In a nationwide survey of nearly a thousand women from all fifty states, we found that “lack of motivation” was the second-biggest reason women do not work out (the first being “no time”—which my program conquers). Some said they needed a significant other to do it with them. Some said a group would motivate them. Some said they thrived on competition to spur them along. A few women actually stated that they would not work out unless someone gave them cold hard cash to do so. Well, while increased energy and focus in your business life is just one of the myriad dividends of my program, I’m not really here to show you the money, honey.
For almost everyone I know, results are the ultimate motivator. You start to see a change in your physique, and your effort and positive attitude gain momentum: Seeing is believing.
As you continue to train, you’ll see the results—new lines, a new shape, the curves of growing muscles, a hardness you didn’t have before. Your body will change. With consistency, you’ll start to look better and you will always continue to.
If you follow my program, you will attain the figure you desire. How long it takes to get there, though, will depend on how far away you are. Consider the following real-world examples:
Ann was a pretty fit, 130-pound female at 20 percent body fat. After two months on my program, she replaced six pounds of fat with three pounds of muscle. So while she lost six pounds of fat, the scale told her she lost only three pounds total bodyweight, which was true. In two months, she changed her body-fat percentage from 20 percent to 15 percent. This overall change in bodyweight of only three pounds gave her a 25 percent reduction in body fat! All while increasing her metabolism with new muscle.
Ann’s change in body composition was relatively easy yet significant. It improved her appearance, metabolism, athleticism, and her overall ability to make continued progress.
Now let’s look at Mary. She weighed in at 230. She began my strength-training program, stuck to it for two months, stepped on the scale every day, and then became discouraged that she had lost only nine pounds after all that hard training. She now weighed 221 pounds, hardly where she wanted to be. And although the three pounds of muscle she gained were very real, she could hardly see them because, unlike Ann, she still had a lot of fat masking them. Her morale took a nosedive, and, before you know it, she succumbed to any excuse at all not to work out. She not only gained the weight back but continued her long, slow descent into morbid obesity.
Mary actually made better progress than the skinnier Ann, though of course it didn’t show as much to the naked eye. What Mary didn’t realize is that, while she lost fat, she also gained strength. It might not sound like much, but she made a significant change in body composition. She lost twelve pounds of fat and added three pounds of muscle. This increased her metabolism, setting her up for even greater success. If Mary continued to work out, this success would snowball: She’d accrue more muscle, be able to train more intensely, and thus burn more fat per week as time went on. It would get easier and easier.
And, no, Mary would not become a she-hulk! It’s important to realize that the weight increase from muscle gain will slow significantly after these first three months of strength training, while the weight decrease from fat loss will only accelerate.
This is quite different from what most people do. Usually, people lose fat while also losing muscle. That may satisfy the need to see a smaller number on the scale, but it makes long-term success nearly unattainable.
For Mary, who has almost one hundred pounds to lose, it will take time. But it will happen. You can and will have the kind of body you want, but if you’re far from your goal, you must be patient for the change to be real and lasting.
I know: It sucks. Waiting sucks. But it’s simply impossible to magically undo ten years of neglect in two months. Nothing can do that for you. No pills, contraptions, or diets. With my program, you’ll lose real fat, and you’ll build real muscle to make sure it doesn’t come back.
Remember, a pound of muscle takes up about half the space of a pound of fat. So if you lose three pounds of fat around your waist, that decrease will show much more than the slight increase in your muscles that leads to firmer triceps and legs.
Dealing with the Dreaded Scale and That Mirror, Mirror, on the Wall
As Ann and Mary’s examples show, bathroom scales don’t tell the whole story. Challenge yourself to stay off the scale for at least the first two months of training, and then look at the scale once a month afterward, maximum, or only if you must for some other reason. Otherwise, there’s no need at all to look at the scale. It’s neither going to show you what you want to see nor reflect the very real progress you’re making.
Actually, I not only recommend you stay off your scale, I recommend trashing or donating it. A scale is an incredibly poor indicator of progress, especially in women, whose weight can rise and fall significantly due to water retention, with daily fluctuations of up to six pounds being possible.
A daily glance in the mirror is not going to be the best indicator of the ways in which your body composition is changing on this program, but consider taking a picture of yourself before you start and then another after two months of doing my program three times a week. I’ll bet that, just like in those dramatic before-and-after infomercial photos, you’ll be able to see the difference if you document it. Use these photos to motivate yourself even more—paste your “before” photo on the blank document on your computer, then add the “after” in two short months.
Instead, make performance-related goals, not weight-related ones. Challenge yourself to move up through my exercise progressions as quickly as you can. You’ll begin to look like an athlete once you start performing like one.
It’s hard not to constantly obsess over appearance. But just as that dreaded scale is a bad indicator of progress, so, too, is the mirror. Looking in the mirror every day is something most of us can’t avoid, and some people can use vanity—the desire to look better in that mirror—to their advantage; the mirror becomes a kind of taskmaster, a constant reminder to keep up the workouts. If that describes you, great. Use your mirror to motivate you.
But know, too, that mirrors can blind us to any real changes that occur over time, precisely because we look at ourselves every day. With my program and nutritional advice, your body most certainly will change week to week, month to month, but you’re not going to notice any definitive change from one day to the next.
A better indicator of your progress is how your clothes fit. Over time, you’ll start to see changes in them. Your shirts will be a little looser and your pants baggier, especially around the waist and hips. And whether they tell you or not, people around you will notice.
No More Excuses
Sometimes after a long day, lifting the remote is about all I seem to have strength for. It feels great to lie down on the couch, flip the tube on, and laugh with my favorite show. The Internet, Facebook, my cellphone—they are all such sweet temptations. My friends are at happy hour down the street, but I have to work out.… Why? I promise myself that I’ll make up for it in the morning, but when morning comes around, the snooze button suddenly becomes man’s greatest invention.
When it’s time to exercise, don’t ever forget that 1,001 excuses will rear their ugly heads every single day. Later will never be easier than now. You absolutely must shut out everything else. Turn your phone off. Forget about work, family, friends, and anything that can get in your way of achieving a better, healthier life. Don’t worry: When you’re done, you’ll return to the world more energized and stronger than ever, ready to tackle just about anything. But right here, right now, this is your time. The world can wait.
While the troops I’ve trained face the immediate danger of bullets and bombs, we all face the long-term dangers of immobility and disease. My program can help protect people from both. But you must temporarily set aside your comfort and train, because you have made a decision to become a healthier person, one short workout at a time, and that is simply more important than any fatigue or stress that you might be dealing with. It’s a small, immediate sacrifice for a better-looking, healthier you.
No more excuses! Don’t skip a workout or promise yourself you’ll do it later. Skip one single workout and it can be very difficult to ever get started again. I’ve seen it time and again: Quitting once makes it far more likely that you’ll do it again. Likewise, every time you push the excuses aside, your resolve is strengthened. Your behavior now directly affects your behavior in the future. So EVOLVE: Earn Victory Over Life’s Vast Excuses. Make winning a habit.
Put It in Writing
I want you to write down the daily excuses you come up with that prevent you from reaching your goals. Do it in two columns and see for yourself—goals and excuses side by side—how you too often obstruct your goals with your lame excuses.
Over time, after you see the results of my program, your excuses will fade. But in the beginning, rack them up! Write out as many as you can beside your goals before you work out each day.
The big things, the little things, and all the crap in the middle will always be there. Just remember, there are very few priorities in life that should come above your own health and beauty. Put yourself, not your excuses, in control.
What Happens When You Let Your Excuses Take Over
- bad moods
- poor libido
- back pain
- low bone density
- heart disease
- colon cancer
- a second-rate life
What Happens When You Take Control
- lose fat
- look better
- feel better
- increased energy
- a firmer body
- less stress
- improved self-esteem
- better balance
- better posture
- better coordination
- better flexibility
- better stability
- better cardiovascular endurance
- a leaner, stronger you!
Need more motivation? Here are seven ideas and actions that will help you jump over your hurdles.
1. YOU’VE ALREADY STARTED
Reading this articles may be the hardest part of my workout program. You’ve already made the decision to get into the best shape of your life.
The second-hardest part is getting started on your workout days. In one of the compounds we set up in Afghanistan, we built a small makeshift workout room that we affectionately called the “prison gym.” When I was there recently, one of my Air Force buddies put it perfectly when he told me, “Once I’m going, I’m good. It’s just getting myself to walk those thirty feet from my bed rack to the prison gym that’s the hardest.”
Get out of your seat and take that first step! It’s easy sailing from there.
An Emergency Situation
Just as dozens of small excuses will rear their heads daily, occasionally real excuses will also arise: A debilitating injury that cannot be trained around. The last few months of pregnancy. The death of a loved one. They can happen to all of us. (Well, I guess I can’t quite get pregnant yet, but you get the point.) Naturally, these are times when it is okay to put a pause on your training.
I must admit, though, that sometimes my training is what helps me meet life’s greatest difficulties with strength. But that is a personal choice, and sometimes exercise becomes impossible due to severe emotional or physical stress. So take a breather. When you are ready again, the program will still be here for you.
One thing I would caution is not to wallow too long in the wake of these inevitable, life-changing events. As soon as you are in a mental and emotional place to fit exercise back into your days, you’ll be best off doing so. Rebuilding your body can only help to rebuild your spirits.
2. ENJOY THE JOURNEY
For a lot of people, exercise is booooooring. Well, when you’re doing an hour or more of the same thing every day, of course it’s boring! Honestly, I’d rather sit at the DMV for an hour than spend that time in the fat-burning zone on an elliptical.
This program changes from day to day, week to week, month to month. You’ll have fun conquering new movements rather than doing the same thing over and over.
If it’s a nice day, take it outside. A blast of sun and fresh air can do wonders for the soul, not to mention your motivation.
Regardless of where you exercise, since you’re the boss now, crank the tunes as loud as you want, earphones or not. Heck, turn the tube on if there’s a show you want to catch. Just be sure it doesn’t distract you from devoting proper intensity to each of your sets.
Of course, the truly interesting thing to watch is you. You learning new movements. You becoming leaner and more athletic than ever before. And the real fun is not during the exercise but during the rest of the day. Feeling and looking better is simply more fun. My short workouts pay enormous dividends once each is over: Stress is washed away, your mind and body are revitalized, your self-esteem is lifted, and those feel-good endorphins explode through your body. There’s nothing boring about that.
For some people, a major obstacle to working out alone is the lack of confidence to correctly and effectively strength-train without an “expert” telling them how to. In my experience, the reality is that many gym trainers just throw random workouts together based on the handful of exercises they know and prefer. Many people don’t realize most instructors’ lack of expertise and the ease with which their personal-trainer certifications are acquired.
The reality is, if you follow the detailed illustrations and exercise descriptions in this articles, you’ll have a far greater understanding of the fundamentals than most trainers could give you. I’ll show you exactly what basic exercises to focus on and how to make the slight adjustments for all their variations. I’ll guide you through the subtle things that make these movements perfect, so you can continue to build on a solid foundation.
3. FIND YOUR TIME—THIS IS YOUR TIME
Setting a specific time to exercise each day helps most people, including me. Find a time—morning, lunch break, evening—and stick to it.
Don’t ever think, “I’ll wait and see if I have time,” or “I’ll try to squeeze it in later.” That’ll never happen. Make a date with yourself. Then hold yourself accountable. The great thing is that this set time is whenever works best for your schedule.
Your livelihood depends upon someone creating time for you to work. Biology has dictated time for us to sleep. Food, drink, and entertainment businesses have created all sorts of times for you to enjoy yourself. However, no one but you can or will create time for you to work out.
There will never be the “perfect” time and conditions to do a workout. You have to create them, just as we all create excuses, every day, every hour, every minute, not to work out.
4. LET ME HEAR YOU SAY IT
Every Monday morning, tell yourself, out loud, that you will do my workouts that week. Be specific. Tell yourself that you will work out on your chosen three days. For example, “I will complete this week’s workouts on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.”
It sounds funny, but studies have shown that a simple declaration like this can dramatically increase physical activity. It makes you consciously aware of your plans and encourages you to realize them.
5. YOU HAVE YOUR OWN FULL-BODY FITNESS CENTER
Although you can do this workouts anywhere you find yourself in the world, it helps to have one space you use regularly. Whether it’s your living room, bedroom, office, garage, or garden, find the place where it’s best and most convenient to do the exercises in my program. For a few minutes each day, make it your very own full-body fitness center. Getting to know a single space well and the everyday things you can use to work out within it—a chair, desk, or doorway, for example—will make it easier to accomplish each exercise.
6. JUST IMAGINE
Use the mirror at your own risk, but don’t stop imagining what you want to look like. Visualizing your goals is the first step toward them.
If you want to be leaner, with a smaller waist, toned arms and legs, and a butt firm enough to bounce quarters off, then you should imagine exactly how that is going to look and feel, with as much detail as possible.
Make yourself believe, and believe in yourself. Visualize the rewards that you will reap from your training, and make them a reality.
Tear Down This Wall
Fat is a very real physical barrier you—and you alone—can either construct or tear down between yourself and a loved one. A lack of physical fitness is one of the greatest barriers to intimacy on the planet. You’re literally putting on layers (of fat), constructing walls that not only hide you from the world but distance you from your partner. On the other hand, a healthy body is the greatest stimulation that exists.
7. SCORE A GOAL
Remember, vanity will get you only so far.
Know why you’re working out, and make your reasons true to you. Write them out on a piece of paper and post them wherever you will see them most: the bathroom mirror, the fridge, or your workout space. This will remind you every day why you are exercising. And fully accept that these goals are a reality. They will happen—as long as you get started every day you’re supposed to work out.
It’s certainly okay to focus on things like slimming your thighs, looking good in a new dress, putting the best you forward in a new romance, a new job, a new project, or even just looking better than your girlfriends. But you need to also ask yourself why exercise is a positive aspect of your life, how it will genuinely improve you and the world around you. These goals will provide sources of instant, continual, and meaningful inspiration to drive you on. Envision a better future, and you’ll become increasingly motivated to achieve it.
Now, don’t get me wrong: Doing my program with a partner, or a group, is great. I love working out with other men or women in the Special Operations community or with my girlfriend. But you should never, not ever, depend on a partner in order to exercise. That becomes just another crutch, an excuse to not work out when they’re not around. Drop the crutches. There should be no one to motivate you and hold you accountable other than yourself. A bodyweight athlete should never depend on anyone but herself. Your health is not a team sport. Your life is yours. And only you can excel at it.