36 Workouts

Do not think that what is hard for you to master is humanly impossible; and if it is humanly possible, consider it to be within your reach. – Marcus Aurelius

This months post is about tackling big goals, like losing weight, by changing how we perceive them. Sometimes getting fit seems impossible, but what seems impossible is only a series of steps followed consistently if we can map out a big fat hairy goal into a clear path that goes from scary and unattainable to totally doable.

We love targets. You give someone a challenge and a definite path to get there, and they will work their butt off. But they have to know how long and they want to see if they are making progress along the way.

Take marathons, twenty-six miles is long but map it out and place mile markers every step of the way and suddenly it’s manageable. It’s the path and markers that makes the effort tolerable. Exercise, or marathons, would be unbearable if we merely said run until we say stop. Getting in shape works the same way.

The not knowing what to do is much more difficult than actually doing it and it’s why a lot of people fail when trying to get fit. They have a goal but have no real idea how they will get there or how long it will take.

People aren’t as afraid of hard work as they are of uncertainty. We’ll endure any amount of pain if we know what it’s for and have decided it’s worth it (and we’ll complain like crazy if even small effort seems pointless.) So if you can give yourself a target, like losing 30 pounds, and remove the variables of what it’ll take to get there, you have just made what seemed impossible, possible and will find yourself with the energy to make it happen.

If you happen to be “out of shape” and secretly desire to do something but also feel overwhelmed by it, you should know most men and women who’ve either fallen off the wagon or haven’t worked out in several years can completely turn it around in under a year. I’ve seen it happen over and over again to people who were 20 to 40 lbs. overweight, stressed from jobs and raising children, completely transforming their bodies.

For these people, walking into the gym for the first time was scary because it was a change. It was uncharted territory. But most of that fear disappeared after a few weeks because it became clear what to do, keep showing up.

Getting in shape is no longer this big scary undertaking that has no definite end but instead is a series of steps: 1. Show up, 2. Eat right, 3. Repeat for desired effect. Do it enough times and voila, the weight is gone, replaced by confidence and strength.

Many of you will make resolutions this year hoping to do just that; to get in shape, eat better or start working out. But what if instead of making vague health-related resolutions, we had a series of steps to follow that would very clearly define our success or failure? If you’re one of those people who want to lose 20 to 40 lbs. and feel younger, here’s some news for you, it’s going to take 36 workouts.

That’s right, after training hundreds of people, I’ve observed that it usually takes about 36 workouts within three months to get an overweight average Joe or Jane into great shape again.

That’s 36 trips to the gym or 36 runs on Paseo del Mar, or pressing play on your dusty P90x videos 36 times. With just 36 tick marks on the calendar, you can feel ten years younger by Easter.

Of course, fitness doesn’t end at 36 workouts and getting fit is a life decision not a temporary fix, but the first 40 workouts are all you need to get you out of the rut you’re in. spt

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