Transform Your Health for Life

We’re living in exciting times. Never have more people had more opportunity to pursue the life of their dreams, a life rich with extraordinary personal and professional achievements.

The opportunity is here now for us individually and collectively to make the transformation from worst to first—literally from the worst shape of our lives to the best. And for us, as a nation, to make the change from the most unhealthy modern nation on Earth to the most healthy, in every way.

Over the years I’ve discovered five essential steps to begin and sustain this process of transforming your health for life.

1. Accept Your Ability and Responsibility We have the ability to create stunning changes for the better in our bodies and lives. It’s exciting and empowering to consider the scope of this ability; however, it’s not always as exciting to accept that along with our ability to transform comes the responsibility to do so. Until that responsibility is accepted, the ability lies dormant.

2. Make Being Healthy a Priority Over the past 20 years of working in the world of well-being and fitness, I’ve discovered that when people highly value their health, they do what has to be done to become healthy. So when I see people who are overweight, underweight or who are suffering from entirely preventable illness, I know they do not yet place a premium value on their well-being. In many cases, this includes people who are achieving successful results in their business endeavors and other areas of their lives.

Here’s what else I know: Achievers make progress where results are highly valued, because that’s where we focus our time and attention.

3. Set Specific Health and Fitness Goals I’ve learned as much about becoming healthy and strong from Denis Waitley and Brian Tracy as I did from Jack LaLanne and Arnold Schwarzenegger. As an entrepreneur and health coach, I’ve studied both the fi elds of personal development and fi tness extensively. Once I learned the fundamental facts about exercise, nutrition, fat loss and muscle strengthening, I needed proven strategies to put that knowledge into action.

“Get in great shape,” is not a goal. It’s a wish, a dream, an idea. “Within 12 weeks, I will lose 20 pounds of fat.” And, “Within 12 weeks, I will reduce my low-density cholesterol by 20 percent.” Those are goals. They are specific, measurable and challenging.

4. Keep Your Plan of Action Simple It’s not at all necessary to put together a complicated program with undue emphasis on diet and exercise idiosyncrasies to achieve your goals. What works better is a simple combination of strength training and aerobic exercise combined with balanced and smart eating.

For example, I work out with a basic set of free weights and an exercise bench three days a week at my home for approximately 20 to 40 minutes. No more than that. I do exercises like bench presses, biceps curls, shoulder presses, lunges, sit-ups and push-ups. For aerobics, I do 20 minutes, three days a week, on a stair-climber or treadmill. And when I can get outdoors and exercise, I jog, hike, bicycle, swim or play tennis. All total, the time I spend working out is roughly three hours a week. That’s less than 2 percent of the total time available to us each week.

I’ve tested all types of exercise programs and I can say that this routine, which I explain thoroughly in my book Body-for-LIFE, allows maximum benefit with minimum investment of time.

As far as nutrition goes, I recommend eating six small meals each day. These are not typical American meals; they’re “nutrient-rich, calorie-sparse” meals. For breakfast that might be an Eggbeater omelet with a piece of whole wheat toast. For lunch it might be a chicken breast sandwich on whole wheat bread. And for dinner, a serving of salmon, brown rice and a salad. For my other three meals I have protein-rich nutrition shakes that are also fortified with vitamins and minerals. And, to help keep my appetite satisfied and my muscles hydrated, I drink 10 cups of water a day (five 16-oz bottles), along with a couple cups of coffee and an occasional diet cola. One day a week, on my “free day,” I forget all the diet rules and nutrition guidelines and I eat whatever I want—pizza, pasta, or a nice big New York steak and a baked potato with butter and sour cream. When you enjoy your favorite foods once a week, your long-term results are much more sustainable.

This simple method, practiced consistently, is a powerful prescription for good health. It’s basic and it works.

5. Prepare to Succeed Every Day Anyone who’s achieved success knows it’s more than a matter of mere luck.  When I prepare to succeed by consciously scheduling my workout time in advance, and I commit to it just as I would an important business or doctor appointment, I find it easy to follow through; no “thinking” is required. I do the same with my meals. When I schedule what I’m going to eat, what time and in what quantity, before the day begins, I don’t waste any time or conscious energy figuring it out on the fly.

These five essentials constitute a practical and powerful method for becoming healthier, stronger and more energetic. When practiced consistently, this is a surefi re way to realize your true potential to transform your health and enjoy a richer quality and quantity of life.

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Bill Phillips is the New York Times bestselling author of Body for Life, which has sold more than 6 million copies.

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