Patience Is YOUR Key In This World
One of the things that I frequently hear from people when they start a new training or nutrition program is ‘I am not seeing any changes yet, it doesn’t seem to be working! Time for a change in program?’. This is fairly common, particularly from people who are just stepping into the world of health and fitness for the first time and are eager to make positive changes to their body.
Well if you ask me, it’s completely understandable to have these concerns and I really don’t blame you! It just means you’re eager and really enthusiastic about making those positive changes, and that’s great! You are in the right mindset to push further forward in your fitness journey. However, the problem tends to occur when people act too quickly on these concerns. The result being, changing things around in their training routine too suddenly and/or changing their nutrition. While tweaks on the road to your goals will be needed through time, making adjustments or sudden changes too soon or too often is usually a disaster recipe to yo-yo backwards and forwards leading to nothing more than the continuous frustrating stalling in your progress. Not what you want!
Change Takes Time: But Let It Work For You, Not Against You
When it comes to fat loss and size and strength development, change takes time. By time, I mean months to years (never weeks – you can thank fluctuations in water weight for that!). In fact, if you want to make changes to your body which are healthy, sustainable and long-term, it really is going to take years! I will be the first to honestly tell you that. Yes, to the new people out there that sounds pretty disappointing but really, it isn’t. Simply because slow change is always going to be healthier, easier to maintain and permanent. Whenever someone has tried to strip fat too fast (through intense calorie restriction) or tried to induce faster muscle gain (through excessively high calorie intakes, more training) the changes are never healthy, permanent and usually come far under ones expectations. Sometimes, these quick changes can lead to a hefty backfire, making you sometimes now worse off! Oops! Remember, in fitness time is on your side, if you let it! Patience goes far here.
Many times, people begin with a training program and nutrition plan and two weeks later scratch their heads as to why they are not seeing any results. They wanted visible abs, bigger biceps and a fuller chest, but after only two weeks they are simply not seeing the signs. People might begin to question whether you are any good as a coach or whether the programs you give are working, and might even suggest that you give them other programs to follow etc. People might decide to change things up on their own in order to speed up results or look to new training and nutrition protocols that promise quick fixes. Ultimately, many people reach a ‘panic-point’ from the get-go and immediately start trying all sorts of different things in the hopes of trying to achieve these wanted changes and results quicker. It happens often! The truth is, two weeks is absolutely nothing when it comes to your goals. No matter what training program, nutrition plan or coach you use, you will not see healthy, sustainable or long-term changes in a matter of two weeks. However, rather than see these two weeks as simply disappointment, see them more as the ‘fine-tuning period’.
⇒That is, seeing how you feel on a particular training and nutrition plan, assess how your body is coping with the plan (both physically and mentally), getting used to the routines and lifestyle changes and, learning (most important I think!) everything you can about the programs you are following.
If you start a program with your coach and you don’t see the changes you want after 2/4/6 weeks or the changes made are not fast or large enough, don’t panic. Don’t go overhauling your program or jump ship simply because you are not satisfied with what you achieve. The chances are, if you are making changes and these changes are small but continuous then you are most likely on the healthy, sustainable, long-term path. If after say 4 weeks you have made absolutely no progress then yes, something is a little off with your nutrition and/or training and it’s back to the drawing board. But, when it comes to the most optimal progress to make, slow and steady wins the race every time.
⇒The bottom line: Things will always start slow when you are starting out on your new fitness journey. Use that initial time to study your program, assess how you feel on it and whether it works with your daily schedule. But, in terms of real, healthy, sustainable results from it, those will always come later, never from the get-go.
There Will Be Setbacks, But Tweaking Saves The Day
When you get going on your fitness journey, you will quickly find out that the training program and nutrition plan you first started out with, is constantly being adjusted. Your training and nutrition will never stay exactly the same. The overall structure will, but tweaks will constantly be needed to ensure your progress stays moving along and you overcome points of plateau. As you progress and you become more advanced, sticking with the same thing day in, day out will only lead to the so-called ‘jamming point’ in your journey. So, it’s good to tweak your training and nutrition regularly as you progress over time. I don’t mean jumping onto something completely different, I mean assessing the program (s) you are currently using and making the necessary tweaks to ensure they stay optimal to your goals. It’s always good to keep in mind: As you change, your program will need to change as well.
Fitness progression never comes in a straight line. It’s usually up and down. Frustrating, I know! What you will tend to find is that over a period of time, your progress will sometimes be smoother than other periods. Sometimes, progress will be made and at other times, you might have made no progress at all. Sometimes, it’s all smooth sailing, and at other times, it feels like you are grinding away at nothing and making no progress at all. But, this is all ok! What is important is the progress that you make over a certain period of time.
⇒For instance, say you have the goal to lose weight and so over the last 6 months you have successfully made steady progress. That is great, but if you look back at your journey, you will most likely find that your progress didn’t occur in a straight line, it actually occurred in a sort of zig-zag way.
This happens all the time when you are working towards your fitness goals, it’s never a straight line journey. Often throughout this journey, your program will need to be tweaked in order to ensure that you continue moving in a positive direction and that the magnitude of these ‘dips/set-backs/plateaus’ in your journey, are reduced. Just because you have these ups and downs, does not mean that your program is bad, it’s not working or that it is time to switch to a completely different training and nutrition protocol every time they occur. These ups and downs are simply rectified through simple tweaks to your training (in terms of volume/intensity/frequency/form etc.) and nutrition (re-calculation of your daily calorie requirements and optimising macro ratio requirements).
⇒The bottom line: It’s important to realise that progress is never a straight line. There will be constant up and down periods. Periods where you feel like you are making progress, and other periods where you feel you are grinding away at nothing. But, this does not mean that you need to adopt a completely new training and nutrition program every time this happens. Small, continuous tweaks to your current regime will provide the necessary stimulus to keep you moving in the right direction.
Trusting The Process
In my experience, I have seen people constantly changing between different training and nutrition programs when the results don’t come quick enough or ‘down periods’ happen during their fitness journey. They panic, get disheartened or go in search of something better that might get them to their goals quicker. The reality is, in fitness, achieving your goals in an optimal, healthy, sustainable and long-term manner takes time. It’s not a 2/4/6 week process and more importantly, its certainly not a linear process! The important thing to look out for is whether you are making slow and consistent progress over time. If you are, then your program is working and probably optimal for you. If not, then a closer analysis needs to be conducted to identify possible problems in your training and nutrition protocols.
At the start of every journey, an optimal program is never going to produce the life changing results you want from the get-go, not if you want those results to last!Furthermore, although with proper guidance you will start with an optimal training and nutrition program, as you progress over time, tweaks will need to be made on a continuous basis (as your body changes) to make sure your program stays optimal. If you always have the inclination to jump to a completely new training and nutrition protocol every time a setback occurs, or the results don’t come fast enough, then you are likely to fall into the so-called ‘ping-pong trap’. That is, continuously moving forwards and backwards without making any real progress. When in reality, simple tweaks to your daily calories/macros and volume/intensity/frequency are all that are needed to your current program to get you going again! It’s all about knowing and implementing the basics of training and nutrition and giving it time.
⇒Why? Because it will work! It’s all about trusting the process and letting time do it’s magic. You are in this for the rest of your life, not just the next 4 weeks.
As always, if you have any questions on the article, ask away!