By: Darrell W. Butler
TFW/Parisi Sports Performance Coach; ACE, NFPT CPT
Last year I had the unique opportunity to attend the Epsilon Omega Chapter of The Omega Psi Phi Fraternity’s Youth Holiday Celebration held at the Orangeburg Area Development Center in Orangeburg, South Carolina. As I strolled down the hallway past classrooms filled with tiny desks and chairs, I began to notice some amazing quotes on the wall. Even more amazing is that they were handwritten by seven-year-old students!
Although a full calendar year has now passed since that event, these powerful messages have remained with me all this time, so I’d like to pass them along to you. With that said, here are seven smart things I learned from a group of seven-year-olds, and suggestions on how you can apply them to your fitness goals.
1. I am the writer of my future
Some people are quick to use their family genes, their spouses, their jobs and/or their friends as excuses for skipping the gym and for eating poorly. In reality, you are the only one ultimately responsible for your success or failure to reach your fitness goals.
If you want it bad enough, it’s time to set the lame excuses aside and really make it happen this time! One way to stay on track is to become the writer of your own future, not only metaphorically, but literally. Put your goals in writing and execute a strategic a plan to reach them. Place reminders on your smart phone, refrigerator, desk, car and anywhere else you’re likely to look at each day. These reminders should help you stay focused and create your own destiny.
2. I can make my dreams a reality
This one sounds simple enough, yet many of us consciously and subconsciously sabotage ourselves as a way to confirm self defeating thoughts. Once you prove that you can’t do it, you can stop trying and eat more donuts and cookies right? If you don’t truly believe that you can make your goal happen, you can’t fully commit – and if you’re not fully committed then what’s the point?
3. I will always do my best
Again, I ask: “If you’re not fully committed then what’s the point?” Don’t go to the gym just so that you can “check-in” and take selfies in front of equipment – get to work! As the old mantra states, “go hard or go home”. If you’re going to go anyway, you might as well give it everything you’ve got! With that said, honor your own body and don’t worry about what anybody else is doing. Just give it your all and strive to be the best possible version of yourself.
4. I will encourage others
Getting fit with other like-minded individuals is always the best approach, so encourage them and celebrate their successes just as much as your own. Don’t be upset if they lost more weight than you did this week. Lift each other up and learn from each other.
Bringing someone else down or being jealous of their accomplishments won’t make you any better so stay positive and cheer them along. The same also applies to those of us who may be surrounded by family or friends who don’t want to get fit. In this case, you can still encourage them by setting a great example by making your goals a reality.
Negative reinforcement will only lead to resentment, however if they see how great you look and feel as you reach for your dreams, perhaps you’ll inspire them to live a healthier lifestyle as well. And if they resent you for your success, perhaps they may not be the type of friends that you should surround yourself with or take advice from anyway.
5. Faith outweighs doubt
Always believe in yourself – that’s the key first step toward reaching any goal. Things will get difficult and there will be setbacks, but you have to believe in the process and know that you can make great things happen if you keep putting in consistent effort.
Obviously, set realistic expectations. For example, if it took you four years to gain the extra hundred pounds you’re carrying, know that it will take more than three weeks of going to the gym to get back to your old body. Set both short and long term goals. Keep chipping away until you make your goals happen, no matter what the naysayers and your inner voice of doubt might tell you. You’re capable of far more than you may realize.
6. You never win if you don’t begin / You never know what you can do until you try
Don’t live a life of “what-ifs” – go for what you want! Last year you may have said you’d start going to the gym, and now think about how much you could have accomplished had you actually began when you said you would. While you’re sitting around throwing yourself a pity party and wishing life would be different for you, other people are out there already making things happen. Slow progress beats no progress, so get off of the couch and get into the game! It’s never too late to start, but you’ll never know how far you can go until you take the first step.
7. You don’t fail until you quit
Does not being able to run a mile or do a push-up make you a failure? No, not at all. Could you not keep up in spin class or did you miss your personal record attempt on the bench press? That’s okay, there’s always next time. Did you actually gain weight instead of losing? That’s not the end of the world, and that doesn’t make you a failure either. The only thing that makes you a failure is if you quit.
Many people throw in the towel right before they’re finally about to have their breakthrough. For example, what if that weight gain was actually due to muscle growth? Had you taken your body fat percentage and body measurements, you may have seen that you actually lost inches and fat, but instead you threw in the towel because of a few extra digits on the scale. Knowledge is power and consistency is key, so study up or get help if you can’t figure out why you’re having setbacks – but don’t ever give up!