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This article is an excerpt from the new third editions of Bigger Leaner Stronger and Thinner Leaner Stronger, my bestselling fitness books for men and women.

Be first and be lonely.

—GINNI ROMETTY

People with vague, unrealistic, or uninspiring fitness goals (or none at all) are always the first to quit. 

These people are easy to spot too. They show up to the gym sporadically to sleepwalk through workouts, barely breaking a sweat. They constantly complain about how situations and circumstances “made” them fall off the wagon (pesky office potlucks!). They’re always on the lookout for the newest fads and magic bullet fixes.

If you’re going to succeed where the masses fail, if you’re going to get into the best shape of your life and become a paragon of health and fitness, you need to inoculate yourself against these attitudes and behaviors, and that’s why we’re going to do a little soul-searching in this chapter.

Different people have different reasons for eating well and working out. Some like to push their bodies to the limit. Others just want to impress the opposite (or same) sex. Many want to boost their confidence and self-esteem. Most want to improve their general health and well-being. 

These are all perfectly valid reasons to get fit—looking great, feeling great, having high energy levels, being more resistant to sickness and disease, living longer, and so forth—but it’s important that you isolate and articulate your reasons. 

In the last chapter, you learned about the power of visualizing your future, and how doing so can greatly enhance your ability to navigate your life more skillfully.

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Let’s put this into practice right now, starting with the dimension of fitness that most people find most alluring: the visual.

What Does Your Ideal Body Look Like? 

Let’s face it: a major reason why you’re reading this book is you want to look a certain way. And there’s nothing wrong with that.

Every single fit person I know—including myself—is motivated just as much by the mirror as anything else, if not more so. I value my health, but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t care about how I look nearly as much as the many other benefits of regular exercise.

Don’t mistake that for narcissism, either. There are plenty of self-absorbed fitness twits out there, but I don’t see anything wrong with playing a bit to our vanity if looking great also helps us feel great (and it does).

So, let’s talk about you. What does your ideal body look like? 

I want us to go beyond trite words and hazy daydreams, too. I want us to establish this visually and precisely by finding a picture or two (or three or four!) of exactly what you want to look like. Then, I want you to save these pictures somewhere that’s easily accessible, like your phone or Google Drive or Dropbox.

In other words, when you’re on my Bigger Leaner Stronger program, I want you to feel that you’re working toward a very real, very desirable body that’s as concrete as the page you’re reading, not an imaginary physique that could be described as “jacked” or “shredded.”

If you already know where to go to find pictures of the type of body you really want, go collect them now. If you don’t, head over to my “Great Male Physiques” board on my Pinterest (www.pinterest.com/mikebls/great-male-physiques), and you’ll find a large gallery of fit guys of all types to choose from.

Use this workout and flexible dieting program to lose up to 10 pounds of fat and build muscle in just 30 days…without starving yourself or living in the gym.

What Does Your Ideal Body Feel Like?

This question asks you to explore one of the many “hidden” benefits of fitness. 

Few people are aware of it when they begin their transformations, but a fit, healthy body is far more pleasurable to inhabit than an unfit, unhealthy one. 

The more in shape you are, the more you get to enjoy higher energy levels, better moods, more alertness, clearer thinking, fewer aches and pains, and higher-quality sleep, to name just a few of the advantages.

And then there’s the deeper stuff like more self-confidence and self-esteem, more productivity and self-fulfillment, and more intimate and satisfying relationships.

I want you to take a few minutes now to imagine what this will be like for you, and then write it all down in the form of individual affirmations.

In case you’re not familiar with affirmations, they’re positive statements that describe how you want to be, like, “I’m full of energy all day” and “My mind is always quick, clear, and focused.”

This might seem a bit woo-woo, but research shows that writing and reading affirmations can benefit you in several ways. For example, a study conducted by scientists at the University of Pennsylvania found that people who practiced affirmations exercised more than people who didn’t, and research conducted by scientists at the University of Sussex found that performing self-affirmations improved working memory and cognitive performance.

For the sake of completeness, you can organize your health and fitness affirmations into four broad categories:

  • Physical
  • Mental
  • Emotional
  • Spiritual

Physical affirmations are all about bodily function and physical energy levels, and they can include statements like, “I wake up rested every day,” “My joints are pain-free,” and “I rarely get sick.”

Mental affirmations concern your mind’s ability to remember and compute and your ability to focus on the present and tune out the “noise.” They can include statements like, “I can focus deeply on the task at hand,” “My memory is sharp,” and “I can control my thoughts.”

Emotional affirmations relate to your feeling of positive or negative sensations, and they can include statements like, “I find joy everywhere I go,” “I bounce back quickly from bad news,” and “I give and receive love openly.”

Spiritual affirmations involve your sense of purpose and motivation, and they can include statements like, “I’m driven to build the body of my dreams,” “I feel I’m on the right path,” and “I know I will succeed.”

Here are a few pointers for writing more effective affirmations:

  • Keep your affirmations short so they’re easier to process and remember.

    Even four or five carefully chosen words can be powerful.
  • Start your statements with “I” or “My.” 

Affirmations are all about you, so it’s best to start with you. “I have no aches or pains in my joints” is much better than “The aches and pains in my joints have disappeared.”

  • Write your affirmations as though you’re experiencing them right now, not in the future.

    For example, “I fall asleep quickly and wake up feeling rejuvenated” is superior to “I will fall asleep quickly and wake up feeling rejuvenated” or “Within three months, I’m falling asleep quickly and waking up feeling rejuvenated.”
  • Don’t begin your statements with “I want” or “I need.”

    You don’t want to affirm needing or wanting, but being
  • Make sure your affirmations are positive statements.

    In many cases, realizing your affirmations will require discarding negative behaviors and thoughts, but you don’t want your statements to reflect this.

Think, “I’m calm, confident, and contented” and not “I’m no longer anxious and insecure,” and “I wake up on time every day feeling refreshed” instead of “I don’t sleep in anymore.”

  • Inject emotion into your affirmations by including, “I’m [emotion] about . . .” or “I feel [emotion].”

    For example, you could say, “I’m excited to do my daily workouts.”
  • Create affirmations that are believable.

    If you don’t think your statement is possible, it won’t have much of an effect on you, so make sure you can fully buy into it. 

If you find a certain affirmation particularly incredible, you can start with a qualifier like, “I’m open to . . .” or “I’m willing to believe I could . . .”

So, are you ready to write your affirmations? Take as long as you need! I’ll be here when you’re done!

What Are Your Whys?

One of my favorite things about being fit are the moments where you just stop for a second and think, “Wow, it’s awesome I did that with my body.” 

These are the things that put a smile on your face and a spring in your step, and sometimes even make your day. 

I’m not talking about stuff like “turning heads in the coffee shop” but rather “having my doctor ask me for fitness advice”, “feeling way more productive,” and “keeping up with my kids without getting tired.” The small but meaningful things that confirm you’re on the right track.

I’ve worked with thousands of guys and gals over the years, and here are a few examples of the fitness wins they’ve shared with me:⁣⁣

  • Getting asked for advice in the gym⁣⁣
  • Getting more attention from the opposite or same sex⁣⁣
  • Feeling more confident and competent inside and outside of the gym⁣⁣
  • Enjoying clothing shopping more
  • Staying fit while pregnant
  • Being more productive at work⁣⁣
  • Eating desserts guilt-free⁣⁣
  • Feeling sexier naked
  • Looking fantastic in a suit⁣⁣
  • Setting a good example for their kids⁣⁣
  • Losing their post-pregnancy baby weight
  • Enjoying outdoor activities again⁣⁣
  • Looking fantastic in yoga pants
  • Eliminating aches and pains⁣⁣
  • Trying new physical challenges like hiking, biking, or running⁣⁣

I love these. They’re real, specific, and meaningful, and they’re great examples of the more sincere and personal reasons to get into great shape.

How about you? Why do you want to achieve everything you just laid out in your affirmations? 

Maybe you want to boost your confidence? Play sports better? Be more attractive? Enjoy the overcoming of physical barriers? Be more active with your kids? Avoid disease? Stay active well into your retirement years? Slow down the processes of aging and retain a youthful vitality? Just have a body that works the way it’s supposed to? Heck, beat your friends in arm-wrestling matches? 

Brainstorm your reasons for getting in shape and write them down until you feel pumped up and ready to get into action, because in the next part of this book, you’re going to learn how to use my Bigger Leaner Stronger program to make it all a reality.

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Remember the work you’ve done here whenever you need a pick-me-up, and it’ll help you find the power to persevere.

Recall it when you’re feeling too tired to train, when you’re out with friends watching them stuff and drink themselves silly, when sugary treats are cooing your name, and when you roll out of bed in the morning like a log off a truck.

Regularly look at the pictures you’ve saved, read the affirmations you’ve written, and review the whys you’ve formulated, and you’ll always feel a wind in your sails, propelling you ever closer to your best body ever.

And then, once you’ve achieved everything you’ve created here, repeat the process anew, charting another more exciting course for the next phase of your fitness and life.

To help get you there as quickly as possible, we must now return to the “outer game” and learn once and for all how to use food, exercise, and supplementation to transform your body and mind. 

Key Takeaways

  • People with vague, unrealistic, or uninspiring fitness goals (or none at all) are always the first to quit. 
  • Different people have different reasons for eating well and working out—but it’s important that you isolate and articulate your reasons.  
  • Establish what your ideal body looks like visually and precisely by finding a picture or two (or three or four!) of exactly what you want to look like and saving these pictures somewhere that’s easily accessible, like your phone or Google Drive or Dropbox.
  • Take a few minutes to imagine what it’ll be like to be in the best shape of your life, and then write it all down in the form of individual affirmations.
  • Affirmations are positive statements that describe how you want to be, like, “I’m full of energy all day” and “My mind is always quick, clear, and focused.”
  • You can organize your health and fitness affirmations into four broad categories: physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual.
  • Physical affirmations are all about bodily function and physical energy levels, and they can include statements like, “I wake up rested every day,” “My joints are pain-free,” and “I rarely get sick.”
  • Mental affirmations concern your mind’s ability to remember and compute and your ability to focus on the present and tune out the “noise.” They can include statements like, “I can focus deeply on the task at hand,” “My memory is sharp,” and “I can control my thoughts.”
  • Emotional affirmations relate to your feeling of positive or negative sensations, and they can include statements like, “I find joy everywhere I go,” “I bounce back quickly from bad news,” and “I give and receive love openly.”
  • Spiritual affirmations involve your sense of purpose and motivation, and they can include statements like, “I’m driven to build the body of my dreams,” “I feel I’m on the right path,” and “I know I will succeed.”
  • Brainstorm your reasons for getting in shape and write them down until you feel pumped up and ready to get into action.
  • Remember the work you’ve done here whenever you need a pick-me-up, and it’ll help you find the power to persevere.

This article is an excerpt from the new third editions of Bigger Leaner Stronger and Thinner Leaner Stronger, my bestselling fitness books for men and women, which are currently on sale for just 99 cents.

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