I’ve seen a distinct pattern forming while working with my private clients. Almost inevitably around the 6-8 week mark, there is a letdown, a break from the plan. Sometimes it’s reasonable (holidays, vacation) and sometimes it’s mysterious. But almost without exception it takes less than two months for reality to rear its ugly head.
This may sound like something you’ve experienced. Forget the old myth that a habit takes 21 days. The truth is a single habit is one thing and an overhaul of lifestyle is quite another.
So why is it so difficult to adopt the lifestyle we so desperately want? Is failure really necessary for long-term success?
I’ll outline 3 main reasons why that just may be the case:
We Are Too Bold
When motivation is high and we are determined to take on the world, the tendency is to jump into a bunch of behaviors that jar us into an unsustainable pattern. We’ve been trained to aim high and our culture encourages this “all or nothing mentality” of discipline and gutting it out.
The mind is a funny thing. We do a bunch of workouts or eat a certain way because we think it’s what we SHOULD do, but it’s not something that works for us or that we can sustain. I have now heard several stories of people leaving gyms in shame, afraid to show their faces. They finally got to the point where they couldn’t take it any longer, quit, and then we’re embarrassed to come back.
It’s not that certain workouts are bad in and of themselves, it’s just that we’re told there is a one-size-fits-all approach of pushing yourself hard to get results. I’ve got some good news, you don’t have to do things to make other people think you’re really disciplined or serious about your health, it will wear off eventually.
Let’s save a little time and just forget about the grand plans of going paleo and working out 7 days a week, and do what’s reasonable. I know, not nearly as exciting as making a daily announcement on Facebook about your brutal workout or new cauliflower rice recipe, but aren’t we only concerned about what works long-term?
There Are No Straight Lines
There is something about the control of a well laid plan for weight loss that lets us wrap our heads around change. But with this idea, we are bound to become frustrated or discouraged. Steady and even change just isn’t a reality when it comes to weight loss and fitness.
After a couple of months on a new program, the easy weight loss comes to an end and the excitement has officially faded. It’s at this point you can make or break your new lifestyle. When you trust from the beginning that changing habits and behaviors leads to steady results, you won’t become panicked when you plateau or slide back slightly.
Our bodies will naturally settle into weight loss incrementally. The truth is, the slower you lose the weight, the more likely it will be permanent. Living and dying by the scale is no way to sustainable gains.
My encouragement is to not give up, even if you take a few steps back. All is not lost, you need only take a deep breath, make an assessment, and keep progressing. It usually means you were doing a little more than you’re currently capable of, and that’s ok!
Lifestyle is Learned, Not Programmed
Just like there aren’t any straight lines, the program will and must change as you go along. The real work is not suffering through a diet, but staying diligent enough to discover what works for you.
As a coach, I am really a facilitator to building a healthy lifestyle. I ask clients to build out a plan, we review it, change a few things, then give it a shot. A big part of the process is learning to approach life in a moderate way and to make adjustments.
I’m always careful to ask things like: “Are you sure you’re comfortable eating this?” or “Do you really think you can get to the gym 6 times a week for the long term.”
The point is not to be negative, rather it’s to get clients to realize that the behaviors they wish they had are subject to their current lifestyle. You must learn what works for you and be committed to the process. I strongly encourage people to start off with a realistic plan because whether they like it or not, that’s where they will end up eventually…guaranteed.
If you aren’t going to stick with something permanently, that is if you know that what you are doing is temporary from the get go, how much sense does it really make? If the point is building a lifelong lifestyle, why do temporary things?
If you simply focus on not giving up, you’re bound to succeed. Take quitting off the table from the beginning by simply committing to incremental change. It’s the people who fail then don’t keep going that never reach the destination
Diets and crazy workouts give us an excuse. True moderation demands a genuine effort. Are you faking or are you serious? If you’re serious then do less, make small improvements, and forget the excuses.
If you’re interested in how I coach clients to do LESS for MORE results, check out the Minimalist Fitness Guide. LEARN MORE HERE.