you are tired, when you are sore, when you don’t want to. You can turn down that beer, that extra slice of pizza, that sleeve of cookies. Stop making excuses. Everything is a choice. Choose to practice discipline, and you will have chosen the path to success at everything. 

  • Do the work – I’ve worked at improving athleticism for most of my life in various capacities; from being a long distance runner (yes there was such a time, 4 miles in under 24 minutes), to martial arts, pole vaulting, rugby, crossfit, weightlifting, and coaching for more than 10 years and in that time I’ve learned one thing very well. It doesn’t matter what your goals are, nor does it matter how far away from “success” you think you are. Only 1 thing matters. Are you willing to stumble, pick yourself back up, make an adjustment, and try again? Time will pass regardless, so use the time you have to work towards what you want.

Jeff Edwards

- National Coach USA Weightlifting - Crossfit Coach of individual and team competitors - Outdoorsy nerd - Owner and Head Coach at BR Fit Club