“I’ve been training for years…Why am I not getting the results I used to?”
You try to eat well and exercise. You’re pretty smart and knowledgeable about fitness. You know what you need to do. But you still don’t, look or feel, the way you want to.
Here’s the good news: this is nothing to be ashamed of. In fact, you’re probably a lot closer than you think. In this article, I’ll share two key strategies for getting you back on track.
It all started with a forum message…
“I work out a lot, but I still have this layer of fat around my stomach. Can you look at my photos? What do you think I should do?”
Now, being asked to look at a photo and give exercise or nutrition advice may seem weird, but it happens a lot.
These kinds of requests generally come from people who are knowledgeable in fitness-men, women and fitness pros, some with a little experience, some with a lot- but they are all facing one or two uncomfortable things:
1. They’re not being as consistent with exercise and eating as they’d like and are having trouble sticking to a program.
2. They’re not getting the results they should based on how much they know about working out and eating healthy.
As I read this note, I realized he shared a lot of similarities with the men and women that I’ve already helped over the years with Functional Physique Training.
- He admitted that when things get busy, it’s hard for him to be consistent. He frequently gets off track with his diet and skips workouts.
- He told me he had tried a bunch of different workout programs and diets and knew what to do, but he was missing something important, something that could help make a difference.
- He was a bit frustrated and embarrassed. He felt like he should have a better physique to show for his knowledge and hard work. He was reaching out to me for a solution that could turn everything around.
As it turned out, I knew exactly what he needed.
Once you reach a certain level of knowledge and experience, the missing link is no longer a new exercise program, the perfect nutrition plan, or a new supplement to try. The one thing you’re missing is being accountable to someone or something for your workouts and nutrition.
Simply put: if you can’t be consistent, you can’t make progress and that is why accountability (not the perfect exercise or eating program) is the thing that turns everything around. So the big question is “How do you get accountability”?
Here are two strategies you can use immediately-
Commit to more … and/or less.
Let me explain what I mean;
We all make half our promises to ourselves, only to get frustrated and break them soon after. This is fine (and understandable), but for a different result, we need a different commitment.
Option 1: Committing to more
The idea is to commit to something bigger then your self. Bonus points if you can make it fun. One of the easiest ways is to set up a contest with friends. Who can go the longest without skipping a work out day? Who can cook the most meals at home instead of going out? Notice that it is not about achievement (who lost the most weight, etc). It is about “doing”. Focus on and reward yourself for what you do (going to gym, cooking a meal), not what you achieve, at least at first. That is what you have immediate control over.
What do you think you can accomplish in just one month with consistent work outs and healthy eating? 6 months? What about 1 year?
Option 2: Committing to less
This is the tough one. Our natural tendency is to over promise and under deliver, especially to ourselves. One of the easiest (and most counterintuitive) ways to stay consistent is to do the opposite. Under promise and over deliver. Consider every promise that you make to yourself a first rough draft. I use the term “first rough draft “for 2 reasons. The first being your health, meaning your fitness goals reflect the extent of your health. The second, being the severity of the matter, meaning if you have read this far, you obviously are looking for an improvement in health and fitness goals in your life. Before truly committing, ask yourself “On a scale of 1-10 how confident am I that I can do this every day for the next 30 days?” If your gut reaction is anything other then “9” or “10” find a way to make that promise smaller or easier.
Eg. Turn “Ill cut out sugar every day” into: “I’ll stop eating each meal when I am 80% full” Eat what you are already eating, just slightly less. “I’ll eat one (more) homemade meal a day” Focus on mindfully creating a single meal.
“I’ll eat one big salad a day” Focus on eating one well chosen meal, even if you have to buy it. Even fast food chains have salads with chicken these days.
And turn “I’ll go to the gym every morning at 6am” into: “I’ll do 40 body weight squats at home, right after waking up” Do something with no travel or equipment required.
“I’ll get 2 solid work-outs a week scheduled in my calendar and go from there”
Reduce the commitment to something you can always stick to; do more only if you can, making it entirely optional.
“I’ll park further away from school/work and walk the rest of the way” Even easier.
These are just examples of course. You will find one that works for you.
Keep reducing the commitment until it feels too easy for you. Until you can answer “9″ or “10″ without even thinking about it. Those are the things that you can actually do consistently. If you can do more on any particular day, have at it, but don’t commit to it. Your daily accomplishments can be big, but keep your commitments relatively small. This way, you turn predictable disappointment into daily, pleasant surprise.
Often this is both a humbling and liberating experience for people, especially people who are well educated about health and fitness. Humbling, because we often kid ourselves into thinking we can do much more than we actually can. (And that’s both normal and entirely okay.) Liberating, because when we realize that the only way to make a big change is to make a series of small ones like these, “consistency” and all that it brings finally becomes possible.
The question most people have is here, though, is: will that actually work? Will such small changes actually do anything?The answer is yes, when done in sequence. Once the first one is done, the second one is even easier, and so on. It’s amazing how powerful “making things easier” actually is.
In fact, it’s exactly how we train our clients. This leads us to another highly effective option….
Bottom line: It’s a lot easier to stay consistent when you’ve got a coach checking up on you.