You Can Lead a Horse to the Gym, But You Can’t Make Him Workout

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As a fitness coach, there’s only so much I can do to help my clients. I can tell them what to do and why it’s important. I can provide an effective plan and strategy that will help them achieve their goals. I can help them narrow down the most important things to focus on. I can help them work through difficult issues that could be hindering them. I can help elicit temporary feelings of motivation. I can help them learn how to be their own coach. And there are many other things that a coach, teacher, or trainer can do to help their clients.

Unfortunately, I can’t do the work for them. No doubt you’ve heard the saying, “you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink.” Well, that metaphor is true for a lot of things, and the pursuit of physical fitness is one of them.

You see…

  • You can take your buddy to the gym, but you can’t make him train.
  • You can schedule a personal training session with a new client, but you can’t make them prepare.
  • You can provide healthy options, but you can’t make her choose them.
  • You can invite your co-workers to the hike, but you can’t make them show up.
  • You can make a nutritious dinner, but you can’t stop your spouse from hitting the drive-thru on the way home.
  • You can buy your daughter a new pair of shoes, but you can’t make her go for a run.
  • You can challenge him all you want, but you can’t force him to accept.
  • You can do everything in your power to help them succeed, but you can’t do the work for them.

Sure, you can help. But you can’t make them show up, put in the effort, and get out of their comfort zone day-in and day-out. You can’t force them to eat healthy, nutritious, goal-supporting foods either. And you definitely can’t make them get to bed on time – or get up early, for that matter. Plus, you can’t choose the things they read, people they listen to, or the thoughts and beliefs they choose to entertain. In fact, there are a ton of things that are outside of our control when it comes to helping people. There’s only so much we can do.

So, let me level with you here. I wish I could help you. I really do. It’s just who I am. But I can’t help you if you’re not willing to help yourself. It’s just a fact of life. You must take personal responsibility over your health and fitness. This is critical. And if you skip this step, blow it off,┬áignore it again, or downplay it in any way, you will not succeed.

FACT: I can’t help you with your health and fitness if you’re not willing to help yourself.

Of course, if you’re reading this, then at the very least, there’s a faint desire to help yourself. And that’s a good start. It might even be enough to get you moving in the right direction – to put a stake in the ground and say that today I made a change.

So, the first thing you need to do is accept complete responsibility over your current state of health and fitness. Take ownership of it. Be honest and level with yourself. Stop playing the blame game. Stop making excuses. Just stop. The time for that kind of thinking and acting is over. It hasn’t gotten you anywhere. And now, if you’re ready to move on and actually succeed, you’re going to have to change some things.

Next, you need to take immediate action to change. And it doesn’t have to be some massive, epic undertaking. You don’t have to turn your whole life upside down on day one. You just need to get started and work on replacing old habits with new positive habits – one at a time, using baby steps to get you there.

It may not sound exciting, but it works. And it’s how successful people do it. It’s the master blueprint, if you will. And the day that you accept that, is the day that you will begin to create the new you – one easy step at a time.

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One Response

  1. Good article, I agree. If the person doesn’t have the WILLPOWER to change, he or she will never change regardless of all the help in the world they get.

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