I’m sure we’ve all been there. You work out week after week, and you’ve tried every routine that is out there. You created your own workout routine, worked through it for a couple of weeks but were disappointed with the results.
Then you tweaked your routine, or chose a new one entirely. Or maybe you decided that the results you were hoping for were not really what you want, and now you change your mind. This could be something like abandoning the goal to lose weight and deciding that bulking up is more inside your realm of possibilities.
Now, how do you break this vicious cycle of program hopping? And what has it got to do with this water drop? Let’s find out.
The secret to success, as with everything in life, is consistency. I’m sorry to disappoint you with this flat common sense statement, but it is the truth.
How do you become outstanding at something? You do the same thing over and over again until, one day, you are a master at that one thing.
The reason why we call it outstanding is because not many people have the discipline and patience to be that consistent, and therefore stand out from the rest of the crowd.
This seems to be the hard truth: Boring reaps results most predictably. Think about it: If you work out 4 times a week, with a similar set of exercises for 2 years, how can you not become excellent at performing these movements?
It might not be the most fun thing in the world (although you should have fun with fitness). But you are in this not only for fun but for results, right?
It’s the same thing with diets: Statistically, losing weight is the best predictor for weight gain. That’s because there are so many crash diets that help distribute that quick fix mentality. People want to quickly look differently with the least amount of work possible and then get back to their old life. In turn, they are back to their former state of mediocre equilibrium.
The reason why fitness and diet is such a mystified topic is that many people think there are tricks or hacks that will finally give them the results they want.
Sadly, fitness is not something you can simply order on Amazon. There is no pill, no special equipment and no secret formula. In order to look differently and to be fitter, you need to be the person who is fit and active.
Be the Change
This heading might sound terribly stereotypical self-help-voodoo to you. But it’s the exact mantra you need to internalize when you want to change something.
People are often disappointed that I don’t know any tricks that would easily give them the results they want.
When I get asked how much and how often I train, the reactions are usually something like this: “I could never do that.”, “You’re crazy.”, “That just wouldn’t suit my lifestyle.”
The truth is that I didn’t just jump into this, either. I started out as a complete noob, with no knowledge about training, no inner talent and until today, I haven’t found the magic switch to be ripped just by thinking about working out.
I bought a gym membership at age 19, which was a heavy investment compared to the pocket money I had at that time. I started with a commitment that initially required me to overcome a great deal of resistance. But after a while, I grew into this training thing and my enthusiasm for working out developed organically from that.
In order to become the person you want, you have to be that person.
Fitness and health is a habit. Do you want to be lean? Then you have to do what lean people do: Eat lots of vegetables, stay away from junk food most of the time and eat reasonable portions. 4 weeks of dieting won’t get you there. Changing your eating habits over the course of a couple of months? Most probably.
Want to look muscular? Do what muscular people do: Get stronger by training consistently and progressively doing harder exercises.
Of course you cannot just become another person overnight. But you can act as such. Visualize what you want the future version of yourself to be like. What habits would this person have? How would you think about yourself if you where that person?
Pick one thing, one habit, and tell yourself that you are a person who does this thing on a regular basis. Don’t tell yourself that you wished you would work out more. Instead, say “I work out 3 times a week. It’s just who I am.”
Believe in Your System
You’re probably familiar with the placebo effect. This psychological trick is so powerful that people with real symptoms get sugar pills from their doctors and in turn get better. It’s because they believe that this particular pill will help them get better.
The same thing applies to your fitness routine. Do you believe that lifting weights is the best way to get more muscular? You’re right. Do you think that functional fitness is the key to having a strong body? You’re right. You’re saying that avoiding red meat is healthy. Absolutely. I say eating a good amount of quality meat is the best thing you can do. And I’m right.
Now this might sound contradictory to you, but believing in your system makes you stick to it. Of course we have to stay in a certain realm of reason here. Eating nothing but cookies is not good for you, no matter how hard you believe in it.
And it’s not just the motivational part that is important here. Psychology and physiology are so deeply intertwined that the sheer belief in your system makes your body react differently to the stimuli you supply it with.
That’s also a reason why there is such a huge diversity of fitness and diet systems. Lots of people who have found a system that works for them like to distribute it to other people. I’m guilty of that. I found something that worked, therefore I believe in its principles. Now, there might be somebody out there who does the exact opposite of what I do and still makes amazing progress. The only problem is that people like to debate about what’s the best method to lose weight, gain muscle mass, be healthy, etc.
There is no right or wrong here, there is only a what-is-right-for-you.
But in order to make your system click with your goals, you have to really buy in. Simply saying “I believe this could sorta-kinda work” is not believing. I’m talking real conviction here.
It’s kind of like finding your identity, your “style” of fitness. My style is doing bodyweight strength training, which includes exercises like one-arm-push-ups, pistols and pull-ups. I firmly believe that this is the best thing I could do, and that’s why it works so well for me and also why I stick to it.
How to Be Consistent
Believing in your system is the foundation for consistency and everything that follows is just maintaining that belief. But as with your car, maintenance is important. Here’s how.
Find people who have a similar system.
There is a reason why people who do CrossFit are so genuinely convinced of what they do: They’re a community, a highly encouraging one with their own vocabulary and a ridiculous amount of high-fives per session. It’s a cult.
Develop your own cult by surrounding yourself with other positive people who are enthusiastic about the same things.
Do research regarding your chosen methods.
There is some degree of reasoning behind every method. It’s not necessarily the absolute truth, but that’s not the critical part.
I, for instance, think that strength training is vital to good bone health and maintaining muscle mass which in turn leads to enhanced longevity. There’s been several studies that confirm that. But there are certainly other studies which conclude that cardiovascular exercise is the most beneficial activity you could do regarding long-term health.
Either way, inform yourself about your style of fitness.
Record your progress.
Believing is one thing, but having actual proof that what you are doing is working is gold. Take weekly pictures of yourself. Keep a workout journal in which you track your reps and sets for every workout. You can get fancy and create spreadsheets and plots and all that, but one simple tool to record your progress is enough.
Be Patient with Yourself
I know it took me a while until I found my own system. You might have to experiment a bit until you work it out.
Give each of your workout routines or systems a chance to do its thing for one month. If there has been literally no progress at all, you should look for something else. Otherwise, stick to it for another month. Rinse and repeat.
The thing with most fitness enthusiasts is the following: From a physical aspect, taking into account the ability to recover and the adaptation rate of your body, 90% of all recreational strength athletes are beginners.
This means almost anything will work and will induce an adaptational response in your body, at first. Until you hit the point where you can really consider yourself an intermediate athlete (gains will slow down significantly no matter how consistent you are), you don’t need to worry too much if you found the perfect routine.
For most people, the perfect routine is the one they will stick to. The wonders of self-transformation only take place if you utilize the principle of accumulative effort, which will take a fair amount of patience and discipline.
Show up every day and the results will come.
Every workout is like a drop of water. Only time and consistent supply of water turns these drops into oceans. (Now you know why I chose the stupid water drop as a title pic 😉 )
Photo source: Tom Y: water drop