The 4 Key Ingredients Required To Achieve Your Goals, part 1

Stylebook readers, prepare yourself for some really awesome photos and videos in this two-part series. The photo below appeared in the Athleta catalog a few weeks back and got me fired up. Yeah, I know…the photo has likely been “touched up” to make this move look all the more impressive.

But regardless of Photoshop or creative camera angles, this ad motivates me to improve my own “plyo” push-ups (one where the mid-point is in the air; some people clap their hands doing them) and handstands (below).

So why would I set goals inspired by these photos? It motivates me to “keep going,” even at 51 years old…to keep getting stronger and pushing the envelope of my own training.

Think about what it takes to do something really challenging in life — get married, have a baby, capture that perfect job, say goodbye for good to a toxic relationship, command an audience, etc. Whatever the goal, often the answer is that you must change your routine and challenge yourself to go slightly outside the lines; you must move beyond your comfort zone.

The same is true to reach fitness goals. And, spoiler alert, you’ll find out more about yourself during the journey than when you accomplish the goal.

When I committed to moving from chin ups (palms facing me, a lot of bicep) to pull-ups in my workouts (palms facing away, a lot of back and core) a year ago, I knew it would take these same four ingredients. And now, yes, I am “pulling out” pull-ups in most of my workouts. My back and core are stronger. I feel like I accomplished something amazing and, well, my arms, legs, shoulders even look fit. A win-win…

After training thousands of clients over more than 15 years in the fitness industry, I have found that there are four essential ingredients to finally, finally accomplishing the things you have wanted to achieve for a long time. We’ll cover the first two today:


1) Time

Time can mean two things: duration and amount.

Duration is the time you will give yourself to get there. For me, wellness and fitness goals take one year. Give yourself one year to do a pull-up…or five. Or, give yourself a year to train for a race. Give yourself a year to get really healthy and lose those unwanted 20 pounds.

My triathlete colleague Dominika 

For my colleague Dominika Cihanova to crush her Half Ironman Triathlon — finishing the 70.3 mile course in 6:41 (yes, that’s hours!) — it took time, a lot of time, practicing. In fact, she trained for eight months. She says, “I signed up a year ago and trained six days/week for last nine months. It was daily commitment.” Remember, even when you are not engaged in the activity of running, or whatever your goal may be, you are living your life as if that goal is a part of you. You make healthier choices and say “no” more.

My promise to you: if you commit yourself to doing something remarkable in your training for one year, you will achieve it. You will lose weight. You will get strong. You will build muscle.


“Most people get excited about games, but I’ve got to be
excited about practice, because that’s my classroom.”
— Pat Summit


Amount is the number of times you train for that goal. It’s literally how much time will you spend practicing, and how many times you will practice. Practicing can be like the video of Shannon below. She gets there, but boy, with a lot of “sticking with the stick” as we say.

Here Shannon is just starting her pull up journey:

Yet, she got there! Don’t just give up. Like Shannon, stay in the sticking point. Her nervous system and her brain are both getting used to that point and getting through it! So, practice can be successful attempts…but most will be imperfect. And, yes, Shannon is doing pull-ups in every session.

Below, Shannon crushes five. Notice how she does not give up! Get uncomfortable!


2) Patience

Life happens. Sessions are cut short. Someone gets sick. Or, your practice just isn’t the best that day. It could be a poor night of sleep, more stress than your body can take that day, or just knowing today isn’t the day to push it. And that’s OK!

The number of times we have great sessions at practice are far fewer than those we wish we could have done better. The goal to getting to a plyo push-up requires a lot of core training, a lot of explosive-type movements incorporated into your training. So the exercises you’d do would be many and those that complement the ultimate goal: the plyo push-up. Also, you will do push-up varieties you never knew existed: incline, decline, explosive on a bench, “spiderman” style, etc.

Have patience with the movement, your body, and your self-confidence.

Having the patience to realize you will get there and knowing you will perform the goal will result in amazing gifts of strength, cardio, mobility, stretch, and self-confidence beyond your wildest dreams.

Next week, stay tuned for two more key tips to getting fit…for good.


  • The latest from Adrien
Adrien founded Fitness on the Run in 2004 out of her home after a successful career in policy and public affairs communications. After spending 15 years developing her own personal definition of wellness and watching thousands struggle with theirs, in January 2019 Adrien founded Alexandria Wellness, the home for the Concierge Wellness Program and Corporate Wellness with Adrien Cotton. Over the course of 15 years, “FOR” was home to more than 2,000 clients, 30 instructors, and hundreds of inspirational success stories. Adrien is now, more-than-ever, passionate about helping women view their fitness as a journey, not a quick fix. Adrien’s recipe for success herself has evolved from a rigid training plan of sweaty and heart pumping workouts to some days getting in her 10,000 steps, consciously breathing, her 7.5 hours of sleep, and her beloved 5-Minute Flow. Adrien believes the most important ingredient is making small changes for big results, even if it’s one new habit formed each month. Still passionate about fitness, Adrien’s clients appreciate her ability to make sessions seriously challenging without a “beat down,” a healthy mix of strength and metabolic (cardio) work and ultimately helping her clients gain real strength in mind and body. She believes we all benefit from being curious about our bodies and that change, or improvement, is within reach despite what your “inner voice” or others may tell you. Adrien is bubbling with excitement to help women learn the importance of a comprehensive approach to wellness, weight loss, and contentedness with yourself, and that every person has the right to feel good about themselves. Most days, you can find her helping clients with their wellness, listening to success stories, and bragging about her twin 13-year-old children and “fittest man in Alexandria” Bill Cotton. Adrien prides herself on her practice of mindfulness, meditation, and putting it all into perspective.

Alexandria Wellness offers achievable answers for anyone who is tired of chasing fitness and health without a clear plan, someone who has struggled and is not satisfied with their fitness and wellness or someone who is open to maximized healthful longevity and fitness along with healthful weight loss. Adrien and her team offer help with food guidance, body acceptance, sleep and stress issues, and insist you have fun along the way.

Schedule your free 30 minute consult here!

Alexandria Wellness
215 North Payne Street
Alexandria, VA 22314



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Get your daily dose of all things fashion, beauty, fitness, and design. Locally sourced and locally styled!