Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Change Takes Time


I've been thinking about this concept for a couple of days now and figured I'd share on here. The idea that fitness and weight loss take time took a while for me to get through my head. I mean, I knew it would but knowing and living through it are two different things and impatience won't get you very far in this game.

You hear and see this idea in motivational weight loss and fitness quotes and articles all the time:

"It's a slow process, don't make it slower by quitting."

"One pound at a time."

"3 months from now you'll thank yourself."

"In 2 weeks you'll feel it, in 4 weeks you'll see it, in 8 weeks you'll hear it."

"You didn't gain it in a week so don't except to lose it in a week."

"Success takes time."

"Rome wasn't built in a day."

and so on and on and on and, frankly,  they're all true.

We live in a society of instant gratification whether it be fast food, on demand TV, 24 hour stores, one hour photo... or forget that, now we have cameras where we can take a picture and see it right away. We want something and we want it now and, we can usually get that. But not with fitness and weight loss.

Of course we see all sorts of quick and easy promises for weight loss, getting fit and losing inches around us all the time. I'm not going to name any brands because that's not what this post is about but there's pills, teas, shots, wraps, cleanses, colonics and many, many more. This is not to say those things don't necessarily work for some people but they fall into the same cycle of instant gratification. If we're going to put effort into our weight loss and fitness then we want results and we want them NOW.

I'm sorry to tell you this but it just doesn't work that way.

You can do all the planning in the world but weight loss and fitness will never fully follow your plan. You can make time lines... "in two weeks I'll be down 5 pounds, I know I'll be down 20 pounds for our vacation, by Christmas I'll be in my size 8 jeans..." and those are great goals and hopes but they are not something you can depend on.

You can make charts, plan and do your workouts, count calories, go low carb, go vegan, go vegetarian, do yoga, change your diet, add more exercise, play with your macros and much, much more and all of that can make a difference but it won't happen right away, and even then, just when you start seeing progress and you feel yourself getting closer to goal, something will come along to throw you off track be that life events, illness, injuries, cheat days, emotions or just a plateau.

And that's just weight loss. If you're also trying to get in shape with exercise, that comes with it's own rules and regulations. You have to be consistent, you have to change up your plan every 6-8 weeks so your muscles get challenged. You have to do a mixture of cardio and strength training, or yoga, or pilates, or outdoor workouts, or some variation of all those and more.

And then you have to be patient because nothing happens overnight. You're not going to work your ass off one day, go to bed and wake up jacked. You need to have a plan and follow it day after day, weeks after week, month after month even when you don't see the changes or much progress. You have to trust the process. You have to patient and you have to stick with it no matter how discouraged you get because then, as if out of nowhere, the changes will appear and you'll be so excited and psyched only to have to keep going the next day if you want the changes to not only continue but to improve.

And even when you hit your goals, you can't just celebrate and go back to your old life. It's not diets that fail. It's failing to continue that diet when you reach your goal. I believe that diets themselves, that have a beginning and an end, are not as permanent as changing what you do. In order to keep your progress and changes you need to make a lifestyle change. Whatever way you've chosen to eat to lose weight should be your way for good, not for a period of time long enough to lose the weight. Yes, some modifications will need to be made but you can't go back to your old ways and hope to keep all of your improvements.

Fitness and weight loss is a long-term commitment and you have to put up with a lot of waiting, watching, being patient and consistent to see even a smidgen of change. But eventually you will see it and you'll want to work even harder once you do.

And then (going by experience) you'll be making amazing progress, you'll see your hard work pay off and... a plateau hits you and you're stuck. The scale doesn't move week after week after week no matter what you do and you become discouraged and angry and start thinking, "why am I working so hard for nothing." But, it's not nothing. The process is still going, it's still happening... you just can't see it.

So then you're faced with two choices... quit and eat crap and drown your sorrows in soda and junk food or keep going knowing that this will pass and you'll start losing and seeing the effects of your work once again.

That is one of the reasons the scale isn't God. You weight could remain the same for weeks but your body may be changing. You have to pay attention to the little things: taking body measurements, seeing how much better your clothes fit or even how much better you are feeling physically and mentally.

And for a minute, let's forget clothing size and the scale. Are you faster on your runs or walks? Can you hike harder trails? Can you lift heavier weights? Can you stretch deeper and further? Can you work out for an hour instead of 30 minutes? Are you eating more veggies and fruit? Are you making more of your own food? Are you happier? Do you have more energy? All of these things matter and all of these things show you the true progress that you're making!

And, one of the most important things of all, you have to find what works for YOU. Not for everyone else but for you both with diet and fitness. Find what you can live with, find what you love to do and then do it. You don't need to miserable to get in shape and lose weight. You just need to find your own way and then follow it.

So I guess what it comes down to is that nothing great happens overnight. You have to work for it, sweat for it, deal with hunger for it... nothing that's worth anything comes easily and it shouldn't. Yeah, it would be great to wish you were thin and fit, go to sleep and wake up the way you wished the next morning. But would it taste as sweet? Would you be as proud of yourself as if you'd worked for it?

Frankly, I'll take the hard work. Success tastes sweeter when it's earned. Just because the earning takes time doesn't mean it's not worth doing!

So, take a deep breath, get yourself psyched up and get ready for the long haul. It will be worth it in the end. I promise.

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