Ever notice how change comes in big erratic chunks? Sure, progress should be linear, like a steady paycheck or seconds ticking away on a clock, but unfortunately it ain’t. Progress, if anything, is consistently inconsistent.
Build muscle. Burn fat. Like watching paint dry.
Nowhere is this more apparent than in the efforts of weight loss and body modification (building muscle, sculpting your buttocks, whatever). Results come quick as greaselightning, initially. You get hooked on the feeling of power that comes from self-mastery, people comment on your positive changes and you feel just a little unstoppable. Then one morning nothing changes. Then another. The scale is broken so you’ll just wait until its working again properly, try again tomorrow. In fitness we call this a plateau. A sticking point. They suck real bad. That feeling of being unstoppable? Poof! It pops like a balloon. You realize pretty quick that the misery of dieting, of soreness from new or more intense exercise, just is not worth the trouble.
Wanna know a secret?
Wait. Here’s a secret: the body, like our universe, works in mysterious ways. And if you could only see the multitude of positive changes happening on the inside! Well, if you only knew about the good things happening to your health besides progressing toward your main fitness goal (weight loss/body modification) ladies and gentlemen, you would never doubt the benefit(s) of your hard work.
The truth is progress is slow and there is no quick way around it.
Depriving yourself of carbs for a couple days, eking through a starvation diet, or binge eating then over-exercising are not solutions. Nothing worth doing or having is going to happen in a couple of days, or weeks.
Instead, try imagining your health and fitness journey as a bank account where good nutrition and exercise are deposits, and junk food and choosing the lazy over movement are withdrawals. Keep a positive account balance and know that you will be golden. No need to worry about it with daily tummy checks or weighing yourself. It’s happening dammit! So trust the process and move on with your life.
Quitting is the only way to fail. So get sweating!
The flip side of gradual change is that there is no failure. And backsliding is not as catastrophic as we often think. One too many doughnuts, or a week of no exercise for whatever reason, won’t actually change much at all. Why? Because you got a positive bank balance. You may not be rich with fitness, but you are building your fitness nest egg.
I used to be such a food and exercise perfectionist. Cutting calories and entire macronutrients (like carbohydrates or healthy fat) to the point of having the mental capacity of a zombie. And if I got weak and gave in, had a bowl of oatmeal or fruit, it meant that I was a failure. Game over. Switch of the console because I lost. Might as well down a gallon of ice cream and jump back aboard the deprivation train tomorrow.
Looking back, I realize it wasn’t about adopting good health habits, but a bullheaded test of sheer will. In my twisted thinking I equated my ability to handle hunger as a sign of my dedication to positive physical change. But really I was just living in a brain fog as my body cannibalized itself because I was failing to give it the nutritious calories it needed. Yeah, read that again: calories are good for you.
To wrap it up: making positive body changes is a lot like having faith in a higher power. Do your good deeds, believe, and don’t worry so much about the mechanics of it all. Detach yourself from the outcome and watch in (unconcerned) awe as you smash your fit goals in a spectacular fashion.