OK, before you go all holier than thou critical, or laugh so hard you can’t pay attention to this content of this article, here’s what being “All FFF’d Up” means when it comes to the secret sauce of being fit. It means if you are going to stick to a fitness program, you need to have Fun, include Friends and be Focused. C’mon, what’d you think I meant?

You see, there are “lumpers and splitters” in this world when it comes to science. There are those that dissect the tiniest of tiny and separate out every imaginable strand of information, and then there are those who see links and broad connections in life and bring things together.

When I searched Google under the heading of “fitness,” about 1,430,000,000 hits came back in .42 seconds. The term “exercise” brought back 547,000,000 hits in only .37 seconds. “Fitness motivation” in just .36 seconds brought back 93,200,000 hits. You wonder why you are so confused about fitness? You wonder if there really can be so many different approaches, bits of data and information, and studies to direct you to your best fitness?

Let me bit a “lumper” here for you and make it easy and understandable. You need to be all “FFF’d up” to get and stay fit. When you summarize 2,070,200,000 hits on Google, which of course I haven’t, but when you spend years and years digesting and contributing to many of these types of articles as I have, you will find the simple truth: getting all FFF’d up will propel your fitness.

Developing and maintaining agility, coordination, endurance, balance, and strength, hallmarks of fitness, depends largely on internal motivation. What are the components of the most successful, commonly relied upon, and most frequently referenced internal motivation tool kit for exercise?

Fun Hate to jog? Then dance. Don’t like to dance? Dive into the pool. Notice I didn’t say join a gym? According to American Sports Data, 93% of Americans fully believe that exercise improves their lives, but only 15% join gyms. That means you can turn your mindset away from reps, sets, miles and instead turn to the fun you had as a child. Remember how active you were? So today find fun, enjoyable activities that have cardiovascular and resistance components such as walking, weight lifting, biking, gymnastics, pogo sticking, freestyle dance, tennis, handball, recreational track and field, playing catch, flag football, yoga/pilates, etc. Get the idea? As long as you are having fun you’ll keep doing it. Play brings joy, it’s the oxygen of adult life, so give yourself permission to play and be physically active daily, for an hour or so and you’ll do more for your longevity than you can imagine.

Friends Research tells us that those who engage in physical activity generally enjoy it more when they do it with others, rather than alone, thereby increasing motivation. When you exercise with others, research has found, it can decrease feelings of fatigue, increase your energy and promote a more intense workout for longer periods of time. The sense of having accountability to another helps ensure that you’ll show up as planned. And working out with another or a group helps build your self-confidence (“If she can do it, I can too”), and get through more difficult and strenuous exercise. This is one of the reasons that apps like Fitocracy, Nike+GPS, RunKeeper, Teemo, and Endomondo are so popular—there’s a strong social element that allows you to share your experience with othes.

Focus Not only does exercise and physical activity increase your short term focus for two to three hours after you exercise, but going into exercise with a sharp focus on your goals, and a focus on how you’ll reach them, will promote more exercise. Your self-perception, the beliefs you have about yourself and exercise, your specific/measureable/attainable/realistic/time-bound, SMART, plans, and the specific action plan you have to exercise all comprise your focus. Now can you see why focus is necessary to achieve, well, anything worthwhile including fitness? Don’t THINK you have the time? Focus on creating a plan to prioritize exercise. THINK you look too out of shape and others will gossip about you if you show up at an exercise class? Focus on your own goals and not on comparing yourself to others. THINK you don’t have motivation? Focus on organizing yourself to be more habitual -- hire a pre-paid trainer, sleep in your workout clothes, donate a sizeable sum of money to a charity you hate if you fail to work out one day that you planned to, and meditate seeing yourself finish a workout using a mantra you focus on daily.

There you have it. 2,070,200,000 articles that come down to “get FFF’d up.” Not bad, right? And think of all that time and confusion I’ve saved you reading all of those, not to mention the time away from exercise it’d take. Now, go out, have some fun with friends and stay focused. You’ll live healthier, longer, with far more joy.

Author's Bio: 

Michael R. Mantell earned his Ph.D. at the University of Pennsylvania and his M.S. at Hahnemann Medical College, where he wrote his thesis on the psychological aspects of obesity. His career includes serving as the Chief Psychologist for Children’s Hospital in San Diego, and as the founding Chief Psychologist for the San Diego Police Department. He served on the faculty of UCSD’s School of Medicine, Dept. of Psychiatry. After 40 years of diagnosing and treating those with mental illness, he has fully retired from clinical practice---and as he describes, is now “reFired” and “reWired.”

He now provides advanced behavior agility coaching/mentoring for sustainable strategic outcomes in mindful, values driven and positively adaptive ways to business leaders, entrepreneurs, athletes, individuals, families and organizations to reach breakthrough levels of success and significance in their professional and personal lives.

Michael is a member of the Scientific Advisory Board of the International Council on Active Aging, the Chief Consultant for Behavior Science for the Premier Fitness Camp at Omni La Costa, and served as the Senior Consultant for Behavioral Sciences for the American Council on Exercise. He travels the world speaking with fitness and health professionals to provide the most current thinking and tools for behavior change. He has been a member of SAG/AFTRA since 1981, having appeared regularly on Good Morning America, as well as numerous talk shows and weekly appearances on TV and radio news.

Michael is an Organizational Advisor to Fitwall, Rock My Run, amSTATZ, speaks for Rancho La Puerta and the Asia Fitness Convention, in addition to numerous other fitness-health organizations throughout the nation. He is interviewed frequently for fitness and health magazines including Details Magazine, Men’s Health USA and UK, Women’s Health US and UK, Weight Watchers, Shape, Natural Health, Real Simple, Women’s World, MetRx, Better Homes and Gardens and a host of others in the health/wellness/fitness world. He has written for, and spoken for the International Council on Active Aging, the Medical Fitness Association, Athletic Business,, IHRSA, and a host of other professional organizations in the health and fitness fields. He has been a keynote speaker/presenter for the University of California’s FitCon, UCLA’s “Stress Less Week,” and UC-Irvine’s “Building Healthy Academic Communities.”

He is a best-selling author of three books including the 25th Anniversary updated edition of his 1988 original “Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff, P.S. It’s All Small Stuff,” and his 1996, “Ticking Bombs: Defusing Violence in the Workplace.” Heis listed in greatist.com’s 2013 “The 100 Most Influential People in Health and Fitness.” His fourth book is due out soon.