Chapter 1- Mirror, Mirror On The Wall
Mirror, Mirror, on the Wall
Why are you reading this book? Something is wrong and you want to fix it. That something is your body. But hey, it’s your one and only, so own up to it. Let’s begin by examining the problem––literally. That’s right; get up. Get up and find a mirror. If you’re home, strip down to your underwear, and if you feelcomfortable getting naked, get naked. Now look at yourself. This is where the fun really begins.
Really look at yourself. Start with your toes and pay attention to detail as you work your way up. Notice the way your ankles lead into your calves then to your knees, then your thighs into your hips, waist, torso, chest, arms, neck and head. You’re under there somewhere, the real you. You are literally dying to get out, but the fat is winning the war. Keep looking into the mirror, envision yourself the way you want to look––lean, toned or athletic, whatever you want your perfect body to be. It’s in there but you haven’t given it a reason to come out and kill the fat.
By now you’ve probably learned something very important. The reason for having you do this self-examination is not to shame or embarrass you. It’s to show you the power of your mind. I bet as you were looking deep into the mirror you actually started to imagine how great you so badly want to look!
This is visualization, by far the most powerful weapon against any foe, real or imagined. Competitors in all fields use visualization to lead the way to victory. For example, what do you really want? How bad do you want it? Is your urge for it so strong that you can see it? Can you really see it? Good, that’s visualization. When you visualize something, that’s a new part of you, isn’t it? We always get new thoughts or ideas about ourselves that cross our minds, but most often we dismiss them.
This is HUGE. The reason so many people fail is because they are unable to hold on to that vision. That vision motivates; it gives you courage and heart and willpower. It leads to real determination. That vision must stay strong in your mind every day until it becomes who you are. Once you become that vision of what you want, you have finally changed. Life is now automatic again because you have changed at the core, and staying healthy, lean and in shape has become effortless.
Did You Know?
Research studies at UCLA suggest that visualization can assist in problem-solving,
enhance positive emotions, and increase the perception of the likelihood of an event.
From Cynic to Visionary
Let’s go back to the mirror. Take a look at two versions: you––the old fat you, and the new real you. The two will be doing battle. Old you is cynical while the new you visualizes what you want to become and sets your sights on steamrolling toward that vision. Nothing can stop you! Do you think this is going to be easy? I hope not.
Attacking the problem and actually winning are two different things. Every time you started a new diet, you were attacking. Every time you started a new exercise program, you were attacking. Every time you’ve stayed up late at night and watched those infomercials, you were attacking. The problem here is that you never planned onwinning. Your failed attempts were all blind; you couldn’t see your target. What we are going to do now is attack with purpose, with a clear goal in mind that will lead to life long victory. It starts with saying goodbye to cynicism and creating and embracing your new vision.
Stop the Blame Game
Ultimately, we are all responsible for our choices in life. We can’t always go around blaming other people, places or things because then we’ll never change or become better people. The root of this problem, of you being overweight is you––what can soon become the old you. And what you think is “you” needs to change. In order to do that effectively we’ll need the right weapons. I’ve already introduced the most important one: visualization. The second isdetermination. A person equipped with these two weapons is an unstoppable force. Imagine the energy of a rocket ship taking off. That is the power you are capable of and you are going to have to reach this level if you plan on winning the war.
Too Big, Too Slow, Too Tired: Just a World of Excuses
Here is a long list of seemingly legitimate reasons as why you cannot make it to the gym or exercise at home. Recognize any of them? They rear their ugly heads innocently enough. You can choose. Do you want to hold on to these lame excuses or move forward with a clean slate?
- I’m too tired today.
- I worked out yesterday. I’ll be fine.
- I’ll work out tomorrow, I’ll be fine.
- I ate healthy today so I don’t need to work out.
- I’m so busy at work.
- I have to drive my kids everywhere!
- My day is too unpredictable.
- My hours are crazy.
- I’ll start next week, next month, after summer, after the kids go back to school, after I finish this project at work, tomorrow, Monday, when I get back from vacation, after I move, etc.
- This weight will never come off.
- I can’t lose weight no matter what I do.
- I’ll wait for my friends to join, or my husband or wife.
- I hate exercising.
- I hate cardio, running, walking, weight lifting, strength training.
- I’m not in the mood.
- My friend can’t make it.
- I have too much homework.
- I really want to go see that movie.
- I really want to go to happy hour.
- I really want to go out to eat.
- I really want to go to that party, bar, club, lounge (because it might not be there tomorrow?).
- I really want to watch this show.
- My show is on (because DVR’s don’t exist?).
- My dog is sick.
- My cat is sick.
- I have so many chores to do.
- I have to do the dishes.
- I have to respond to my emails.
- I have a manicure.
- I don’t need a manicure but I need a pedicure.
- The game is on.
- It’s the playoffs.
- It’s the finals.
- Insert your own customized bullshit here.
Learn to tell the difference between legitimate reasons why you can’t actually make to the gym that day and when you’re just being plain old freakin lazy! When in doubt, the correct answer is, you’re being lazy. Just go.
Did You Know?
Noted academics, such as Schraw, Wadkins, and Olafson,
define the purpose of procrastination as
“to voluntarily delay an intended course of action
despite expecting to be worse off for the delay.”
Your Personal War
Like a general in command of his armies, we’re going to deploy visualization to combat the old you. This is the heart of your war. Other factors, such as society, availability, quality and cynics all pose a significant threat, but none of them are as severe as you. You are your own worst enemy.
Do not take this statement lightly and brush it off as just another cliché because truer words have never been spoken. From here on out “old you” will be referred to as the “enemy.” When fighting a war, the outcome will depend on who was better prepared, smarter and stronger. You will become all these things using visualization. For example, the enemy wants to sit on the couch and do nothing. You will visualize yourself doing an activity you enjoy and then execute it. Now, the “new you” just won that battle. The enemy wants to eat at McDonald’s but you fight back, visualizing an appetizing, freshly made deli sandwich with turkey and cheese on whole wheat or rye bread with a little bit of light mayo. You just won another battle. The enemy wants to keep wearing the same old pair of jeans that fit so well. You, however, want to fit into nicer, newer clothes so you see yourself in them and throw away that old pair.
Are you starting to get the idea? Visualization will help you overcome all those fears in your head that cause you to take the easy way out: the fears of failing again or having to learn new things, meet new people, or discover new things about yourself you never knew are holding you back. The enemy wants to take the easy way out every time because that’s what it knows how to do. Visualization will set you free.
Say Goodbye to Lazy
You can’t avoid it. In order to make a radical change you have to become disgusted with yourself, not your physical appearance, because this can lead to body image disorders and a whole mess of issues. You have to face your lack of discipline. I need you to hate it. You have to come to despise the very thought of failure. You’ve been failing long enough. You’re not just tired of it, you have become physically disgusted by it. It’s gross, the thought makes you immediately want to do something that will better you as a person. You’re done being lazy.
First, allow yourself to recognize laziness and a lack of determination in other people because it’s always easy to judge others, as wrong as that sounds. But it works! When you start seeing prime examples of poor diets and a lack of daily activity in other people, then guess what? You’ll start to see yourself doing it, too. The sooner this happens, the better, because you will be one step closer to correcting your faults.
Allow other people’s bad choices to sicken you. Ask yourself how could they eat that crap every day, all day and not care? Eventually, you will begin to see the root of the problem is weakness. Not having the strength to do the right thing. Once you see the problem personified as being weak, it will no longer be frightening and you will be able to stop it because you are becoming a pillar of strength.
A Word of Caution
If you consider yourself larger than average and so are your friends, plan on losing most of them, if not all of them. They are the worst of all the cynics you will ever meet. There is no changing their minds. There will be no moral support coming from them. There is no reasoning with them. They are set in their ways and will not change. They want you to continue being fat with them.
This is the sad truth but they will say every nasty thing to you and won’t even realize it half the time. Just remember the last time you told them you were going on a diet or joining a gym, what was the first thing they said? “Why?” This seemingly little word has monumental effects on how you make decisions and how you answer that question will determine your fate.
You have to immediately neutralize this threat. Here’s how. The next time someone, most likely a cynic, asks you “why?” your real answer is something like this:
“Because I don’t want to be like you anymore. I don’t want to be weak, fat, unhappy and dissatisfied with myself.”
What you choose to actually tell them is completely up to you. Just make sure it shuts them up quickly. There’s no room for negotiation; they need to be shut down. It’s best to start practicing this now, so start thinking of what you will say to them and get comfortable saying it. You have to sound confident when you deliver it and you have to believe it, too.
With this determination in hand, people will eventually learn to stop bothering you. Incidentally, you will also discover who your true friends are. They will stick around and the perpetual cynics will fade into the distance. Sooner or later, you will adapt, and once you do, you will be ready to live the solution, the one you have created for yourself.
Conquering the Cynics
I love cynics. They fill me with joy and contentment. Now I know this seems completely backward but read carefully. What is this enemy trying to do? Do you remember? They are trying to get you to fail. They hate seeing other people succeed and become green with envy. This is where determination becomes a powerful weapon. It will help you see these cynics in a different light. When you’re determined you can mold the world around you to your liking. For example, you can use the snide backhanded remarks from the cynics as a way of gauging your success. The more envy they throw at you, the better you are doing. The more cynical they become, the more that fuels your determination because you know that the enemies are upset with themselves and their own weakness. Anyone who demonstrates a will to better himself only makes the enemy more cynical and conniving. This is why I love the cynics; they are a living expression of something I never want to become, and there are so many of them it’s impossible not to be around them. Therefore, your determination is alive on a daily, consistent basis.
But something is missing. You don’t actually know how to really get where you want to go. You don’t know how to attain your goal. Society, availability and quality are still attacking you, brainwashing and bombarding you with misinformation and, worst of all, encouraging laziness.
Knowledge Is Everything
Let me pose a little challenge to you. I want you to make something healthy for dinner. Look up a recipe online or in a cookbook. You know damn well what healthy means: fresh vegetables, a lean source of protein and complex carbohydrates. But make sure it’s a new recipe, something you’ve never had before. At first, it will take time to learn and prepare. Once you do, make this dish every other day and after a week or two you’ll see it’s easy and you will enjoy eating it.
The point is, even if you start with one small step at a time it’s better than not starting at all. So many people fail to ever change their ways because they think, “I don’t know what I’m doing so it’s going to be such a waste of time.” This is the biggest mistake you could ever make. Learning is a trial and error process, especially with developing healthy eating habits and some sort of exercise program. Over time, you will become more interested in it and will develop a taste for certain foods and maybe even become a nutritional expert.
So there is your key: knowledge!
It’s the third tool you need to attack the problem and make real change. As human beings, we learn by doing. Whatever lifestyle you have been living has put you in the physical and mental state you are in right now. It is so easy to learn about better options, yet we forget or refuse. But now is your chance and since you are reading this book, this is your time! Using the knowledge you are beginning to acquire right now you will be able to see all the misinformation and consumer abuse out there. It’s as easy as reading labels and googling unfamiliar ingredients. Like someone must’ve told you growing up, “Never believe anything you hear at first. If it sounds too good to be true…”
Did You Know?
A recent survey of adults between the ages of 21 and 50 showed that
90 percent of the participants felt that knowledge is a good thing.
The other 10 percent has no further comment.
Killing the Problem
Whether you’ve been struggling with weight for most of your life or it’s a relatively new issue, the problem is either already killing you or it will be soon enough. For many of you, this is a real health concern and not just a matter of vanity. To get right down to it, the problem is literally killing you, slowly but surely. And it’s winning, gaining momentum with each passing year, month, week and day. It even comes down to each and every meal. If it’s not healthy, you are losing!
This is no laughing matter. If I am scaring the crap out of you, that’s good. It definitely frightens me to see overweight children wobbling around a playground or some 300-plus-pound person at Wendy’s loading up their plates or some fat high school kid eating his or her emotional pain away at Taco Bell because the teasing won’t stop. It’s a vicious cycle when people use food to ease the pain they feel from the results of already eating too much food. The truth is, food can be a really bad relationship for a lot of people, meaning it is not functioning as a friend in any way. People with food problems are constantly mad at it for making them fat but then they desperately seek it out in times of emotional distress, which seems to be pretty much every day.
Killing the problem before it kills you, or at least before it causes serious health complications later in life, is the most important thing you can do. To do this effectively requires a total 180-degree turn for most people and a serious change in lifestyle.
Back to the Mirror
At the beginning of this chapter, I asked you to take off your shirt, drop your drawers and check out the merchandise. Obviously, you weren’t satisfied. Otherwise, you wouldn’t still be reading. If you’ve gotten this far that means you want to change your daily eating habits, create a meaningful fitness routine you can stick to and improve your life.
“But why should I?” asks the old you.
“Really?” the new you quickly replies. “You really want to ask that question?” You already know the answer: Because you’re not happy; that’s why. Once again, why did you buy this book? Go ahead; say the answers out loud. That’s the only way you can really own up to them.
Your reasons, the ones that mean the most to you, are going to have to motivate you with every action you take, every single day. Slowly but surely, each reason, big or small, will start to grow and take on a life of its own within you until, all together, they form a whole and become who you are. This will become your purpose, and this purpose will become your passion. Once you practice this enough, this passion will become so powerful that you will love the new you, with your new lifestyle and outlook on life.
Eventually, you will kill the problem. It will simply no longer exist. Instead, a leaner, healthier and more confident person will be left standing, looking right back at you in the mirror––and smiling.
Did You Know?
Starting at about age 25, our metabolism slows down about 5 to 10 percent
with each passing decade, and we don’t adjust by eating less food
because our appetites become addicted to the foods we are used to eating.
Your Reasons to Change
Starting this journey will not be easy. When I first started exercising at the tender age of 16, I was younger than the average gym member. I wasn’t the most overweight kid in my class but I certainly was beginning to struggle with my size. I wondered why my waist was getting wider, rounder and softer and the other kids seemed to be growing stronger and taller. I considered myself fat, and I didn’t like it. And if you consider yourself fat, then this is a journey you must take and see through to the end, because I promise that if you don’t, you will never be completely content with yourself. It will be a nagging pain inside that will always haunt you.
You have to be honest with yourself and focus on this pain. It’s hard to do. No doubt about it. Why would anyone want to focus every day on something that makes them suffer or upset? It’s not logical! The problem is, we can talk ourselves into believing anything we want in order to avoid pain or suffering in the short term, right? Why do you think people drink? They drink to forget about their problems or what makes them unhappy. That’s just one example. We are resourceful. We come up with reasons every single day for not going to the gym, exercising or eating healthy. With this mentality, your journey will never begin. You’ll be stranded before you even get started.
Instead, come up with just one reason today––just one, as to why you should make a change. It can be anything you want as long as it is positive and meaningful for you. When you’ve thought of your reason for each new day, write it down, text it to yourself or even email it. You have to acknowledge it so that it can become real. You need real reasons. Without them, your journey and change will never become a reality.
A Declaration of Health
- I want to lose weight around my waist, arms and legs.
- I want to be healthy enough to run around with my kids when I get older.
- I want a ripped 6-pack for the beach this summer.
- I want to be off my cholesterol medication.
- I want to be able to wear a two-piece bathing suit.
- I want my knee pain and lower back pain to go away.
- I want nice arms and a sexy chest.
- I want nice legs and glutes.
- I don’t want to feel tired all the time.
- I’m sick of feeling stressed all the time.
- I’m tired of what I see in the mirror every day.
- I want to play football with the guys again.
- I want to go out dancing.
- I don’t want to have surgery.
- I don’t want to die young from heart disease.
- I don’t want to feel helpless anymore.
- I’m getting divorced, so I want to be confident.
- I want to fit into my old clothes from college.
- I don’t want to go to my high school reunion looking like this.
- I’m too young to be letting myself go.
- I want to be happy with my appearance.
- Diabetes runs in my family.
- High blood pressure runs in my family.
- High cholesterol runs in my family.
- I love my kids, they deserve healthy parents.
- I love my wife, she deserves a healthy husband.
- I love my husband, he deserves a healthy wife.
- I want a better sex life.
- I don’t want to get exhausted running errands.
- I want to fit into that dress.
- I want to look good in that suit.
- I want to take my shirt off at the beach.
- I want to play with my dog and not get tired.
- I want to buy clothes based on style.
- I want to tie my shoes comfortably.
- I don’t want my doctor to keep telling me I have to lose weight.
- I don’t want to worry all the time about getting hurt if I fall.
- I don’t want to feel my fat jiggle ever again.
- I don’t want to feel weird when I’m trying on clothes.
- I want to go bike riding.
- I want to ride a motorcycle.
- I want to enjoy the rides at the amusement park because I don’t exceed the weight limit.
- I want to get dressed in the morning because I love my new clothes.
- I want to live my life without dreading each day.
- I want real
Change is mostly about mindset and lifestyle. Psychologists routinely point to one common element when recommending methods for solving problems: define the problem and gather as much information as possible about that problem before creating your solution. So until you can completely identify what it is you are personally struggling with when it comes to changing your habits and your lifestyle, you won’t be able to come up with a complete solution. For example, when you start a diet but don’t exercise, that’s an incomplete solution. People create tons of plans but they yield incomplete solutions.
Here are a few:
- A diet plan with no exercise
- An exercise plan with no diet
- A cardio plan without a resistance training plan
- The perpetual “new plan” plan
- The “I just want to be healthy and in shape” plan
- The “Get in shape for summer” plan
- The “I want to feel good about myself plan”
That last one is my personal favorite. All of these plans may sound admirable but they actually suck. Sorry. A real plan has strategy, timelines, methods and goals. These “plans” have none of that. They are all incomplete, vague, with no tangible goals, timelines or strategies. Not a very good plan at all. What you need is a real plan, not idle dreams, because that’s what they are. In fact, most of these “plans” are code for serious problems that need real fixing.
- “I want to feel good about myself” really means “I feel like shit.”
- 6. “I want to get in shape for summer” really means “I’ve never been happy about my body.”
- “I want to be healthy and in shape” really means “I need better eating habits.”
- “I have a new plan” really means “Everything I do fails.”
- “The all cardio plan” really means “I’m afraid to try something new, I don’t know what I’m doing.”
- “The all exercise, no diet plan” really means “I don’t know how to eat right and I don’t want to bother learning.”
- “A diet plan with no exercise” really means “Ugh, it’s too hard to lose weight.”
Three Keys to Success
Let’s stop complaining and start putting together complete solutions. The three main components of a complete solution are nutrition (food), training (activity) and rest (sleep). It’s all about eating right and being active, i.e., using that machine called your body and forcing it to burn energy and then giving yourself the rest and sleep that science tells us we need. It’s just common sense.
For example, what happens when you take an incomplete solution that only incorporates rest and nutrition but no activity (training), just dieting and no exercise? Well, the body is so efficient and it wants to resist change so much that it would rather slow down its own metabolism to adjust to the lower level of calories than burning off its own fat for fuel. What you’re trying to do by dieting is restrict the calories (energy) that are coming in, which is also forcing your body to burn off stored energy (fat). But your body has other plans. Instead, it will slow down its metabolism on a day-to-day basis so that it can survive just the same on the new level of energy coming in. Pretty clever! But it sucks, doesn’t it?
So to keep this horrendous event from happening we need to keep our metabolism elevated as much as possible. Or for some of you, we need to get it started––period. I mean seriously, do you feel alive right now? Really alive?
Humans are both physical and mental animals; if one half is missing then you’re not living life to its fullest potential. Remember when you were a kid, a child, a preteen, and then a teen? Did you feel alive then? Probably, and in a big way. And I guarantee you I know what the difference is; it’s not youth; it’s your activity. When you were younger, there was time for school and learning (mental stimulation) and then time for play, sports, dance, (activity). You were complete and that’s why you felt alive. You have to get this back and you can. You have to find the time to be physically active or else you will not have a complete solution and it’s as simple as that.
Give yourself a reason to be physically active. If you don’t do that; if you don’t give yourself clear reasons for eating right, becoming physically active and getting proper sleep then you will never find a complete solution and nothing will ever really change.
That reason has to make sense to you. It doesn’t matter if it doesn’t make sense to anyone else; this is about you and why you want to find a complete solution. Once you have that reason, let it be your greatest motivator and the loudest voice you hear in your head. Also, let it be your own voice that you hear, not some “role model” or someone you aspire to be like. You’re going to have to convince yourself you want to make this solution work––for you.
Did You Know?
According to the research of Dr. Anders Ericsson, motivation is the most
significant predictor of success. In simple terms, Dr. Ericsson found that experts
in many walks of life, whether sport, music, chess, dance, or business,
had put in the most hours at their craft. He coined the phrase,
“It takes 10 years and 10,000 hours to become an expert.”
The Path You Travel
Start with just one of the reasons listed earlier in this chapter or one that you come up with yourself. For that day, you focus only on that singular reason and nothing else. Write it down as often as you need. There’s no such thing as over-doing it with this. You’ve already over-done it with your weight so you might as well overdo it in the other direction. Focus on that reason as long as it works. When that reason really means something to you, your motivation will seem limitless. But if you start to feel weak and tempted to give up, pick a new reason, another real reason that will keep your determination formidable and strong!
Make the reason real.
If your reason is your kids, then use their names in your reason.
“I want to go shopping with my precious little Katy when she goes shopping for her wedding dress one day.”
“I want to play basketball with my son Scott until he goes to college.”
“I want to weigh exactly the same as I did in my sophomore year of college.”
I was lucky enough to find my reasons at a young age. I took matters into my own hands because I knew that no one was going to help me, not my friends or my family. Real change was up to me. At first, all I knew was that I had to eat right and exercise. This vague cliché was my starting point, but hey, at least I started! What are you waiting for? I remember doing sit-ups at home, curling a bowling ball bag and trying to do push-ups every day. I had Post-it notes all over my kitchen.
“No Junk Food.”
Eventually, my parents saw the profound interest I was taking in exercise and realized this wasn’t just some teenage experiment. I was determined and they knew it. They actually bought me my first set of weights and a small, used “at home” universal gym machine. The leather was worn and cracked and the iron was a little rusty. But I was so happy to have it and I used it every day.
You’re Not Alone
Once you’ve started your journey I suggest you quickly read up on the topic of “self-determination.” Don’t explore this topic before you start because it might make you over-think everything. Just become aware of how self-determination is a lifelong ritual leading to a committed lifestyle of health.
In short, self-determination can be broken down into three basic components: Competence: People need to gain mastery of tasks and learn different skills.
Connection or Relatedness: People need to experience a sense of belonging and attachment to other people.
Autonomous: People need to feel in control of their own behaviors and goals.
By fulfilling these three basic needs, you are almost guaranteeing that this time you will succeed with a big change in your life!
Learning the basics of cardiovascular training and strength training will fulfill the competence component. Making friends with trainers and other fit people at the gym will fulfill your need for a connection with people who already belong to the fit lifestyle, and finally, by determining your own goals or coming up with a smart goal by collaborating with a fitness professional you can feel autonomous, in control of the challenge you have given yourself.
Do these three things and I promise you will start to make some real progress!
The path is simple and should begin immediately. No more excuses. Just go join that gym you’ve been thinking about for who knows how long. Don’t wait another day. Figure out your schedule and give yourself an hour to go join and do your first (supervised) workout.
The path you take, whether it begins with cardio, weights, exercise classes, playing sports or any combination of the above, has to be for a purpose.
Let me repeat. The path you take must be for a purpose. This means that you are consciously thinking about it every day. What is your plan for the day and week? What are you eating tomorrow? Plan it today. Tomorrow is already too late.
And remember, you are not alone. Anyone you know who is not supporting you––leave them behind, at least for now. You will meet new people on the same track as you, looking for a support system they can respect and encourage.
It’s your turn.
Top Ten Things to Remember
Visualization is by far the most powerful weapon against any foe, real or imagined.
Victory starts with saying goodbye to cynicism and creating and embracing your new vision.
We are all responsible for our choices in life.
Allow yourself to recognize laziness and a lack of determination in other people.
If you start with one small step at a time it’s better than not starting at all.
Killing the problem before it kills you, or at least before it causes serious health complications later in life, is the most important thing you can do.
Come up with just one reason today––just one, as to why you should make a change.
Give yourself a reason to be physically active.
The path you take, whether it begins with cardio, weights, exercise classes, playing sports or any combination of the above, has to be for a purpose.
You are not alone.