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How To Use Intermittent Fasting To Lose Fat While Gaining Muscle

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What if everyone who said breakfast is the most important meal was wrong? Have you ever thought about that?

The people who subscribe to intermittent fasting, including me, don’t eat breakfast at all! Instead, they eat a big meal around 1pm and 8pm, then go around 16 hours without eating again until lunch the next day.

They promise it’s the optimal way to increase muscle and lower body fat at the same time. Plus, they can cut their amount of visits to the gym in half while gaining excellent results. Doesn’t that sound nice?

In this post, you’ll learn how intermittent fasting works and the reasons why you should consider implementing it in your life. Plus, I’ll address your main questions and concerns, because I’m sure skipping breakfast and not eating for more than 12 hours straight seems a bit nuts.

To be honest, I’m being a little selfish in writing this one. Because my motto is always to only write stuff that will give you value. But this one I wrote partly for me because I wanted to do more research on intermittent fasting.

What Is Intermittent Fasting?

how does intermittent fasting work

Intermittent fasting is an eating pattern that’s designed around eating calories at specific times of the day and then not eating at other times.

It’s not some crazy diet where you only consume tofu and water. You eat the same foods as before, hopefully they’re healthy meals, but eat at different times than most people.

Unlike the traditional diet of eating a meal for breakfast, lunch, and dinner—with snacks all in between—people who do intermittent fasting skip a meal and don’t snack. For most people doing this and myself, the meal we skip is breakfast.

Intermittent fasting allows you to become leaner by shedding fat and building muscle, without bulking then not eating for a week straight. This is because when you eat affects how your body reacts and what it does with the food.

In other words, eating in a shorter window helps your body be more efficient with the calories. And this is how you’re able to lose fat and gain muscle at the same time.

I personally love intermittent fasting because it’s easy and simple to pick up. I don’t need a master’s degree in nutrition to know how to do this and get the benefits.

After reading this guide, you won’t need one either!

How Does Intermittent Fasting Work?

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The whole reason intermittent fasting works is based on what your body does during the fed state and fasted state. So you first need to understand the difference between these two.

This is the fed state: After eating a meal, your body begins to break the food down and use what it can for energy during the day. But your body takes the energy you use to walk, talk on the phone, process information, and everything else you do directly from the food you just ate.

Your body isn’t taking energy from the fat stored in you because your insulin levels are high and energy is already accessible. Bottom line, fat burning isn’t happening in the fed state while your body is taking in and digesting food.

This is the fasted state: You haven’t consumed food for around 12 hours, so your body can’t just pull energy from its last meal. It needs a different source now, and to get energy it pulls from the stored fat in your body.

Your body can now burn fat because insulin levels are low and it doesn’t have a recent meal to use for energy. That’s where the fat loss comes from and how you get more lean.

The same process works when you workout in the fasted state. Energy needs to come from somewhere for your muscles to work properly, so your body uses its fat. Not to mention that growth hormones are produced more rapidly in the fasting state for muscle gains. (Also why you can work out less during the week cause you’re getting more out of your workouts.)

Again, if you eat consistently throughout the day your body rarely (or never) enters the fasted state that is so crucial to losing fat.

By shortening the window of when you eat, your body gets a wider window in the fasted state where you lose fat and build muscle.

Why Do Intermittent Fasting?

science-behind-intermittent-fasting

There is a diverse range of reasons to add intermittent fasting to your lifestyle. Let’s start with the most obvious reason.

1. Lose fat

The number one most notable reason to do intermittent fasting is to lose fat. When you go long stretches without eating, you give your body the green light to lose weight because you’re taking in fewer calories for longer periods of time. This calorie restriction during fasting forces your body to take energy from fat, which is exactly what you want, instead of getting energy from the meal you just ate.

2. Become more muscular

The byproduct of fasting also produces insulin sensitivity and increased growth hormone secretion, a process essential to building muscle. And not only are you becoming more muscular, because you’re also losing fat. Meaning you’re becoming more lean overall.

Everyone looks good when they’re lean.

This eating pattern will always have you ready for summer, hitting the beach, or when you need to look good naked for a wedding. Your flat stomach or six pack is on the way.

3. Pushes you to healthier foods

Don’t tell me your body is going to go on an extended fast and then crave unhealthy chips and pretzels. There’s no way!

After you to fast for 12+ hours, your body will want healthy, nutritious food to gain energy. And mentally putting in the effort to do intermittent fasting sets the tone that you’re going to be serious about losing fat, so you’ll naturally want to eat right.

On the other hand, if you’re not intermittent fasting and constantly eating all day, then unhealthy snacks won’t feel like a big problem. You can easily trick yourself that it’s only a little here and there. Or if you eat a terrible meal for breakfast, you can lie and say you’ll eat better for lunch and dinner.

4. Eat big without the consequences

How cool is it that you can eat the same food and same number of calories during intermittent fasting, because shortening the window when you eat makes all the difference? You don’t need to eat like a bird or go vegan to lose weight as many diets will recommend.

While I wouldn’t recommend eating McDonald’s no matter what you’re trying to do, if you continue to put your body in the fasting state each day then you’ll get the results with the occasional bad meal in between.

5. Practice discipline and self-control

I geek out about mastering total discipline over something. It’s truly an empowering feeling when your body desires something but you have the mental strength to resist it and come out on top.

With intermittent fasting, you can win this struggle to not eat or snack and feel the endorphins from doing so every day. Knowing your will directs your actions gives self-confidence for success in other areas at school, work, or in the gym. So it is about becoming leaner, but it’s also about becoming a mentally stronger individual.

6. Improve focus

Skipping breakfast and settling for a coffee and water during fasting has increased my focus in the morning. And I recognize that the more I focus on my writing, the less I think about food. It’s a winning system.

To back me up, researchers have found that decreasing calorie intake improves brain health and function. You learn more and remember more by waiting to eat.

7. Get more free time

Do you go out for breakfast? If you do, I bet you don’t realize how much time goes into thinking of where to eat, traveling to get food, waiting in line, waiting for your food, and then waiting to pay for the bill. Intermittent fasting allows you to avoid all of that.

Or if you’re running late for work or classes in the morning, you don’t need to spend any extra minutes making yourself some food because you’re not eating breakfast.

What could you do with an extra hour each day in the morning?

Sleep longer? Work out? Read? Get a head start on your most important activity of the day?

8. Clearer skin

On the offensive for clearer skin, intermittent fasting produces human growth hormone (HGH) and HGH can improve your skin. On the defensive against breaking out, eating at less times during the day gives your body a break from stress and helps you avoid the acne-causing foods like chocolate, bread, chips, and other heavy-carbohydrate foods.

Intermittent fasting does it all from the inside of your body to the outside for your skin.

9. Age better

Autophagy is the cleansing of your body’s cells to help you look young and decrease the effects of aging. And guess what? The less time you spend eating the more time you give autophagy to repair your cells.

Similar to clearer skin, intermittent fasting helps you age better by helping the body rejuvenate living cells and allowing cells to live longer when the body fasts. This maintenance is powerful for your body and why daily intermittent fasting helps you look your age, or younger.

10. Decreases risk of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease

While serving your body and skin, intermittent fasting doesn’t forget about your brain. This fasting helps your brain’s function and structure. Plus it reduces oxidative stress in the brain, which is a key contributor to brain defects.

Fasting causes more production of proteins in the brain, this leads to growing and connecting neurons, and stronger synapses. All this activity builds a healthier brain that reduces the risk of Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and other brain-related diseases.

11. Helps you live longer

It’s also likely that intermittent fasting helps humans live longer.

A study at USC showed encouraging results for intermittent fasting. And this Scientific American article points out that it helped some animals live longer, while the jury is still out whether fasting helps humans live longer.

But my point is that even if fasting doesn’t help you directly live longer, it helps protect you from diseases like cancer, Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s. In that sense, it absolutely does help you live longer.

12. Save money

Because you’re not snacking and you’re skipping a meal, that’s less snacks and one whole meal you can go without during the day. Seven less meals a week.

Multiply seven less meals a week times 52 weeks and you get 364 less meals a year. If the average meal costs $8, you just saved yourself $2,912. All thanks to intermittent fasting.

Not to mention that intermittent fasting will help you avoid the unquantifiable future doctor and hospital bills from being overweight or obese. That could total $10,000 to $100,000+.

Why Isn’t Intermittent Fasting More Popular?

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I don’t know the answer to that question. Give intermittent fasting enough time and it will produce incredible results for the inside and outside of your body. That’s backed by scientific studies.

But I do have a suspicion or conspiracy (whatever you want to call it), that big pharmaceutical companies and food companies are partly behind it. Here’s why.

There’s no money in fasting. For example, breakfast food companies are going to lose billions if all of America cuts out on eating breakfast. So what do these companies do? They ingrain the idea in everyone’s head that breakfast is the most important meal—with no science to back it up. Snack companies market their products all over the tv and internet to create desire for their unnecessary products.

And pharmaceutical companies lose billions when people use intermittent fasting to become healthier, eat more nutritious foods, exercise more, and require less medicine. So why would they publish research in articles that go against their business plan? They wouldn’t, and don’t.

It’s not just me who thinks this.

Editor in Chief of The Lancet, Dr. Richard Horton, said that much of the published scientific literature is simply untrue. Harvard Professor of Medicine, Arnold S. Relman, stated that the pharmaceutical industry has bought the medical profession. And other doctors have spoken out about the lies from the pharmaceutical industry.

The other reason it’s not popular is because people hate getting out of their comfort zone. If they’ve always eaten breakfast, they’re very unlikely to challenge themselves to do something different and go without food. They’re not going to question conventional wisdom, even if it’s worse for them.

As a Take Your Success reader, I’m hoping that you’re up to the challenge of fasting for a longer window and then seeing the results.

It’s encouraging when you know that the facts are behind intermittent fasting, not some companies false marketing plan about eating right when you wake up.

Final Words

intermittent-fasting-good-or-bad

With all of those benefits I listed above, there’s no reason not to try intermittent fasting for yourself.

Remember, it’s simple to plan. And over time you’ll train your body to make skipping a morning meal simple to execute as it becomes a habit you don’t think about.

Just follow an eating schedule like this:

  • 1pm to 8pm – Eat two or three meals in this window
  • 8:01pm to 12:59pm – Fast, but you’re allowed to drink coffee, water, or tea

If you’re a female, I’ve read that you should have a shorter fasting window because your body is biologically different from a male. So a woman’s eating schedule might look like this:

  • 10am to 8pm – Eat two or three meals in this window
  • 8:01pm to 9:59am – Fast, but you’re allowed to drink coffee, water, or tea

(You can read more about the effects of intermittent fasting for females here.)

To be clear, my true goal in this post is to get you to experiment it and try it out yourself. It could be the best thing you ever do for your body and you love it. You lose weight, get cut, and feel great. Or if it it’s not working for you for some reason, now you tried it.

Since you’re not going to die from intermittent fasting, the only risk is not trying it and never knowing how it works for you. Or do research on your own. Knowledge is power.

As you can tell, I’m personally a big fan of it and it feels great knowing I control my body and not the other way around.

And there you have the basics of intermittent fasting. Now it’s time for the gains!

*If you have any medical condition related to blood sugar (like diabetes or suffer from hypoglycemia), I highly advise you to discuss this with your doctor before making any big changes to your diet.

What questions do you have about intermittent fasting? Is it something you’re going to do now? Why or why not? I’d love to read what you think in the comments below.

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Health & Fitness

30 Day Plank Challenge: Plank For 5 Minutes On Last Day

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Imagine how pumped up you’re going to be after you complete the 30 Day Plank Challenge? You’ll feel like a rockstar, with abs to prove your hard work.

What I appreciate about the plank is that it’s totally a matter of willpower when it comes to who is willing to get on the ground and do it and who is not.

You don’t need to be tall, fast, strong, or have any physical quality to do this activity. It just comes down to are you a hard worker or not?

This choice alone separates successful people from others in this physical arena and all areas of life, honestly—which I love.

It’s also always wise to test yourself every once in awhile. Since the last personal challenge on Take Your Success happened eight months ago (the gratitude challenge), there’s no more time for slacking.

So for this edition we’re going to be tackling the plank exercise for an entire month straight.

Before we get into the specifics of this challenge, you first need to know the many benefits of planking.

Health Benefits Of The Plank Exercise

I doubt you’re informed about all of the various ways your body thrives when you plank on a consistent basis.

Let’s change that and boost your motivation by learning the pros of staying in the plank position.

Strengthen your core – Planks are arguably the safest and best exercise to strengthen your body’s core since it activates all muscles in this area. Do this exercise enough and you’ll build strong inner core muscles that will pay off for daily function and a sexy appearance.

Flatten your abs – Not everyone wants a glorious six pack, but we could all use a more tightened stomach and abs for when we take our shirt off. Of course diet is more than half the battle for a smooth stomach, but don’t discredit the power of planking to flatten your abs and bring you more confidence about your physical appearance.

Better your posture – By planking, you improve the alignment of your spine, joints, and bones. This helps your body move more efficiently and healthy during every day activities. And better posture improves the first impression you give to others, your body’s energy, and, heck, sitting straighter at a work meeting could be the signal of confidence that persuades your boss to give you a raise.

Reduce back pain – We just covered how better posture improves how you present yourselves to others and feel every day. Though a straightened spine also means less back pain. This study finds that almost 80% of Americans will have back pain sooner or later. That’s a warning sign that we all should plank more often to reduce this nagging affliction.

Become more athletic – With a more stabilized core, your body’s coordination increases allowing your athleticism to improve. You don’t have to be an athlete to appreciate some extra athleticism whether it’s needed at the gym, a sports league with your friends, or some random work event that uses your core muscles.

Speed up your metabolism – Want to lose weight and burn more calories? The plank also delivers in this area, and does much better than crunches or regular ab exercises. The best part of this movement is that it forces your body to continue to burn calories long after you’re done with it, so you get to enjoy a sped up metabolic rate the rest of the day—even when you’re sleeping.

Decrease odds of injury – Doing the plank is wonderful from an injury-prevention perspective because it strengthens your body’s core while not putting too much pressure on your hips, spine, and back muscles. Plus a stronger core means your body has a bigger shield, in a sense, to prevent bodily injuries.

Improve your mood – When you exercise your core with a long and hard plank routine, you release stress from the nervous system to improve your overall mood. That’s why planking can ease your mental worries and lighten your depression since it gives your body an outlet for feeling mentally and physically weighed down.

How can you say you don’t love the plank exercise now? Make this exercise a part of your daily routine and all of those benefits come to you.

To help you follow through, follow an official daily schedule for one entire month.

30 Day Plank Challenge Rules

The goal of the regimented schedule below is to both build up the strength of your core and hold you accountable.

Stick with this schedule without missing a day and you’re going to be shocked at what you can physically accomplish in just one month.

Here’s the daily schedule to complete the 30 Day Plank Challenge:

  • Day 1: 20 seconds
  • Day 2: 20 seconds
  • Day 3: 30 seconds
  • Day 4: 30 seconds
  • Day 5: 40 seconds
  • Day 6: Rest
  • Day 7: 45 seconds
  • Day 8: 45 seconds
  • Day 9: 1 minute
  • Day 10: 1 minute
  • Day 11: 1 minute
  • Day 12: 1 ½ minutes
  • Day 13: Rest
  • Day 14: 1 ½ minutes
  • Day 15: 1 ½ minutes
  • Day 16: 2 minutes
  • Day 17: 2 minutes
  • Day 18: 2 ½ minutes
  • Day 19: Rest
  • Day 20: 2 ½ minutes
  • Day 21: 2 ½ minutes
  • Day 22: 3 minutes
  • Day 23: 3 minutes
  • Day 24: 3 ½ minutes
  • Day 25: 3 ½ minutes
  • Day 26: Rest
  • Day 27: 4 minutes
  • Day 28: 4 minutes
  • Day 29: 4 ½ minutes
  • Day 30: 5 minutes

Don’t be frightened by the thought of planking for 5 minutes on day 30. By that point you’ll have significantly strengthened your core and trained your mind to stick in there when things get tough.

The hardest part will be to actually get started and then maintain proper form while planking. The latter is what I’m going to cover next.

What’s Proper Planking Form?

You’ll defeat the purpose of this challenge and lose out on the physical benefits of planking if your form is terrible.

Keep it right and tight to maximize the core gains that are sure to come after you do the following routine, step-by-step for the next month.

This is proper plank form:

  1. Get into push-up position.
  2. Bend your elbows 90 degrees and rest your body weight on your forearms.
  3. Keep your upper body and lower body on a flat straight line.
  4. Look at the floor and relax your head.
  5. Hold this stance for as long as you can while maintaining proper form.
  6. Don’t stop breathing, inhale and exhale at a slow normal rate.

See what I mean that anyone can do it?

It’s a simple exercise when you consider the fact you need no gym equipment, no weights, no workout partner, and no specific environment to start planking and strengthening your core.

Exercises like this don’t discriminate from the poor who can’t afford fancy gyms, so no one has an excuse for why they can’t plank to get better.

Take It 1 Day At A Time

Like any great individual journey, you’ll perform best if you stay laser focused to take this challenge one day at a time.

It does you no good to worry about how you’re going to plank as long as you need to reach next week’s time when today is the only mission that matters. Stick to today, worry about tomorrow when tomorrow comes.

If it helps, know that I’m going to be busting my tail to complete this 30 Day Plank Challenge as well.

We’re in this together. You got this, I got this, and we got this!

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How To Plank: Why This Is My Favorite Exercise!

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Whether your motive is looking better with your shirt off, feeling more in shape, or strengthening your body, you’ll want to know how to plank.

It might change, but right now this is my favorite exercise on the planet.

Watch this short video to get a quick explanation of the plank and how to do it to perfection:

In case you didn’t watch the clip or catch the steps to do a perfect plank, here they are:

  1. Get into push-up position
  2. Bend your elbows 90 degrees and rest your body weight on your forearms
  3. Keep your upper body and lower body on a flat straight line
  4. Look at the floor and relax your head
  5. Hold this stance for as long as you can while maintaining proper form
  6. Don’t stop breathing, inhale and exhale at a slow normal rate

That’s all it takes to build your core and get stronger muscles. Isn’t the plank simple?

Plus you can plank daily to challenge your abs, where it’s not smart to do chest, biceps, or leg exercises daily. This is another W for the plank!

How often do you plank?

What’s your experience with it?

For how long can you plank without putting your butt in the air and arching your back?

Challenge yourself to start doing this weekly (it doesn’t have to be daily). Note how long you last, with good form, the first time you plank. Then take baby steps to feel the burn and go longer next time. And repeat this process.

Imagine how much progress you can make in 6, 12, and 18 months?

It’s for this reason that you better believe I’m planking tonight. Join me!

Related:

30 Day Push-Up Challenge: Get A Beefier & Fuller Chest

The 7 Day No Bad Sugar Challenge

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Health & Fitness

111 Reasons To Exercise

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Not in a regular workout routine? Maybe the problem is you don’t realize the importance of physical activity. I’ll fix that with these 111 reasons to exercise.

You may not like reading this list because then you don’t have the excuse of ignorance. Sorry to bury your excuses.

After reading this it’ll just be pure laziness if you’re not exercising and pushing your body to get in shape. That’s 100% on you.

But I got faith in you. You can build this habit—slowly but surely—and become a more fit version of yourself.

Take it day by day. That’s the key. Don’t expect to lose 10 pounds in a week, then get frustrated you’re not seeing immediate progress. All good things take time.

Alright, let’s dive into every single reason to work out!

The Benefits Of Exercise

  1. Betters your quality of life
  2. Gives you more energy throughout the day
  3. Helps you fall asleep quicker at night
  4. Works to prevent the common cold
  5. Boosts productivity all day
  6. Improves your blood flow
  7. Provides endorphins to feel good
  8. Fights against depression
  9. Improves your social confidence
  10. Extends the amount of years you live
  11. Stimulates mental focus and concentration
  12. Lowers your body fat and weight
  13. Strengthens your immune system
  14. Presents opportunities to make new friends
  15. Increases testosterone
  16. Lessens risk of joint pain
  17. Tones and strengthens your skin
  18. Enhances your endurance
  19. Protects you against heart disease
  20. Lowers risk of some cancers
  21. Convinces you you’re stronger than you think
  22. Fights against dementia
  23. Motivates you to eat healthier
  24. Burns extra calories
  25. Provides a creative outlet
  26. Helps you feel sexier
  27. Drives more romance in your relationship
  28. Lowers cholesterol in a natural way
  29. Makes your dog healthier and happier with more walks
  30. Decreases your resting heart rate
  31. Instills discipline and self-control
  32. Teaches your kids to exercise
  33. Increases your work performance
  34. Adds a challenge to your day
  35. Strengthens your bones
  36. Develops your athletic ability
  37. Pushes you to take more risks
  38. Digests your food better
  39. Lowers risk of diabetes
  40. Lowers triglycerides
  41. Aids your immune system fighting infections
  42. Improves emotional stability
  43. Gives you a positive goal to attach your energy to
  44. Alleviates constipation
  45. Stimulates pain-releasing hormones
  46. Improves oxygen movement to the body
  47. Lowers the risk of osteoporosis
  48. Speeds up your metabolism
  49. Helps remove lactic acid in the body
  50. Develops a mindset of self improvement
  51. Straightens up your posture
  52. Provides a healthy habit to exercise more
  53. Develops flexibility and range of motion
  54. Makes it easier to fit into different types of clothes
  55. Gives you a social setting to meet like-minded people
  56. Helps you think positive
  57. Saves you doctor bills down the road
  58. Increases creativity
  59. Allows you to eat unhealthy without getting fat
  60. Makes you drink more water
  61. Protects your eyes and eyesight
  62. Creates a mentality of respecting your body
  63. Builds muscle tone
  64. Provides opportunities to test your willpower
  65. Fights against allergies
  66. Makes you look younger than you are
  67. Prepares you for change
  68. Increases fertility for making babies
  69. Improves body control
  70. Allows your brain to think more clearly
  71. Helps your body store glycogen
  72. Boosts your body’s production of good fat
  73. Gets you comfortable handling pressure
  74. Decreases appetite for sugary drinks and unhealthy food
  75. Adds muscle strength
  76. Makes you feel hungrier after a good workout
  77. Takes away guilt when you do relax
  78. Increases the odds you make more money
  79. Reduces blood pressure
  80. Teaches you a lesson in patience to see body progress
  81. Alleviates back pain
  82. Readies you for any reunion, wedding, or social gathering
  83. Improves breathing ability
  84. Gives you a chance at a six pack
  85. Instills belief that you can achieve your goals and follow through
  86. Eases menstrual cramps
  87. Gets you ready to run a marathon
  88. Improves your business network and connections
  89. Provides an excuse to wear and buy new exercise clothes
  90. Improves reaction time
  91. Presents opportunities to find new business ideas
  92. Makes for a free social activity
  93. Reduces stress and anxiety
  94. Fights against feelings of boredom
  95. Protects against age-related muscle loss
  96. Gives you a pretty mirror view
  97. Raises your sexual performance
  98. Allows you to eat more food
  99. Makes you a more interesting person
  100. Prepares you to always look good in swimsuits
  101. Builds muscle size
  102. Adds a glow to your skin complexion
  103. Teaches you the value of hard work
  104. Gives you a reason to manage your time better
  105. Protects your body against injury
  106. Decreases the difficulty of lifting heavy objects
  107. Encourages the people around you to exercise
  108. Adds to your first impression
  109. Lowers the scary thought of stepping on a scale
  110. Increases compliments you receive from other people
  111. Gives your body what it loves, a good workout

If those 111 arguments didn’t convince you to take your health serious and begin a consistent exercise plan, I give up. You may be hopeless.

Just kidding. I know that’s not true. Even the most overweight, out-of-shape person can make a turn for the better to prioritize exercise.

And I know after reading this some of you will think, “Exercise is awesome. I’m going to get shredded for the beach this summer.” But then you’ll continue to not work out like nothing changed.

There’s only one road to getting in better shape, and it requires a bunch of sweat.

So snap out of it.  Start exercising like you know you should. Get committed.

You owe it to your mind and body at the very least. Otherwise you’ll steal those 111 reasons from yourself.

And as I wrote in this article, the best time to start is now.

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