We all have individual reasons that we decide to start a fitness routine or pursue a change in our nutrition. Sometimes we are getting ready for an event: a wedding, a vacation, a reunion or a dance. Or maybe your doctor told you to get your health under control because of possible metabolic issues: hypertension, diabetes, high cholesterol or high triglycerides. You could just simply want to perform better at your sport or occupation.
Although all of these reasons are genuine, when it really comes down to it, these factors can be boiled down to 3 scenarios:
As we get started down the path of feeling, moving or looking better, results come quickly. If you’re trying to lose 20lbs, you may lose 10 in the first 2-3 weeks, then stall out. If you’re trying to get stronger, you may increase your deadlift by 50lbs in the first 3 months, then hit a plateau. You see, amateurs in anything can get results quickly when they get started if they stick to 3 basic rules:
No matter if you’re taking up the violin or getting into carpentry or learning Chinese, there are always fundamentals that you must understand and adhere by. If you don’t find and follow these fundamentals, you will have no base of support to build your knowledge on.
Fitness and nutrition, like anything else, are about consistency. When you’re first getting started, being consistent is KEY! I’m a huge fan of building systems. Systems help us because they make whatever it is we’re trying to accomplish easier. Hoping to make a lifestyle change by working out 1-day a week and eating a clean meal on Thursday night isn’t going to get you far. Do it early and do it often.
Understanding standing the difference between “Practice” and “Purposeful Practice” is paramount in making progress. When you’re starting a new workout routine, getting in the gym and going through the motions leads to no results and no motivation. Mediocre effort breads mediocre results. You have to go in, get to work, pay attention to detail and get out.
As we make progress, we continue to move closer and closer toward our goal. We lose 15, 16, 17lbs or increase our 40-yard dash time from a 4.8 to a 4.7 to a 4.6. What you’ll start to notice is, the closer you get, the slower the results come. And the slower the results come, the more your motivation to get better and push forward wanes. A lot of times, this is where we stall out. Instead of pushing through and becoming great, we settle in and stay with good-enough. We get discouraged and tell ourselves that it will take too much effort to get where we want to go. Truly, though, if you’re patient enough and practical enough, great results don’t take significantly more effort, they just take more focus:
At The Den, we like to talk about this idea of Greasing the Groove. This goes back to practicing the fundamentals. You see, as we do things for a long time, we start to look for different ways to do them. We try “out-of-the-box” tactics to get the results we want and lose sight of the process that brought us to this point in the first place. Fundamentals are fundamentals for a reason. The more efficient you become at fundamentals, the more effective you become and the better results you can achieve.
When we’re trying to lose weight or get stronger or put on muscle, we think we need to buckle down on our eating or lift heavier weight or train more often. There’s a point of diminishing returns for everything. And once you get to that point, results begin to go down. Instead of doing more of whatever you’re doing, figure out how to do it better or how to be more efficient or how to make it more effective.
Perato’s Law tells us that we get 80% of our results from 20% of our efforts. What is that 20% for you? Figure that out, and then become more efficient and effective at that 20% (starting to see a trend?).
Ask anybody if they’ve ever been on a diet and the majority of them will say “YES”. Most of them have been on more than one. Every year, many of us decide to lose weight and a lot of us succeed. And then we put it all back on and then some. And the process starts all over again. So why do so many of us have to lose weight multiple times in our lives (some of us are re-losing weight every year)? Because we didn’t make it sustainable. This is where systems come in.
Goals and resolutions and deadlines can be deceiving. Although having a goal is great for motivation, what happens once you achieve that goal? Olympians are the best athletes in the world. They are highly skilled, highly motivated and (most of the time) highly paid. Yet, for the majority of gold medalists, there is no long-term satisfaction in the act of actually winning a gold medal. Once they’ve one, the first thing that many Olympians think is “Now what do I do?!”
This is why you have to build a system. Create a strategy that will allow you to have long-term success. Your goals will constantly change and adapt, and that’s okay. Without a system in place, you have no way of sustaining the results you’ve achieved or achieving the goals you hope to conquer.