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Focus on Achievement

Often even great ideas fail. Not for the typical reasons we tend to think of, such as poor execution, inflated costs or even lousy marketing. Nope. The single greatest cause behind an idea failure is complexity. When something is too complicated, people tend to ignore, disregard or simply abandon it. Let me explain.

A while ago I was looking at new cell phones, trying to decide which one I should buy. I wanted something with all the bells and whistles and would cut down on the other "stuff" I had to carry around with me.

I carefully compared options of the different phones and, after an extensive search, settled on a model that seemed to have everything.

The phone was cool, the feature list impressive and even the price was right. I went to the local phone store, put down my money and bought my new toy. That's when the problems began.

Nothing about the phone made sense. I couldn't dial a number without first wading through a 200-page manual to figure out how to set the time. The camera required a degree in engineering to use, and entering somebody's name took so long it would be easier to memorize all the phone numbers than try and enter them in the phone.

After three hours, I gave up. I went back to the store and exchanged my new phone for a model that was easier to operate.

What does that have to do with fitness? Much of it is far more complicated than it has to be.

The very next day, I was talking to a friend in a coffee shop who's wanted to lose weight for a few years but never took steps to do it. He told me one of the reasons he was so reluctant. "It's too much," he said. "I have to change everything I do, and I'm not ready for something so complicated."

"What do you mean complicated?" I said. "It's simple. You just balance your protein, fats and carbs, monitor your total caloric intake, combine a mild resistance training program with light cardio and..." Oh my God, he was SO right. It can be VERY complicated, and so many fitness magazines, websites, and television shows don't do anything to dispel that terrible fear.

I thought about what he had said for days before I realized there was a solution for him. I'm going to tell you what I told him, but for the remainder of this article you have to give me your full attention. Turn off the radio, mute the TV and let your phone calls go to voice mail.

I told him it's all about focus.

He was going to have to concentrate on ONE thing and work it day and night. I told him he couldn't stop working on that one thing until he was comfortable with it, and it had become as much a routine as eating or sleeping. I told him to quit letting his attention drift from one thing to another, or he would never stay with anything long enough to see results.

"So should I buy a diet book? Join a gym? Take a class? Tell me what to do!" He said. "Absolutely not," I replied. "It's up to you to decide what you need to focus on. I'm here to provide expert advice and guidance on the fitness things YOU decide are important."

The date I told him to focus was March 5, 2001. In the years since I gave him that advice, his first goal was to quit smoking. That was the only thing he concentrated on for six months, and he kicked the habit. He then focused on losing fat (he did) and changing his career (he did that too). Today he's running his own successful business and, by his own admission is, "happier than I've ever been." What seemed overwhelming and completely out of reach before became a reality. All it took was a simple action.


You can do the same if you keep it simple. What are you going to focus on?

UPDATE: 9/1/2015

When I originally wrote this article, using a cell phone for more than making a phone call could be challenging. Texting required pressing the number keys two or three times to produce a single letter. Voice commands weren't available. Browsing the internet was painfully slow, and getting directions somewhere required entirely separate pieces of hardware.

A year later, Apple released the first iPhone. It would revolutionize the mobile phone industry and make Apple one of the most valuable companies on the planet. The iPhone succeeded because it did all those things people wanted, and it did them SIMPLY.

When you sent a text, you got a keyboard, not a series of menus to navigate for each letter. When you needed directions, the phone knew where you were and helped you get to where you wanted to go, with simple turn-by-turn instructions. New features could be added by merely browsing the APP STORE and choosing install.

This article was also the original inspiration for my book, Fixing Fat. A book that would take on the weight loss industry and try to take the complexity out of dieting.

I started by collecting tips and ideas, things that healthy people are supposed to do. Then I looked for clinical trials that tested those ideas. I would make a list of the actions that worked and were backed by proof. I thought it might take me a year or two.

Nine years later, I finished my first list. I took hundreds of tips, and after eliminating what didn't work, what wasn't proven and the duplicates, I ended up with 54 things you can do to live a healthier and happier life. Many are remarkably simple. Drinking a couple glasses of water before each meal or changing the size of your dinner plate.

To make it easy as possible, I start each action item with a sentence or two, telling you what to do. That's followed with a few paragraphs telling you how to take the action and, in some cases, how or why it works. Then I wrap it up with a list of the clinical trial or trials that proved it.

Every suggestion is laid out the same. Action. Details. Proof.

You simply flip through the book, find an action you want to take and concentrate on doing it for the next 30 to 90 days. Once it becomes a habit, open the book and choose the next one. Those simple actions, carried out repeatedly over time, will help YOU achieve your goals, just like they've helped my clients.

If you want to learn more about Fixing Fat, Click Here. You can also watch videos with over a dozen of the tips from my book by Clicking Here.

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CAUTION: Check with your doctor before
beginning any diet or exercise program.

Updated 9/1/2015