DARREN TOMASSO’S 8 STEP GUIDE TO WIN YOUR DAY
Goals are important, but the reasons we set them and the processes we implement to reach them are paramount. If we want to “get in shape,” for instance, we can’t simply say we are going to go to the gym more and eat more salads. This plan is too broad and it isn’t tailored to our specific needs and desires based on the holistic picture of our current health. Instead, we need to break this goal down into its specific component parts: our why’s and how’s. If we can adopt an outsider’s perspective on our status quo and how we desire to enhance it, we can gain the clarity and perspective needed to reach our goals more effectively.
1. Take a bird’s eye view of your health and what you want to achieve.
The first step in any goal acquisition is to take a step back and make a concerted effort to reflect on your current health and habits. Ask yourself: What do I think I’m currently missing in my health and wellness? What does a typical day of eating look like? When am I eating? What types of foods do I enjoy? Do I understand the difference between not feeling full and actually being hungry? Am I getting enough sleep? Are my sleep habits consistent? Do I feel rested in the morning? Do I effectively cope with stress and react appropriately to stressful situations? Am I working out consistently? Do I spend my time in the gym effectively? What other lifestyle factors are influencing my health and wellness?
Ask yourself these questions and more — without judgment. Gaining clarity on the holistic picture of your current health will help you identify what you think is missing or needs improvement. Getting comfortable with yourself in this way is an instrumental building block toward assessing and implementing the change you desire.
Next, determine what it is you want to achieve and why. Want to become faster? Why? Want to lose weight? Why? Be open with yourself and connect with the emotional drive behind your goals.
2. Then, reverse engineer your goal.
Now that you see your health in a more nuanced way, work backward and determine the specific elements needed to keep you on track to achieve that big W.
For example, if your goal is to get stronger and change your body composition, are you eating enough high-quality food? Is your programming focused on multi-joint full-body exercises? Are you using weights that are challenging enough? Do you have mobility restrictions affecting your movement quality? Are you giving yourself adequate rest and recovery between training sessions? Do you have a base level of aerobic fitness?
Some elements may actually be distracting you from your desired goal. So take note of those too. For example, if your goal is to experience less knee soreness when you run, then spending 30% of your workout doing ab exercises intended to chisel out a six-pack would not be the best use of your time. Instead, you’ll need to identify where and when you experience pain, foam roll and mobilize those tight tissues (usually hamstrings, quads, IT band, thoracic spine), activate your core stabilizers and glutes (ie. planks, side planks, band walks), improve running mechanics and gait, and incorporate unilateral plyometrics and strength exercises (ie. single-leg hops and bounds, lunges, glute bridges).
Reverse engineering your goals helps you design systems because…
3. … Goals fail; systems don’t.
We have a goal problem. You’re not alone if you’ve previously set goals that haven’t come to fruition. Most people think about the long-term picture without thinking about the short-term steps involved. The goals we make are often too vague and future-oriented.
Instead, I like to think of goals as the outcome and systems as the processes you follow to get there. Systems take those reverse engineered elements you identified and gives you a structure to follow — a repeatable set of actions you can start incorporating at any time. With systems in place, you’ll feel yourself doing something every day to get better. That, in turn, will sustain your momentum and motivation.
4. Treat your health like a science experiment.
Health is highly individualized and looks different for everyone. What works for one person may not work for you — and with that same idea, what worked for you previously may not work for you now. It’s human nature to want to look for the easy, cookie-cutter, fix-all solution but I find that approach sets people up for unrealistic expectations, and ultimately, more losses than wins.
Instead, use trial and error to see what works for you, and more importantly, how you feel. Take careful notes when you introduce new habits or routines. Reflect. Reset. Refocus. Reorganize. Repeat.
5. Buy in and commit to something.
Too many people are on the consistent search for the “secret sauce” they think they are missing (read “procrastination”). Hate to break it to you: the best workout or diet regimen doesn’t exist. The best regimens are ones that you can commit to and incorporate as a consistent part of your lifestyle. And typically, we just don’t commit to something for enough time to see the results
6. … And focus on what really matters.
Yes, that juice cleanse, new superfood, or magic titanium energy bracelet maybe all the hubbub right now, but are you getting the basics down?
Don’t fall victim to trends before you nail the basics (and realize you don’t need to be wealthy to be healthy despite health and wellness becoming a $4.2 trillion industry). Trends are trends because of the novelty behind them. They are usually driven by new research studies taken out of context and capitalism doing its thing.
First things first. Follow the steadfast, unwavering fundamentals that are the difference-makers in your health and wellness. As a baseline, eat more fruits and vegetables. Limit added sugar and don’t shy away from quality fats. Don’t eat too close to bedtime. Drink more water. Set consistent sleep routines. Sleep longer. Exercise and get moving more. Give yourself time to relax and recover.
7. Have a championship mentality.
Your goal is the championship. What you do on a daily basis are the routines and systems that prepare you for that moment. You can’t approach the start of the season already thinking about the championship because you’ll lose touch with what you need to do right now to get there (each game and practice, sharpening your skillset, your nutrition, and recovery, etc.). Keep your goal in mind, but remain focused on the routines and habits (your systems) that you start acting upon right now to bring you closer to success.
While not every athlete or team wins the championship or even gets there in the first place, the great thing is, your health and wellness are ‘you against you.’ You determine the qualifier for success, whether it is to lose 10lbs or run your first 5K. You don’t have to feel pressured to stick to a certain goal either. If you entered the season playing baseball, you can take a timeout, and you can finish the season running track — just reflect and edit your systems accordingly.
“Practice? We’re talking about practice!”
In a controversial 2002 interview, basketball star Allen Iverson passionately ridiculed the media for obsessing over him missing practice. Despite the backlash he received, to an extent, AI had a point we can all relate to. The practice is just practice; it’s a routine — like your daily 10 minutes of meditation, or your homemade salad. These moments don’t have to be monumental and done with the same vigor as the championship. They are systems designed to make your goal attainable that, over time, will become effortless and become a part of what makes you, you.
But in order to get into this coveted “zone” of routine and habit, you have to…
8. … Just get started and just start small.
It may sound counterintuitive at first, but more often than not, giving 80% effort is better than trying to give 110% and burning out or becoming frustrated. The common adages “go big or go home” and “give it 110%” sound amazing in theory — especially if you have someone shouting at you during a workout class. In reality, however, putting forth the absolute maximum amount of effort or energy isn’t sustainable in the long run. Less is definitely more.
You’ve already thought through your systems, so now is the time to focus on building tangible and actionable habits. Results come later. Start by committing to small routines and habits. Before you can run, you need to know how to walk, right? And, before you can hit the gym every day, you just need to get moving every day. Once you find those small 10 minute pockets of exercise during your day, it will be easier to expand from there. (Note: you can get moving with or without a gym). I suggest taking some time before the start of your week to put your game plan together. Write down what you plan on implementing: “I will meditate for 5 minutes every morning when I wake up.” “I will prepare my own lunch for each work day.” “I will workout Monday, Wednesday, and Friday this week at 6 pm for 30 minutes.“ I will go to bed no later than 11 pm Sunday-Thursday.”
Assess your success at the end of the week. Did you hit all of your micro-goals? What challenges or limitations did you face? What could you have done differently? Answer those questions and adjust your game plan accordingly for the following week.
Make strides in the right direction and you are bound to be successful.