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By Bruce Burke

Last Updated: 10/22/23

For 38 years, I have had the privilege of helping thousands of people navigate through their “wellness journey”. If there is one piece of advice I would share to ensure lasting success, it is to start with the right mindset and use a measured approach.

Most unsuccessful people fall into one of two categories. For the purposes of this article, I will call them the “Killers” and the “Dabblers”.

The Killers are your classic new year’s resolution type. They make a decision to go all in, usually going on a restrictive diet and working out 5-7 days per week at a high intensity. If they are lucky, they will stick it out for a couple months and see positive changes in both their body composition and fitness level. However, these people too often either burn out or end up getting hurt. The Killers almost always end up yo-yoing, going through the same cycle year after year.

Perhaps even more unsuccessful are the Dabblers. They never fully commit to becoming more fit, preferring instead to view their efforts through the lens of “I work out as often as I can”. This approach okay’s roadblocks and frames the workout itself as being the objective, rather than attaining one’s goals. Just like the Killers, this doesn’t work long term. In fact, it can be worse, because it doesn’t work short term either! At least the Killers have a chance to experience the benefits, provided they don’t break their backs in the process!

Some Killers experience spectacular benefits and occasionally become long-term exercisers. Unfortunately, the same can’t be said for Dabblers. Dabblers never make enough of a commitment to experience the very real benefits that exercise provides. As they continue to dabble, they see limited changes and begin to wonder, “What is the point?”. It is like deciding to see a psychologist, going to three sessions and declaring “therapy didn’t work for me”. What a joke!

To be successful for the long term, you must take a committed, measured approach to your health/wellness program. Here are some suggestions.

  • As with most important endeavors, start by asking “why”. Why am I considering this? Why is being healthy important to me? Why now? How might I hope it affects my life? Having powerful, intelligent reasons can be very motivating and completely change your mindset.
  • Use the “Less is More” approach. Set short-term goals that stretch you, but, above all, are manageable. One on One’s success is founded on this principle. Meeting the client where they need to be met and ensuring they are successful from day one is critical.
  • Tell others what you are doing and accept their help and accountability. Too often, Dabblers prefer to keep their efforts a secret to avoid being perceived as having failed.
  • Consistent with having a successful start, meet with a professional. It is amazing the difference a fitness and/or nutrition professional can make to the long-term success of your program. Nobody likes spending a lot of money, but what would it be worth to have a really successful fitness/nutrition experience that lasts a lifetime? For most of us, we couldn’t put a price on it.
  • Put your fitness/nutrition first. Although we occasionally have real issues or emergencies that are urgent and must be dealt with immediately, most of the reasons we don’t exercise or eat poorly are invalid. This might mean working on your organizational and prioritization skills, which is also a very good thing!

Finally…don’t expect anything! Unfulfilled expectations breed disillusionment and resentment. One day at a time, focus on the process. You will begin to feel different…feel better. Your clothes will fit differently; you will have more energy; your health profile will show positive changes; you will sleep better…the list goes on and on! You will begin to “spiral up” and be motivated, perhaps for the first time in your life. It is at this point that healthy living no longer becomes an “intellectual exercise”. It has finally become your reality!