Successful Goal Setting with Mike Brown
The following is the guest post by my friend Mike from GoalHit.net.
His website is all about motivation, fitness, goals, personal development, productivity, and mindset. Mike got in touch with me after bumping into my book: “Motivation in 7 Simple Steps“. This is how I discovered his work and received tons of value from his content. This guy has a strong passion for helping others create happy, healthy and fulfilled lives, and his mission never stops!
In this post, Mike shares his personal story and how he managed to succesfully transform his body and enjoy the process. I hope you will enjoy it as much as I did!
Would you like to take control of your physical fitness and health? Imagine having more energy and feeling stronger than ever before? If you’re serious about improving your life, you need to make your health and fitness a priority. Read my top ten tips that will show you how you can achieve the body of your dreams!
If you read my About page, you’ll know that in 2007 I returned to England broke, single, out of shape, and I had to move back in with my parents. It was a pretty depressing time in my life; I had left England with dreams of financial and personal success, yet coming home not having realised them made me feel like I was a failure. After a week of feeling sorry for myself, I decided that enough was enough and committed to taking massive action to turn my life around.
The first step to regaining control of my life was reassessing my health and fitness. I reasoned this was something under my immediate control, so starting here made sense. Truthfully, I was not happy with my body; I didn’t have a lot of muscle and my body fat was high: I was skinny-fat. To top it all off, my family have a high rate of cancer, diabetes, and depression (yes I hit the genetic lottery). I vowed to reach a level of health and fitness that would mean my chances of disease dropped as much as they could, while also achieving a body I could be proud of, one in which I would feel confident enough to take my t-shirt off at the beach.
I began furiously researching all I could find on nutrition, exercise, form and technique; I devoured past issues of Men’s Health and body-building magazines, testing different combinations of the advice proffered. Through trial and error, I devised a routine and meal plan which allowed me to go from the above-left pic to the one on the right. It must be emphasised that my transformation involved no drugs, no fad diets, and certainly no starving myself (I actually had to force myself to eat more!).
A wealth of information was picked up during my physical transformation, and in later articles, I will delve into the specifics of meal planning and training routines. What I’m about to share with you now are the ten best tips and tricks I discovered to go from skinny-fat to being in the best shape of my life. If I can do it, then so can you. If you’re ready to turn your life around, let’s begin:
1.Have Specific Goals
In the S.M.A.R.T.E.R. goals article, I cover why it is vital to set goals if you are serious about achieving them. I didn’t just say getting in shape might be a good idea, I grabbed pen and paper and declared I would:
- Get below 12% body fat
- Gain six pounds of muscle
- Be able to run 8 miles
- Get stronger in the big three exercises: Bench Press, Deadlift, and Squat (I would have to see what my lifts were first, but from my research those three exercises should always form a part of your weekly workouts).
Once my fitness goals were written down, I booked a photo shoot in six months time. Knowing what I had to accomplish and the time I had to do it in forced me to focus my efforts, serving as a daily reminder to stick to my workouts and meal plan.
2.Food Is Fuel
From now on food is fuel, its sole purpose is to provide you with what you need to function at your optimum level.
Before I started taking my health seriously, the food I ate was of little concern to me; when hungry it was a case of snacking on whatever was in the cupboards, I would boredom eat while watching TV, and the nutritional value of food didn’t even cross my mind. The biggest catalyst for change came about when I stopped thinking about food as something to control my mood, and to think of my body as a biological machine with food as the fuel.
The first major shift that occurs when you think like this is you see food as having a purpose. If you’re going to the gym and working out, afterwards your body needs the right nutrients to grow, allowing you to get stronger and fitter. Why would I waste all that effort I just put in at the gym by now eating chips and chocolate, when I could just as easily give my body chicken pasta with a side of salad. By eating with purpose, you stop automatically reaching for food that is nutritionally void and instead choose food that serves to help you grow. This one simple act of pausing to consider which food will benefit you the most will mean you consistently give your body what it needs.
3.Sugar Is the Enemy
I cut out all the sweets, crisp, and chocolates. Before any food purchase, I looked at the nutritional information on the back which specifies Carbohydrates (of which sugars). At first, cutting out sugar felt incredibly difficult as I had conditioned my body to expect it at certain times of the day; the subsequent cravings were strong, but the good news is after a couple of weeks the cravings disappeared.
As I read more about what role food plays in a healthy diet, I learnt that our bodies crave sugar because it is quickly digested and provides a readily available energy source. The problem with sugar is that any not used for energy is easily converted to, and stored, as fat. Increasing levels of fat leads to increased levels of heart and cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer, and it does nothing but look unsightly and weigh you down.
One trick that was invaluable to me whenever I had a craving for sugary food was to have an apple and pint of water. Twenty minutes later, the craving was gone, and I felt great about building my willpower to resist temptation.
4.Create a Meal Plan
Sit down and ask yourself what your goals are, then design a meal plan conducive to reaching your goals. You need to know what proportion of your daily food consists of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. Once you do this, you are in a position to see the results of training in relation to what fuel you are providing your body. Now you can make informed adjustments to your diet as and when is necessary.
Imagine you’ve been working out for a few months when your progress with losing body fat starts to stall. No problem, you look at your meal plan and take one hundred calories of carbs and replace them with 80 calories of protein and 20 calories of healthy fats. Give it two weeks and watch what happens. Doing this shows you how your body responds to changes of your macronutrients. Armed with this knowledge, you can now make sensible meal plan adjustments to reach your fitness goals.
5.White to Brown
Carbohydrates are broken down into sugars when digested, which raises your blood sugar levels. Insulin is released to remove excess sugar from your blood by putting it into your muscles. A lot of excess sugar from your bloodstream can lead to fat storage. Carbohydrates like white pasta, rice, and bread, spike your insulin quicker than their brown equivalents (they are more complex so take longer to break down) and as a consequence don’t result in as large an insulin spike, so less chance for fat storage. The white carbohydrates aren’t bad after a workout, as you want that insulin spike to help force nutrients into your muscles, but at other times of the day stick to the brown types. Remember, your body will need carbohydrates for energy during your workouts. A lot of people try to cut out carbohydrates completely, which is a recipe for disaster. You’ll feel weak and won’t work out as hard as you can, meaning your workouts will be less efficient. Be smart and eat the right kind of carbohydrates at the right times.
6.Fat Is Your Friend
Whoa, bet you didn’t see this one coming did you! Not all fats are created equally:
- Saturated fats are bad, and you want to limit these in your diet.
- Trans fats should be avoided like the plague; fortunately, most food establishments no longer cook with these types of fats.
- Healthy fats such as monounsaturated, polyunsaturated, and omega-3 fatty acids can be found in foods like avocados, olives, fish. Include these types of fats in your diet.
A lot of vitamins are fat soluble meaning your body requires fat to process and utilise them. Eating the right kind of fats will allow your body to function at its peak and will make getting enough calories from the right sources a lot easier, helping you to build muscle and burn body fat.
7.Small Regular Meals
When do you make bad dietary choices? You do so when you’re starving. Take preventative action by eating small regular meals throughout the day, so you will never get to the point of being so hungry you cheat on your diet. Eating smaller meals also has the effect of shrinking your stomach, so you’ll feel satiated even though you are eating less.
Your basal metabolic rate (BMR) is the amount of calories required to keep your body functioning at rest. Muscle takes calories to maintain, fat doesn’t, so the more muscle you have, the more calories your body will burn at a minimum. The more calories you burn, the easier it is to reduce body fat.
This means no starving yourself. When you starve yourself, you lose muscle and water, and your metabolism slows down to conserve energy. If this happens, you now have less muscle to help burn body fat! Any water weight is immediately put back on once you rehydrate by drinking water (weight is never the issue, it’s always body fat). A lower BMR means fewer calories are burnt, making it harder to get rid of body fat. If you want a sure-fire way not to create the body of your dreams, starving yourself is the answer. We want fit, healthy, athletic bodies ready to meet the demands of any environment. Weak, frail, emaciated bodies will not do that for you. If you eat healthily and give your body the nutrients it needs to grow, you’re more likely to have the problem of having to eat when you’re not hungry. Never starve yourself, always think health first.
9.No Ego Lifting
The most efficient way to build muscle and burn body fat is to include resistance training with weights and high-intensity cardio sessions limited to around 30 – 40 minutes (in my experience). Lifting to build muscle is completely different to ego lifting. Ego lifting is lifting with the sole purpose of trying to impress others at the gym, but it doesn’t work for two main reasons:
- If you load up on weight and can only do quarter reps, no one is impressed that you can’t do a full range of motion exercise. You’re missing out on three-quarters of the gains you could be making, and that means a very inefficient workout.
- If you have to use momentum and gravity to do the work of lifting instead using your muscles to control the weight, you’re missing out on all that additional stress for your target muscle. Before long you’ll injure yourself by lifting a weight you have no business lifting in the first place, forcing you to take weeks or months off just to recover.
For each exercise ask yourself:
- What is my target muscle?
- Am I isolating it as much as possible?
- Can I perform my target reps without my form breaking down until the very last couple of reps?
10.You Have to Rest and Drink Water
The work you do in the gym damages the muscle fibres, making micro tears in them. Only outside the gym and provided you feed your body the correct nutrients and allow it to rest, do your muscles to recover and become stronger. If you neglect rest, you will make increasingly more tears in the muscle fibres without them healing in time for your next session. If this continues, those micro tears accumulate until the muscle becomes damaged to the point of a major tear. An injury like this will force you to take time off to recover, and you’ll end up losing all those hard-won gains. Make sure you get enough rest to maintain an optimum workout schedule.
Drink between 2-3 litres of water a day; just grab a one-litre bottle and refill it once empty. Your body needs water to function correctly, with fat being broken down in a process known as hydrolysis. Hydrolysis means to split with water, so maximise your body’s ability to get rid of fat by making sure you stay well hydrated.
Once my six months were complete, my physical transformation shocked me. I couldn’t believe what a difference six months could make, and I went to my photo shoot feeling proud of how far I had come. Afterwards, I knew with the knowledge I had accumulated my progress would now be twice as fast than when I was just starting out. I had spent a lot of time in trial and error, but now my workouts and meal plan were streamlined. I set another goal of a photo shoot in twelve months time, the result of which is my ‘after’ pic you see at the top of this page.
I transformed my entire health and fitness in 18 months, which is nothing compared to the rest of your life. I sincerely hope that you can take away all or some of the advice above and utilise it to begin your transformation.
If you have any questions or are looking for some advice, I would love to hear from you so please feel free to contact me.
Work hard, work smart, become a better you.
Be sure to check out Mike’s website at: www.GoalHit.Net
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