Think and Grow Strong: Creating Habits to Make Exercise a Priority

This is an awesome guest post from my friend Pat Koch over at  He's an all around good guy, and I can’t agree more with the tone and direction of this article.  Enjoy!

It is the age of “something for nothing.”

Advertisers go eyeball fishing with headlines such as, “Abs in ten weeks.”

Blogs and podcasts everywhere promote, get it done quick messages.

With fitness, the sooner you admit that the fastest possible way, is NOT the optimal way.  The more you will be free.

The Unforgiving Truth

A great philosopher once said “There are two ways to be fooled, one is to believe what isn’t true; the other is to refuse to believe what is true.”

If I told you that a scientifically proven system of diet and exercise exists that can get you strong, lean, and athletic would you follow it?

Or would you let a petty addiction to fast results overcome your rational mind?  Giving into inferior fad diets, and unrealistic exercise plans.

The superior scientific plan I’m talking about surely exists.  Experts talk about it everyday.

We are constantly reminded of these common sense practices.

Weight loss of one pound a week, is good enough.  No food is inherently good or bad.  Habits are king.

The list goes on…Don’t lift more weight than you can handle, cut down on excessive cardio, focus on strength etc.

This advice is a beacon of hope.  Deep down you know it is true, but everything in our life tells us to be more extreme.

If we were reasonable enough to plan and had realistic expectations you could truly have your cake and a six-pack to.

The Price of Truth

Tuning out the nonsense comes at a grave price… We must finally admit that there are “best practices,” in achieving the body of your desires, and it will take time.

Every ounce of your ego wants to commit to getting it done faster, tempting you to follow nonsensical programs, distracting you from the truth.

Do not prolong this revelation…Begin at once on a sustainable plan.

After all a real man knows there is no such thing as “something for nothing” and does not try to fool him self with petty exercise programs and fad diets.

You must dedicate yourself not only to a plan, but to HABITS.  The following exercise will make exercise a priority in your life.

The Plan

1.  Fix in your mind the exact qualities that you want to improve.  It will not suffice to say I want a six pack.  Be definite in your mind.  Create vivid mental pictures of your goal.

2.  Determine exactly what you tend to give in return for the qualities you desire.  (There is no reality as something for nothing)

3.  Establish a definite date for when you plan to posses these qualities.  (Remember big changes take reasonable amounts of time)

4.  Create a definite plan for carrying out your desire and begin at once.  Whether or not you are ready matters little.

5.  Write out a clear concise statement of the qualities you want to acquire, name the time limit, state what you intend to give to reach your goals, and describe clearly the plan for which you intend to accumulate it.

6.  Read your written statement aloud, twice daily, once just before bed, once after arising.  As you read see and feel yourself already in possession of these qualities.


For most goals (Getting stronger, more athletic, leaner) a good place to start is adhering to the following.

1.  Lift 3-4 days a week focusing on developing a base of strength in basic movements such as deadlifts, squats, chin ups, rows, presses etc.

2.  Strive to make 80-90 percent of your diet consist of minimally processed whole foods, using reasonable portions.

3.  Get out and move like an athlete a few times a week.  Sprints, basketball, etc.

Do not try to be a hero…a real man can be honest with himself.  The same rules apply.  Going all out to get instant gratification will leave you feeling worse.  It’s a marathon not a sprint.

Avoid Instant Gratification

A reasonable plan is key.  Many people who struggle with their fitness goals do indeed know the correct way to do things.

They are paralyzed by the desire for instant gratification.  Getting strong, lean, fast etc takes a long time of consistent effort.

At times you may even feel that progress has stopped, however you must avoid the need for instant gratification.   Results from fad diets and over exercising never stick.

Embrace that something never came from nothing and enjoy consistent results on a reasonable plan.

About the author

Pat Koch enjoys the pursuit of strength.  Previously interned at Cressey Performance, and currently manages a team of personal trainers in Boston.

* The planning exercise in this article was adopted from “Think and Grow Rich.”  An amazing book by Napolean Hill.