The Countdown Begins....

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So you set the date! For what? It doesn’t matter, it could be a wedding, a holiday, any special event the point is you have put it in the diary, its circled and you have now made a commitment. There is NO getting out of it anymore.

Setting a date is one of the most powerful weapons and motivators to get people to start their health and fitness journey and actually take it seriously, but why? The answer is simple, the clock is now ticking. You now feel the hands of time moving and NOT in your favour, because every day, hour, minute and second now brings you closer to your event.

However, this is not a bad thing, because this means you have a clear focus on your goal! Let me tell you from experience there are few things more driven than a bride hell bent on looking perfect and fitting into her dress on her special day!

When a date is set, a person tends to do things that perhaps they normally wouldn’t, they start to look more closely at their nutrition they take their training more seriously, all because they want to look good and feel great for whatever it was they have planned! Walking on the beach shirtless or in a bikini is a great example and one that I can personally relate to (shirtless, not the bikini)

We have an increased sense of determination, when it comes to what we eat, and may ask ourselves “do I really want this donut” or “do I really want that extra slice of pizza” when normally we may not have even thought twice about it. To be honest we start doing things, that perhaps we should ALWAYS have been doing, and this is why setting the date is so useful its often the kick up the backside most of us need.

Setting the date is so powerful, and it’s something many of us in the body building world do, except we call it “prep”. Prep is the process by which we have spent an “off season” building up our bodies mass, and there are many ways of doing this, some being better and more effective than others, but we do this up until we select our first competition of the season. As SOON as this is done, the clock begins ticking for us again. In this part of the process we change our diets towards the goal and focus our efforts on burning of the fat, perhaps by changing elements of our training but definitely by changing how we diet, and in some cases we will put our bodies through hell to ensure that come show day, we will look at our physical peak (even if we may not feel it) all to win that trophy. Interestingly, the process for a body builder (whatever category) and they laymen is very similar, the major difference is the level of intensity or extremeness that you are going to push yourself. Remember that when a body builder competes they are going against other people doing the same things, so they will push their bodies to the limit and beyond to achieve their goal, but does Simon from accounting want to do the same thing, if he is just wanting to look and feel better on the beach, hell no! he is only “competing” with himself, so he may do a lot of the same processes as the body builder but not to the same degree! What I mean is the rules of burning fat will be the same, calorie deficit and being more active, incorporating the structures to achieve a physique we are happy with.

The “date” is another way of creating a focus or motivation to inspire us to make a change to our lifestyle, to achieve something that will ultimately make us feel good about ourselves.

Often one of the first questions I ask my clients after they tell me their goal, is if there is a time frame. I do this because firstly it tells me if there is an underlying motivation behind their goal, but also helps me workout if their goal is even realistic. If a client’s goal is to lose 2 stone in say 12 weeks? Well yes that is achievable its hard but it can be done! If however their goal is to say lose 7 stone in 8 weeks, well that is unrealistic and the client needs to be made aware of the reality of what they are asking, (you would be amazed at how much some people underestimate the work needed).  Here setting the date takes on another useful albeit sometimes a cruel tool, it can highlight the reality of what the individual is wanting to achieve. Any goal in health and fitness (to an extent) is fairly achievable given an adequate time frame, but if your goal is unrealistic it can be a double edged sword, it can make you realise the reality of what you want to achieve, and understand the true level of commitment it will take to achieving your goal. A good example is that in weight loss aiming for 1-2lbs a week is about the maximum you should aim for consistently so 4-8 lbs over a month is health going. The problem is that when confronted with the scale of the task at hand some people are put off by the amount of hard work and rather than get started, will either give up, or continue to look for a quick and easy solution (which doesn’t exist or at least isn’t permanent). In truth setting the date actually reveals the kind of person you are deep down and this realisation can often be an uncomfortable truth to realise for some, and others a challenge that they relish.

I love setting the date as to me it creates a challenge and my own nature is very competitive and I found personally there is no better opponent than myself, however there is one serious problem with the “date” approach, and that is when it arrives, whether or not you meet your goal is almost irrelevant at this point. If you started and were consistent in your approach you may not have achieved the goal but you will sure as hell be a lot better than when you started! And people WILL have noticed! The problem now comes AFTER, the big “what now” with out that date, that focus and motivation can easily disappear if you let it. You can easily find reasons to go back to your old ways and slip back into your old self, and therein lies the problem.

The “date” should only be a means of getting started and personally I use them a lot but when you achieve your goal, you need to ask yourself a hard question “do I want to go back?”, if the answer is yes... then why did you begin in the first place…truly? You wouldn’t have started if you were honestly happy back then and if the answer is no, well guess what you have just laid an EXCELLENT foundation to work from! From this point on your life has changed you have proven you can get it done! Or make serious progress to a goal when you put your mind to it! and now you continue on this route of self-improvement.

Setting the date is a great start! But it is not the end of the journey, at least not on ROUTE 1