The beginning of anything new is always challenging. You feel incompetent, uneducated, and lack the confidence that comes with years of experience. Whenever we really enjoy doing something, there’s usually one reason why: BECAUSE WE’RE GOOD AT IT. The difficult part is having the patience and persistence to get over that first learning curve to where you have a solid understanding of your craft, and what it takes to get better. These are a few strategies that I now apply to anything new that I’m trying to learn, and things I wish someone would have taught me when I was just starting out.
1) Find a Mentor
As I’ve gotten older, and as I’ve had time to learn and try new things, I’ve realized that one of the quickest ways to progress and become successful is by finding someone who you can model. In any area of your life, I think a mentor can be extremely helpful and can allow you to move through the ranks much quicker, and with much fewer mistakes.
In regards to fitness, It’s important to find someone who has achieved the kind of physique, health, or performance level that you want to have. These people have done it, and they know what it takes to get there. Success doesn’t just happen by accident. There are certain behaviors and habits, both physiologically and psychologically, that have gotten them to this point. They have gone through all the mistakes and have taken the years, through trial and error, to get to where they are now. You can benefit immensely by not only incorporating some of the habits that have allowed them to achieve their success, but also by avoiding the pitfalls many of them had to make before they reached the point they’re at now.
I’d also like to add that a mentor doesn’t have to be someone you know personally. There are plenty of people out there on the internet who are more than happy to share their abundance of knowledge with you. Go you YouTube or Google and find the answers to your questions. The main point is to always remain a student of the game. Never allow yourself to get to the point where you think you’ve learned everything there is to know. Continuous learning leads to continuous growth.
2) Have a Game Plan
It’s never wise to jump into something head first without any plan or direction. It’s important to have a routine, a road map if you will, that you are going to commit yourself to following. You have to sit down and really make a decision: How many days a week are you going to commit to working out? What foods do you need to cut out of your diet to reach your goals?
To take it even further, do you have a workout routine set in place? Do you know which muscles you plan to work on which day? Do you have a diet plan set up? Do you have a specific time set aside for meal prepping so you can keep your diet on track? Obviously you don’t have to be this meticulous when you are just beginning, but know this, the more detailed you are about your game plan, the easier it will be to execute.
Now, I don’t want people to take this and become the person who never starts because they are so busy planning. Start where you are, and continue to adjust your plan as you go. Find out what works for your lifestyle, and create a plan that suits the goals you’ve set for yourself. I’m constantly reviewing my plan, and making changes based on my current results and where I want to be. Have the basics laid out, and then start executing!
3) Track your Progress
It’s difficult to stay on track when you don’t have some sort of system for measuring your progress. Whether it’s monitoring the scale, taking progress photos, or simply keeping a log of how good you feel on a daily basis, it’s important to create a way to track how far you’ve come and if you’re moving in the right direction.
I am personally a fan of progress photos for one big reason. I know a lot of people whose goal is to lose weight. They create a game plan and begin taking their diet and workouts very seriously. They lose weight for the first few months, but then for some reason they begin putting weight back on! They become frustrated because they feel like they are moving further away from their goals. The truth is, your body was shedding fat those first couple of months which caused you to lose some of the excess weight you’ve been carrying around. After a while though, you began putting on muscle, which in turn caused you to gain a little bit of that weight back. Since this person was so focused on what the scale said, they ended up feeling frustrated and upset as opposed to excited about the progress they were making. There’s nothing wrong with adding on a few pounds of lean muscle because as far as their physique goes, I’ll bet they’d be thrilled with what they looked like as compared to when they started. This is why even though I’ll still check my weight regularly and see where I’m at, I like to base my progress off of what I see in the mirror and how I feel about my physique.
Those are a few of my personal tips for how you can speed up the time it takes to get over that initial learning curve. It’s taken me a few years to learn some of these things, and it’s stuff I really wish I would have known when I was just beginning my fitness career. I hope that this little piece of advice will help carry you through the beginning stages of your own journey, and will help you lay the foundation for a lifetime of success in the area of your health. We only get one body. If we begin to take our health seriously, we can live a life of energy and vitality that will continue for years down the road.