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Why building a better body is like riding a bike

If you want to build a leaner, stronger and fitter body then some early mistakes are inevitable, but once you realise that you only fail if you quit – and that perseverance is paramount to success – the sooner you’ll get the better-body results you want, says New Body Plan creator Jon Lipsey

The other day I bought my toddler his first scooter. We took it to the park where there’s a great wide path that runs alongside a river.

I put his little helmet on, placed the scooter in front of him and asked him if he was ready to go. He was buzzing with enthusiasm but he only got a few meters down the path before he lost his balance and toppled over.

“Well, that was f*cking useless and this is clearly a complete waste of time,” I said as I picked up the scooter and chucked it into the river.

If at first you don’t succeed…
Now, before anyone reports me to social services, I’d like to make it clear that this didn’t actually happen. I mean, I did just buy my son a scooter but that’s not my approach to parenting. And it’s not my approach because it’s an awful way of behaving towards anyone. It’s cruel, it’s totally unhelpful and it’s likely to do some psychological damage.

I’d be surprised if anyone reading this disagreed with that assessment. But I am surprised that it’s not a million miles away from the way a lot of us treat ourselves – particularly when it comes to health and fitness.

Treat yourself like as toddler
Here’s something I’ve seen so many times over the years; someone decides that they want to get into shape and they’re really fired up before they start. They get going but they make one little slip up so they tell themselves that they’ve failed. They tell themselves that they were foolish to even try. And they tell themselves that they’ll never get into good shape.

There are a bunch of things that are wrong with this reaction but I’ll pick out two important ones. Firstly, one slip-up doesn’t constitute failure. In fact, jacking something in just because you made a minor mistake – that’s failure. Secondly, getting in shape – just like learning to ride a scooter – is a skill. It’s something that becomes easier over time. And it’s something that’s easier and more enjoyable to do when you have the appropriate tools to develop that skill.

So, my advice to you is to treat yourself like a toddler. If you slip up, don’t beat yourself up. Think about the constructive feedback and encouragement you can give yourself that will get you back on track and heading towards your goal. And never, ever, throw your scooter into the river.

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