Six keys to transforming yourself
At Halloween of last year, I weighed 234 pounds (far higher than I should be) and was not regularly exercising at all. Yesterday, thirty pounds lighter, I completed a half-marathon in an hour and 54 minutes (at an average pace of 8:46 per mile).
Suffice it to say, that’s a lot of change in less than four and a half months. It wasn’t easy. But damn it feels good.
In mid-November, I set the goal of yesterday’s half-marathon. It felt completely out of reach. But whether you have a fitness goal, a professional goal or something in your personal life you want that (today at least) feels completely out of reach, you’re not going to get there unless you get started and have a few other advantages in your corner. Here are six keys that helped me over the past four months.
1. Have a goal and commit to it
It wasn’t enough to say I wanted to lose weight and get into better shape. It might have been OK to set a goal of hitting XX pounds by YY date. But committing to a half-marathon on March 10th was my primary driver. I signed up and paid for the event as early as possible. Fifty bucks wasn’t going to bankrupt me if I didn’t hit the date, but most of my training in the past 3-4 months (at the gym and between visits) has been geared towards this goal. It was the commitment and focus on yesterday morning that, I believe, helped me significantly to not only run the race, but achieve the additional physical goals I had along the way.
2. You need a coach and accountability partner/team
The best athletes and business leaders in the world still need and use coaches. I was lucky enough to stumble upon Renew Fitness in Bellevue (full disclosure, they’re also a client), and the team there has been amazing. Jessica and Miguel in particular whipped me into shape, kept me accountable, and Jessica even built a custom running plan away from the gym that built up my miles and strength week by week, with plenty of flexibility if things went wrong. I’m not sure I could have done this, at least so quickly, without them.
3. You must dedicate the time
Between time in the gym, long runs on Sundays and workouts at the end of long business days, there were plenty of days (and even whole weeks) where I had way too many other priorities pulling at me. Client work, family commitments, sometimes just feeling run-down at the end of a long day. To be successful, I had to set aside, dedicate and prioritize time to getting in shape. Luckily, I have an amazingly supportive wife who helped make this possible and supported my early-morning gym visits and Sunday long runs.
4. You must be disciplined, but not unrealistic
My workouts have been hard, but I’ve also completely changed my diet. Better choices, less snacking, less drinking, more fruits and vegetables, etc. This was difficult at first, but like any lifestyle change has continued to be a focus area where I need to stay disciplined about what I eat and drink. But that doesn’t mean I didn’t cheat. As I lost the weight, I still drank. I still had the occasional indulgence of red meat. But these were less frequent and far smaller affairs than before. And yet, they represented just enough “cheating” to keep me on target and focused on the big picture.
5. There is no finish line, just milestones to the next goal
It would be easy, writing this today, to feel “done”. But yesterday wasn’t the finish line. I still have weight to lose to get where I want to be (and hopefully stay). And as happy as I am with my accomplishment and time yesterday, I could be faster. And it was a flat course, so the next half-marathon with hills will likely be more challenging. Yesterday’s finish line (literally and figuratively) was the first step. If I think of it as the end, it would be too easy to let up on the new habits, discipline and lifestyle changes that have gotten me here so far.
6. Celebrate, then get back to work
Last night, my wife and I went to my favorite bar to celebrate. I had a cheeseburger, fries and beer. I haven’t done that in a long long time and it was magnificent. But tomorrow morning, 6:00 a.m., I’m back in the gym with Jessica working towards the next goal.
Life, and business, is about working hard, staying focused, hitting milestones, having fun, celebrating the wins, then putting your hard hat on and getting back to work.