How To Find The Best Fitness Program That Works For You

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One of the most common ideas within our fitness culture is the notion that there is a magic combination of diet and exercise out there that’s going to be a perfect fit for you as an individual. As they say, different things work for different folks and we all respond differently to the same program. Thus, many wander from program to program looking for the perfect key to unlock their potential.

Unfortunately, this wandering around often brings little progress and that progress is very short-lived. Individuals find themselves in a cycle of trying out the latest fads, gaining a little headway and then running into a plateau. Within a short time, they figure the program didn’t work for them and they abandon it only to try the latest fad to come down the pipe and the cycle starts all over again.

This cycle is very taxing both physically and emotionally. It eats up your time and energy while bringing frustration. It also makes you vulnerable to scams because each time you “fail” it’s easier to convince you that you’re very different and need a special solution which the scam artist is trying to sell you.

The good news is that you can break free of this cycle and custom build the perfect diet and exercise program for you by using the following steps:

Get Clear on Your Goals
The human body doesn’t understand general ideas or terms. It doesn’t know how to “just be fit” or how to “tone up”. Every cell in your body only understands specific, clear and straightforward instructions about how it needs to behave.

It’s for this reason that your first step is to get super clear on what your goals are. What exactly do you want? It’s not good enough to just get stronger. What sort of strength do you want? Do you want speed, power or stability? Where do you want the strength in your body? What purpose is the strength going to be applied to?

Knowing your specific goal is very important because every other step and choice you make from this point will be based on what that goal is. If you don’t know what your goal is then you’re not planning, you’re just guessing.

Take Stock of Your Resources
Fitness is expensive. It requires time, energy and effort to be spent on a consistent basis over a long period of time. In light of this, it’s vital that you use methods that you can easily afford. The best program in the world is worthless if you can’t put in the time and energy it requires. Finding something that fits well with your resources will make doing the necessary work much easier and you won’t waste lots of time and energy trying to overexert yourself.

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Be Honest With Your Preferences
We humans are emotional creatures. Many of our habits are built upon what we enjoy doing rather than what we have to do. It doesn’t matter if you’re supposed to avoid eating red meat or run 5 miles a day. If you really don’t want to give up steak and you hate running, then take that into account. Constantly trying to force yourself into habits you don’t want to do is like forcing a round peg into a square hole. It’s just going to be a lot of pain and effort for very little gain.

Besides, there are many paths up the mountain and they all finish at the top. You don’t have to give up coffee to lose weight. You don’t have to run to build endurance. You can build flexibility with kickboxing or yoga. There is no one method you have to use so why try to force yourself into doing something you really don’t want to do?

Test
No one ever knows just how well a method will work for them. Some folks endlessly research a diet or workout method in an attempt to figure out if it’s going to be good for them. While a little research is a good idea, you’ll learn more from 3 days of just trying the method then you will from 3 years of reading about it. So roll up your sleeves and dive in!

Record
So many folks lose the valuable information of what is and what isn’t working for them because they fail to track or record the results from their testing. As a result, they constantly guess what is and isn’t working without really learning what’s best for them. Keeping a simple log or journal is a simple and inexpensive way to record what you’re doing and what its impact is.

Modify
Finally, take the method you started to test and start customizing it to suit your needs. The trick is to cut away the fluff that isn’t working for you and keep all the good stuff. This is where many people get sucked back into the cycle I mentioned earlier. They test out something, but it’s not a perfect fit. There’s something about it that doesn’t quite fit their goals, their resources or their preferences. As a result, they scrap the whole thing and go right back to square one and start looking for that method that will be a perfect fit for them.

Very few, if any, methods will be a perfect fit right out of the box. There will always be some parts that don’t work for you. Your perfect diet or exercise program is something you’ll have to custom build yourself and the only way to do that is to constantly modify your current program. Don’t throw out the baby with the bath water. Keep what is useful and discard what isn’t.

On a final note, it’s important to keep in mind that your resources, preferences, goals and methods will always be changing to some degree. This is why what works for you now might not be a good fit a few years from now. The cool thing about this 6 step method is that it’s flexible and will give you the freedom to keep discovering what works best for you even though things change.

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About Author

Matt Schifferle

My name is Matt Schifferle and I'm an A.C.E. Certified Personal Trainer, CrossFit Level 1 coach, underground strength coach and I'm a 5th degree black belt in Taekwon-Do. I specialize in outdoor and playground based underground and CrossFit style bootcamps. See my profile page for more information!

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