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Struggling to get into a fitness routine? System thinking can help.

When my clients first come to me, they generally have an unclear idea of their goals, the problems that are keeping them from reaching those goals, and a path to get to their desired outcome.

I begin to help them simplify their approach by helping to create clear systems to reach their desired outcome. A system consists of an input, process, output, and feedback. The input is the resources you need, the process is what you do to the resources, the output is your goal, and the feedback is the method for changing the system as needed.

The more I work with people the more I understand how dependent people are on routines, even sometimes without knowing so. By implementing systems, we give the brain an easy to follow routine that reduces chances of mistakes, requires less decision making, and ultimately saves us time.

Creating systems to achieve your fitness goals is simple. First, we need a clear definition of your goal. From there we determine the 80/20; what are the things you need to do to reach your goals, and which are the most important. Then figure out the things that are slowing down or hindering those things from getting done. After establishing the inputs, we can create a process to get you to your goals. As you implement the process into your routine, we’ll always be looking for ways to tweak and improve the system in place.

Define the Goal

Simply having the notion that you’d like to lose some weight is going to help you do it. You need to nail that idea down and determine the reasons why it’s important to you. What are the pain points that are involved for you? I use the 5 Why’s to help people determine the underlying reasons for their goals. Start by asking one why: "Why do I want to do this?" Then ask why 4 more times to each answer you come up with. Here's an example:

  • Why do I want to lose weight?

Because I want to fit into a smaller size of jeans.

  • And why does that matter?

Because when I’m wearing smaller jeans, I think I’ll look better.

  • Why do I want to look better?

Because when I look good, I feel good about myself.

  • Why do I want to feel good about myself?

Because when I feel good about myself, I’m more assertive and confident.

  • Why do I want to be more assertive and confident?

Because when I’m more assertive and confident, I’m in control and better able to get what I want out of life.

Now we have a deep emotional connection to the goal and have also established some pain points. Without these, you wouldn’t have any reason to lose weight. You’d have trouble staying on track with your goal because there’s no pain or clarity. The first and most important step in developing a good system is determining the initial problem; if you don’t understand the problem, you can’t solve it.

Figure out the 80/20

I’m sure you’ve heard of the 80/20 rule; 80 percent of your results come from 20 percent of your efforts. Let’s stick with our goal of losing weight; 80 percent of your results come from consistent healthy eating and exercise. There are plenty of other things you can focus on: sleep, supplements, finding the perfect gym or class, reading materials on nutrition and exercise. All those things can take up a lot of your time, effort, and resources, but they aren’t the main drivers towards your goal. If you only focus on consistent exercise and healthy eating, you can get 80 percent of the results you want.

What are the bottlenecks in your system?

Think of the things that are slowing down the process of consistent healthy eating and exercise? Packing your gym bag, driving to the gym, figuring out what you’re going to do, deciding what to cook, buying groceries, and cooking healthy meals. Whatever your list looks like, once you’ve determined the bottlenecks in the process, you can create a system.

Design the Processes

There are different levels to systems, and you should always be looking for ways to improve your system overtime. Your system might start off with packing your gym bag every night before you go to bed, stopping at a gym that’s on your way to work, and downloading a workout plan to follow. To eat healthy, you might buy a healthy cookbook and plan your meals for the week, shop once a week for everything you need, and meal prep twice a week. You’ve effectively cut out a major chunk of the time it would normally take to consistently eat healthy and exercise and developed a simple routine that you can follow. Gone are the wasted moments of wondering what to do. A more advanced level to that system might turn into having an assistant coordinate your workout schedule with your personal trainer, your personal trainer having each workout planned, and a meal delivery service providing healthy meals each week.

Before you had a system in place, you had no clear definition of you goal, you felt a lack of control and confidence, didn’t feel good about the way you look, life was unfulfilling, and you were wasting time on things that weren’t moving you closer to your objective.

After implementing a system, you feel much better every day, have increased energy levels and confidence, you’re proud of the way you look, and make consistent improvement. Now you don’t even think about eating healthy or exercising, it just happens, it’s part of your routine.

By sitting down for 30 minutes to an hour and developing a system that works for you, you get tons of health benefits, more energy, you look better, and feel better. The system you put in place will continue to work for life as you make small tweaks and improvements.

That’s a good investment.

Stop losing time spinning your wheels, and start making consistent progress towards your health and fitness goals, set up a consultation call today!

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