“Just save a little each day for a few years and tuck the money away into a safe IRA and in several more years you’ll be a millionaire.”
Have you ever heard that?
It sounds like a fantastic idea.
House down payment.
Unexpected medical bills.
Your brother’s wedding to attend.
Going out to eat too often because the kids’ soccer games went late and they still have homework to do.
Car gets totalled and you need a new one.
I personally know some millionaires. I do not know one that started an IRA at age 18 and now has a seven figure bank account. The truth is, most millionaires are self-made business owners or highly skilled professionals such as doctors and lawyers. In other words, people that work hard.
In the case of the doctor, he had to bust ass in college for a sweet 12 years. One of my clients, a radiologist, mentioned to me the other day how he never got to experience much partying in college. “So you sacrificed a bunch of beer for a decade, and now you get to live more than comfortably, take vacations whenever you want, and don’t have many limitations?” I asked him. “Pretty much,” he said. Sounds like a decent trade off.
In the case of the business owner/entrepreneur, she has to bust ass too. Especially when starting out. Wake up early. Stay up late. Build systems and implement systems. Possess a hardcore drive to continue through every missed investment, account lost, dip in sales, any other storm that happens. The payoff? A successful and profitable business. Now that she has built a solid company, she can delegate more tasks. She can take that trip to Cabo and have her assistant take calls while she sips pina coladas and enjoys the view of a coastal Mexican sunset. Again, a lot of hard work in the beginning for a more comfortable ride later.
But make no mistake, both the doctor and the business owner still need to put in consistent effort at their respective professions. It’s not all play and no work.
And what do we tell people in regards to health and weight loss?
Eat less and move more. Eat whole grains, lean meat, veggies, fruit, healthy fats, no sweets, and just 1 glass of red wine per day. Make a few simple changes and voilà – you get the body of your dreams. A simple solution.
Sounds great, but then…
Cravings for chocolate.
Some guy brings donuts to work – and not just any donuts, but the really good ones with chocolate icing and sprinkles with the colors of your favorite football team!
You go to a birthday party, you tell yourself, “Just one drink.” Then someone brings you another beer, and she even took the liberty of opening it for you. An offer you can’t refuse.
It’s 5:30 p.m. and you know you should hit the gym, but you know it’s going to be crowded this time of night, and who knows if the treadmill you like will even be available?
Rarely do I see the discipline of restricted eating and running on a treadmill 3 times per week to prove effective for the long term. It brings a feeling a deprivation with eating, and the workouts prove to be not enough motivation to sustain for the long-term.
Most people I know that are fit do pretty intense workouts of some sort. Things that are challenging – high-intensity cardio intervals, weightlifting, boot camps, or something else that makes you sweat and feel like you accomplished something. And they maintain this style of training consistently (most of the time).
When it comes to diet, they eat hard core too. On the plate is a variety of whole foods – quality proteins, vegetables, and all the good stuff (most of the time).
Eating and training like this keeps the body fueled for both health and performance, plus it keeps the body fat percentage in check.
But the truth is, most fit pros do not eat strict all of time. Seriously. One of my colleagues has no problem speaking of his eggnog addiction during the holiday season. The other day I was at the liquor store and ran into another fitness trainer friend of mine. Her and her boyfriend had a variety of IPAs in their arms, and I had a 22 oz. Rogue Farms 7 Hop IPA in my hand. We had a brief conversation about our favorite beers before we went to check out. And then, not even a week before writing this, I was attending a fitness mastermind group in San Diego with 7 other fitness pros. The guy leading the group was snacking on some fried bananas as we all talked.
Why can we eat and drink these things and still stay in shape? Good genetics? Luck? Nope. We have all been in shape for some time, and we continue to work out smart, but hard. And we all eat well most of the time, so the occasional treat or drink, or even day of fried foods and beer is not going to ruin our physical shape.
But what if you are not in tip top shape? How should you eat and train? What is the million dollar dollar plan?
Good question (and since I’m the one asking it, that might be a little narcissistic, but oh well). When I got back into working out and eating healthy, I would go all-out in my quest to drop the 50 pounds that had stuck to me for several years. I would work out hard and eat really clean – like 95% clean. A beer here, a piece of cake on someone’s birthday there, but overall I would pass on alcohol most of the time, and sometimes at a birthday party I would be “that guy” that refused a piece of cake even though everyone else was partaking in the moist, sugary goodness commenting on how delicious it was.
Just like our millionaire friends had to make sacrifices early in their careers, I definitely had to make some sacrifices early in my weight loss efforts.
But after a while, the uber-restrictive eating got old. I wanted a beer. Not just a beer. Not a freaking Michelob Ultra. A few ice-cold, high-calorie, pints of tasty ale! So I had some. And some chicken fingers. And fries. Not baked potato wedges or sweet potato fries, but a basket of salty, deep-fried shoestring fries. Mmmm.
And the funny thing. 3 days later on the scale… no weight gain!
Any more, that is how I do it. I am in good shape, I maintain muscle mass, and I keep my body fat percentage at a respectful level through smart exercise and smart eating. Then if I feel like having a day where I want to eat whatever the heck I want, I do it. But, the reality is that most of the time I eat healthy foods. The salads, the chicken breasts, the quinoa – you know the deal. And the truth is, I really like those foods now. And there are some foods that I used to eat that just sound completely gross to me. I almost gag a little when I think of eating a Big Mac.
I think where a lot of people screw up is when they get to the point where they really want those beers and chicken fingers (ice cream, soda, candy bar, fast food, etc.) and they say, “Okay, just one – on the weekend. A cheat meal.” Then that opens the floodgates. Before you know it, it’s back to eating like crap – most of the time. That is why so many people yo-yo with their diets and weight loss efforts.
A better approach is to make your hard-core dieting and training a part of a long-term plan. Because that hardcore approach can be a good thing sometimes. If you are stuck with losing fat, sometimes it takes a little more than just a few simple changes to get things working again.
Don’t be afraid to make sacrifices now, that pay off later. Just don’t erase your results by embarking in complete debauchery after “going on a diet.”
Just like my doctor friend that is now able to essentially travel when he wants to, where he wants to, and does not have to worry (too much) about money in the process. When he travels, he does not go on a 14-day whiskey and cocaine binge that lands him in jail and thus jeopardizes his career. The reality is that most of the year he still has to be on his A game. He still has to work hard and be a professional. He might not work as hard as he had to in medical school, but his job still takes commitment and dedication.
When it comes to your health. You might need to make some sacrifices, especially in the beginning. As time goes on, you might ease up a little bit, but you still have to work out several times per week, and you still have to prepare meals, eat your vegetables, and all that good stuff. You might even take a day or two off on the weekends. Then, when you are ready, you can go back to some hardcore training for awhile. Back off a little as needed, and repeat. Keep that up for the long term, and you just might feel like a million bucks!