Points Matter in Sports and Stock – Not Weight Loss

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Before we start with the counting business and all of the wonderful analogies, please subscribe and sign-up for my newsletter that contains tons of motivational and information material by using the form on the right. Also, hit me up on Twitter if you’re on there.

Alright, onward we go.

If you’re remotely into health and fitness, you have inevitably met someone that has tried Weight Watchers or some other diet counting variation.

If you know one person that has succeeded, chances are you know others that have failed or fallen short. If you’re like me, you probably want to claw your eyes out at the people who have tried Weight Watchers on three separate occasions and have yet to see a positive result.

So, why is Weight Watchers still one of the most successful (in terms of members and profit) dieting programs in the nation?

Because it’s simple, yet it promises big results. It surely doesn’t hurt that the commercials are often packed by a star-studded cast.

There are dozens of apps and calculations designed to keep you under your allotted number of points. Stay within your point range and you’re golden – weight falls off. Then, almost inevitably, the success story fades away and slowly the weight starts coming back on. Since it worked before, the individual hops back on the program and starts living and dying by points.

Face it, you aren’t going to count points forever – unless you really want to which seems just a bit odd. Who wants to tally everything they eat? Not this guy. In fact, I’m currently on a kick where counting is a bit of a necessity and it’s an utter pain.

The Typical Approach: The Quantity System

Most counting-based weight loss programs are based on the idea that the quantity of food determines the size of the individual. That seems very easy to believe. Wouldn’t it make sense that the more you eat, the bigger you get?

I’ll make the analogy of money and happiness. Sure, money let’s you have financial freedom, more vacations, and a bigger house. But, I think all of you will agree that money doesn’t buy happiness. Experiences and the people involved create happiness. Similarly, food gives you a higher caloric intake, but hormones, activity level, and the type of food you’re eating create weight gain.

The two are closely related, but not directly cause and effect.

I’ll say that one more time because it’s really damn important – the amount of food you eat doesn’t directly cause your stomach to grow larger. Sure, there’s a correlation. People that eat a ton tend to be larger. But, I know a lot of people (like myself) that can eat a ton of food and stay relatively slender.

(Just for comparison and a little bragging, my typical breakfast is well over 1,000 kcal which would tower over the majority of the population. That doesn’t even take into account the days I splurge and go crazy. I routinely finish the day at 4,000 kcal when I’m doing good. If quantity was the leading factor, I would be getting bigger, but I’m not….cue the Twilight Zone music.)

The name of the game is what you’re eating, not necessarily how much you’re eating. As Jon Goodman once said “No one ever got fat eating fruit.”

Where the Quantity System Falls Short

Imagine giving your kids $500 at the start of every week. If you don’t have kids, close your eyes and dream them up, go with me here.

In scenario A, those kids can blow the money on whatever they want – probably video games, Chuckie Cheese, and fast food if it were me when I was young.

In scenario B, they have to spend the money on necessities like gas, food, school clothes, rent – you know, responsible stuff. They can spend whatever money they have left over on video games.

In both scenarios, the kids will spend all of the money because let’s face it – they’re kids. That tends to happen when you know the money will roll in every week. But, in the second scenario, you’re teaching them how to budget so that one day, when they’re making all of the money, they won’t blow it all on hookers and drugs.

In scenario B, they’ve also covered all of their basic needs – similar to micro and macronutrients. In scenario A, they’ve covered their pleasure needs but they’ll be SOL when they don’t have any clothes to wear.

It’s called nutritional responsibility.

Counting calories and points doesn’t necessarily teach you nutritional responsibility. It teaches quantity and math. Tweet that!

In order to fully understand nutrition, those looking to decrease (or even increase – yes there are those of us out there) their weight should be aware of how food interacts with the body not just how much one should eat.

Case and point, the other day, I had a client that was previously on a popular diet program for an extended period of time ask me the in’s and out’s of insulin. Insulin? Just one of the primary hormones that’s responsible for metabolic diseases? Education should be the backbone of any diet program – not math.

The name of the game is education, not portion sizes. If I have someone looking to lose weight, the first thing I’m going to do is have them take a food log. At this point, calories aren’t the top of my priority list. I want to find out where their food is coming from; then, we’ll address total caloric intake. Calories don’t matter if they’re all coming from Twinkies and Cheesy Puffs.

What Works? The Quality System

So, what is the proper approach? If you haven’t come to the conclusion by now, it’s approaching the quality of food first. In most cases, the quantity of food will take care of itself.

No one is going to count for the rest of their life. It’s not a sustainable practice for losing weight and keeping it off. Inevitably, you’re going to lose track of how many points you’ve had for that day. That’s where the quantity system fails. It doesn’t teach long-term solutions for managing weight.

By learning what to eat rather than just how much, you’ll be more successful in the long haul.

If you’re on a weight loss plan with nutritional intervention (which you should be if you’re looking for weight management), you should be aware of the basic tenets of a successful and sustainable diet, including hormones, macro vs. micronutrients, and have a clue how to use the glycemic index.

If you’re looking for all of those shenanigans, this is the place to start.

Alright, so now I want to hear from you. Like it? Love it? Want some more? Had success counting calories? I want to hear it all in the comments section. And please share with all of your brethren on the social networks including MySpace. Let’s alert the world mmkay?


Note: I posted this on Facebook the other day and received some comments:

Writing a post about how much I despise Weight Watchers. Everyone knows SOMEBODY that has been on Weight Watchers and lost weight. But, you also know someone that has gained it back. Here’s a main contention:

“This is easily compared to fiscal management. I could blow $500 on clothes, shoes, and iTunes music, OR I could pay my rent, buy groceries, and put gas into my car. Bottom line, I still spent $500. One allowed me to get all of the necessities, while the other was a bunch of useless crap. It’s about fiscal responsibility.”Take Home: Any kind of weight management that starts with counting rather than educating is setting you up for complete and utter failure.

One of the comments in particular on the page took into account someone that had success with Weight Watchers specifically. I’m not degrading anyone’s accomplishments or the program of Weight Watchers. I’m just highlighting the need for education as a priority. Count all you want if that’s what makes you feel like butterflies inside, but do yourself a favor and learn while you’re going through the process.
Good? Good.

How Superbad Teaches You to Be Super-Awesome

There I sat the other night plopped on the couch next to my girlfriend with two surprisingly tired mutts sprawled out on the floor flipping through channels looking for something to grab our attention.

I’ll admit – I’m a sucker for comedies. Who doesn’t like a little humor in their life?

After scanning through dozens of channels, we ended up settling on Superbad. Now, let me preface this post by saying that Superbad happens to be one of my favorite movies. Everyone can relate to the plot line. A bunch of high school teenagers chasing after that girl with a fake idea looking to get stupid drunk at a party in a perilous quest to look cool (okay, I guess the proper term is bad ass).

Amidst all of the booze drinking and high school partying, the adventures of Seth, Evan, and McLovin actually play out many scenarios that we encounter on a daily basis – besides the whole getting arrested and blowing up cop cars bit – unless of course your life imitates James Bond which we would all be jealous.

Learning time!

Stuff May Not Pan Out Exactly As Planned

How hard can it be? Get a fake idea, put on some adult looking clothes, and buy some booze. Turns out, really complicated. First, a random robber slugs Fogel. A car hits Seth. Evan has his girl puke all over him. Seth punches the girl of his dream.

A perfect night of epic debauchery gets ultimately ruined and that’s perfectly okay. In the end, they both still get the girl and become better friends for it.

Many of us are planners. We like to have everything set in stone before moving forward. Everyone knows someone that plans excessively – the people that have everything penciled out on their calendar and put things on their to-do list solely to cross them off.

It’s safer that way – less risk for something crazy to happen.

Something will come by one day that will call for an “eff the plan” type of moment. Those moments when you throw your hands up in the air and ditch the preconceived ideas of what the moment would look like.

That’s called living on the edge.

It’ll take you to places you’d never dreamed of and leave you with the stories that you remember. How often do you remember that perfectly planned trip you took compared to the one that sidetracked you and led your night to the best bar in Nashville with 25 cent pitchers right next to Taylor Swifts apartment (yes, that actually happened)?

Don’t Assume Anything About Anyone – Ever

Remember when Seth got to the party and tried to impress Jewel’s by getting wicked drunk (In retrospect, that never works.)? It turned out that she didn’t even drink. Talk about a backfire.

We assume quite a bit, especially any details that further support our preconceived notions of how someone will act. We generalize and it turns out that it’s often in our best interest. Creating assumptions based on appearance and prior knowledge saves us the trouble of getting to know every detail about every person that walks into our life.

For instance, you walk into a coffee shop and order your favorite drink – a venti-half-caff-vanilla-chai-tea-with-two-packets-of-splenda-non-fat-milk-and-whip. You sit down next to a guy dressed in a suit with his eyes glued to a laptop in front of him, pouring over pie charts and cascading numbers like Neo from the Matrix. You just happen to eavesdrop onto his conversation. He’s barking into a Blackberry and shouting something about a client backing out of a business deal.

Before you know it, you’ve already made assumptions about his life and personality. Based on his appearance, you’re going to assume that he makes a decent salary. His tone indicates that he’s either pissed off or he’s a serious type of guy – not one that jokes around on the phone. He seems serious about money – so you infer that he’s probably competitive, likely played some sports…and the list goes on.

Realize that all of your inferences and conjectures based upon years of past experience may all be completely wrong.

Through years of personal training, I’ve time and time again been smacked in the face by reality when I generalized a member.

Realize that not every overweight individual is lazy (quite the contrary – all of my weight loss clients bust ass in the weight room).

Not every ripped individual is a model for perfect health (some are just genetically blessed and we call them freaks).

Girls don’t always lift pink dumbbells and do cardio, and not every guy wants a six-pack and big gunz (Alright that last one might be true.).

Do Something Crazy (and potentially stupid)

Get a fake ID – even if it has you listed as a 23 year old from Hawaii (bonus points for one name – who are you, Seal?). Quit your job, sell your car, and travel around the world like this guy.

During my senior year of college, I basically quit my job (as a PT manager) to work as an intern with the Strength and Conditioning department at the University of Florida for 30-40 hours of free labor a week while still taking a full class load. Did I mention that I had to start at 4:45AM every morning?

It sucked. I hated it.

So, I quit, took out a school loan, got a dog, crawled back to my old job to work a few hours a week, and started writing off and on. My mother was thrilled.

The silver lining – I thought I wanted to go into strength and conditioning with athletic teams. That internship was a blessing in disguise because I learned what I didn’t want to do.

We learn through our struggles, not just our triumphs. Failure is one of the most important experiences we can go through. Click to tweet.

Sometimes what you need is a leap into the abyss in order to shake things up. It doesn’t have to be drastic – take the day off of work and go on a day drive to your favorite location. Eat some greasy food. Most importantly, enjoy every last slimy french fry.

So, what did we learn? You can learn from almost anything. Hell, this post is based on a movie about kids looking to get wasted. Looking past all of the debauchery, you’ll find that you aren’t too far often from McLovin. You’re just trying to go with the flow and fit in when things happen that you don’t expect. Often times it takes you down a rabbit hole and spits you out somewhere you’d never imagine.

Closing thoughts: Never, ever attempt the upward spiraling pigtail.

Alright, I just wrote over a 1,000 words off of a comedy movie and you (re)learned something so post it in the comments below and share like crazy. Also, if you’d like to see more of this stuff, subscribe in the box on the top right. Don’t worry, you’re e-mail is safe with me.

Going All-in: The Benefits of Jumping Head First

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Humans, by nature, are a very cautious group. We’re the try-it-before-you-buy-it type. Almost everything we buy or do, we approach with a bit of skepticism, and it’s holding us back from achieving great things – the kind of achievements people write books and movies about. I’m arguing for the “go for it at all costs” crowd. The thrill seekers challenging the status quo and going all-in.

Skepticism Evolves

The first thing to realize is that this skeptical appeal to the world and our surroundings was developed and is continually developed by our experiences. Being cautious is beneficial for our survival. Our ancestors learned very early on not to trust everything presented to them. It’s written in our gene code to be somewhat skeptical. This skepticism prevented our ancestors from being devoured by lions and backstabbed by friends. It’s the same skepticism that leads you to think that some things just are too good to be true.

This amount of skepticism is greatly influenced by your past and your current surroundings. If you’ve been the target of a bad business deal, you’re more likely to be cautious in future business ventures. It’s in your genetic code to become much more analytical of the situation before diving head first. This approach helps to further our society. We become more advanced and develop processes to prevent future mishaps. These experiences develop the basics of our beliefs. For instance, we associate higher education with larger incomes. That leads us to the belief that if you get a doctorate, you will be at the top of the food chain salary-wise. It also leads us to believe that staying in school is a safe play and therefore dropping out is a rare thought. This “play it safe” attitude carries over into many aspects of our lives: how we manage our money, who we associate with, and so on. It also carries over into what we purchase, how we pursue dreams, and how we experience life. This attitude is holding us back because it limits the go-for-it spirit that causes you to drop everything and pursue something you want.

All the Big Fish Went Head First

It seems as if every huge entrepreneur story is similar. A very enlightened, young individual achieves something great by risking it all and ignoring the social norms for education and business advancement. For example, you’ve heard time and time again the story of Steve Jobs dropping out of college, and yet he became the visionary of the most valuable company in the world.

Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life… Don’t be trapped by dogma which is living out the life of other people’s thinking. – Steve Jobs Click to Tweet

Similar stories exist all over. Zuckerberg dropped out of Harvard during his sophomore year to pursue Facebook. Hell, even Ben Affleck dropped out of college to pursue acting.

The point is not that college is a waste of time. I spent six years of my life in college and grad school, and I’m much better off for it.

The idea is that social norms are limiting your success. In fact, norms exist for just that reason, they are “normal”. In order to be extraordinary, to see amazing results and achievements, we need to bust out of the rut and go head first.

Let’s tie this back to fitness and your health.

Enter Melissa.

Melissa is a client of mine that has seen quite amazing results. In all actuality, the results aren’t incredible, but they are extremely consistent – and that’s a rare find in the health and fitness world. Every time we’ve evaluated our progress (every two weeks), she’s down another 1-1.5 pounds…every…single…time… across a three month timeframe.  Her strength also increases from week to week at a constant rate.

Why is she so different? How is she seeing results that many others aren’t? Is she a superwoman? Maybe.

The truth is, she’s no different than the majority of individuals looking to lose a little bit of weight. She’s a mom which means she dedicates much of her time to taking care of her daughter. She works a full-time job so time is a luxury. She’s not a super athlete. So, what’s so different about her approach?

She went all in. 

When Melissa started training, she didn’t just start there. She also did some metabolic testing, stress hormone testing, picked up a heart rate monitor, and evaluated her diet. Now, she logs everything she eats and does. All of her training is done through a heart rate monitor and she hasn’t missed a single session. Not once. Not even when the Denver Broncos were playing on a Thursday night (she’s a big fan), and the game wasn’t on the TV’s upstairs. Every time we meet, she can recall exactly what she ate the previous few days. She made a decision that this was her time to make a change, and she went for it.

Compare that to the typical approach of evaluating one variable at a time and slowly adding in components to build up a successful plan over the next few months.

Was it a gamble? Sure. She invested a lot of her time and resources in her fitness regimen. It required extreme dedication and commitment to her program to stay on track. Not only did she meet me twice a week, but she also did cardio for an hour a day on her own three times a week.

Did it pay off? Hell yeah it did. Most importantly, it continues to pay off. We aren’t done yet. Far from it.

The Motivation of Going All-in

There’s an element of fear in throwing all of your chips in the pot. First off, the risk of failure is huge. If you don’t achieve what you set out to do, you’ve now wasted quite a few resources. But, I’m going to argue that committing yourself fully to the plan and the goal will produce better results.

Going all-in is a commitment device. 

Commitment devices are there for those that don’t believe they can do something on their own. GymPact is one example of a commitment device out today. Users get paid when they attend the gym but get penalized (by losing money) if they miss out. One guy even opted to charge himself $100 every time he didn’t go to the gym.

Putting all of your eggs in one basket is a way of committing yourself fully to a task. Sure, you may get burned, but that’s a risk we take in order to achieve something great. Every one of the business leaders mentioned above took a risk by dropping out of formal education, which is considered a necessary means of success by today’s standards. For some, safety is the enemy of forward progress. Playing it safe with nothing to lose ensures that you actually don’t get anywhere.

For some, safety is the enemy of forward progress. Click to Tweet!

Don’t invest all of your money in the stock market.

Don’t drop out of college (unless you have a great idea that you think will make millions).

Do invest your effort into something you’re very passionate about. Pour your heart and soul into something even if the payoff is not guaranteed. If it’s your health, make sacrifices and put your nutrition/exercise/relaxation first for a month. Count calories, prepare food, workout, invest in new workout gear. If it’s your happiness, take time off for yourself, take a vacation, do something that truly makes you happy.

Don’t be afraid of failing. Go all-in and see what happens.

Have you gone all-in and experienced success recently? Did you love or hate this post? Tell me in the comments below. If I get 10 comments on this post I’ll drop another one this week about staying motivated on your fitness routine (interviews included).

Enjoying the Journey – Quit Focusing on the Product

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This month marks a year since I started consistently blogging and writing. I’ve learned a ton about myself over the past year. I’ve also learned about the importance of enjoying a journey rather than focusing on the end result. Here are some thoughts I’ve had along the way.

It’s hard to believe that I just started writing a year ago. Over the time, I’ve come to enjoy it so much that I do it every day. Despite working full-time as a personal trainer, I still find time to write, most days at 6AM before my girlfriend gets up and hours before going to work. I’ve come to know some extremely intelligent and motivated individuals along the way. I’ve been fortunate enough to get published on a few different sites across the internet, many of which have come from connections and referrals. It’s been more than gratifying – it’s been unbelievable. The journey is far from over. I still have loads of things I want to accomplish, but I’m proud to say that I’ve enjoyed every single bit of it.

 

Writing doesn’t come easy. I never took a journalism class throughout my six years of higher ed. I took two English courses at the University of Florida and almost slept through them. Writing seemed boring to me.

For some reason, I decided in 2010 that I wanted to start a blog. It seemed everybody was doing it. I logged on to WordPress and away I went. I didn’t write good material. In fact, my writing style was terrible. I stopped writing for a long time because I figured “Who the hell is going to read this?” It’s nowhere near perfect now, but it’s much better and way more enjoyable to read. It’s taken time to develop. I’ve read books on writing and trashed about the same amount of posts as I have written. I’ve tossed pages away with ideas scribbled on them that were immediately scratched out. The process has taught me far more than just about writing style and how to create material that others find interesting. It’s taught me about enjoying the journey including the challenges and road blocks along the way.

If you love it, keep going.

For anyone that’s ever managed or had their own website, traffic is often king. That’s how bloggers make money – by driving more people to their site. When I started writing in 2010, I maybe had 5-6 views a day (probably all from my mom). It used to really discourage me. Why was I creating all of this content and putting these words onto a page that no one would read?

For quite awhile, I didn’t write a damn thing. I wouldn’t check the stats on my site because I was afraid to see how low they were. Then, one day I started back writing. I didn’t care who read it or how many people logged on. I just wanted to get better. I’ve kept the majority of my old posts on my site even though they aren’t good because it’s fun to read them and laugh.

The key to enjoying any journey – whether it’s business or health related – is pursuing something you’re passionate about. If you love it, you’ll find a way to stay motivated.

Don’t Listen to What Others Say

Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind. – Dr. Seuss

I still remember the first time that I published a blog post on Facebook. Since I was using WordPress.com, it had a feature that could publish a post to Facebook whenever it went live. I always unchecked that box before publishing because I was afraid of what others would think. I’m not an expert at writing – far from it. In the beginning, I was solely publishing topics about exercise, and I had tons of friends on Facebook that were trainers. Would they agree with me? Did my writing suck?

The first post that ever went on to Facebook in front of others was a short piece about shin splints. You’ll notice it didn’t have any featured image. I had no clue what the hell search engine optimization was, and boy, talk about an alluring caption to intrigue my friends. Amazingly, I had two people “like” it which was about 1,000 more than I ever expected. They probably clicked the “like” button by accident, but I thank them for not retracting their public approval. Despite my fears, no one commented mean things. I didn’t get stoned when I walked out of my apartment. No one pointed and laughed at me when I went to work or class. In fact, I had a couple people that thought it was awesome and subscribed to my RSS feed (not that I knew what that was anyway). After that post, I began writing more and more. Best of all, I posted everything to Facebook, every single article I wrote went up.

Don’t be afraid to try something just because you’re afraid of what others may think. I had a client tell me the other day that some coworkers and friends were jawing him because he had a personal trainer. They were all fit and athletic and thought it was silly to have someone responsible for getting you into shape. I thought that was completely ludicrous. Here he was, changing his life around, and others were poking fun. Luckily, he didn’t mind, and we pressed on. There are always going to be people that knock you down. Ninety percent of the fun is telling those particular people “I told you so” when you do something extraordinary.

Laugh at Yourself

Blessed is he who has learned to laugh at himself, for he shall never cease to be entertained. – John Powell

There are going to be mishaps along the rode. You’re going to fall off the wagon and get sidetracked. Laugh it off and get back on the horse. I’ve written tons of posts only to trash them and move on. I’ve stared at a blank screen for thirty minutes before I started typing something that sounded utterly ridiculous. Approach everything with a sense of humor, not a serious demeanor. If you screw up, laugh at yourself then look at what went wrong so you can avoid those same mistakes in the future.

Recruit Others and Listen

I wouldn’t be writing today without the help of some awesome people. Let’s face it, when I started to blog, I had no idea about writing interesting articles. It still gives me a ton of trouble, but I’m getting better. I largely improved through listening to others and hearing what they had to say. I read articles like Tony Gentilcore’s Six Keys to a Successful Fitness blog (Part 1 and Part 2). I checked out others that I looked up to like Jon-Erik from JKConditioning.com.

The power of being successful is not knowing how to do everything, but rather knowing where to find all of the info you’ll need to accomplish anything. When I originally wanted to start writing for online fitness websites, I reached out to other trainers that had already done it and asked for help.

Try Something Crazy

Don’t be afraid to do something completely outside the box in order to get where you want to go. When I initially wanted to get into some part-time writing, I managed to secure a spot contributing to Greatist.com. That alone was a complete miracle, and I can’t thank the people there enough for giving me a chance. Going forward, I knew I wanted to break into some fitness magazine writing. Now, if you’ve ever tried to connect with an editor of a major publication when you don’t have connections, you’ll understand when I say it’s damn near impossible. So, I forgot about traditional e-mails for awhile and started to work different social media platforms. Eventually, I connected with an editor from Men’s Fitness on Twitter. One day I simply went out on a limb and sent him a message saying I would love to contribute. He immediately messaged me back, and we connected via e-mail. I remember thinking to myself right before I sent that message that this would either work out or be a big mistake. In hindsight, what’s the worst that could have happened? He turned me down? He ignored me? Be willing to take a chance and try something out of the box. Venture out of your comfort zone and you may be surprised by what you find.

Don’t set your sights on the end goal. Enjoy each step along the way or else the end result will seldom be worth it. I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below regarding enjoying a process or journey you went through! Also, if you haven’t already, connect with me on Facebook and Twitter, and don’t be afraid to “like” this post if you enjoyed it. 

The Power of the Spork and Tools for a Healthy Lifestyle

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Ever sat down to eat a food, but you didn’t quite know what utensil to use? It was almost the type of food you need to use a spoon for, but there were certain elements that required the use of a fork.

Enter the spork.

Necessity, the mother of invention. – Plato

The spork was officially invented in 1996 saving us the terrible trauma of selecting between a spoon and fork. Now, you could have both. The perfect tool for gobbling down massive amounts of dead animal flesh and Chipotle. It’s brilliant. The spork is a prime example of how someone saw a need and created a tool that fulfilled that need.

Sporks Are Everywhere

Seeing a spork the other day started me thinking about having the successful tools in other areas of life (exercise and weight loss specifically). There are certain tools that make tasks just plain easier. For instance, have you ever tried to change a flat tire without a jack? It would be a pain in the ass. There are tools that make living a healthy lifestyle easier. These tools help you make the right decisions and keep you honest when you do. Without them, losing weight would require a lot more work.

A great example of a tool that changed the course of history is the tire. The tire changed how we interact, how we experience life, who we see, and how we see them. Families could move across the country and still catch up every few years. Having the right tools around can make a task easier for one person, but a complete bear for those that don’t. These tools aren’t a necessity. It’s nice to have a can opener when you have a can of tuna, but a rock certainly could do the trick.

So, what are the tools needed for a successful exercise and weight loss plan?

A great invention for dieters would be a refrigerator which weighs you every time you open the door. — Anonymous.

The easy answer would be to say it depends upon the person but that’s just not true. There are certain elements of a plan that make individuals successful. That’s the idea of having tools around – they are performance amplifiers. They get you from hitting the gym twice a week to four times a week. They keep you from eating fast food and make sure you’re getting quality sources of protein and vegetables. These tools keep you on the wagon and motivated.

Tool #1: A Support System

A support system is your backing of individuals you can turn to when you’re falling off the wagon. They celebrate your triumphs and help pick you back up after your failures. Family members are good because they (usually) have your best interest at heart, but friends that are currently going through or have been through the same process are key as well. Without a steady support system, it’s very tempting to skip out on the gym or eat a piece of ice cream cake. If your support system isn’t strong, the likelihood of you achieving your goals narrows quite a bit. Trainers act as a type of support system. We listen, we help, and we keep you on track.

A good support system never criticizes. Instead, they point out areas of improvement and help brainstorm suggestions on how to improve those areas and make you better. I hate when I hear that a significant other blasted one of my clients for not losing weight or for pigging out on ice cream. When was the last time yelling actually helped. Around never. Instead, show a deep interest in helping the other individual and brainstorm a solution.

If you don’t currently have a support system, find one. Even just having an online support systems works. Sign up for Fitocracy and join some groups. Go to your local gym and join a running group or just make friends and talk to people. The more help you have keeping you going, the better.

Tool #2: An Environment That Works With You

If your environment isn’t conducive to a successful fitness venture, good luck. It’s going to be much harder to succeed. Your environment includes everything you come into contact with on a daily basis: your car, your house, your friends, your music, your clothes. You may think it’s silly, but when people are attempting to really keep themselves motivated on a fitness routine, it helps to buy a new wardrobe. If you’re going to be kicking it at the gym four days a week, you better be comfortable in what you’re wearing.

Keep this Kitchen clean…..Eat out! – Anonymous

One of the first steps in being successful with a fitness regimen is making sure your environment supports the lifestyle you want to lead. This includes getting all of the bad stuff out of the fridge and stocking it with healthy alternatives. I know it seems excessive, but make sure you enjoy the atmosphere in your kitchen. Repaint the walls if you don’t like them. You’re going to be preparing meals in there and you need to enjoy it. Do the dishes and clean your kitchen so you can hop right in and cook when needed. Buy tupperware that’s actually clean and easy to use so you pack lunches. One of the best investments I ever made was picking up a set of glass tupperware. It lasts for a long time and it’s easy to clean. Make a separate drawer for clothes you want to wear to the gym so they are easy to find. Load your iPod with your favorite tunes.

It doesn’t stop with the “things” surrounding you. Make sure the people surrounding you are supportive as well. Let them know you’re trying to make a life change. Post your goals on Facebook or Twitter. Tell your co-workers so they don’t tease you when you’re eating a salad for lunch.

These are all steps to make your environment supportive of your lifestyle.

Tool #3: An Outlet For Stress

Chances are – you’re human. You have stress in your life that’s going to make you slip up and fall off the wagon. The support system should be in place to help get you back up, but you need an outlet to blow off steam so you don’t take it out on everyone.

The gym is a popular outlet for blowing off steam by throwing up some heavy weight, but you need another outlet outside of lifting, running, and jumping to be successful at your health regimen. Find something that allows you to relax. Something that at the end of the day, you can sit down and have that “Ah…..” moment. It could be reading, walking the dog outside, sitting and enjoying fresh air, puzzles, a bubble bath with wine, writing, the list goes on and on. The gym shouldn’t be the only place you can go to get rid of the stress of work and life.

Tools are meant to make a job or task easier. They don’t replace hard work. Even with the wheel in place, we still have to get up and drive the car. The tools above make living a healthy lifestyle much easier, but they don’t replace the act of actually going to the gym and working out. Make sure you have the proper support systems in place, an environment that works for you, and an outlet to stress. These tools will help you be more successful along your journey.

What tools do you need to stay on track? Is it a friend or even a kitchen utensil that just makes eating healthier so much easier? I’d love to hear your answers in the comments below!