By Michael Rizk, Lifestyle & Performance Catalyst, Condition for Life

617I love working with people who are looking to get more active. It’s been my passion for the past 15 years and what I plan to do for the rest of my life. But every year, right after Thanksgiving, I start to cringe – and get almost embarrassed to work in this field. Why? Because I’m bombarded with those New Year’s resolution messages, you know the ones:

  • Join our gym for $0 down and just $1 a day and be in shape for summer.
  • Buy this automatic elliptical machine and lose pounds fast.
  • Download this Z30 fitness program and get six pack abs in 30 days.
  • Sign up for this pre-packed meal plan and drop the weight in weeks.

The marketing pitches are endless but they have one thing in common: a one-dimensional approach that says excessive activity and reduced calories will get you to your goal.

The problem? That approach doesn’t work. It assumes the solution to your situation is purely physical, failing to consider all facets of your life. In fact, according to Forbes magazine, only 8 percent of individuals who make New Year’s resolutions to lose weight and eat healthy are actually successful.

So why aren’t individuals’ sincere intentions aligning with the outcomes they desire? Because the primary tactic used to capture our attention about anything health and fitness related is diet and exercise. When we only embrace our physical capacity as a means of reaching our goals we are leaving two other key ingredients out of the recipe for success – our minds and our spirits.

Every person that shows up at my Studio arrives because they are motivated to change their body. What I teach them is that we are an interconnected body-mind-spirit. It is usually the mind that holds us back from sticking with a new fitness routine, which affects how we nourish ourselves and limits our belief that we can modify our behaviors to become someone different. And, when our mind isn’t on our side, our spirit — aka our confidence or resilience — is weakened, so we give up, believing we don’t have what it takes to change.

Now for the good news: we can make resolutions to change our bodies as long as we start with a Mind-First Approach™. As my gift to the consumers of the industry I’m passionate about, I’d like to share the strategy my Clients rely on to build healthy, sustainable, thriving lives:

Unlock Your Mind

– Assess your mindset
Do you have more of a “fixed” or “growth” mindset? (Fixed mindsets often lead to the path of least resistance while growth mindsets embrace new challenges. If you have a fixed mindset, you might think, “I’ve always eaten what I wanted and exercised this way so eventually this has to work.” With a growth mindset, you may think, “This approach is completely different but I’m willing to give it a shot; I’m open to learning something new and I can probably grow from it.”)

– Write down your values (integrity, resilience, self-esteem etc) and tie them to your fitness goals to create purposeful action

– Assess your Environment
Rate yourself 1-5 in the following areas:
Movement/Exercise, Nourishment/Diet, Rest/Recovery, Relationships/Support System

– Commit to only ONE change a month
Change is HARD. Don’t overdo it. Set yourself up for success by making ONE change only each month. Those changes will then become healthy habits.

Embrace Your Body

– Don’t let an assessment deflate your spirit
Progress is never linear, so don’t measure it that way. Letting the scale or the number of push-ups you can do determine the effectiveness of your efforts is a surefire way to take the wind from your sails. Showing up and giving it your best are equally, if not more important than, any specific result. Praise your efforts, not just the outcome. If you’re dissatisfied with the outcome, don’t quit, just tweak your plan and move on.

– Explore the fundamental movements of everyday life
Movements like squatting, reaching, pushing and pulling are intuitive to our survival. Don’t overwhelm yourself with complicated routines or equipment. The goal is to move, and using just your bodyweight is a simple and sustainable way to get going.

– Build on your success by subtly tweaking the intensity of your routines
Once your confidence increases, then it’s time to add more reps, introduce weights or other variables into your routine.

– Repeat the same workouts until you’ve mastered them
The biggest mistake most people make is they change what they’ve been doing, before they’ve nailed it. You need to show yourself you can sustain and succeed. Bored? Do the routine in a different order, change your playlist or your environment – but keep going until you’ve got it down.

Unleash Your Spirit

– Empower yourself by understanding WHY you’re doing WHAT you’re doing
Don’t just go through the motions. Develop an understanding of how your body works. Ask questions, if you’re working with a trainer or in a class. Or go online and get some answers.

– Encourage others and let them encourage you.
Inspiration is the ultimate tonic to achieving what we want. Human beings are hardwired for connection. Connect your success to others and reward will follow.

My final piece of advice?

Don’t wait for January 1st to change how you approach your health and wellness goals. Starting leading with your mind today to transform your body and let your spirit drive your success.

This piece was written by Michael Rizk, a self-proclaimed biomechanics geek, professional corrective movement therapist and coach by day, and mean hacky-sacker by night. Based out of Central New Jersey, Mike gets his kicks being a father and unlocking people’s hidden potential by sharing the message of being conditioned for life. Questions? Comments? Email him at