Sparking Off Your Fitness Program – Chris Downie

The key to any successful weight loss and fitness program is focus and goal setting

Author of The Spark, Chris Downie, offers his top tips on how to make powerful goals with purpose and the best ways you can stay committed to them:

Unique: A goal shouldn’t be something that your wife wants for you or part of your office mate’s New Year’s resolution. To be effective, it must be all yours. It must arise from your deepest personal desires and passion.

Concrete: Goals should be exact and time-specific. “I want to be fit someday” or “I want to lose weight” is too vague. You should try to define your goals in concrete, tangible language. “I want to lose five pounds in four weeks” is a realistic, concrete goal that can be measured and tracked. However, since it’s often tricky to set specific weight-loss goals for a variety of reasons, you should be flexible with this one.

Inner-directed: Losing weight or becoming fit because you’re feeling dissatisfied or you’re comparing yourself with a slender model isn’t a positive goal because it is outwardly focused rather than coming from inside you. Losing pounds for your reasons will make your journey unique and powerful. You won’t be trying to fit into anyone’s clothes but your own.

Harmonious: Your goal shouldn’t conflict with either your values and beliefs or your life’s purpose. If you want to be a wealthy businessperson but believe deep down that making money is immoral, the clash between your goal and your deep beliefs will inhibit your progress.

Realistic: It probably took you years to gain the 20 pounds you want to lose, and you can’t possibly lose it all in a week—without going into starvation mode. But you can lose one or two pounds in that time. Start off with a goal that is challenging without being so overwhelmingly ambitious that you lose sight of it. Then remember to break it down into small, gradual steps.

Written: There’s something powerful about the act of writing down your goals. They are no longer ethereal thoughts or wishful thinking, but there on the page in black and white.

That’s why we ask you to explicitly spell out your main objective, being as tangible and specific as you can. You’ll be amazed at how this kind of concrete focus clears the way for you to begin moving in the right direction. It brings you out of the fog, where it is difficult to navigate, into the sunshine where your path is clear.

Seeing It

Seeing your own purpose and goals, actually envisioning them with intense focus and concentration, is a kind of visualisation, a powerful technique used by peak performers.

Charles Garfield, a doctor who has performed research on such performers, studied NASA astronauts and observed how they repeatedly rehearsed in simulated environments the actions they would eventually perform in space. He found that peak performers, whether in sports or business, were visualizers who trained their minds as well as their bodies. They developed powerful mental images, seeing in their mind’s eye their ultimate goals and the steps to achieving them.

Imagery is the language our brains use to communicate. The average person has at least 50,000 thoughts and images every day, many of them negative. Most of us are quite adept at concentrating on negative thoughts and imagery, such as I’ll never lose this weight or I’m going to be stuck in this job forever. But with a little practice, you can use your imagination in a positive way by envisioning your desired goal.

Take a few moments several times daily to envision yourself, as vividly and clearly as possible, living your best life—doing what you wish, alongside the people you love, in a setting you desire. There you are, slender and fit, jogging down a sunny beach with your children. There you are standing in front of the mirror, smiling at the reflection of yourself, healthy and strong. There you are performing the small, daily steps that will lead to your goal—driving past the fast-food drive-thru, exercising ten minutes a day, sitting down with your friends to a healthy meal. See it, experience how it feels, and visualize your own best potential. This is a technique that is available not just to CEOs and gold-medal winners, but to all of us—a powerful way to channel your energies toward your own unique goal.

Saying It

The words we say, internally and externally, have tremendous power, yet they’re often full of doubt and fear. Converting your goals into positive affirmations is another way to focus intensely.

Replacing negative inner dialogue with upbeat thoughts floods the mind with positive messages.

Simply saying aloud each morning and evening that you are going to achieve the things you want is a potent way to remain focused.

Affirmations that can be tailored to your life include: “I am happy, healthy, and free,” “I possess health, wealth, and love,” and “I am willing to spend the energy and time to make my lifestyle healthy and happy.”

Positive affirmations also promote optimism, another component of a meaningful life. People who are optimists expect positive things and are more adept at noticing and taking advantage of opportunities around them. And optimists tend to be physically and mentally healthier and better than pessimists in overcoming negative experiences. Affirmations also promote gratitude—taking time in the middle of life to savor one’s blessings.

Another contention of positive psychology is that people who give thanks for their good fortune rather than dwelling on their misfortunes are generally healthier and happier. Rather than happiness making them grateful, it seems that being grateful helps create their happiness.

The Spark: The breakthrough formula for losing weight, getting fit, and transforming your life by Chris Downie is available now at all leading retailers.

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