In my fitness journey and the other successful paths (there are multiple) that I've seen our students take over the years, there are a lot more nuances and complexity going on. It is never as simple or trivial as finding the best method because there's no such thing. Most reasonable methods will take you a significant distance towards your goal.
I was reading my favourite philosopher, Bruce Lee, and he talks about Buddhism's eightfold path. "The eight requirements that will eliminate suffering by correcting false values and giving true knowledge of life's meaning." - for that stuff, you need to go to a wiser teacher and an actual teacher of Buddhism. But the patterns of similarity between what changes one needs to make to take ownership of one's health and put that behind them are pretty similar. So, here goes.
Please note all the headings are as mentioned by Bruce Lee.
#1: First, you must see clearly what is wrong.
If you don't acknowledge that there's an issue or a problem, then you cannot get started. Your health and fitness (or lack of) is a clear outcome of your habits over the past few years. Getting angry with me for saying that is not productive. You need to see where you are at.
Most of us tend to look at our waistline or our weight and think that this is impossible to fix. Or we say that pizza and beer should never be sacrificed (it shouldn't, permanently. But ..) Or we set impossible goals - to look like that fella on Insta with abs, and to get there in the next few months.
If you can clearly place where things are wrong - how is your health, how is your fitness level, do you really need to lose fat/weight or is it simply cleaning up bad behaviours, do you need to worry about those sugar levels - we need to clearly see what is wrong with our actions as well as where things are with our mind and body.
#2 Next, decide to be cured.
Seeing the problem honestly is one thing. Deciding that you do not want to be there is the next big step.
If you are genuinely fine with where you are and assuming that there are no health complications, maybe there's nothing to be fixed.
Today, a lot of us are going apeshit about how skinny we need to be or how abs are healthy. That's not true. Health is the optimal interplay of organs, as Dr. Phil Maffetone puts it. If things are working well, then great!
But let's assume they are not. You need to clearly see that (and identify what it is objectively) and decide to fix it.
#3 You must act.
Choose a path. Choose an action or a slew of actions on how you are going to go from here to there.
For a lot of us, this is when we decide to join a gym or start a diet.
It is not an isolated action but a thread that needs to make sense. And I think you need to be a bit angry to get out of the hole.
#4 Speak so as to aim at being cured.
You should not just be mouthing the right words. You should not be spinning wheels at the gym, bored out of your mind, and then bitching about it later. You need to fully buy in to the process, act with full intent, and conduct yourself with that belief - the belief that you are clear about what you are doing and it is now a matter of putting in the work.
Rather than just being grumpy about the regime, of looking around at what other people are doing, or being distracted by other diets that people are on and are seeing results while you are not.
Your inner dialogue needs to be honest! You need to truly believe that you are aiming to fix this problem not just put up a show.
#5 Your livelihood must not conflict with your therapy.
Here's where a lot of us have a problem. Work is busy. It is hectic. The work hours are stupid, the work pressure is insane. You go to bed late and are on call at random times - there's no way you can wake up reasonably early and start your day with exercise. You plan to do it in the evening but there's a fire at work and you are it!
You decide that you will take your calls while on a walk and try to eat better. But with the stress, the lack of sleep, your cravings are just unbearable and 3 days into your diet, you just cannot control it.
Yes, all of us need jobs and money to survive. But at what expense?
Most of my students falling off, the ones who genuinely want to make a change and have come past fads and vanity and status games - here's where they get blocked.
#6 The therapy must go forward at the "staying speed"; the critical velocity that can be sustained.
You start off with a blast. No sugar for this month, no junk for this month, and you are going to exercise 6 days of the week. You are going to attack your problem with all you have.
Going from zero to such a high level of action is difficult to sustain. This is why we need to start small and think about the long haul. This is a marathon, not a sprint.
Occasionally, using a blitz like the Daily9 is hugely useful but not if you go back to zero at the end of the blitz. Instead, the blitz gives you the shot in the arm, the quick results, the feeling of how you can do this, the physical feeling of looking and feeling better. And you need to build on it with sustainable action.
A lot of what James Clear talks about on building habits becomes useful. Instead of trying to exercise for an hour a day, maybe just starting with a 5-minute walk. Sounds silly. Except that's something you can sustain.
Put in the reps. Intensity comes later.
#7 You must think and feel about it incessantly.
Not obsessed with it. But it is in your thoughts all the time. When a cake is offered, the clarity of your path helps you answer it without a shred of a doubt. When you want to hit that snooze and contemplate skipping today's workout, you immediately see the larger picture and get out of bed. When you wonder if you should stay up late and watch the IPL versus going to bed and waking up well-rested, your answer will be clear.
This is not something you do for 1 hour a day. This is not something that happens just around mealtimes.
This is why you will see these people who suddenly become fit overnight do things like taking the stairs regularly, or saying no to snacks, or being moderate when it comes to many things.
#8 Learn how to contemplate with the deep mind.
This is out of my depth. So, instead of telling you how it might apply to you, I'll stick with how I think this applies to me.
Are my actions leading me in the right direction? Is the direction I've set still making sense? Could I be doing something else? Is this making me happy or am I just following a pattern that I see around me? Am I learning from this and am I enjoying this? I might be having fun but is this going in the right direction? Am I growing?
What step is blocking you? The more you probe and answer this for yourself, the higher the probability of you figuring this out.
It is important as well to know where you are and where you are going - 6-pack abs might not be where you actually want to go. Or lifting 3x your bodyweight. Don't look at someone else's goal and expect that to solve your problems. Figure it out.