1. Surround yourself with positive people They say that the 5 people you surround yourself with most will ultimately decide where you go with your life. I am sure you have noticed that when you are in a gym you see that the people with the best physiques or the ones with the most motivation are with like people. The same can apply to the business world; successful people are usually surrounded by other successful people. Think about it, if you’re hanging out with people that are out of shape, lack ambition and motivation you’re likely to be on the same path they are on. What’s worse is when you try and separate yourself from that lifestyle and those types of people, they will do what they can to detour you from your goals and try and hold you back. You will be met with negative comments; and they will try and put doubt in your head, don’t allow this. They see the changes you are making and that can incite fear in them that they too will have to make change to be accepted. If you want to be your best, surround yourself with the best. 2. We are all on the same path Do not let yourself get intimidated by anyone else in the gym. Realize that everyone there is trying to do the same thing, better themselves. The path to increase one’s performance and overall health can be harder for some than it is for others. This is a journey that we all share, our destinations may be different but we are on the same path to betterment. Whether you are a beginner or advanced; go in each day and do the best YOU can do and leave the intimidation factor at the door. Everyone starts at the beginning and nobody knows it all, so don’t let someone’s knowledge or their physical condition detour you from becoming a better you. If you are a beginner, look to the advanced for inspiration. Ask questions; get advice, ask for a periodic spot and continue to educate yourself. These people were once where you are at and got to where they are doing the same things 3. The only person that can tell you that you can’t is you Time and time again I hear people say someone told them that they can’t achieve something. CANT is a word that needs to be eliminated from your vocabulary. Not only does it bring you down, but it also brings the people around you down. If you want something, go get it- period. The only person that can tell you that you can’t is you, and the best thing about that is you don’t have to listen. People that are incapable or just too lazy to do what it is that you’re trying to achieve will rebel and tell you that you can’t. They will make you doubt yourself, and make you think that your goals/dreams are not achievable, so you give up. Instead use this negativity as fuel and prove these people and even yourself wrong. With each thing you achieve that you thought you previously couldn’t, you will gain confidence that you can in fact achieve whatever you want in life. If we did all the things we are capable of, we would literally astound ourselves. So don’t let others judge you; by them telling you that you can’t, that is exactly what they are doing-judging you. Speak with your actions and show them and yourself your true capabilities. In the end your greatness will silence them all. 4. Have a purpose When you have a purpose/ game plan set you have a much better chance in achieving what you want than if you didn’t have one. If you go into a gym with no drive, purpose, or motivational factor to push you in most cases you will fail. The gym can become a scary place and you find yourself wandering around like a zombie with no specific destination or routine. You do not see results so you start to doubt everything that you are doing and eventually quit. To be successful, and to eliminate this doubt, set goals- and I advise you to write them down. If you only have goals in your head they can change day to day based on your energy level or your mood. When you write your goals down they are concrete, you can hold them, and they are right in front of you rather than floating around in your head somewhere. As you achieve these goals check them off, they will be a reminder of your success and give you that drive you need to continue on your fitness journey. As you achieve your goals continue to set more. Set present, short term, and long term goals. If you’re only looking at the destination and don’t focus on the journey itself; the end goal will seem unattainable and you can become overwhelmed, and doubt will emerge and take over. Take joy in your small victories; they build on one another until you reach your destination. 5. Strength Training will make me look like a bodybuilder or power lifter This is one that I have heard over and over and mostly from women. “I am afraid if I weight train I will get big and bulky”. It’s important to realize that the amount of muscle a woman can put on is limited by a number of factors. First, women don’t have the testosterone needed to build a lot of muscle, so if you switch over from the light weights which I like to call “pink weight syndrome” or start to strength train, you are in no danger of losing your neck and building quads so big you bust out of your jeans. Many women coming to strength training are eating at a deficit for fat loss, so they won’t be building much, if any, new muscle—the goal of strength training while eating at a deficit is to retain the muscle mass you already have and skew the percentage of weight loss towards fat and away from muscle. The fact is: “Looking like a bodybuilder” doesn’t happen accidentally. To look like or be a bodybuilder, especially for women, requires a phenomenal lifestyle commitment. So don’t be afraid to use weights, and if you are lifting don’t be afraid to go heavier. If strength training causes a female to look like a bodybuilder that would equate to me saying “I don’t want to swim laps today because I don’t want to win the 100m gold next week” and that my friends is not going to happen without an act of God and a boat motor on my back. For guys you do have the testosterone needed to gain muscle mass, so you will have a much easier time developing size. If you don’t want to get bulky, your diet and supplementation will determine this. If you are lifting heavy all the time, expect to gain some muscle if you diet is geared towards weight gain. Simply put, if you watch your protein, carbs, and fat ingestion then you can manipulate your diet to keep your mass down. If you want to keep lean and still lift heavy keep your cardio up, keep your protein and carbs at a moderate range so that you maintain lean muscle as you drop body fat. So you will transition muscle and fat more than you will bulk up. Brandan Fokken (pictured above) is a TEAM Bodybuilding.com athlete and loves working in the fitness industry. He is a Corporate Wellness Manager, a business owner, and does speaking engagements on topics ranging from health and fitness to drugs in sports. His main goal in life is to live a happy and healthy lifestyle, to help others achieve their goals, inspire, educate and motivate others.