Brought to you by Open Colleges

How to be the best version of yourself for 2015 in just 5 steps

by Jack Phillips

What is in store for you just around the corner? Health? Wealth? Happiness?  We talk to a range of professionals and experts to discover the simple things you can do to live the very best version of your life – starting right now!

The only thing we can completely control is ourselves. We can’t control the weather, the economy, or the political climate but we can influence how we will approach each and every new day.

Taking on a challenge, starting something fresh or setting a new goal is an invigorating way to start tackling those things you are not quite happy with. Whether you want to improve your health, fitness level, career, time management skills or a combination of all of these things, it is never too late to start taking steps to becoming the best version of yourself.

We all love to take holidays , to travel to all sorts of places. And when we do, we revel in the unknown. Yet, the opportunity for adventure is right there in front of each and every one of us. Until you take it, you’ll never know what you might achieve.

American entrepreneur, author and motivational speaker Jim Rohn famously decreed that “motivation is what gets you started, habit is what keeps you going/” So before 2014 draws to a close, take the reins and make a positive change to your happiness and wellbeing.

Step #1: Fit mind, fit body, fit soul

It is something trainer Shannan Ponton did over 20 years ago and he has since made it his duty to help people make their own change. During his career he has developed innovative personal training techniques and life solutions to help even the most disenfranchised individuals.


Shannan Ponton says, “Be patient when developing your training style and be exceptional.”

As a mentor on popular TV show The Biggest Loser, Shannan knows that the most important measurement is not your waistline but the six inches between your ears.

“Get your head right” he explains. “My style of training has always been unlocking people mentally to get the most from them physically and then empowering them to believe in themselves.”

But taking that initial first step is still the most important. For Open Colleges trainer and assessor Phil McKay, finding that better version of you means more than a few visits to the gym; it’s a way of approaching daily life.

As the founder of Ambitions Fit and Lean Boot Camps, Phil’s experience means he doesn’t just understand the mind frame, he understands the value of making health part of your everyday duties.

“Functional training” he says, “has its origins in rehabilitation therapies” and so enables exercise to be “designed to train the body” for activities performed in daily life, meaning it’s possible to reach any goal no matter your starting level of fitness or health. If you’d like to read more fitness tips from Shannan, head to Fitness Advice from Australia’s Personal Training Professionals.

Step #2: Give Back

Although making a better version of you is generally a personal journey, keeping a positive perspective of those around you is also important. The old Aesop adage goes “no act of kindness, no matter how small is never wasted” so think of the value of giving back as part of your journey too.


Volunteering can be a great way to meet people and give back

Plus, it does more than just make your heart feel warm and fuzzy. A recent study found that people who volunteer are less likely to have heart disease than those who don’t.

Little acts of kindness really count, adding to both your personal growth and spreading a little love along the way.

Consider these day-to-day ‘good karma’ tips.

  1. Take a neighbour’s garbage bins back in for them
  2. Stick a Post-It note with a compliment on it on a co-worker’s computer
  3. Make a point to compliment three people on your way to work
  4. Hold the door open for someone – even if there are outside the ‘manners zone’
  5. Give directions to someone who looks lost

Small or big, directed at friends or strangers, random acts of kindness make the person performing the kind act happier when they’re grouped together.

Sonja Lyubomirsky is a professor in the Department of Psychology at the University of California, Riverside and author of The How of Happiness, a book of strategies backed by scientific research that can be used to increase happiness

According to Sonja, doing a considerate thing for another person five times in one day made the doer happier than if they had spread out those five acts over one week.

Step #3: Put good stuff into your body

Your inside and outside balance is integral to creating your ‘best you’ because it means both your head and body are working at their best. Personal trainer Scott Hunt prides himself on setting goals and then striving to achieve them.


Nourish yourself with the correct foods

Having trained elite athletes, celebrities and those just looking to drop a few kilos, Scott discovered quickly that if his business Fitness Enhancement was to succeed, the goals he set his clients had to be “realistic.”

Beware of crash and fad diets; they are proven to be less effective. “The number one reason people fail on a weight loss program is they quit, so first and foremost focus on an enjoyable program” he says. After all, why punish yourself when you can enjoy your journey and see results at the same time.

Think about what you are putting into your body. How does it make your feel and is it ultimately helping you to achieve you goal, or is it detracting from it?

It is also something Andrew Simmons believes to be true. As a trainer and author, his best-selling book Ready Set Go – 3 steps to Better Health explains that time is your friend and that fast results are not necessarily good results.

“Most people get frustrated and it becomes ‘all too hard’ because they get disappointed if they don’t see results quickly” he explains, “I have a saying that fast is slow and slow is fast.”

Andrew believes that taking an interest in what you eat will help you to look, feel and think well. By taking note of food labels in supermarkets, attending nutrition seminars and fitness classes you will understand what “macronutrients” actually do and why they should be a consideration for your health.

It’s about “setting targets” and then “staying that way for life,” he advises. If you’d like to read more nutrition tips from Scott, head to Fitness Advice from Australia’s Personal Training Professionals.

Step #4: Be passionate about the change

For transformational body trainer Gabi Bruce this type of approach has seen her transform from a professional ballet performer to enjoying life as a fitness and yoga instructor. She walks the walk and talks the talk and is ever passionate about motivating others to reach their health and fitness goals.


Health and Fitness expert Gabi Bruce knows the importance of balance

Gabi believes that a truly great fitness program “allows participants to truly absorb the knowledge, skills and experience required to maintain the positive changes they have made to their lives” and “empowering for them over the long-term,” meaning you can keep on being the better you.

Above all “say yes to opportunities” she says.

Becoming the best version of you has as much to do with passion as it does knowledge, says Amelia Phillips, co-founder of the Michelle Bridges 12 Week Body Transformation program. It’s this vitality she believes will see you through the tough times.

Most days Amelia turns up to her sessions more excited than her clients. “Isn’t that what life’s all about?”

Having built an impressive career, which has seen her work as a nutritionist, health club owner, personal trainer and corporate speaker, Amelia says that she “genuinely loves helping people” and that feeling good on the inside shows on the outside. “I can accomplish anything,” she says.

Step #4: Be productive

We all aim to be as busy as we can possibly be each day, but how many of us can honestly say we are completely productive with our time? There is a big difference between being ‘busy’ and being ‘productive’.


How can you be more productive? How organised is your day-to-day life?

Being productive will help you feel happier, more engaged, provide a sense of achievement and fulfilment in both your work and life. That is not to say it’s easy but tackling the productivity task is productive in itself, and these tips should help get you started.

  1. Organise your day into time blocks
  2. Focus on one big task at a time
  3. Do things you don’t want to do
  4. Don’t be paralysed by perfection
  5. Write an old-fashioned to-do list

Setting goals is not only limited to fitness targets either; they are also a helpful way of designating time to other day-to-day tasks. Goal setting involves establishing Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time-targeted aims, or S-M-A-R-T goals. It’s a tried and trusted way of making progress in many different aspects of your life and something many top CEO’s and entrepreneurs are known to do.

Virgin mogul Richard Branson has set up 400 companies in his time and swears by to-do lists and SMART goal setting.

You are worth the challenge

Taking the challenge to be the best version of you is about a commitment to engage with health, happiness and the pursuit of challenge. These attributes which you can attain are powered by strong social relationships, positive emotions, and a sense of purpose, often helped by a physical change in health and fitness.

When we lead better lives, we choose to do what matters most, every day, even when it’s hard for us. It is never too late to make a change.

Striving for change is no easy task. With the emotional roller coaster that change brings, it will be difficult to stay on track. But, an optimistic point-of-view can metaphorically hold your hand through your change process and your improving health and fitness with ensure a strong mind and healthy body will be yours as a reward.

Are you ready to make a massive change? 

Read some more great information from the experts in Open Colleges’ Fitness Advice from Australia’s Personal Training Professionals.

Studying online is a great way to start new goals and gain new skills. Check out these courses online. You can start any one of them today – no need to wait until 2015 rolls around! Get started right now and by the end of the year you could be closer than ever to the Best Version of You.

 Photos by Geoff Petersakshay moon and TADA’s Revolution – many thanks!

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