Decisions Change Your Life


welcome to the effortless English show with the world's number one english


AJ Hoge where AJ is more than 40 million students worldwide finally learn English

once and for all

without the boring text books classrooms and grammar drills

here's AJ with a quick piece to help you learn to speak fluent English


hi I'm AJ Hoge the author of effortless English learn to speak English like a


and this is the effortless English show the show that teaches you to speak

English powerfully

so there I was looking down at my gut

my little round stomach and I felt disgusted had this kind of look on my

face in fact is because as I looked down I did not see a nice flat stomach but

instead this little bulge this this little round stomach which came out a

bit fact we call this in English sometimes a spare tire

especially for men where it's just around your and your middle around just

your gut your belly your stomach area and it kind of goes around to your sides

to this was about one year ago I was looking down at my shirt on

just looking down at my little round cut and I was depressed because I let myself

gain that weight

I felt sad

also just

disgusted and angry at myself you know I'm saying to myself inside the hell are

you doing look what you let yourself go to let yourself go means let yourself

become kind of lazy

I've never in my life had this much fat always been thin always been healthy

always been fit and in good shape but a year ago I'd reached the bottom I was

the heaviest i had ever been my stomach bulging out like a little not quite a


maybe like half a basketball-sized so just stared at it

disgusted angry sad

then I sat down at my computer to distract myself in fact because I was so


so sad so annoyed with myself I didn't want to face the truth I didn't want to

think about the truth that I had let myself become lazy and a little bit fat

that my energy was low but in general I just wasn't feeling very good wasn't

feeling very energetic day today because I've let my health and fitness drop so I

went to the computer

you know like most of us right to distract myself this is what we do we go

we get on the computer watch a video watch TV

dude do something else we don't want to when we don't want to think about an

unpleasant truth so i go and i just opened my email up looking at my email


and I noticed an email from my good friend Joe Joe weiss from learn real

english and back some of you may know him

click it click that opened up the email and quickly start reading it and email

was not a normal email from Joe rather an email joe said I just watched again

the movie the way and I've been thinking

do you want to do you want to walk the Camino de Santiago with me in spain next


it was perfect timing so I thought for about five seconds but I said boom

I immediately to on the keyboard i sent a quick reply yes let's do it

I'm ready boom send fast decision didn't didn't think deeply about it i just knew

i needed to change not just been looking at my my fat little gut and feeling

disgusted and feeling sorry for myself feeling that that my life was gonna

going down that I was working too much on the computer and let my health and

fitness and vitality and energy drop and drop and drop and so is emo from him was

just like this boom like a quick lightning bolt doom

I realize that this is what i needed a total change something completely

different something new

no I replied yes next day I got a reply back from him

great let's do it and we scheduled it

we scheduled it after a few emails and decided to do it

spring of the next year which as a matter of fact is right now

so what's really interesting is what happened afterwards because of this one


suddenly I had something in the future to look forward to and actually quite a

big challenge and I knew that in walking the Camino de Santiago it takes about 30

to 35 days for most people i knew i would need to walk every single day 12

miles or 15 miles

some days maybe 18 or 20 miles and i knew that i would be doing this

sometimes in mountains and hills that I would need to carry a backpack with you

all my clothes and everything I needed

and then I looked out of my little gut again and I realized I'm not ready right

my energy is low my fitness level

not good and I'm kind of a little chubby chubby means a little bit fat so

immediately though I felt this surge this increase in my motivation and i

started taking notes and writing out a training plan

yeah I started thinking okay so next year to walk the Camino what do I need

what do I need to be able to do and I realized I need to be able to walk long


every single day for one month or more and i need to be able to do that with

weight on my back which means i need some strength to so I'm going to need

much more endurance and I'm going to need some strength as well to handle the

weight of the backpack

but then as I let my mind go more ideas and more thoughts start coming into my

head and I realized wait i'm doing this in Spain and it's not in a big city like


this is going through some very small little towns it's very likely people

will not speak English or not much

so I'm going to need Spanish - I'm going to need to to at least be able to have

basic conversational spanish flu so I wrote that down on my training plan so

endurance strength spanish and i realize of course that the whole trip would be

much easier if I lost some of that fat right if I'm lighter that less weight i

have to carry less fat weight

the fat doesn't add any fitness so I knew if I got rid of some fat the whole

trip would be easier as well and so my training began quite slowly at first

last summer I started just walking more didn't really do much Spanish at that

point honestly I but I did start walking

going from for walks and started at least trying to eat a little healthier

start cut out some of the extra sugar that I had let myself eat things like

ice cream and stuff like that but then in the fall

it started getting closer right after falling whoa it's only six or seven

months away now I need to get serious right because it's still this Kamino

goal this Kamino experience I knew was coming up it was scheduled I knew we

were doing it in the spring of 2015

and so suddenly a little more urgency game into my in my mind in my heart and

I started running again

I was in Japan in the fall so start running going to the local park and

running and I decided you know what I'm going to do I'm going to follow an ultra

marathon training plan

i figured if i want super endurance well the best way to do that is to Train like

I'm preparing for a marathon or even an ultramarathon and then I thought well

i'm going to train for the Camino and get in great shape

I don't want to lose it you know I don't want to just do the Camino and then

afterwards become lazy again so I thought what I should do is choose

another challenge to do after the Camino in the fall of 2015

so I keep my momentum i keep my energy going

and that's when i decided i'll try to do an ultramarathon

enough a double marathon for five months after the Camino

so I'll be training for the Camino and an ultramarathon kind of at the same


who big challenge so I start running a little bit more each week and I followed

a very simple plan that I had used in the past many years ago to train for a

normal marathon

and that is I would run to three times a week and then i would do one more run on

the weekend

a long run every week I would increase that long run by about 10 minutes about

one mile for me and that's what I started doing so the beginning last fall

I wasn't running very long

not very long distances at all when i start traveling in the wintertime

traveling around Asia Thailand Cambodia nepal and my running start getting more

and more like the distances started increasing and then because i was really

excited to prepare for the Camino

my wife and I decided to do a hike in nepal in the the tall Himalayan


I thought number one it'd be a great experience something I've always wanted

to do a number two it'll be a nice piece of training a nice bit of training for

the Camino helping me to prepare i'll have to carry a little backpack and i'll

be in the hills

so this will help me get stronger get ready for the Camino so we did the nopal

hike which was quite tough in fact and I've talked about that in a previous

show as a matter of fact when it overall it was a great experience

then this winter my training really became solid really became serious

meaning a focused committed dedicated the distances of my running started

getting quite long two hours two and a half hours three hours four hours and

then just this last week six hours

I also realized i need some more strength started lifting weights first

in the winter i went to the gym and did some heavy weight lifting in a squats

and deadlifts bench press big heavy weights then when I came to san

francisco i started doing push-ups and pull-ups and using the kettlebell to

increase my strength as a result

at this point I'm feeling fantastic now i'll talk more about this and i'll talk

about how you can totally change your life

when we get back from twitter but first a Twitter question her to the question

is from octane my deal and have the middle asks how can i improve my

academic writing

alright so this is quite specific

I get a lot of questions about writing how can i improve my writing but this is

a little bit different because he's all asking about academic writing academic

writing meaning writing for school especially university and this is more


honestly it's a little more difficult i would say first focus on improving your

normal writing

what's normal writing well normal writing is that is the writing we used

in the real world because college is not the real world universities not the real

world the real world business you know emails blogs articles

you know all those things real communication with people to improve

your general writing your real-world writing the best thing you can do is

read books

lots and lots of books what kind of books read novels meaning stories in

English everyday as much as you can and then also you can read nonfiction if you

prefer nonfiction

you know how to books self-help books are books about history books about


up to you whatever you're interested in but reading lots and lots and lots of

books as much as you can

each day will help your writing because as you're reading you're also absorbing

you're taking in the writing

so you're seeing you're getting that input you're seeing good

correct writing again and again and again every time you read and that gets

a little deeper in your brain and unconsciously you'll learn better

writing in that way

that's the foundation that's the number one best way to improve your writing

in addition to that you can also write a little bit each day but without pressure

what I recommend is just to write in a journal or even write a little blog

every day

just write two to three paragraphs per day

now when you do this blog writing or journal writing do it quickly

so don't be worried too much about making mistakes don't try to make it


just get in the habit of every day writing in English

just don't worry about the mistakes and again as you do this day after day after

day it will get a little easier a little easier a little easier because you're

also reading a lot

you'll find that your writing will slowly improve but in a quite natural

and effortless way

that's how you improve general writing now what about academic writing if

you've got to write research papers and stuff

that's a weird strange kind of writing it's actually not very good writing in

most cases but its necessary if you're in University and and you need to pass

your courses so you gotta do it

so the way to do that is again follow the same structure the same plan but

it's but just do it with academic material

so for example for academic writing you would need to read a lot of academic

articles so every day

read academic articles it in your field in your area of expertise

they're not necessarily fun to read all the time but it still

it will help you to get a feeling for the style and the more you read them the

more you will get a feeling for the correct style to use for research papers

and academic writing and then the second part every day do some academic writing

just like with the journal right so you have a journal and again you're going to

write every day but right about your topic

the field the topic that you are studying in school

so if you're a physicist right about physics

you could just summarize review what you've read for example you could read a

research paper and then right you're a two or three paragraph summary but do

that every day again right quickly don't make this perfect don't take a long time

to do your writing because then you

you're not going to do it make it quick and then just repeat this process day

after day after day

it takes time to learn good

correct writing and for academic writing it's even tougher because it's such a

strange and specific style of writing

so there's no like magic way to do it instantly in a couple days

it's a process that takes months but that's how you do it

good luck to you let's go back

how can you change your life right now and I mean massive huge big changes in

your life

how can you do that how do you create those big huge changes a lot of us have

a dream of a kind the kind of life we want to live or the kind of person we

want to be and then we look in the mirror and we realize we're not that


we're not living that life and then we can feel sad and depressed because of

that and sometimes we can feel angry and disgusted at ourselves because we

haven't made the right choices we haven't done what we need to do or not

the person we really want to be right

I don't want to be chubby I don't want to be fat I don't want to be tired i

don't want to be lazy and I didn't

a year ago

I was in that same position and yet this one decision is one decision to do the

Camino de Santiago to walk that path to do that adventure that one decision

transformed my life

a year later I feel completely different I looked down at my stomach is nice and


more importantly I feel fantastic

in fact right now a year later I am the most strong the most fit the most

healthy that I've ever been in my life

more I'm 47 now but i am i'm stronger and more fit than I was when I was 27 or

and you know most people we have this idea that all when you're middle-aged

when your forties or fifties or sixties you know that that means you're you're

getting weaker and you have to decline

well that's bullshit bullshit wrong except I i I'm in the best shape of my

life and I just ran last week six hours

I could never have done that in my twenties or thirties

well i guess i could have if I had trained but I didn't the point is I

didn't think I'm actually feeling more alive more strong more fit than ever


what caused that that one decision to say yes let's do the Camino just one


what else my energy is at a peak I feel fantastic i really have a lot of energy

right now again probably the most energetic

I have ever felt in my life more than when I was in my twenties or when I was

a teenager or when I was in my thirties I have more energy than ever

also I'm now speaking Spanish now I'm not a great Spanish speaker I'm kind of

a low intermediate spanish speaker but I can't have your basic conversations

yeah let's make a lot of mistakes so what the

point is that when i was in high school and college and took spanish for two

years and in school

I couldn't speak at all and now when you're later

I can speak some spanish after making that decision about the comido and the

truth is I didn't really start my spanish learning until just a few months

ago and I started training physically earlier last year in the fall but I

waited on the Spanish until I probably should've should've waited so long but I

waited until fairly recently but the point is that i'm really excited because

now i'm enjoying Spanish for the first time in my life I'm actually able to do

some communicating in Spanish and I'm making little improvements every day

every week I'm getting a little better and now most important of all for me

I have the belief i'm certain that yes i can eventually learn to speak spanish

well huge change huge transformation compared to 1 year ago another huge

change in my life I'm much closer with my friend Joe now

our friendship is closer we have a closer friendship because of the shared

experience of preparing for the Camino just just preparing for it has brought

us closer because we're constantly emailing and calling each other or now

I'm in San Francisco so now we're meeting in person

chatting about the Camino chatting about our plan

and comparing notes about how we're training and it's helped us improve our

communication and become even closer friends I imagine actually doing the

Camino will make that even stronger and in general

I'm just so much happier now you know a year ago I was feeling really kind of

exhausted and overworked from the business effortless English and now I

feel fantastic

all of this from one single decision

do the Camino

how can you change your life completely you do it with one single decision

now what kind of decision it needs to be a decision about a big inspiring goal or

event something that will push you that will demand from you

some changes but for me it was the Camino had to prepare for the comido was

a whole long process of one year that kind of decision deciding to do that

kind of a challenge will completely transform your life but let's talk about

what a decision is a decision is not a maybe I think maybe i might do the

Camino next year and Loan

that's not a decision that's a thought maybe I'll do it don't know who the

decision is a hundred percent commitment when you really truly decide you cut

away all other possibilities

it means you're choosing this one thing this one goal

this one action and that's it you're doing it is done is decided in your mind

no other possibilities that's how i made the community decision once I decided to

do the Camino and I did I decided very quickly

there was no other possibility I was not going to change it

I was not going to change my - hello maybe not


I was not going to decide to do something else no was a total and

complete commitment

that's what a true decision is so as you're deciding now how you want your

life to be choose one goal and by a goal make it an event something that you have

to perform something you have to actually do that will challenge you need

to be inspiring and challenge challenging to you and then write it

down and then decide

and after you decide announce it to the world tell everybody you're doing it it

might be something physical like like the one I did with the Camino or it

might be something mental like I'm going to travel to America and speak only

english for a week

something like that and I don't know you have to decide something that will

inspire and change you and transform you

the key thing about a decision is is that is a total commitment so you you

don't allow any other possibilities

once you decide it's done you will not change it at all

complete commitment that is power

that's how you totally change your life that one decision to do the Camino

look at all the changes and transformations that have happened in my

life because of that one single decision

that's power decisions are power

all right

finally the effortless English news

what's happening well as i said i'm going on the Camino i'm going to Spain

I'm gonna walk the whole camino de santiago that decision

one year ago is now coming to life

I'm doing it i'm off to spain next week

of course I'm excited I feel fantastic and I'm really excited to to make this

come alive

I'll take some pictures and I'll share them with you but i guess the main thing

you need to know is that this is the last effortless English show until june

so i'll be walking in Spain the entire month of May and of course i won't be

doing any effortless English shows during that time in fact i won't be on

twitter i won't be on facebook

I'm going to avoid the computer during this time because i want this walk to be

you know a special experience

I don't want to be on the computer thinking about work during this time I

want to just be completely focused on the experience of doing the Camino de

Santiago and so no show no Twitter no Facebook so I'm sorry i'll miss you for

about a month and a half

but once i get back a promise that i will share pictures and i will tell you

stories about my experience walking the Camino de Santiago

during this time please help each other help each other on our member forums

help each other on our VIP and acc sites help each other on Twitter answer each

other's questions support each other

encourage each other please this is what makes the effortless English

international family so important and so strong because we help each other we

care for each other

finally let me remind you of our mission and our code our code we do the best we

can we do the right thing and we show each other we care

please continue to do those things while I'm gone over the next six weeks or so

as always thank you so much i love connecting with you

I'm going to miss you but I'll see you and six or seven weeks see you in June

I'll have lots of pictures to share all have lots of stories to tell and i

imagine i'll come back with even more energy even more excitement for you for

effortless English for teaching for this show for life in general

until then see you have a great few weeks and as always go to effortless

English club . com

for information about my courses my book anything else about effortless English see you when I get back from the Camino

bye for now