I am a perpetual list maker. We’re all familiar with creating a to-do list to get things done. Another list which can be even more important is the not to-do list. When mapping out a successful fitness plan, being conscious of what to avoid will automatically channel our energy into things that we should do.
Use the 80-20 Rule, also known as the Pareto Principle to help construct your list. The Pareto Principle is named after an Italian economist who discovered that 80 percent of our rewards come from just 20 percent of our efforts. The key is to isolate and identify those “vital few and trivial many”. Once identified, prioritize time to concentrate your fitness program on that vital 20 percent. If you want to take your fitness to the next level, here are 10 habits to avoid, worded in not-to-do action form:
DON’T DO NO. 1: Forget the basics. Before you worry about specific foods to eat, counting carbs and fat, and other details, get your portions and calories under control. The number one fat loss fact is you have to create a caloric deficit. Simply put, you have to move more and eat less. No program you follow will work to burn fat unless you are in a caloric deficit.
DON’T DO NO. 2: Waste time worrying about things out of your control. Only spend time working on your individual needs. We are all individuals with unique needs and potentials. Don’t compare yourself to others. Don’t spend time agonizing over mistakes made in the past, or worrying about missed opportunities. Also, don’t spend time worrying about uncontrollable events in the future.
DON’T DO NO. 3: Deny responsibility for the quality of your life. Be responsible for your thoughts, emotions, health, and actions. McDonald’s doesn’t make us fat. We choose where and what to eat. Cigarette companies don’t cause us an early death. The 400,000 people that die each year from smoking-related diseases do so from choices they make. The same can be said of alcohol and drug abuse. Having a strong support system is important, but ultimately we are responsible for who we are and what we accomplish. It’s all about choices and consequences.
DON’T DO NO. 4: Sabotage your plan with one-time occurrences. Don’t beat yourself up for getting off track occasionally. We are only human. Focus instead on the day to day processes.
DON’T DO NO. 5: Spend time listening to infomercials. For that matter, don’t waste time reading or listening to any advice that is biased and not based in science. This includes most diet books and fitness advice we get from our well meaning friends.
DON’T DO NO. 6: Put effort into anything with little results. You can’t lose fat by doing endless sets of sit-ups. Nor, can you lose with some infomercial gadget of the month, and not watching your diet. Find ways to be more efficient with what you do. The number one excuse for not exercising is a lack of time, so don’t waste your time with ineffective programs.
DON’T DO NO. 7: Being impatient. Don’t try to undo years of bad habits in a few weeks. If your goal is weight loss, a reasonable goal is 1 to 2 pounds per week.
DON’T DO NO. 8: Being a perfectionist. Get started on your fitness goals now and stop putting them off. Once you start, it gets easier. Perfect is the enemy of good. Often, it’s the perfectionist in us that causes many of us to procrastinate, so don’t be a victim of paralysis of analysis. Being detail oriented is good. However, don’t be so obsessed with details that it holds you back.
DON’T DO NO. 9: Fail to plan. It’s important to have goals, but goals without an action plan are just empty dreams. Know exactly what you are going to eat, and when. This will help to reduce impulse meals. Control binge eating through preparation and portion control. Put the times to workout on your appointment calendar and hold yourself accountable. Failing to plan is planning to fail.
DON’T DO NO. 10: Do things you do not enjoy. You have to keep it fun. Working out does not have to be a chore. Find a friend to workout with and choose activities that you enjoy.
It’s good to focus on getting things done, but it’s only possible once we remove the time wasters and bad habits that keep us from succeeding. If you have trouble deciding what to do, just focus on not doing. You’ll have better results and more time to do things you enjoy. Who could ask for more than that?
Perry Buchanan, owner of PT Gym, is certified as a Health Fitness Specialist through the American College of Sports Medicine, and Fitness Nutrition Specialist through the National Academy of Sports Medicine.