What Are You Willing to Do?
By Ryan Halvorson

During my 8 years as a personal trainer I’ve worked with lots of different types of people interested in achieving lots of different goals. Despite so many differences there was always one underlying factor that prevented success: willpower. Many people came to see me asking how to do this or how to do that. I answered as honestly as I could, saying something like, “you need to exercise most days of the week; focus on eating lean meats and proteins; and get at least 8 hours of sleep per night.” A reasonable answer, I eventually came to realize that it was the worst response I could have given. Why? I’ll get to that in a second.

I sell hopes and dreams. I get you excited about fitting into that wedding dress or finishing that first half marathon. I share words of encouragement to build you up. I make you believe that you can overcome all the odds to achieve greatness. Unfortunately these are just words.

A big mistake personal trainers make is to prescribe a program. A big mistake you make is to believe it will work. It seems easy enough to exercise most days of the week (yeah, and work full-time, take the twins to soccer practice–at two separate fields, tidy the house and prepare dinner); eat plenty of lean proteins and vegetables (um, did you see my busy schedule? That takes time to prepare. Besides, my favorite food is pasta and the twins hate broccoli); and sleep 8+ hours a night (again, check that schedule). Sound familiar?

Most fitness and nutrition programs don’t work because they require too much change. At least at the start. Big changes are overwhelming and set you up for big failures. They lead to disappointment and quitting. However, small daily changes like taking a short jog during the twins’ soccer practice; tossing some red bell peppers into that soup; or heading to bed 10 minutes earlier may be more feasible. But, you really have to ask, “What am I willing to do?” Look at your schedule and weekly habits and see where small changes can be made. Small, realistic changes add up to the sort of big dream changes like dropping dress sizes or increasing muscle mass. A waterfall begins with a single drop, right? Go drop-by-drop and you’ll have a waterfall in no time.