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5 Lessons Working Out Teaches You About Success

Written by: Teresa Cedeno, Executive Contributor

Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.


When I started working out five years ago to lose weight I had a ton of enthusiasm and I was making visible progress which fueled my excitement! Over time though, the novelty wore off and so did my motivation but I still hadn’t reached my goals so I needed to find a system to support my consistency. In order to maintain a habit of going to the gym and eating healthy I had to accept I was capable of changing. I needed to learn new skills. I needed to learn new skills, some of them very specific to my goals such as creating workout plans, cooking, exercise form, and body awareness, but I also needed to acquire a set of universal skills such as discipline, patience, humility, and perseverance. It was through the process and progress of working out that I learned five important lessons about change and success, five lessons that went beyond the scope of health and fitness into career, success, and life fulfillment.

1. Change is Created through Daily Actions

When I first decided to workout and eat healthy I really thought a declaration was all you needed. How wrong was I, while saying your goals out loud is a good daily affirmation, it’s barely the first step in changing your lifestyle. Your lifestyle is what you do on the daily, the actions you take and the decisions you make, so if you want to be more organized, a better communicator, or a better business owner, find actions that help you become these things. To be more organized, follow the “don’t put it down rule” where you cannot leave things outside of their designated place. Receipts for taxes go into your tax folder, not in a drawer for you to put in your tax folder later. To be a better communicator, watch TED talks or other great communicators to learn the skills they use to formulate their ideas into powerful messages. Most importantly, don’t just absorb the information but actually do it. Take the lessons to be a better communicator and practice them on your social media copywriting or your next client. Overcome that fear of failure and imperfection by taking action. Even the smallest action towards your goal will lead to change as long as you do it consistently.

When you start changing the actions you take and the choices you make your life will suddenly begin to feel different and be different. When I was changing to a healthy lifestyle, it meant choosing to add vegetables to my meals so that I created a healthy diet. Now as a business owner, I’ve put into play actions like learning more about personal training through watching education videos and expanding my social media reach through daily interactions and posting. Thinking of change as a series of daily actions makes the act of changing something attainable. Rather than accepting some people are more driven or more talented than you, you can view skills and traits as things you can attain. Change is not a switch you flip but rather a flight of stairs that you climb until you reach your goals or ideal lifestyle. It doesn’t matter what aspect of your life you want to change, whether you want to get fitter or you want to become a better leader. Improvement and change occurs from small progressive steps forward and what seems uncomfortable and unreachable today will become your new normal eventually, just keep trying and stay consistent. 2. Focus on Progress over Perfection

When I first began to workout and lose weight I thought I would simply keep going to the gym and soon I would reach my goal weight, but fitness journeys, business growth, and success, in general, are not a linear path. The journey is packed with mountains, valleys, and plateaus. As much as we want to be perfect or believe a perfect plan of action exists, it doesn’t. Going through phases of consistent progress and plateaus taught me the best strategy to keep moving forward through the ups and downs is to focus on progress rather than perfection. Many times I created a meal plan and workout routine that maximized my progress but also took a lot of time and energy. After a week or two, I would end up following only 40% of it. Life got in the way, a change in schedule or errands would derail my routine and now I had less time for my workout. Or I would feel overwhelmed with the amount of work on my plate and would procrastinate on cooking to prioritize meeting my deadlines. Rather than putting myself down, I began realizing an important lesson. While I was not being perfect, I was still doing more than when I started and that meant I was still progressing.

The same valley and plateaus can happen in business, say you had a goal to scale your business from $50k to $100k but at the end of the year your business made $85k instead. Well, you still progressed towards your ultimate goal of growing. You learned skills that made your business earn $35k more than the year before. Just because things aren’t going according to your plan doesn’t mean you give up on it. All or nothing is a dangerous way of thinking because it's not a flexible plan and can’t be adjusted when life isn’t perfect. So waiting until perfect conditions to start your business or start your new lifestyle isn’t going to make you see progress. Instead of waiting for perfect conditions, strive for a little better than where you currently stand. Soon enough you’ll overcome the valley or plateaus and be climbing a mountain of success once again. 3. Show Up Even When You Don’t Want To

Of course, there were days where I didn’t feel like working out and there are days where we don’t feel like doing anything, that’s where discipline comes into play. Discipline is desiring the long-term benefit and happiness over the immediate gratification of skipping a task. Doing a pull up once a month will never yield the same progress as doing a pull up every day and the same goes with other habits outside the gym. Reading a book or watching an educational video once a week will yield more learning and growth than attending a weekend conference once a year.

The 10-minute rule works great when you’re feeling unmotivated. It goes like this, commits to do a task you’re dreading for 10 mins. If after 10 minutes you get into a flow then keep going. If you’re having trouble concentrating, take a break and commit yourself to another 10-minute round later. Starting a task is often more challenging than continuing it so 9 out of 10 times you’ll keep working after 10 minutes. Although it may not be your favorite part of your day or week, do your future self a favor and do that thing you said you were going to do.

It also helps when you change the dialogue in your head. Rather than saying, “I have to or I should do [insert thing]” switch your language to “I want to or I get to do [insert thing]”. So that, “I need to do research before my next meeting” becomes, “I get the chance to present my ideas and show my leadership in the next meeting so I want to be as prepared as possible”. Our brain likes when we choose to do things rather than feel like we are obligated to do tasks. By taking ownership of our choices and self-improvement we will feel more motivated to follow

through with them and after a while these things on your to-do list will become routine. Discipline doesn’t always have to be tortuous or militant, it really is more about setting your future self up for success. 4. Challenge Makes Success Sweeter

The more challenging a goal, the more confidence you will gain from reaching it. One of the biggest lessons rock climbing has taught me is how interconnected challenges and confidence are. Struggling week after week on a climbing problem is extremely frustrating but once I finally figure out how to climb it. I feel a confidence boost which invigorates me to attempt a harder climb. What I once thought was challenging becomes doable therefore my performance level increases. Similarly in the business world, you’re going to encounter a lot of challenges and situations outside your comfort zone. Maybe the challenge for you is pitching to an angel investor, taking on a big project, or switching your company’s direction. Once you overcome the fears and logistics of a big project you’ll feel accomplished and confident. The assurance that you will succeed increases and you’ll feel more empowered to take on bigger projects.

When a project is easy, you value it less simply because it was easily attainable. When a project is challenging on the other hand you value it more because you learn new skills and practice perseverance. The frustration and novelty of the challenge is strangely a motivator which will fuel your desire to figure out a solution. Challenge is an opportunity in disguise because it allows you to practice traits that make you a better person, a more determined leader, and a more confident creator. 5. Feed Off Others’ Knowledge

I never understood the power of a collective mind until I befriended the trainers at the gym. Being around fitness experts allowed me to expand my knowledge extensively. It was convenient to know I was learning information from those that had studied it rather than trying to connect the dots myself. Being around people who were also fascinated by fitness and human physiology inspired and motivated me to try new exercises and thinking critically about information I was taking in. The interaction with like-minded peers increased my network and accelerated my success. Which brings me to the last lesson of this article: learn from others.

Learning from others arms you with new knowledge and skills that help you succeed. When we isolate ourselves we can get stuck in one way of thinking which limits our creativity and our ability to solve a problem. American author and business consultant, Ken Blanchard has a great quote that says, “None of us is as smart as all of us”. Surrounding yourself with like-minded people motivates you and gives you a huge opportunity to learn regardless of the field you’re in. There will always be lessons you can incorporate from those that have reached similar goals.

Whenever I collaborate with another podcast for example, I always learn new ways of marketing and communication. Plus I feel a fire of motivation lit within me when I see my peers passionate about their work. The trickiest part is finding a community or mentors that have been in your shoes or aspire to reach the same goals as you. It’s almost like test-driving a new car, you have to try a few before finding the model you like best. Nonetheless, you’ll gain some new knowledge from different interactions, Zoom Zoom…


When I first started on my fitness journey I thought that it would be just that, a journey to improve my health and physical appearance, turns out that it translates to overall health and success. These 5 workout lessons become universal skills that you can apply to your life, regardless of your line of work or your goals. The skills of persersevance, patience, discipline, and open-mindedness provide you with the best chance to grow and progress. Now I suggest you rank these skills from your strongest to the ones that need attention and start brainstorming ways you can practice them throughout your day. You can try the 10-minute rule to get you motivated to do those things on your to-do list that you’re dreading. Or figure out one action to add to your routine that will help you initiate larger change. Learning these skills and experimenting ways to add them into my lifestyle helped me earn 6 fitness certifications, open a personal training business, and start a health and fitness podcast. Whatever you end up choosing, don’t be afraid to experiment and try ideas that have worked for others, you’ll never know what ends up being your favorite.

If you want to learn more about how the body works, how to incorporate new healthy habits and how to reach fitness goals with longevity in mind check out the Fitness Manifest Podcast, streaming on Apple Podcast, Google Podcast, Spotify and w

Follow me on Facebook, Instagram, and visit my website for more info!


Teresa Cedeno, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine

Teresa Cedeno, is a trailblazer in health and fitness specializing in physical and behavioral change, mental wellness, and corrective exercise. She is a certified personal trainer with additional certifications in nutrition, corrective exercise, speed and agility training, women’s specific coaching, and group training. As the owner of Fitness Manifest, a fitness coaching and education brand she focuses on client empowerment through dynamic workouts, sustainable nutrition, and mental health motivation. She is also the host of the Fitness Manifest Podcast, which teaches listeners how to structure new habits, accept change as part of life, and align their mental and physical health goals.



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