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    Getting Started

    You’ve heard the phrase, “Success is a journey, not a destination.” This maxim is no less true in the body transformation world. The sad part of it is this: most people try to begin their journey to success in transforming the body in the middle rather than starting from the point of origin – where they are now.

    Where to Start

    You’ll notice that one of the first blogs I produced for this website is entitled, “Where I Am at 39.” The first step to beginning a journey is understanding your point of departure. Discovering this place is not difficult:

    1 – Step over to a full-length mirror.

    2 – Look into the mirror and see the reflection staring back at you

    3 – Contemplate that image.

    The person you see is the exterior form of a much deeper individual. If you’re not in touch with the real person inside (as opposed to the façade that has been created to justify our condition), you won’t be able to start the journey. Think about the person you see in that reflection and honestly answer: Are you happy? How do you feel – physically? Emotionally? Spiritually? If you begin to realize that the person you see in that image really isn’t the person you want to be, then you have a starting point for the journey.

    My answers to those questions sounded something like this: “That person is fat, lazy, detached, unhappy, angry, embarrassed, depressed, a poor example for his children, impatient, spiritually void, and in constant pain.” That is not the kind of person I would choose to hang out with, yet I had to spend every day of my life living in that body.

    Moving On

    Having discovered a sense of where we are, now it is important to think about where we are going. After all, we would never begin any journey without a destination in mind. For me, this was quite simple: my goal (destination) is to be lean and fit with a body that is totally beach-worthy. I will be pain-free (as far as aging aches and pains go), strong, cut, and lean. I will transfer my zeal for life into a zeal for my family, putting anger and depression behind me for a much happier and positive outlook for my family and myself.

    Once I had a starting point, figuring out the destination was merely a matter of taking the opposite of everything I disliked about myself and setting that as my goal – “fat” would become “lean” (not “skinny,” because skinny isn’t necessarily a good thing); “lazy and detached” become “involved”; “unhappy” becomes “happy”. I think you probably get the point.

    To cement in my mind the image of the physical specimen I intend to be, I found a photograph of a perfectly chiseled body and superimposed my head onto the image. Now when I look at the photo, I see my head on a perfect body, training my mind to create that body in real form. I can label that photograph with those positive traits I will have when that body manifests itself: happy, involved, active, excellent example, etc. Train the brain to accept that image as real.

    Write down your goals.  What do you want out of your physique transformation?  Do what I did - find an image of a body that you would love to live in, put your head on it, and study it every day.  Write down a description of the person you will be if you drop all the unhealthy fat from your body.  Keep it handy for regular reflection whenever you are tempted to fall away from your transformation.

    Now What?

    Ok. So we know where we are and where we are going, but do we know WHY we are doing it? Unless there is a distinct reason for doing what we are doing, the journey has no real purpose and is easy to abandon. To determine why – the real, visceral, and undeniable 'why' – you want to take this journey, sit down with a piece of paper and a pencil and follow these instructions:

    1 – start writing reasons why you need this change from “fat” to “fit” in your life.

    2 – keep writing reasons until you write something that just absolutely makes you break down and cry.

    Now you have your “why”. Circle that answer. Post the paper someplace you can see it daily. Copy the reason onto a small piece of paper. Carry it in your pocket. Read it often. Always remember it.

    Without this “why,” the temptation to quit will be too easy to give in to. At the first hint of difficulty – food temptation, sleepiness, lack of progress, whatever – your mind and body might just say ‘quit’. Your “why” must be stronger than the urge to quit. This step is crucial to your success.

    When I made my list, I started bawling when I wrote, “to be the hero my kids need me to be.” I still well up with tears when I write it. It’s why I haven’t quit now for 9 weeks (as of this writing) even when I’ve experienced pain, fatigue, financial issues, opposition from family, and other reasons to give in. My kids need a hero that is not some shady Hollywood celebrity or sports icon. I must be that person.

    Find your 'why'.  It is desperately important.

    Set a Timetable

    Chances are you’ve noticed that I have a specific point in time for when I plan to accomplish my goals: July 21, 2009 - my 40th birthday. Without putting ourselves under some form of deadline, it becomes far too easy to just wander around life without ever really knuckling down and getting the work done.

    Personally, I work very well when there’s a deadline to be met. If my boss asks me to complete task ‘X’ by time ‘Y’, you can bet that the job will be done. However, should someone merely ask me to do something without the constriction of time placed upon me, I might just set it aside and ‘get to it later.’

    I actually have several goals for my transformation. The first is for this week:

    “I will successfully exercise and eat properly for 6 days this week.” Completing this goal means I didn’t cheat, didn’t slack off, and didn’t fool myself into thinking I was doing the work. I also have weight and cardio goals that I strive to meet each week. This week it’s to hit 7.0 on the treadmill during my HIIT and work each body part to complete failure. I did that yesterday with my chest, and I definitely feel it today.

    My next goal is to complete 12 weeks of exercise and nutrition. This will happen in about 4 weeks (I know, I said I had been working this thing for 9 weeks, but I took a week off for the holidays). That will get me to February 9, 2009. Beyond that are 3 more goals: March 23 (the 18-week mark from November 10), May 11 (the 18 week mark from the beginning of my official challenge competition on January 5), and July 21 – my birthday.

    Unless I have these milestones set, I would just idle my way through the year with no real sense of direction. The results would be less than optimal, to say the least.

    Set a series of goals for your transformation – short-term, medium-term, and long-term. Short-term goals will cover the current week and recur every week. Medium-term goals look a month or two into the future – perhaps an event that you’d like to attend, a smaller dress or pair of pants you’d like to wear, anything that will drive you forward. The long-term goal is several months off. Looking your best for your next birthday, a class reunion, your own wedding, or your child’s graduation might all be long-term goals.

    Whatever goals you set, have a very specific timetable in mind and work as if your life depends upon your success – for some of us it might.

    Getting Moving

    The first four steps in this process are the most important – and they are the steps most often skipped by people who start down the path towards changing their physical selves. Since we all know that diet and exercise are key to physique transformation, people tend to just rush into the eating and working out without ever establishing the starting point, the destination (goal), a timetable for action, or the reason why the work is being done.

    Just diet and exercise. Oh, that it were so simple!

    When a person takes the time to ponder and DO the first 4 steps in the equation, the 5th becomes much easier. A website like might just stick in your mind and refuse to let go until its message acted upon. A TV show airs (NOT an infomercial) that has REAL people who experienced REAL results from a certain program (which is what happened to me in 1999 when I saw Bill Phillips on Montel) and compels us into action.  Something sparks us into getting off it and getting on with it.

    When your consciousness is awakened to the cause of physique transformation, the answer to “How am I going to do this” will often just fall into your lap – a sort of ‘discovery by awareness’. You ever notice how buying a new car seems to result in your seeing thousands of similar cars on the road that you never saw before? It’s because you are now conscious of that automobile that you are seeing them, not because there are more of them on the road. Same thing happens with your consciousness about physique transformation. Your awareness allows you to see things you’ve never seen before.  Fitness opportunities that would have gone unnoticed are suddenly glaringly apparent.

    Just in case something isn't hitting you at just this moment, there are some excellent programs out there to work within. First, bear in mind that the standard for any program you choose should be one that includes a regular regimen of diet and exercise. "Quick fixes" and "too good to be true" programs are geared toward people looking for instant gratification in their weight programs.  Here's a hint: we didn't end up fat in a matter of a few weeks.  Dropping pounds of fat will take time.  With that in mind, any diet you adopt should include balanced meals (not fad diets) that are consumed in 5-6 meals throughout the day. Exercise programs should include a combination of cardiovascular and weight training for at least 6 days a week. Some examples of such programs include Shaun T's Insanity, P90X, Body-for-Life, Bill Phillips Transformation, and Kinetix Living. There are others out there, but these are the programs I have looked into a bit (or personally done myself) and trust. If you find a program that just clicks with you and fits the parameters I mentioned then go with it.

    Putting It All Together

    Take some time to get your physique transformation off to a great start. Follow the steps that are almost mandatory to your success in this journey:

    1. Identify your starting point.
    2. Know where you’re going.
    3. Understand why you’re doing it.
    4. Have a timetable for when you’re going to achieve your goals.

    Once you've done those four steps, then you can get on with your exercise and nutrition programs.

    When you follow the above steps, your success becomes far more likely.

    Be well!