1 Cookie Now or 2 Later? : How To Get Started With Your Fitness and Diet Routine

Picking up a new skill or committing to a new lifestyle change can be difficult, even down right daunting for some. As someone who constantly tries to challenge himself and help others overcome their biggest barriers, I see a big common obstacle holding people back.

Many people are afraid to pursue new hobbies and learn skills because they're afraid their time commitment won't be worth it. In the realm of fitness and dieting, people hesitate to start to a training program if they don't see the value in it or if they don't believe the results will be worth the hard work. Let's face it, starting a work out plan SUCKS. You are get sore, you get tired, you feel like puking and worst of all, you don't see results until a few weeks in. Humans are naturally unable to hold of short-term gratification (continue living a sedentary life style because its easy) for long-term success (better metabolic health, fitter, healthier) - it's a survival mechanism! Why start a training program or diet if it cuts into your current schedule and takes time away from the hobbies you love? What if results aren't guaranteed? 

The Marshmallow Experiment was a series of studies led by a professor from Standford University. In these studies, children were offered an immediate rewards (marshmallows or cookies in this case) or a much larger rewards (several marshmallows) if they waited for a short period of time. Follow-up studies found that children who were able to wait had better life outcomes.

Similar studies were done with younger adults who were offered either $5 immediately, or $15 if they waited a day or two (can't seem to find the studies, feel free to PM or link it to me if you do find it!).

My point is, the biggest obstacle that people face with their fitness goals is the uncertainty about the future. Being able to fight through pain and becoming more comfortable in uncomfortable situations, like from your first few weeks of working out and dieting, is crucial for long term success and health. I understand it's hard, but here are some solutions:

Educate yourself:

  • Watch a 10 minute video on fitness everyday. Expose yourself to the lifestyle before jumping in head first. This will help you build confidence.
  • Learn about the benefits of resistance training and cardiovascular exercise
  • Most importantly, find examples of people you know who have changed their life for the better through healthy living, exercise and fitness. Talk to these people. Ask questions! They'll be glad to share their story and help you.

The education process reinforces the notion that results WILL be made if you put the work in. You just have to give it time. This relieves uncertainty about the future and gives you direction and affirmation.

Ease your way into a routine:

  • Start off with 1-2 workouts a week.
  • Make small changes to your diet, whether its by elimination (no more soda or sugary drinks on weekdays), or introduction (including a minimum of 2 green salads on the weekend).

This is the "testing the waters" part. Gradual changes to your current lifestyle is the easiest way to transition into a more healthier one.  

Big overhauls to your diet or schedule can be very effective, but be careful of burnout or rebounding. If you're a person that receives motivation through faster initial results, a big overhaul or sudden lifestyle change might be beneficial. This is why "fat loss challenges" or "30 day transformation challenges" can be so successful.

I hope this helps you kick start your fitness journey!

For a more detailed article on how to more successfully build habits in the fitness world, read my article "The Ultimate Guide To Building Sustainable Fitness Habits".