The first one is knowing what to do.
There is a lot of information available on what to do. For nutrition, there is ample guidance on how to eat clean and why. Calorie counts are available online for almost any food or restaurant. There are research papers written on what combination of carbs, protein and fat is healthiest and supports your specific goals the best. There are entire articles written just about kale, blueberries and almonds. There are hundreds of healthy recipe sites online and at least that many recipe books.
For exercise, you can find everything you ever wanted to know in textbooks, research papers, magazine articles, blogs, books and websites. If I decide to run a half marathon, I can download a training plan. If I want to do a workout today that focuses on back and biceps, I can download one or even view one on YouTube. I can have an entire shelf dedicated in my house for workout DVD's. I can have the simplest or the fanciest home gym, treadmill, gym membership, workout shoes, clothes, heart rate monitor, etc.
None of this makes it happen.
The second thing that must be going on is doing it. Just because I know what to do, doesn't mean I do it.
I have had gym memberships that I rarely used. I've had a treadmill that sat in my basement for months at a time while I complained about how it was too cold to walk outside. I have lots of workout DVD's, workout clothing for every season, the best shoes. None of it matters unless I can light the fire of motivation, carve out time and do it consistently.
I think THE most interesting question in fitness is not what to do, although those discussions are fun. What heart rate zone is best for your goal? What is the optimal way to set up a strength training program? CrossFit or BodyPump? Zumba or HipHop? Boxing or running? Insanity or Biggest Loser DVD's? Vegetarian or Plant Strong? There are an infinite number of choices and combinations to personalize a program that works for you.
The most interesting question (to me) is: if I know what to do, why aren't I doing it?
When we ask this question, we have to make a shift from external to internal; away from all that information straight to the heart. What is in my heart, in my mind, in my set of beliefs that is keeping me from doing what I ask of myself? Even though not doing it has caused me pain in ways it is hard to even explain.
Do we really not know what to do? If not, that's easy. Here it is. Walk or do some other form of cardiovascular, aerobic exercise almost every day for an hour. Do strength training at least twice a week. Stretch. Sleep. Drink a lot of water. Eat whole food plant strong. No processed sugar or fat. Stay within your appropriate caloric intake for the day, every day. That's it. How you do it is up to you.
If you are still struggling to do just a small part of it after ten, twenty, thirty years then you are in the category of I know what to do, I don't do it. Just like I was. This one thing held me back for so long. I was not in control of my choices. No matter how much I wanted to make good choices, this force inside me would take over and convince me otherwise. I made excuses, I thought I had no self discipline, and it really wore away at my self esteem. It doesn't feel good to be unable to choose well.
Then I stopped looking outward. I stopped thinking that the answer was in the next gym, diet, piece of equipment, super food, or workout outfit. The answer was in ME.
There is only one reason I am going to carve out an hour to exercise. And that is if I believe it (and myself) to be worth it.
There is only one reason I can choose to eat an entirely different way than I used to. That is if I believe it will get me to where I want to go.
If I believe that giving up that extra hour or my comfort food isn't going to get me to my goal, there is no way I can make that change. But think of a time when you knew, when you absolutely knew, that something you were working towards was going to pay off; that it mattered. Maybe it was marriage, college, career or parenting. Because you believed in it, you showed up 100%. You made a commitment.
If you are stuck, look inside. Have you lost your faith in the process? Have you failed too many times to really believe it can happen for you? I've been there! I understand completely. Don't give up. A dramatic shift can occur when you shine a light on all the false beliefs of your past. When I started really looking at mine, turns out none of them were true. The truth is I am capable of doing anything I ask of myself, as long as I believe it will matter. And so are you.