It’s something you’ve likely heard a dozen times prior: “You have to be patient. You won’t get in shape overnight” and although on the surface of our conscious we recognize it to be true, many of us struggle to actually employ patience on our fitness journey. We have been conditioned to want everything and want it RIGHT NOW, but until Amazon figures out how to deliver results in two days, our body’s physiology is going to make us do it the hard way. Fortunately the “hard way” isn’t all that hard, it just requires….patience! If you would rather watch/listen to this talk, click here.
As usual, we will be framing the conversation around weight loss, but these concepts apply to almost all fitness goals, whether your goal is performance based, or body weight based. You may have heard average weight loss is about one pound per week. The key word here is AVERAGE. This means when you look at the data of someone who lost a significant amount of weight and average it out, it comes out to one pound per week. That does NOT mean you are guaranteed to lose at least a pound every week, even if you’re doing everything right. Anyone who has undergone a significant change in body weight will tell you that some weeks they may have lost 5lbs or more, and at other times they may have endured multiple weeks with no change in weight. That’s because there are so many factors that can affect your body weight. That’s why it’s difficult to judge the efficacy of a new fitness or nutrition plan even after 30 consistent days. You did not get out of shape over night, you will not get in shape over night.
Being Patient with Yourself
It’s just as important, if not more important to be patient with yourself if you make a mistake. Even when you’re doing everything right, change takes time, the only problem is, people rarely do everything right. It’s usually a bumpy road with lots of road blocks on your way to revamping your fitness. Particularly when it’s easier to overeat and be sedentary than ever before in the history of humanity. Being patient with yourself when you “slip up” is crucial to succeeding. If you fall of the rails of your plan, don’t waste any time beating yourself up over it. Instead get back to the plan immediately, and start working back towards the goals you have. Always move forward. Don’t dwell on the past.
Let’s take a look at my progress over the last year plus. Notice the big spike in weight around July. That’s when I had my second pacemaker implant. I wasn’t able to exercise for 8 weeks, and I was mentally exhausted both from dieting while having diminished heart function, but also was finding it difficult to be focused on my health when I wasn’t able to hit the gym. As such I gained about 20lbs in a short time. Of course I would have been better off if I had just maintained my weight after surgery, as losing the 20lbs I regained would end up taking me four months (double the time it took me to gain it), but what were my other options? Give up? Gain even more weight back? Those aren’t good strategies.
Be Patient Now, or be Forced to be Patient Later
I had an athlete who was trying to qualify for the Junior Pan American team in Weightlifting. A regional tournament was approaching where this athlete had to perform well to make the team. About a month out from competition he injured himself in training. Fearing that he had lost his chance to accomplish his goal, he was devastated. I assured him that there was still time for him to recover and make the team. A few weeks later, the injury seemed to be healing up well, and he felt confident he could return to training to prepare for the qualifying event. I instructed him to ease back into training, but being impatient he wanted to lift near maximum weights to reassure himself he was still capable of hitting the numbers he would need to do to make the team. What happened? He reinjured himself and wasn’t able to compete. After the regional competition his competitors had a lackluster performance, meaning making the junior Pan American team would have been a walk in the park for him. Fortunately in 2019 he had another chance to make this year’s team, and he did, but his lack of patience forced him to wait a whole year to accomplish his goal. Be patient now, or be patient later, there are no shortcuts.
Becoming a Millionaire
Many people start strong trying to change their bodies. But soon the motivation fades, and all that’s left is hard work, and they give up. Throwing in the towel on your fitness because you haven’t reached your goal yet would be like quitting a job because you worked for four weeks and you weren’t a millionaire yet. Making significant and long term changes in your health and fitness requires daily effort, day in and day out, slowly chipping away. As the famous saying goes, “how do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.” Again, we need to do more than just acknowledge this on the surface, but really make it part of our mantra. If you keep your head down and just work at it bit by bit and day by day, one day you’re going to wake up and be very surprised by how far you’ve come.
You Don’t Work That Hard
One thing I want you to warn you of, is convincing yourself you’re working hard when you’re not. Health and fitness can be a bit of a grind, and it can wear you down mentally. With that in mind we must be careful of placing the psychological burden of hard work on ourselves when in reality we’re actually cutting a lot of corners. If you convince yourself that you’re working hard when you’re really not, you’ll have all the wear and tear on your mindset without the actual results that true hard work would provide you. This is a terrible scenario to be in, because your will power will be absolutely maxed out, but you’ll have made little progress, making it even easier to throw in the towel.