I want to share something with you about fitness that can eliminate a great deal of unnecessary frustration. Far too often, people carry the false assumption that progress is perfectly linear and reaching their goals will follow a perfectly predictable pattern. Simply knowing that this is not the norm can help to eliminate a great deal of those moments that take the wind out of your motivational sail.
Lets take a look at the most common example of this fallacy. If someone wants to lose 20 pounds in 10 weeks, they typically do the math and assume they need to maintain 2 pounds of fat loss every week. Intuitively, this basic algebra makes complete sense. In practice, it can often lead to frustration and confusion.
If the individual above checks and charts their weekly weight loss , it is highly unlikely that the results would read: -2, -2, -2, … etc. A much more common result would be along the lines of: -3, -1, -0, -2, …etc. Both scenarios will ultimately lead to 20 pounds of weight loss over 10 weeks, but assuming a perfect linear result typically leads to quitting after a week or two of seeing a results that didn’t meet expectations.
Everything I have explained above applies to all aspects of fitness and physical development, not just weight loss. “Imperfect progression” is the norm in weight gain, strength gain, speed development, loss of inches, cardiorespiratory development, etc. There are a tremendous amount of different factors that go into achieving our fitness goals, and any one of them can contribute to a skewed display of our actual progress.
Regarding the aforementioned problem, there are two things that I suggest to every client.
- Do not be a micro-monitor. Checking your progress too often is a sure-fire way to get fooled and frustrated. Using weight loss as an example, weighing yourself daily is ridiculous and checking weekly is still a bit much. We tend to encourage once a month, but for those who really can’t stand it, bi-weekly is not too bad.
- Know how your body progresses. Simply knowing that fitness is an “up and down” endeavor will make a world of difference. In previous writings, I have drawn the parallels between fitness and the stock market; some weeks are up and some are down, but over the long-term you will reap the rewards.
So stay focused, keep working hard and don’t micro-monitor your progress. With a good plan and a dedicated attitude, you will get there.