10 Lessons Learned from Weight Loss Applied to Small Business Success

You may think I am biased (and maybe I am) but I believe fitness is the foundation of a happy and successful life. I am not suggesting that fitness has to be your whole life, but if you make health and movement a priority then the benefits and rewards make your whole life better. 

When you make health a priority you look, feel and perform your best. Exercise is good for your heart, your body and your brain. When I start my day with exercise I have a clearer head, a happier disposition, better stress management and feel more equipped to tackle the day.

I am a full-time marketing director in the corporate world trying to get this fitness business off the ground. Some days I feel full of hope and inspiration and other days I feel defeated and overwhelmed. Time and time again I find that a lot of the struggles and triumphs of starting a new business relate directly to the struggles and triumphs when losing 40 pounds and making fitness a priority in my life.

These days fitness comes easy for me. Of course I am not always hyper-motivated but I always find a way to make health, movement and nutrition a priority in my life...but it wasn't always that way. I went through a physical and (more importantly) mental transformation. I can relate to my weight loss clients because I have been there. I remember what it feels like. But there are days I see people struggling with the exact same things I struggled with and I want to wave my magic wand so they get it. Then I remember I am struggling too, but in a different realm with a new business. The themes are exactly the same. I can take the lessons I learned from my weight loss journey and apply them to my new business journey and expect to see the same successes.

OVERCOME FEAR AND SELF-DOUBT

When I was overweight I remember clearly sitting in traffic on my way home from work and feeling frustrated with my weight, my progress and started questioning my ability to reach my goals. I remember thinking, with tears rolling down my cheeks, "Do I just have to accept that I am an overweight person now?" I had tried and failed so many times that I started to believe I couldn't do it, that maybe I just had to accept my new larger body size as my new reality. 

Now I know that was just fear and self-doubt. Of course I could reach any goal I set out to reach as long as I worked hard, remaining consistent and had a positive mindset. 

The same things apply in my business. "Do I just have to accept that I will work my corporate job forever?" No! The same principles apply. I need to push past the fear and self-doubt and move an inch forward every day. 

GET OUT OF YOUR COMFORT ZONE

If it doesn't challenge you, it doesn't change you. As trainers we are always telling our clients to push outside their comfort zone. It can be scary to try new workouts, experiment with new recipes and make lifestyle changes. You know what? Fitness is my comfort zone. Even when I am working hard or feeling uncomfortable in fitness, I know it is a good place. I like it there.

You know what is uncomfortable for me? Selling myself. Success in business relies on getting out of your comfort zone as much as success in fitness. It would be hypocritical to ask my clients to get out of their comfort zone while I sit idly by in my own. Note to self: Putting yourself out there is scary. Do it anyway. 

REMAIN CONSISTENT

What you do everyday matters more than what you do once in awhile
— Gretchen Rubin

Consistency is key to success in fitness. Working out for an hour once every two weeks or eating a healthy diet every Monday won't get you anywhere, but finding 15 minutes a day to exercise and remaining consistent with your diet can be difference between success and failure. 

Same in business. I have to show up everyday, put out regular content and engage with my audience. I have to work on it even when I don't feel like it or when no one is paying attention. The more I put into it, the more I get out of it. Just like in fitness you can't expect overnight success. It is the small daily actions that snowball into big results over time. 

PUT IN HARD WORK

Almost nothing worth having comes easy. If getting in shape was easy we would all we walking around with six pack abs. As much as I believe in the power of positive thinking, you can't just sit around and hope for good things to happen. If you want success in fitness it is going to take some work and some uncomfortable changes. It's the actions that produce results. I worked really hard to achieve success in my fitness lifestyle. I exercised, I changed my diet and I changed my lifestyle. It wasn't easy at first, but it was worth it. 

I look at other successful business owners and they make it look so easy, but what I don't see is the years of work and struggle behind the scenes. Success requires hard work. There is always a learning curve. I have to be willing to put in the work even when there is not an immediate and apparent payoff. 

CELEBRATE SMALL WINS

You don't always see results on the scale, but there are other indicators that let you know you're on the right track: Your clothes fit better, you sleep better, you have more energy, you lost inches in your body measurements, you can climb the stairs without huffing and puffing. If you only measure success by one criteria it can be easy to get frustrated. Look for the small wins in fitness and celebrate them often. 

Same goes for business. If you only measure success by dollars in the bank it might feel like the process is slow and unrewarding. I have to remember that small wins include people sharing my blog posts, asking questions, showing up at my bootcamps, telling me that I helped them. I have to celebrate the small wins in business along the way to stay motivated as I work towards the big goals

TRACK PROGRESS

Tracking is everything. How are you supposed to know where you are going unless you know where you came from? You are what you measure. How can you celebrate small wins if you don't know that you lost 1" in your waist because you didn't measure it. 

Are my website's unique monthly pageviews growing? How about my social media channels? How are my shares or Pinterest saves compared to last month? How are my sales and sponsored blog posts? What about my expenses? If I don't track I simply don't know if I am improving or treading water. Just like in fitness, once I have the data, I can start to construct the action plans to make improvements where needed. 

EMBRACE THE SETBACKS

Anyone who has ever achieved anything knows that there is not a straight line to success. Some of the setbacks in my own fitness journey included injuries and work stress that derailed my focus. I have experienced temporary setbacks but I found a way to overcome them and they only made me smarter, stronger and better equipped to handle future problems. 

I know I can expect setbacks in business, it is part of the process. It's how I learn and grow. I won't be shocked or derailed by them, I will try to embrace them because they are the catalyst to growth. (Note to self: reread this when things go wrong.)

MAKE SACRIFICES

It's a given in fitness that if you want success you probably need to make some sacrifices. You may have to pass on the nightly tub of Ben & Jerry's or turn down a Friday night party because of your training run in the morning. It's not to say that you can never have fun or enjoy indulgent foods, of course you can. I am big proponent of moderation. But success in fitness largely depends on our ability to delay gratification. I can have a slice of pizza or three, I am just going to wait until my "indulgence day" (I don't like the term "cheat"meal, it's not a cheat if it is part of the plan). I sacrifice my short term desires for my long term goals because I know the long term payoff is bigger than the short term reward. 

Business takes sacrifices too. I sacrifice my free time. I sacrifice my spending money. Sometimes my sanity. Making sacrifices now is essential to success in the future. 

ENJOY THE JOURNEY/BE PATIENT

Fitness is a journey. There is no finish line. The sooner that you come to this realization, the more successful and less frustrated you will be. Sure you may have goals, but look at them like stepping stones along the way. I can tell you that meeting that goal weight, new pant size or PR will not automatically make you happier with a perfect life. There is no endgame in fitness. It is a lifestyle. Your goals should be changing, evolving and growing over the years. Learn to be patient and enjoy the journey because the journey is your life. Happiness doesn't come at the end, it happens now. 

This is so hard for me because in my business I fall into that future thinking that I warn my clients about in fitness. "If only I had (fill in the blank), then I'd be happy." The key is to remember to feel happy now. Feel grateful for the learning curve, the opportunities and the challenges because all these things are making me smarter, stronger and better equipped to run my business tomorrow. I'll get there but today I am here and it's a pretty good place. 

HAVE PASSION

If you don't like to exercise you probably are not going to wake up tomorrow with a burning desire to go to CrossFit. The key is to find something that you enjoy. There are so many ways to move your body there is surely one way that will resonate with you. It may take some experimenting. Try some new classes and activities, think outside the box when it comes to exercise. Walking, running, hiking, biking, weightlifting and playing sports are just a few ways you can move your body and clear your mind. There are countless other ways. It is harder to be successful if you force yourself to do things you hate. You may be able to power through for a few weeks or months, but eventually you'll you'll quit. You don't have to fall in love with exercise (like I did) you just have to find a way to not hate it. 

The thing that keeps me going in this business is my passion for fitness and writing. I can wake up every day and write blog articles and workout plans because I genuinely love it. It feeds my soul. It's my creative outlet. Even if no one was reading (thanks for reading) or showing up at my bootcamps, I keep going because I love it. If I were trying to pursue a business in something that I wasn't as passionate about, I may not have the drive to keep going when progress is slow. 

Did I miss anything? The lessons we learn in fitness translate to all facets of life. If you have found success in one area of your life, think about how you can apply those same lessons to your current struggles. 

This whole blog post is just a pep-talk to myself, so if I helped you in some small way, that is a bonus. In fitness I am guilty of saying, "If I can do it anyone can." because when I look back at what I achieved it never seems as hard as I made it out in my own head. But when I'm in the trenches of something new it can feel overwhelming or impossible. Someday I will be looking back at my successful business and say "If I can do it anyone can."

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