Achieving Your Goals and Dream Life – Step Two

Achieving your Goals and Dream Life – Step Two

Last week we discussed the importance of creating a map for all realms of your life so that every initiative and action you take points you towards your goals and your dream life. Do not underestimate the power of Step #1 – that’s why it’s number one!

Today, we move onto….

Step Two:  Get Physical!

565859_Girlfriends_Half_17_r770x495Since I’m a fitness professional, you had to know we’d be going here right? But it’s true that it’s hard to be great if you don’t feel great.  It’s hard to live your best life and achieve all your dreams if you’re not at your physical best.  Unfortunately, more than half of our population is overweight or obese and out of shape.  The International Journal of Obesity released a report that says we expend about 500-800 calories less per day than we did a few decades ago.  All the labor saving devises like remote controls, escalators, elevators, moving walkways and the internet that are supposed to be making our lives easier are in fact making us sick and slowly killing us. If you think about it, that’s equivalent to a 5-8 mile run!  That’s how much less we move our bodies today! Daily movement is absolutely critical to counteract our sedentary society.

The Surgeon General released a finding that said we need to move our bodies about 30 minutes a day to increase our health.  The finding wasn’t referring to exercise but rather just being active with household chores, walking the dog, cleaning the house, mowing the lawn etc.  I remember thinking that I can’t believe a government official would have to make a public announcement to just move our bodies 30 minutes a day.  But the sad reality is that most people don’t.  Think of the average North American day.  We wake up, sit to have breakfast, get in the car and drive to work, sit at a computer all day perhaps working right through lunch with interoffice email not even requiring us to leave our desk to communicate with a co-worker, get back in our cars to drive home, sit to eat dinner and then lay on the couch all night watching TV. When you add up the actual minutes of movement it doesn’t even add up to 30 minutes.  That’s a sad reality.  But in America, instead of fixing the problem, we accommodate the problem.  There are entire industries creating products and offering services to accommodate our bigger butts.  We don’t want to make someone feel uncomfortable so we build bigger chairs and airline seats!

Something’s got to give and hopefully it won’t be our hearts.

So yes, you have to move your bodies – every day!  And one of the things I’ve learned after being a fitness professional for 25 years is that exercise is 10% physical and 90% mental.  My biggest obstacle when working with clients is helping them to change their mindset so they catch the ‘fitness bug’ and exercise becomes a lifestyle habit like brushing their teeth or taking a shower.  In the beginning most people find exercise a chore and they actually hate it but eventually, if you stick with it long enough, you will notice your days are better when you workout, you may look forward to workouts and actually enjoy them!  Eventually, you want to workout and actually need exercise and then you’re hooked for life!

For example, in the beginning some people might ask themselves “Should I workout today?”  That’s the wrong question because the answer is always yes. You should always move your body everyday.  Instead you should ask yourself ‘what workout should I do today?’ and the ‘what’ doesn’t matter as much….as long as you do it!  You might walk, run, cycle, swim, hike, take a Zumba class, go to Cross-Fit, have a session with your trainer or take a Yoga or Pilates class. Find activities that you love and then commit.  Lock it into your lifestyle.  Ritualize it.  Schedule in your workouts like a work meeting or an important appointment with your doctor.  Put yourself first.  If it’s important enough, you’ve got to carve time out for YOU!

Another mindset people might need to change is this “I’m too tired to exercise!”  That’s the wrong statement.  Instead you should say “I’m so tired, I need to move my body”.  Energy creates energy.  I’m sure we’ve all had the feeling of being so tired we didn’t feel like moving.  But we did it anyways and then we felt like a million bucks afterwards! So when you’re tired just do something…even a 10 minute walk will wake you up and make you feel so much better.

There will always be excuses that you can become victim to!  There will always be someone with more kids than you that still finds the time to exercise and eat well.  There will always be someone who is busier than you…someone who works harder than you…someone who travels more than you do…someone who has less money than you…someone who is older than you…someone who is in more pain than you…someone who is more out of shape than you…there will always be someone who is struggling with obstacles and excuses and yet, still figures it out.  They do what they need to do to be at their best!  So no matter what excuse you are using to convince yourself that you can’t commit to exercise, sorry, you need to get over it and start taking action.  No more excuses! You deserve better than that!

So now let me give you the ‘What’ to designing your exercise program.
There are 4 key components:

Cardiovascular Exercise

You need to perform sustained cardio for a minimum of 20 minutes using aerobic activities like walking, running, biking, swimming, dancing or hiking to improve your endurance.  You also need to perform high intensity interval training to improve your speed.  I think of both of these activities like a shower for your cells.  We take a shower every day to remove the dirt and residue from our external bodies well, let’s not forget our internal bodies and wash away all those toxins inside of our bodies by getting a good sweat.  So when designing your weekly workout program, incorporate a couple endurance workouts and a couple speed workouts to challenge all energy systems.

Muscle Conditioning Exercise

You need to challenge your muscles with load by lifting weights, moving your body against gravity or using other resistance training tools.  Many physiologists agree that this is the true fountain of youth and a key component to sculpting your body.  Just like cardio and the importance of including long and slow and fast and hard workouts, you should also lift heavy weights sometimes with less reps to develop strength and other workouts, lift lighter resistance with more reps to improve your muscle endurance.  Staple exercises to include in your program are Squats, Lunges, Step-ups, Pulls/Rows, Presses/Pushups, and Core conditioning.


As we age, we lose elasticity in our tissues so if you are tight to behind with you are going to become even more rigid as you get older which will negatively affect your quality of movement, your postural alignment and risk for injury.  Effective flexibility is possessing a potent combination of adequate pain-free motion at a joint and stability and integrity at that same joint. You can definitely be too tight affecting your movement quality and likewise, you can be too flexible or hypermobile if you have no strength to support movement at your joints. So incorporating stretches to typically tight areas like your hamstrings, hip flexors, calves, glutes, chest, shoulders and upper back is critical.  Attending a Yoga, Pilates or Foam Rolling class one to two times per week can be very helpful.

Daily Movement

If we moved our bodies more throughout the day, we wouldn’t have to spend hours at the gym.  So incorporate more stairs, park at the furthest parking spots, walk to do errands, stand more than sit, schedule active quality time with your loved ones…just make a more conscious effort to move your body as much as you can.

An important point to leave you with is to workout NOT so that you can love your body but workout BECAUSE you love your body!  Can you see the difference?!

Stay tuned next week for Step #3 – can you already guess what it might be?

Sherri McMillan, M.Sc. has been inspiring the world to adopt a fitness lifestyle for over 20 years and has received numerous industry awards including International Personal Trainer and Fitness Presenter of the Year. She is the author of five books including “Go For Fit – the Winning Way to Fat Loss” and “Fit over Forty” and is the featured presenter in various fitness DVDs.  She is the owner of Northwest Personal Training in downtown Vancouver and can be seen running, hiking or cycling with her two children, Brianna and Jackson.  She can be reached at or Note:  As an avid Columbian reader, you can redeem a 2 week pass at her world-class training studio to help get you started.  Contact 360.574.7292 for more details.  

Sherri McMillan

Sherri McMillan

Sherri McMillan, holds a master's degree in exercise physiology and has been inspiring the world to adopt a fitness lifestyle for more than 33 years. She has received numerous industry awards including 2010 CanFitPro International Presenter of the Year, 2006 IDEA Fitness Director of the Year, 1998 IDEA Personal Trainer of the Year, 1998 CanFitPro Fitness Presenter of the Year and 2005/2006 ACE Fitness Educator of the Year - Runner up. She is a fitness trainer, fitness columnist for various magazines and newspapers, author of five books and manuals including "Go For Fit - the Winning Way to Fat Loss" and "Fit over Forty" and the featured presenter in various fitness DVDs. She has presented hundreds of workshops to thousands of fitness leaders throughout Canada, Australia, Mexico, Jamaica, New Zealand, Germany, England, Spain, South America, Asia and the U.S. She is the owner of Northwest Personal Training in downtown Vancouver, the founder of WHY Racing Events & WHY Community, participates in various community fundraisers and can be found running, biking, or hiking around the community. Find more information at

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