Imagine that you have recently gotten married and your favourite uncle has an amazing wedding gift for you. However the gift involves a choice. You have to choose between one of two suitcases: the first one contains $1 million in cash. The second suitcase contains a penny. He instructs you that you can take the $1 million right now and it is all yours, no questions asked, no conditions or catch. On the other hand, if you choose the suitcase with the penny and leave it with him, he will double its value for the next 31 days. Now the question is: which suitcase do you choose? Stop reading for a moment and really ask yourself WHICH SUITCASE WOULD YOU TAKE?

If you pick the first suitcase you have done pretty well. After all, you will be $1 million richer. Nevertheless, you might wonder how much that penny would’ve been worth after doubling itself for 31 days. Well…you better be sitting down when you do the math. That penny will be worth $10, 737,481.24. That’s right, $10.7 million!!!

The penny metaphor illustrates our general approach to health and fitness. We pick the million dollars every time we go on a new diet, buy a piece of exercise equipment that ends up under the bed (there is a reason why all those TV advertisements tell you the stuff can fit under your bed, it stays there!) or make the same New Year resolution every year. Now, no one wants to tell you that you actually have a choice; they just want you to keep taking that million dollar suitcase. I have another reality check for you: maintaining doesn’t exist. You get better or you get worst. If you don’t exercise, don’t eat well and don’t take care of your body, it will not stay the same. It will get worst.

I am here to tell you that you that you do have a choice and the choice is easy to make. You can keep choosing the $1 million or you can take the penny. If you pick the penny, you won’t see a difference after a day of eating healthy nutrient rich foods and one exercise session. You may not even see a difference after a week. After all, your penny will still only be worth 64 cents. However fast forward after a year of healthy eating or even after 10 years or 20 years. What do you think you will look like? How do you think you will you feel? The beauty is that you can do something about it. Even right now if you want too! Just start. Like Nike’s ad: Just Do It!

Here are some of my success strategies to a better you:

1. Start with the end in mind: Know your outcome, write down your goals and work backwards from there. Start easy but progress every 2-4 weeks. Too many people will start quickly and train too often only to quit because their body isn’t conditioned for that level of training. Starting slowly and progressively will allow you to reach your goal much faster.

2. Be conscious of the questions you ask yourself: If you ask yourself why you are fat, your brain will give you an answer you don’t want to hear. If you ask yourself how you can lose weight, you brain will tell you to go on a diet. However, if you ask yourself, how can I lose weight and have fun during the process, you will arrive at a variety of creative answers through a more pleasant process.

3. Keep it simple: There are fitness experts everywhere you look. By using common sense you can live a very healthy lifestyle. If you don’t have any serious health issues, a diet in nutrient-rich foods and regular exercise will go a long way.

4. Modeling: I don’t mean fashion here. Model the behaviour of successful healthy people. Pay attention to their mindset and their rules. For example, a healthy person may have a rule that they have to eat every 3 hours and that most of their food has to be healthy. They may also have “never” rules like “they never eat until they are full” or “they never eat junk food”.

You will encounter hard times where your motivation is low and you just want to give up. During those times, push yourself to start your workout. If after 10 minutes you don’t want to be there, then leave. Even those 10 minutes are better than nothing. Remember the penny story: every little bit counts. You just have to start and slowly keep moving forward. In the end you will be surprised at how healthy you’ve become over time.