Incredible results are within reach, so what gives? All of us hear the constant buzz of new diets, routines, exercises (and the equipment needed to do them). No doubt, you've even been sucked into a well maintained Instagram or blog site, complete with photos of transformations that are truly mind-blowing. So what's the difference? Why is something "attainable" so difficult to accomplish? Here, I will share some of the biggest shortcomings and miscalculations that I have seen and made myself. Do any of these sound familiar?
The path of least resistance.
People in motion tend to stay in motion.... and vice versa. There is more to this blanket statement, of course - but the truth is, getting started is potentially the most difficult part. Turns out, after a long day of work, putting on those workout clothes and walking out the door can feel insurmountable. Our bodies are constantly reacting to stress; work, as I mentioned before, finances, car troubles, other humans and even the weather can change the all-important brain chemistry and make the basics of consistency and work ethic very difficult.
Your central nervous system (CNS, from here on) can be fickle and stress is a builder; that is - there is a limit to the amount of stress your CNS can manage effectively. Change requires a well balanced combination of scheduling, meal prepping (or planning, at a minimum) and recovery. If you find yourself having trouble mobilizing those plans to get fit, take a look at those three aspects of your situation and adjust accordingly.
Your schedule may not be on paper or painstakingly organized into your mobile calendar - BUT - there is some evidence showing it could help. I had a mentor when I was younger that said, "Making lists is just a way to procrastinate your responsibilities to another day." He said this constantly, so I stand by my decision to quote him. At any rate, his comments were short sighted and I was too young to realize. Everyone plans differently and all of us need to find the way that works best for us to stick to our goal.
The most successful clients I have had went all in with scheduling. That is, we stuck to a plan for food, workouts, work and sleep. You will not find many highly successful people that manage to keep everything together flying by the seat of their pants.
My advice to someone just getting started?
1. Write your workouts into your planner or schedule just like you write in work meetings and honor them with the same rigor.
2. Plan your meals for the week. You do not necessarily have to meal prep for the week in a single day - but not having food available at home makes it far more likely you will be splurging at 9:30pm!
3. Prioritize your sleep and recovery. Usually, this does not mean you schedule a bed time... You probably need to schedule your television and other electronic device times. Blue lighted screens are the enemy when it comes to getting to sleep these days. Turn off the lights and let your body get that much needed recovery time. Six hours is the absolute minimum.
So... You made your decision, put your workouts and TV time on the calendar, finally went out and purchased a pair of shoes that would stay together while you started your new routine and by the second day, you start feeling a little strange. You notice people at work or loved ones at home giving you a side-eye glance or getting a little more intense than usual with their lines of questioning... so... Why can't you eat pizza with us, again?
Listen up crew, because this is a big one. Your healthy changes will affect everyone around you. It could mean family dinner is a little different for a while, but do not lose sight of what is really happening. You made the choice to change your lifestyle to create a healthier you; this change is all encompassing. I can tell you from experience that the first several weeks, maybe months, of a significant change can play tricks on your self-esteem and willpower, not because you are happy being the way you were before - but because it is easier to stay that way. Just remember, the important people in your life will remain. Sometimes a few friends or maybe even loved ones have to stay behind with the person we decided not to be anymore.... and that is okay. Stay your course because willpower is cool and the results we all desire require it.
Failing to start.
The last part of the beginning is a big hurdle. Starting! All of the work required to put your life in order for your plans to take root are exhausting! Just the other day, I started doing the dishes and, while soaking the more challenging ones, started cleaning the counters and other rooms. About an hour later, I found myself sitting down, admiring the portion of the work I had done, forgetting the dishes that remained unfinished. In the same way, it is easy (and okay, in some instances) to pat yourself on the back for buying the right shoes and forget to put them on and go to the gym.
I would much rather see someone show up, without all the bells and whistles, ready to get started - than hear about the person with all the cool equipment that never made it out the door. Point of the story? Show up!
No recovery time.
All things considered, there are many people starting something new on the regular. The unfortunate truth remains, few people make it out of the Goldilocks zone once they find out that, like relationships, being consistent takes constant effort. Part of this comes with the experience to know when it is okay to have a cheat meal or take a weekend or yourself; however, many people miss their target because they jump in without a plan and all their efforts equate to a flash in the pan (see what I did there?). Sleep is the skeleton key to a successful fitness plan. I mentioned six hours as an absolute minimum, and it is important to keep in mind that every body is different.
Every fitness and nutrition plan should come with some unloading or recovery phase. It is a requirement. Come in and talk with us about a plan that could work for you.
These are just a few hurdles along the way. There are more. Someone has to drive the struggle bus. Whatever it is you choose to do, crew, I hope you succeed. Be well, this week. Sometimes the best way to make big changes is to take little steps toward your goal. Maybe start by showing up at Fire Eye Fitness? (shameless plug)
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