by Luca Zandona’
Metabolism, this is what fat loss is all about; doesn’t really matter how much time you spend on the treadmill, how good you were avoiding alcohol or how strong you are, metabolism is the key to long term fat loss results. Of course, metabolism is affected by these and other factors but we need to focus on the impact of ALL of our actions and we need to take a look at the overall picture, not just single details.
But what are the main factors that make our metabolism- the overall energy that our body uses through the day- faster or slower? In my point of view these 3 are the main areas that we need to focus on:
- Body type
- Physical activity
- Body Composition
I know that there are many variables including; number of meals, quality of diet, alcohol intake, water intake, quantity and quality of sleep, etc. But all of these are subcategories of the 3 main factors. The purpose of this post is to explain the different body types and how to take advantage of yours to achieve maximum results.
The most popular method of categorizing body types recognizes three fundamentally different physical types, called somatotypes: ectomorph, mesomorph and endomorph. Of course, no one is entirely one type but rather a combination of all three types, in fact this system of classification recognizes a total of eighty-eight subcategories, which are derived from examining the level of dominance of each basic category.
Unfortunately body type is the only one of the main three factors that can’t be changed; you were born with one particular body type. Although the fundamentals of training and diet apply to all of them, individuals with different body types respond in a very different way so people that share the same long-term goal sometimes find it necessary to adopt a different approach.
The extreme ectomorph individual is characterized by a short upper body, long arms and legs, long and narrow feet and hands, and very little fat storage; narrowness in the chest and shoulders, with generally long, tiny muscles.
Usually these somatotypes are not really looking for a way to lose fat but opposite, for a way to build up lean and solid muscle mass.
Therefore I recommend:
- Weight training; of course your priority is build up muscles so resistance training is the answer. Make sure that you use big compound exercises such as squats, lunges, deadlifts, leg presses, rows, presses and chin ups. Compound exercises are what you need to build general strength and mass; once you have the size you need you can start to focus more on details with isolation exercises, always maintain the fundamentals.
- Train intensely; with this I mean medium-low repetitions and medium-long rest. Especially if you are looking for maximum strength and size you need to use very heavy weight, stay between six and ten repetitions (or 70%-90% of your best single repetition) and 90 seconds of rest between each set AT LEAST. Remember, if you don’t have enough recovery between each set that means that you’re not going to use a very heavy weight resistance.
- Pay careful attention to nutrition; take in more calories than you really feel like. Remember that to build up weight and muscles you need to have more calories from your food than what your fast metabolism is going to burn. Most of these calories should be from proteins, good fats and low GI carbohydrates.
- Maximize your recovery; remember that you’re trying to turn food energy into mass, so make sure you don’t burn up too much energy in other activities such as aerobic activity or other sports that can affect your weight training recovery. Remember also to make your workouts no more than 1 hour and sleep no less than 7-8 hours; it’s actually when you relax and sleep that you build up mass!
The mesomorph individual is characterized by a large chest, long torso, solid muscle structure, and great strength. This type of somatotype find it very easy to build up muscle and keep body fat storage low-moderate. Therefore I recommend:
- Variety in the weight training approach; these individuals seem to respond very well to different workout approaches so I suggest you alternate a cycle of high volume-low intensity training to build up quality and definition with cycles of low volume-high intensity training to focus more on strength. You can use both compound or isolation exercises and different rests between sets.
- Additional aerobic or sports activity to build up aerobic fitness and keep body fat percent low.
- You can change the quantity and frequency of training for your fitness goals as they don’t seem to affect the quantity and size of muscle.
- A balanced diet with plenty of protein and good fat, moderate quantity of carbohydrates.
The extreme endomorph individual is characterized by soft musculature, round face, short neck, wide hips, and heavy fat storage. Generally they don’t have too much difficulty in building up muscle but have to be concerned with losing fat. Therefore I recommend:
- High set-High repetitions/ Low-moderate intensity training with very short rest between each sets. Resistance training is very important just because the endomorph individual needs to maintain, or even increase, their muscle mass to make their metabolism faster; the combination of high volume-short rest, especially when combined with compound exercises that require more energy than isolation ones, ensure that we spend more energy through the whole workout.
- Additional aerobic exercise to burn off extra calories; it is especially effective if done in the morning before breakfast or just after the weight session.
- A low calorie diet with a good amount of protein, to maintain muscle mass, and good fat; decrease calories from carbohydrates.
The body will never fully respond to your workouts until you understand how to train the mind as well. The mind is a dynamo, a source of vital energy. That energy can be negative and work against you, or you can harness it to give yourself unbelievable workout and build a physique that lives up to your wildest expectations. Whenever you hear about anyone performing unbelievable physical feats-Tiger Woods in golf, Michael Jordan in basketball, Michael Johnson in track, Hermann Maier in skiing, and so many more athletes-it is because of the power of their minds, not just technical, mechanical skills. And you can be sure you will never perform at that level unless you can match their inner drive as well as their physical abilities. People can walk on coals when they are sufficiently motivated. They can endure the rigors of Navy Seal training. They can cross vast desert, dogsled across arctic wastes, climb Mount Everest, swim the English Channel, bicycle around the world, lift incredible amounts of weight. They perform in spite of terrible pain, despite being ill, no matter the odds or the obstacles. There are a number of specific ways in which the power of the mind can be harnessed to help you achieve your goals: 1. Vision. [..] The first step is to have a clear vision of where you want to go, what you want to achieve. “Where the mind goes, the body will follow” is a saying I have always believed in. If you want to be Mr. America or Mr. Universe, you have to have a clear vision of yourself achieving these goals. When your vision is powerful enough, everything else falls into place: how you live your life, your workouts, what friends you choose to hang out with, how you eat, what you do for fun. Vision is purpose, and when your purpose is clear so are your life choices. Vision creates faith and faith creates willpower. With faith there is no anxiety, no doubt-just absolute confidence. 2. Visualization. […] You have to have a picture in your mind of the kind of physique you need to build in order to achieve your goals. When you look in the mirror, you have to see yourself as you are-and as you want to be as well. You have to see in your mind’s eye the masses of muscle you will be creating, the powerful physique that is in your future. Focusing on such images gives yours mind and body a clear-cut task, a well-defined goal to strive for. 3. Role models. […] When you find somebody who represents your ideal physique, study as many photos of him as you can, tear them to the refrigerator-whatever it takes to help keep your mind focused on the tasks at hand. 4. Motivation. Motivation is the driving force that allows you to develop a single-mindedness of purpose that ultimately gives you the will to go into the gym for two to four hours a day and put yourself through the most punishing workouts possible. It makes the difference between just going through five sets of this and four sets of that and really pushing your body to the limit. Motivation creates discipline. Discipline comes from the joy of looking forward to achieving the goal you have learned to picture so clearly in your mind and consistently hammering away, rep by rep, set by set, workout by workout. 5. Training strategy. Beyond the act of visualizing the end product of your training, you should decide exactly what kind of development you need in each of the major muscle groups and what specific exercises and exercise techniques will achieve this. You’ve decided where you’re going, now you need to map out how to get there. This is the point where you learn to truly individualize your workouts, find out how your body responds to specific movements and Intensity Techniques, and decide exactly what strategy you are going to employ to create the kind of body you are striving for. […] 6. Mind in the muscle. The key to success in your workouts is to get the mind into the muscle, rather than thinking about the weight itself. When you think about the weight instead of the muscle, you can’t really feel what the muscle is doing. You lose control. Instead of stretching and contracting the muscle with deep concentration, you are simply exerting brute strength. So you end up not working to the limits of your range of motion, not contracting and extending the muscle in a smooth, intense, controlled manner[…].
To succeed a person needs only four things. You can remember them by thinking of the word REAL.
Relationship: The greatest skill needed for success is the ability to get along with other people. It impacts every aspect of a person’s life. Your relationships make you or they break you.
Equipping : One of the most significant lessons I’ve learned is that those closest to you determine the level of your success. If your dreams are great, you achieve them only with a team.
Attitude: People’s attitudes determine how they approach life day to day. Your attitude, more than your aptitude, will determine your altitude.
Leadership: Everything rises and falls on leadership. If you desire to lift the lid on your personal effectiveness, the only way to do it is to increase your leadership skills.
The main difference between average people and achieving people is their perception of and response to failure. Nothing else has the same kind of impact on people’s ability to achieve and to accomplish whatever their minds and heart desire.
Soccer player Kyle Rote Jr. remarked: ”There is no doubt in my mind that there are many ways to be a winner, but there is really only one way to be a loser and that is to fail and not look beyond failure”. How people see failure and deal with it-whether they possess the ability to look beyond it and keep achieving-impacts every aspect of their lives. Yet that ability seems difficult to acquire. Most people don’t know where to start looking to get it.
In Leadership Magazine, J. Wallace Hamilton states, “The increase of suicides, alcoholics, and even some forms of nervous breakdowns is evidence that many people are training for success when they should be training for failure. Failure is far more common than success: poverty is more prevalent than wealth; and disappointment more normal than arrival.”
Training for failure! That is a great concept because in life, the question is not if you will have problems, but how you are going to deal with your problems. Are you going to fail forward or backward?
One of the questions I used to hear from motivational speakers was this: “If the possibility of failure were erased, what would you attempt to achieve?” But then one day I realized that it was really a bad question. Why? Because it takes a person’s thinking down the wrong track. There is no achievement without failure. To even imply that it might be possible gives people the wrong impression. So here’s a better question: If your perception of and response to failure were changed, what would you attempt to achieve?
What does matter is that your life can change if you’re willing to look at failure differently. You have the potential to overcome any problems, mistakes, or misfortunes. All you have to do is learn to fail forward.
First step to failing forward:
Realize there is one major difference between average people and achieving people
-Repeating the same mistakes
-Expecting never to fail again
-Expecting to continually fail
-Accepting tradition blindly
-Being limited by past mistakes
-Thinking I am a failure
-Learning from each mistake
-Knowing failure is a part of progress
-Maintaining a positive attitude
-Challenging outdated assumptions
-Taking new risks
-Believing something didn’t work
One of the greatest problem people have with failure is that they are too quick to judge isolated situations in their lives and label them as failures. Instead, they need to keep the bigger picture in mind.
Seven things failure is not:
1 People think failure is avoidable-It’s not
Everybody fails, errs, and makes mistakes; if you’re a human being, you’re going to make mistakes.
Rules for being human:
Rule 1: You will learn lessons.
Rule 2: There are no mistakes-only lessons.
Rule 3: A lesson is repeated until it is learned.
Rule 4: If you don’t learn the easy lessons, they get harder. (Pain is one way the universe gets your attention.)
Rule 5: You’ll know you’ve learned a lesson when your actions change.
“The essence of man is imperfection.” Know that you’re going to make mistakes.
2. People think failure is an event-It’s not
Success is not a destination-not a place where you arrive one day. Instead, it is the journey you take. And whether you succeed comes from what you do day to day. In other words, success is a process.
Failure works the same way. It’s not someplace you arrive. Just as success is not an event, neither is failure. It’s how you deal with life along the way. No one can conclude that he has failed until he breathes his last breath. Until then, he’s still in process, and the jury is still out.
3. People think failure is objective-it’s not
You are the only person who can really label what you do a failure. It’s subjective.
Your perception of and response to your mistakes determine whether your actions are failures.
4. People think failure is the enemy-it’s not
“Failure is good, it’s fertilizer. Everything I’ve learned from making mistakes.” NBA coach Rick Pitino
“The fellow who never makes mistake takes his orders from one who does.” Herbert V.Brocknow
“When we give ourselves permission to fail, we at the same time give ourselves permission to excel” musicologist Eloise Ristad
5. People think failure is irreversible-it’s not
Mistakes are not irreversible. Keep everything in perspective. The problems come when you see only the spilled milk and not the bigger picture. People who correctly see failure take it in stride.
Every event-whether good or bad-is one small step in the process of living. Or as Tom Peters acknowledge, “If silly things were not done, intelligent things would never happen”.
6. People think failure is a stigma-it’s not
Mistakes are not permanent markers.
7. People think failure is final-it’s not
“Great minds have purposes; others have wishes. Little minds are subdued by misfortunes; but great minds rise above them.”
The terrible truth is that all roads to achievement lead through the land of failure. It has stood firmly between every human being who had dream and the realization of that dream. The good news is that anyone can make it through failure. That’s why author Rob Parsons maintained that “tomorrow belongs to the failures.”
“Failure is really a matter of conceit. People don’t work hard because, in their conceit, they imagine they’ll succeed without ever making an effort. Most people believe that they’ll wake up some day and find themselves rich. Actually, they’ve got it half right, because eventually they do wake up.” Thomas Edison
Each of us has to make a choice. Are we going to sleep life away, avoiding failure at all costs? Or are we going to wake up and realize this: Failure is simply a price we pay to achieve success.
“Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.” Thomas Edison
If you can change the way you see failure, you gain the strength to keep running the race.
7 Top Tips to lose fat and improve your body composition
1 Reduce your carbohydrate intake
When we talk about fat loss the main factor that affects your results is diet; you can train hard and consistently and use the best “fat burning” supplements but it is what you eat and how your body responds to it that makes the biggest difference. In a western diet we tend to eat the wrong kind of foods and at the wrong moment; the most common mistake is the massive quantity of carbohydrates that we consume everyday. We need carbohydrates to produce the energy that we need for our daily activities: work, exercise, family commitments, etc. The question is, what happens when we have more energy from our carbohydrates than what we actually spend?
We store all the carbohydrates that we eat in the liver and muscle cells (glycogen) and, if not burnt with exercises, of course it stores in our fat cells. Another important point is the glycaemic index; not everyone is familiar with this concept so here is a simple definition: The glycaemic index or GI is a measure of the effects of carbohydrates on blood sugar levels. The higher the value, the more insulin our body produces; insulin is the hormone that stores all the macronutrients in our cells, it’s highly anabolic ( professional bodybuilders used to inject it in their blood in strategic moments) and at the same time we need it to stay low and consistent to avoid storing fat.
The best way to control your carbohydrate intake is to choose mainly low glycaemic index foods, especially in the second half of the day, and keep the right amount of them for your daily activities, based on your body type, sex, quantity of muscle, energy spent for your activities and fitness goals.
2 Increase your protein intake
Protein is what we need to build up muscle; without the right amount it our efforts in the gym don’t really matter, simply we won’t have any increased strength or muscle size.
I know what are you thinking right now: what is the connection between muscle gain and fat loss? The point is that you need muscle to lose fat; more muscles means a faster metabolism because you need energy just to maintain them. This is why usually men have a lower body fat percentage than women ( or at least most of the time it is like this) or why they need much less time to drop weight; the biggest production of anabolic hormones such testosterone or G.H. means more muscles so a faster metabolism.
Other good reasons to increase protein intake is the energy required to process them is almost double that used to digest carbohydrates. Also there is exactly the same quantity of calories per gram so the energy that they get is much less. They also help you to control your appetite so it is much easier to maintain your low-moderate carbohydrate intake.
3 Eat small meals every 2-3 hours
We already learnt that if we want to have long term results we need to increase our metabolism; an excellent way to do this is eat small meals consistently. If we eat exactly the same quantity of food in 2 or 6 meals we will have very different effects; the point is that our body adapts itself to our lifestyle and it’s priority is to make sure that we store enough fat to survive, it’s the survival instinct. If we eat just 2 big meals everyday, our body needs to keep as much fat as possible to “survive” before the next big meal. If instead we consistently eat every 2 or 3 hours our body can stop storing “emergency fat” and use food’s energy more efficiently. This is also great because in this way we can feel energetic for longer during the day.
4 Eat a source of “good fat” at each meal
Fats, like protein, are essential macronutrients, and your body can only get them through your diet. They have different functions: the manufacture of hormones ( testosterone, G.H, etc.), maintain body temperature, transport liposoluble vitamins a, d , e, k and balance blood sugar levels. If we talk about “good fats” it also seems that they help to burn fat as energy and decrease heart disease risk and cholesterol.
What do I mean with “good” or “bad” fats? There are mainly 2 categories of fat: saturated and unsaturated. The first are the “bad”, they are associated with high cholesterol levels, stroke and heart disease. You can find them in most animal product like meat, dairy products, egg yolks, margarine, palm and coconut oils.
Unsaturated fats are the “good”, you can find them in olive oil, canola oil, avocado, nuts, cashews, almonds, peanut and fish. Particularly important fats are omega 3, new research suggests how they affect, in a positive way, joints and the brain, reduce your risk of cancer and improve body composition.
Mix every meal with a source of unsaturated fat to help decrease the overall glycaemic index of the meal and improve anabolic hormones that will increase our muscle mass and metabolism.
5 Eat fibrous food
Fibre decreases the overall glycaemic load of meals and maintains moderate blood sugar levels. Usually you can find them in products with low carbohydrate density such as green vegetables so you can have big portions of them, it will help to moderate insulin and control your appetite.
6 Resistance training 2-3 times per week
As said before more muscle you have the faster your metabolism will be. For this reason my tip number 6 is to have a weights session 2/3 times per week. Don’t be afraid to push hard during your workout, you need to become stronger if you want to increase your muscle mass. Be focused on big compound exercises like squats, deadlifts, lunges, chinups, bench press and row; the reason is these movements work in the same time more muscular groups and so require more energy, allow us to make our session shorter and more efficient, allow our body to produce higher levels of anabolic hormones and increase strength and size better than isolation exercises. Somebody can ask why I wrote resistance training but didn’t mention any kind of aerobic exercise: simply because I don’t think that they have the same impact of weight training. Even if the energy source of aerobic training is mainly fat and the one of resistance training is carbohydrates, you need to think about the long term effect: who cares about fats burnt in my 45 minutes in a zumba class when I can keep my metabolism higher 24 hours per day because of my bigger quantity of muscles. I think that you need to have a bigger picture of the situation and understand the reason behind fat loss. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that aerobic exercises don’t have any benefit; a good combination of weight/cardio can give you amazing results, just make sure to give priority to increasing your metabolic rate before you think that aerobic is the only answer.
This is maybe the most underrated factor; society suggests that we need to expend as much energy as possible, train hard every day, sleep less and work harder, right? Even if it is correct that if we are more active we expend more energy, overtraining can be a huge obstacle to achieving your fitness goals. If we compromise on our recovery how can we build strong muscle and a faster metabolism? Remember that actually our muscles grow when we rest, not when we train, and more muscle tissue means a faster metabolism and less fat. When we overtrain we also produce catabolic hormones like cortisol that destroys muscle tissue and stores fat; some new research suggests that high cortisol levels means more fat especially in the abdominal area. How can we recognize overtraining symptoms? Usually they affect your sleep quality, you can feel lethargic during your day, lose enthusiasm about your training, be sick often and lose strength. The good news is that you can prevent overtraining with a smart approach to your training and lifestyle, here are my suggestions:
-make sure that you have quality sleep for at least 7-8 hours
-minimize stress when possible
-eat quality food in the right quantity
- have some rest days from your workout during the week
- make sure that you have enough rest days before repeating the same muscle group
- train for no more than 1hour-1hour 15min
- minimize alcohol intake
Personally I like to take 1 “easy” week every 3 weeks during my workouts. In this “easy week” I reduce the overall sets for each exercise and maintain a high intensity. This really helps to keep my intensity high and overcome plateau.
Compound VS Isolation
Unbelivable! All different kinds of internet research will not give me a good reason to do any isolation exercises, apparently if you want to be stronger, bigger, leaner there is no reason to waste your time with isolation but only push hard with big exercises like squats, deadlifts or bench press-nothing else; but is this really the truth?
After much research on internet I realized that even if you can find more than one site talking about the benefits of big exercises on body composition, fat loss, hypertrophy, strength and sports specific workouts there is only bad news about isolation exercises; apparently they are “not functional” or even unnatural, unhelpful and unhealthy for our joints.
Here, I will elaborate on a description, the pros and cons of these 2 different kinds of exercises and the reason why you need to use both to have the maximum in terms of results.
What do I mean by "compound exercises"? I consider “compound” as all the exercises that work more on joints and obviously more on muscles or muscle groups. Good examples of compound exercises are squats, deadlifts, chin ups, bench presses, etc. All this big movements’ work with a different muscle, if we think only about squats we can consider the 3 joints involved: the ankle, knee and hip; for each joint we need to consider how they act during the concentric phase, in this case: ankle joint extension, knee extension and hip extension. For each action we have a different muscle group working; gastrocnemium and soleum during ankle extension, quadricep during knee extension and hamstrings and gluteus maximus during hip extension; there are also other muscle groups working indirectly, like spine erectors and abdominals to support the spine and maintain balance.
Benefits of compound exercises:
-They permit us to do our workout in less time; during these exercises we work with different muscles at the same time so we don't need to spend too much time training. This is extremely important for people with a busy lifestyle that can't spend a long time in the gym or come everyday to focus on one muscle group. Another important concept to consider is the total time of the workout; it seems that the best results of weight training come from no more than 1 hour of intense exercises, after this our body starts to produce excessive quantities of cortisol and reduces testosterone levels, leading us to a status called catabolism-not the best condition if our goal is to build up muscle and lose fat!
-When we do compound exercises all the stress from heavy barbells and dumbbells is shared among different joints with less pressure on just one. This is especially important with the development of strength. For better results in strength training we need to work with a load between 75% and 90% of our 1RM (I’m talking about relative strength and functional hypertrophy), so obviously more weight=more stress on tendons and joints; this point makes compound exercises a better choice for safe training.
-It seems that during a heavy workout with big compound exercises we produce more anabolic hormones in our body; it’s not difficult to find routines for hypertrophy with 20 squats or deadlift repetitions. The purpose of this type of workout is not only to improve strength and the size of the legs but to indirectly improve the size of the whole body through a bigger production of testosterone.
In opposition to compound we have isolation exercises, so I’m talking about all those movements that involve only 1 single joint, so only 1 muscle or muscle group. Examples of isolation exercises are peck fly, dumbbell or barbell curl, leg curl or leg extension, etc. These movements work only with 1 muscle group at the same time, if we think about leg curls, easily we can see that we work only with the knee joint, if we want to be more specific during the concentric phase we have a flexion of the knee joint and so a contraction of biceps femoris ( long and short head), semitendinosus and semimembranosus.
Benefits of isolation exercises:
-Recovery after injury. For example, let’s say you’ve recovered from a hamstring injury and now you want to strengthen the weak leg. The most efficient way to recover the lost strength and muscle mass on the injured leg is to perform uni-lateral single joint exercises. You will achieve more motor unit activation by isolating the movement pattern. Once the hamstring is at a desired strength level, bilateral exercises can be added. Simply, any exercise that meets the needs of the desired goal adds a link in the chain of improvement
-Injury Prevention. When an individual has weak muscles within a movement pattern, the body will compensate by avoiding the weakness, especially during complex movements such as running, jumping, squats, Olympic lifts, chin-ups and shoulder presses. Repeated exposure to faulty movement patterns can result in pain and joint dysfunction. It has been said, and I agree, that you are only as healthy as your joints. The best way to address faulty movement patterns (not caused by a medical condition) is to pinpoint the weak muscles, strengthen with single-joint exercises, and then reeducate the muscular chain with compound exercise.
-Improve performance. As said before, all compound exercises work with more muscles at the same time, so our performance can be improved if we understand which one is the weak muscle of the muscular chain and strengthen it-obviously through isolation exercises.
Like almost everything, it doesn’t make sense to exclude one exercise because somebody said that it is “bad” or “good”; every person is different with different goals or needs and there is no reason to not use all the benefits that some exercises can offer us to improve our performance and achieve our fitness goals.
Something interesting found in my last book readed "Body for life" by Bill Phillips, enjoy it!
Crossing the Abyss
There is a world of difference between knowing what to do and actually doing it
Many people know how to exercise. Some know how to eat right, too. In fact, this vast and ever-expanding population of people who have yet to successfully change even includes doctors and professors who know all about the human body.
What this people are missing is the ability to apply knowledge. Without that skill, it doesn’t matter how much you know, you’ll be stranded at the edge of an infinite chasm call the abyss.
Until you discover how to cross the abyss, you will struggle. You will have setbacks. And you may even lose hope.
Real change always starts on inside. And that is where you’re going to have to find the answer to the first question:
Have you made the decision to change?
How many people have truly decided to change? Very few. Why? Because there’s a big difference between deciding something and having reasons to actually do it.
When you make a decision to make a change and you know your reasons, you will harness the force-the desire to make something happen.
What are your reasons for making the decision to change?
You see, it’s one thing to say you’ve decided to lose 30 pounds of fat and get in shape. It’s a whole other thing to have your doctor tell you you’ll be dead in year and never see your children ‘s children if you don’t lose 30 pounds, pronto.
Everyone knows deep down inside he has a number of reasons for deciding to change. I can’t tell you exactly what they are, but I can tell you they are there.
Here are a few questions that will help you identify your reason:
When you look at yourself, do you honestly like what you see?
It’s important to really look. Since we see ourselves everyday, we often don’t notice if we’re slipping. If we’re not careful, before long, the image we have of ourselves in our minds will not be in sync with reality.
I suggest you also have someone take a photo of you, standing relatively relaxed with your arms at your side, in a pair of shorts or a swimsuit. Get that photo developed and look at it.
How do you feel deep down inside?
How do you really feel about yourself?
Are you confident, energetic and strong?
Do you often wonder if you’re on the right path?
What are the pros and cons of continuing in the direction you’re going?
Would you like to create a brighter future?
When you answer these questions, you reasons for making the decision to change will become clear. When they do, write them down on a piece of paper, and read what you’ve written first thing in the morning and again at night before you go to sleep.
These reasons will remain your guiding light, your beacon, during the journey you have now decided to begin.
Focusing Your Future Vision
We all have three types of vision-historical, present and future. Where you are in life and where you will go from here has a lot to do with what type of vision you allow to dominate your thoughts, decisions and actions.
A person whose actions are dominated by historical vision believes that just about everything that’s important, enjoyable or significant in his or her life has already happened.
These folks spend a lot of time reflecting on the good old days-used to be is the mantra of mantra of people with historical vision. They would rather look backward than forward because it’s easier to reminisce about where they’ve been than to try to figure out where they’re going. People with that kind of focus are reluctant to accept new ideas or opportunities and they have trouble sticking with anything challenging.
What’s worse is that individuals with historical vision are very uncomfortable with the growth of others because it threatens the structure and apparent equilibrium of their own lives. They are uncomfortable with evolution, so a positive change in those around them is something they fear. The fact is they probably feel, at some level, that they’re going to be left behind if they don’t start moving their own behinds. And the truth is, they’re probably right.
Far too many people who want to create a better body and more fulfilling life are dominated by present vision.
They aren’t obsessed with going back in time, but neither are they focused nearly enough on the future. These people have tremendous potential to improve, rapidly. They just need guidance-someone to help them to look forward instead of focusing so much on this moment.
People whose daily actions are governed by future vision are, on the other hand, continually growing. They are constantly taking in new and bigger challenges. They are always creating, modifying and improving their vision of the future. What has happened to such people in the past is not ignored or denied-those experiences are used to develop skills that help them get where they want to go. But it’s always where they’re going that remains the primary focus.
When you develop a strong future vision you don’t have to force yourself to set goals, your mind just compels you to set them. And every time you accomplish an objective it’s not the end of anything; it’s the beginning, the starting point for another stage of an ongoing journey of progress, development, growth and adventure.
However, you must transform your dreams into goals and write them down. It really does work. It’s very important to understand the difference between dreams and goals.
Dreams are things you wish for-things you enjoy thinking about but really don’t know when or if they’ll happen. Goals, on the other hand, are specific things you have decided you need to accomplish within a clearly defined period of time.
Here’s another important point: Your goals come from your dreams. Powerful dreams of positive changes in your life add even more fuel to your transformation. But you must create goals that are in sync with your dreams become even more inspiring, which, in turn, creates even more goals and more desire.
Remember that everything you do in your real world is merely an external manifestation of what was already happened in your mind. That’ s where the relativity well-know maxim “If your mind can conceive it, you can achieve it” comes from. And it’s true. In your mind, anything is possible. Anything you want to happen in your life-that you really want to achieve-you have to rehearse in your mind.
Patterns of action
Now that we’ve decided to change and we’ve become more clear about our future, we need to look at our patterns of action, which brings us to the new important question I need you to answer:
Which three patterns of actions might prevent you from reaching your goals?
Think about it and write down the three patterns of action which you believe might hold you back. Once you’ve done that please answer this question:
Which three new patterns do you need to establish to reach your goals?
You must identify both the patterns you will stop and the new ones you will start. You see, I’ve discovered one of the reasons so many people fail to break their bad habits is because they merely focus on what they shouldn’t be doing – what they shouldn’t eat, that they shouldn’t smoke or drink – all these things they shouldn’t do.
I recommend you focus just as much on things you should start doing because new patterns help “crowd out” the unauthorized ones.
By the time you’ve identified three patterns of action that are unauthorized and three new ones you need to start, you’ll be on your way. Then you will able to apply the knowledge which you are about to learn.