You can't reach your long-term fitness goals by investing in short-term solutions. Author Dean Dwyer's formula will help you do less but achieve more through the magic of consistency.
You have likely heard me mention how, when it comes to overall and general fitness, being consistent with your daily movement (and workouts) is more important than how intensely your work out. But I haven’t spent as much time explaining why that is or how you can use that information. So when I saw a friend of mine posted an image that read “We can’t have long-term success if we keep investing in short-term solutions,” I knew I needed to have him as a guest on the Get-Fit Guy podcast.
My guest on this episode is Dean Dwyer, author of the book, Make Shift Happen, creator of the Extraordinary Willpower course, and the host of The Mindset Show. He is a former educator who now spends his time teaching others how they can be successful in their own lives to change how they look, work and live.
Here's the quick version of why I invited Dean on the podcast to talk about consistency. On July 19, 2019, Dean was 53-years-old and very unhappy with the state of his body and health. He was overweight, not able to do the things he wanted to be able to do, and could feel age creeping up on him. After some amount of wallowing (this is me speaking as his friend), he really turned things around.
Fast forward to now. Dean is 55-years-old and it's not an exaggeration to say that he looks like a new man. But, and this is even more important, he doesn't just look different—he can do things with his body that he couldn’t do when he was younger. Which, as he will mention later, is something that somewhat flies in the face of conventional wisdom. I mean don’t we all fall apart after we hit 40? (I say that with my tongue firmly planted in my cheek.)
So, as I always say when I have a guest on the podcast, please consider listening to the audio version of this episode by pressing the play button at the top of this page. But if you can't listen or prefer to read, here's a transcript of what Dean had to share.
Dean Dwyer on consistency
Hey, how you doing? My name is Dean Dwyer. I am the creator of a website called thesuccessfulbody.com, and what I do is teach people how to build highly successful bodies by doing less, longer.
I've had the good fortune to have Brock invite me on to talk about a subject that I am super passionate about. And it's a topic that is completely misunderstood. It's extremely powerful but it's also extremely misunderstood. And that's the concept, or what I like to call, the life-changing magic of consistency.
I've actually taken a very counterintuitive approach to building my version of a successful body.
I have done something I have never ever, ever been able to do in my life, which is to sustain the results that I've actually gotten. And so I want to tell you my philosophy in terms of how I go about approaching things.
I don't read weight loss books. I don't follow diets. I'm not pursuing people who have exercise programs and those sorts of things. That’s to say, I've actually taken a very counterintuitive approach to building my version of a successful body. And actually, that name is deliberate because I believe that the principles of a successful business can also be applied to building a successful body. I don't actually read weight loss books and fitness books; I read business and investing books and I steal those concepts, and I apply them to my body.
And so what I did—and I kind of stumbled onto this, but this was also a real game-changer for me—was to look at all my past successes that ultimately ended up in failure. Because I had about eight or 10 different times in my life where I felt like I was trending in the right direction, but the wheels always fell off. And so I looked at all those ultimate failures and it turned out that there was one thing they all had in common. And that one thing was that I stopped doing the things that were actually working. So, whatever was getting me results ... I stopped doing them. And the way that I started thinking about this was that I was violating what I call "the law of cause and effect." And the “law of cause and effect” is pretty simple: When you remove the cause, you remove the effect.
And I know, saying that, you go "yeah, of course, that makes complete sense." Yet we violate that all the time, right? We constantly invest in these numbered solutions. And a numbered solution is like, "hey, seven days for this," and "14 days for that," and "30 days for this."
Here's the problem with those things: They might get you short term results but we don't continue to do those things, right? We only do them for the seven days. We only do them for the 14 days or the 30 days. The moment we stop doing whatever it is that's gotten us results, we will eventually lose the effect. And the reason for that, again, we violate the “law of cause and effect. “
So, here was my ultimate solution, and it was actually really simple. It was two words: Stop stopping.
If I wanted to have success, then I needed to stop stopping whatever was actually going to get me the results that I wanted to get. And so what I did is I took that, and I thought okay, let's build a philosophy around this. And my philosophy was really composed of three things.
Number one, I was only going to invest in a handful of vital behaviours. In the past, I was doing a gazillion different things. I was just doing stuff. And I thought, "okay, I'm not going to do that this time." Because first of all, I don't want to spend a ton of time doing this. I want to do the least possible to get the greatest return on investment. So moving forward, I was only going to focus on vital behaviors or those things that gave me the greatest return on my investment.
The second thing was, I was going to do them daily. So, whatever it was I decided I was going to do, I had to be able to do it every single day.
And then the third thing was I was going to do them for a lifetime. And my mindset around that was "don't think in days, thinking decades." Which actually had a really profound impact. Because when I started thinking about behaviors I wanted to adopt the mindset was "could I be doing this a year from now? Could I be doing this five years from now? Could it be doing it 10 years from now?" And having that kind of mindset really made me think about, okay, how do I begin implementing this so I actually can do it a year from now and I can be doing it five years from now, and 10 years from now? And I've had great success doing that.
Today is day 571. And for me, I ultimately settled on 10 vital behaviors. That's a whole other different talk. But actually and if you're interested in my vital behaviours, Brock will put a link to my website [in the show notes]. You can download them for free and you can see the 10 things I'm currently doing. But I do 10 things every single day.
Today is day 571, which is a little over a year and a half. So my next goal is to get to two years, which is 700 and some odd days. And then to get to 1000, and then to 2000, 5000 and 10,000. Which again (for those of you playing along at home) that's 27.3 years. But that's the way I think about this now.
A consistency formula
But now we've got to make this tangible for you. And what I want to give you is a mental model, a way for you to think/visualize consistent consistency. Because here's the problem with consistency. We all understand the word nobody's gonna say "Oh, my God, I've never heard of this concept of consistency. Dean, what an amazing concept!" Like, we've all heard of it, right? The problem is, we don't know what it actually looks like. And I realized, I didn't know what it looked like.
We've all heard of consistency. The problem is, we don't know what it actually looks like.
What I ultimately created for myself was a formula. And here's the formula for consistency. It's vital behaviors x frequency x duration.
Let me just break that down.
So, vital behaviors. Again, for me, the word “vital” is really important. I'm not just looking to do behaviors, I'm only looking to do the things that give me the greatest return on my investment. So if it's just stuff, I'm not doing it.
Vital behaviors x frequency. For me, I believe that “daily” is more powerful than “intermittent.” Now, that's a personal bias. But the reason that I like “daily” is that I get to practice it at least once a day, right? And practice is a big part of this, right? It's teaching myself how to do something. So I always default to “daily.” So I will take something really big and break it down into something small so I can do it every single day.
And then the last part is duration. I'm not looking to do it for days, I'm looking to do it for a lifetime. And the way that I think about this is sort of the opposite of how everybody else approaches this. I'm actually looking to leverage time's length, the opposite where everybody else wants to do things really, really quickly. My mindset is to do less but do it for a lifetime.
So I'll give you two quick examples of how that played out for me on my journey. The first was, on July 19, 2020, I started this. I wanted to be able to push my own bodyweight. So I thought, I'm just going to start with push-ups. So I settled on doing 100.
Now, 100 was an arbitrary number. I have an athletic background so I knew I could do push-ups and I thought 100 seemed doable. And it turned out that it was.
Again, I was trying to find a threshold. I wasn't looking to do a million pushups, I just thought, What's a good number? So I thought, I'm just going to do 100. And that's all I focused on. I didn't do anything else. I didn't add any other exercises. I thought, I just want to do this for the next 30 days, and teach myself how to do 100 pushups.
And I would do them in intervals of 25. And, at the time, I couldn't do 25. So I would do 20, I'd rest for a couple of seconds, and then I finished off the last five. And then I would do three more sets throughout the context of my day. Not all at once—I just worked it out so that before I went to bed, I had done 100 push-ups.
And after a month one, when I felt like, Okay, I feel now that this is sort of part of who I am, the next part was I thought, Okay, I want to be able to pull my own body weight. So then I introduced pull-ups. And I could only do two (and I sounded like I was giving birth). So I thought, Okay, I'm going to do five a day. And so I decided to do a set of two and a set of one. And then my 100 push-ups.
But again, with the idea that I'm going to do these every single day. And as I mentioned earlier, today's day 571. Now I do 20 pull-ups a day, and I'm still doing my pushups. So whatever I'm going to implement, I'm doing it for a lifetime. I'm not just going to do it for 30, 60, 90 days.
Your consistency assignment
All right. Now, let me end this by giving you a couple of takeaways. And here's the first.
Imagine that you and I are sitting down, we're having coffee, and I slide a napkin across the table and I say, "Okay, on the napkin, I want you to write down all the vital behaviors that you have done for the last 30 days. Okay? And you've done them every single day." Now, this is your self-assessment. And it's an opportunity to sit back and reflect on "do I have any vital behaviors?"
And if you don't, I don't want you to beat yourself up over that because that means there are tremendous growth opportunities for you. So it's not a big deal if you don't have any because hopefully, I'm introducing a new way to start thinking about this, right? So, if you don't have any, that's great, but identify what you have currently been doing.
The truth is, the reason we struggle is that we keep stopping whatever it was we were doing.
Because what I have found is that the reason we struggle, it's not because we're lazy or unmotivated or any of those other adjectives that people like to use to easily and quickly describe why we're not getting results. The truth is, the reason we struggle is that we keep stopping whatever it was we were doing. So, you want to say "if I'm going to do this, I'm going to do this for a lifetime, not just for 30, 60, 90 days." So, the first thing is to do a self-assessment of any vital behaviours you're currently doing.
The next part is you want to start implementing additional vital behaviors that are going to help you get the results you want. But here's the big key here: just start with one.
When I talked about push-ups, notice when I did push-ups, I only did push-ups because I knew what would happen, right? I am an extreme junkie. And so I could be like, "oh, let's do everything at once!" And it's like, "dude, you already know how this ends. It ends badly. You just end up burning yourself out."
Pick one thing that you want to focus on and give yourself at least 30 days to work the bugs out and find your threshold.
So all I'm going to say to you is pick one thing that you want to focus on and give yourself at least 30 days to work out the bugs of like, what's the threshold?—whatever the bugs are—so that you show up and you do it regularly.
Final consistency thought
So let me end my little presentation on consistency by just giving you one final thought on my journey, and hopefully what will ultimately be your journey.
One of the things that I like about my story is that I've created change at an age where people think change can't happen. I'm currently 55 and I have sustained all these amazing results that I've gotten for myself. And a lot of people want to make this really complex in terms of what I'm doing. But the secret to my success is really simple. I have 10 vital behaviors that I can write on a sticky note. And I wake up every day and my job is just to do my 10 vital behaviors. That's my only job. Do my 10 vital behaviours without fail. And it's been 571 days and counting.
Think of it like a positive Groundhog Day (the movie). Every day I wake up, I know the 10 things I have to do. And I do them.
That is it, my friend. I hope you got some value from this now. Go be awesome today.