Fitness can be incredibly rewarding, but it can also be incredibly demotivating.
Pictures of people with almost no body fat, ads for 21 day fat loss programs, and the success stories of those who followed a crazy diet can be the push some people need to succeed.
For others, it sets unreasonable expectations. You see an ad for an exciting fat loss program, with the headline:
“Mary lost 21 pounds in 21 days, and so can you!”
You’ve needed to lose weight for a few years now so you decide to take the plunge and sign up.
Your motivation starts at an all-time high. 21 days later, you are only down 2 pounds, your energy levels are terrible and you aren’t very happy. Plus, instead of feeling good about starting the fitness journey you have been trying to do for a couple years now, you feel defeated because your results aren’t as good as Mary’s.
Here’s the thing about that – It’s not your fault.
It’s the fitness industry’s fault. Instead of the truth we need, the industry standard is promising quick fix after quick fix, and if you have tried any of them, you know they don’t work.
Sure, one in a million people can get amazing results, but you don’t see the thousands of others who failed repeatedly or the possible (probable) insanity that person had to go through to get where they did.
You also don’t see that person’s results after the program ended – and more than likely they regained the weight they lost, if not more, and will now have to do something else.
A lot of people see that – regressing and having to do something else – as normal.
‘Normal’ for the fitness industry is regressing, then having to find the next intense program, crazy diet or revolutionary powder that will get you the results you want.
That’s a problem.
Fitness shouldn’t be a temporary ’thing we do’ to get somewhere. It’s good to have goals, and it’s good to work towards something, but it all has to be part of the longer term process. You are dealing with your body, your health and your livelihood so for everyday people (i.e. not the fitness fanatics), fitness needs to be life-long so you can enjoy your life to the fullest.
Your fitness journey needs to reflect this.
It’s not just a training program, it’s part of shift in mindset from sedentary to active.
It’s not a diet, it’s an adjustment of lifestyle and eating habits.
It’s not a quick-fix, it’s a sustainable change to better yourself physically, mentally and emotionally.
What I want to do is redefine normal, and introduce the “New Normal”.
First of all, we need to accept that normal is a good thing. “Sexy” sells, but it’s the equivalent of the shiny new object that gets tossed aside after a few weeks and doesn’t actually help you.
Normal is reliable, fun, and it’s what gets you to the finish line and beyond. You might still want the sexy new program, but how good does this ‘program’ sound?
You don’t lose 21 pounds in 21 days, but month after month you are getting better and better. You don’t crash and burn, fall off the wagon, or feel guilty about a slip up.
A year later you are lighter, leaner, stronger and happier. You’ve lost weight and are confident you can keep it off thanks to the changes you made.
You enjoyed the process, found exercises and activities that fit with your life and support your goals, and now it’s all effortlessly part of your regular routine.
You are more confident about your body, and it shows. Your friends envy your results, and want to know the secret.
You know there is no secret. You trained 3 days a week, didn’t kill yourself in every workout, focused on sustainable nutrition habits, and above all stayed consistent.
All in all, it wasn’t crazy. In fact, it was pretty reasonable.
That’s what my new normal is – reasonable.
So if you are sick of the next quick fix and want to give lasting results a try, what should you do?
Start small. 5 days a week of exercise is better than 2, but 2 is better than none. When you want to add something to your fitness plan, ask yourself the question:
“Is this reasonable enough that I could do it for 6 months and beyond?”
If so, go ahead. If not, modify it so that you can confidently answer “yes” to that question.
Here’s what it might look like:
If weight loss is your goal, aim to lose an average half a pound a week with small habit changes that add up over time. Focus mostly on habits, but for clarity’s sake sometimes it might be good to track your food. Eat 3ish meals per day – mostly colorful vegetables, quality protein, lots of water and things that don’t come in a cellophane wrapper. Sometimes, eat the things that come in a cellophane wrapper, just don’t eat all of them.
Train 3-4 days per week on a well-designed strength training program and leave the gym feeling good, don’t walk out nearly crippled. Learn the movements patterns – squat, hinge, push, pull and carry – as they are the foundation of not just your training, but all human movement. Do activities you enjoy, do some stuff outside, and mix it in with your training program. Aim to do just a bit more work than last time, and focus on getting stronger. Always be safe, and don’t hurt yourself.
Align your lifestyle with your goals, and set reasonable expectations of yourself – you can still have a social life and get results. Sleep 8ish hours per night, take some time for self care and to manage stress, and be positive about your journey. Take responsibility for your choices, and understand that there will be setbacks, but know that consistency trumps all and stumbling along the way is normal. Hell, if you quit walking because you tripped you would never get anywhere.
At the end of the day, you’ve failed before, so why try the same thing again?
As a great coach, Dan John, once said,
“Have the courage to be reasonable.”
That’s what this site is about – if you want to know more about what we do, don’t hesitate to reach out and book a phone call.