When you set a fitness and physique goal, it’s easy to get caught up in the motivation you feel, and excitement of what’s to come. However, after a few days of hard work, the reality always sets in.
Our reality is far different than what we initially dreamt up in our heads. Getting up early to hit the gym was easy on week one, but now that week two is here, the soreness is a reminder of just how hard the first week was.
I’m sure motivation has worn off by now, and it’d be easy to give up.
Today I’m going to let you in on a tiny secret most fitness programs never reveal to you.
Change Is Hard
Remember a few weeks back, when I gave you the homework assignment of writing everything down that revolved around your health and fitness goals, and asked you to continually ask ‘why’ until you got to the reason you’re actually doing anything in the first place?
In case you forgot, check this article.
One interesting thing about health and fitness, and habit creation is we tend to bite off way more than we can chew.
My inbox is flooded with people saying they just can’t be consistent with their diet, or training, or sleep habits. They tend to do well for a few weeks, then get discouraged and ride off the rails.
After a few months, they look back in disgust, wondering how they got so far off track. I’ve been there, too. We all have.
As with all goal-setting and habit-creation endeavors, the main problem is that change is hard.
Change is so hard that most people never truly make the lasting changes they want to.
They go back to what’s familiar, even if it means being uncomfortable.
Leo Babauta of ZenHabits recommends to make one simple change per month. The idea of changing two or three things simultaneously is really tough. But if you aim to just make one change and focus on that, it’s much easier.
After you do that for a while (like a month or so), you start a new habit, or changing something else. Then at the end of the year, even if you were only able to stick with 50% of your new changes, you’d have six great habits set in stone.
Not a bad idea, huh?
When I help personal clients, many times I throw many things at them, but encourage a focus on a singular idea. For a few weeks, we’ll make sure to solidify the training habits, and then we’ll start paying more attention to the diet.
Then we’ll focus on being consistent with making the two work in unison, and even then focus on sleep and recovery habits.
Nothing ever comes easy, and because of that, you should be conservative with the process, especially if you’ve failed over and over and over again. And even more so if you’re very frustrated as a result.
Give me Five Minutes
If you have a bad habit of skipping your mobility and flexibility work, and were very stiff and in pain most of the time, one weird trick would be to create a short routine you could perform daily for five minutes.
Some might say that five minutes won’t amount to any relief, or positive change, but hear me out.
If you’re doing zero flexibility work, and you decided to stretch your hamstrings for five minutes daily for a month, my guess is you’d have an improved range of motion, and maybe even some pain relief if you were experiencing some as a result of tight hamstrings.
Think about it for a second. Five minutes is a small investment in the grand scheme of time you have over the day. Chances are you probably spend five minutes (or much longer) browsing around Facebook daily.
So my challenge would be to set a timer, for just five minutes, and work into a few nice hamstring stretches. It doesn’t matter what you do, just do something.
Once the timer goes off, you’re done. Back to your regular feed scrolling.
And when it’s over, you’ll realize just how little effort it took to simply stretch over that five minutes.
Now an even better idea would be to dedicate a special time for this every day. For me, upon waking would be best as I am typically stiff and groggy as I stumble downstairs for some coffee.
So my new routine would look like this:
Walk downstairs, and turn on the pot of coffee.
While I wait for it to brew, set a timer on my iPhone, sit in the floor and get to stretching.
Timer goes off, and I get my coffee, and onto my daily work without missing that five minutes I just spent stretching my hamstrings.
Now, I know this is a simple example, but that’s the point.
The Simplicity Of Small Promises
The above is so simple I cannot avoid doing it. And if I did avoid doing it, I’d have to ask ‘why’ over and over until I got to the bottom of it.
If I used the excuse of ‘not having enough time,’ I’d be lying to myself because it’s just five minutes.
After admission of lying to myself, I’d have to dig, but there’d be a reason why I was waffling, and once I determined why, I’d address it.
When you make a small promise to yourself, you should view it as you would when making a promise to a loved one — someone who would be counting on you. Imagine making a promise to your mother, or best friend, or lover.
Going back on that promise would cause some possible distrust, and would reflect negatively on your character as a person (hat-tip to my friend Duff for this idea).
So then, what you promised to do is actually a reflection on your character, and ability to follow-through on your promises.
Puts things in perspective, huh?
The Bigger Picture (Pick One Thing)
Let’s assume you’re focusing on your training, diet, and sleep habits, but one of them (or all) aren’t happening 100% like you’d like.
Your goals can be fat loss, or recomposition, or muscle building. The idea here works just the same.
Perhaps your training plan is on point, and perfect, but you never make it two days without blowing your meal plan.
Or maybe you struggle with the opposite. Food and calories are in check, but you just can’t muster the focus to get to the gym three days per week like your program calls for.
Or maybe both of those areas are great, but you like to stay up late on your phone, and miss out on quality sleep as a result.
Regardless of which one you struggle with, I’d like you to pick one to focus on the next 30 days.
If it’s nutrition, I want you to promise to hit your daily marks as close to 100% as possible (95% will do on the days you might not be able to hit perfection).
If it’s training, take a hard look at where you’re messing up. Did you pick a program that’s too many days for your schedule (unrealistic goal)?
Are you simply being lazy and not following through for other reasons?
Or are you finding it hard to stick with one program due to all the information overload you experience online?
Regardless of your training struggle, I want you to figure it out, and then pick a program (or kepe the one you have) you can realistically follow it for the next month. If you’re training three times per week, then you have to hit 12/12 sessions to be perfect. Four times? Then it’s 16/16 sessions.
If it’s a sleep problem, then set some limits (I wrote a good bit about constraints). If your smart screens are keeping you up, remember — the world doesn’t revolve around your phone. If sleep hygiene is messed up, fix it.
Do what it takes.
Your Action Statement:
I want you to make a promise to yourself in the comments below. Pick one are to work on the next month, and then write it out (any length you desire) below.
A few examples would be:
“I promise to train every Monday, Wednesday and Saturday using LGN365 Fat Loss Program 1 [or whatever other program here] for the next month and I will not miss a day.”
“I promise to follow the macronutrient plan I have for myself to the tune of 95% accuracy every day for the next month. I’ll prepare meals ahead of time, and plan for the week instead of leaving every meal to chance, and risking the possibility of eating out, or grabbing something that’s not within my macro nutrient goals.”
“I promise to get in bed with the lights out by 10 p.m. so I can get a full night’s recovery.”
If you need help with any of the above over the next 30 days (and beyond), I’m glad to help you via personal coaching [fill out the form].