Quick Results or Slow and Steady?
Which is better and Why?
For anyone that is in their mid-20’s and up, you remember logging on to your desktop PC and waiting for the Dial Up internet to kick in. 11 hours later you get to surf the web. Now, if we don’t get internet access within 11 seconds of turning on a computer, we get pissed off and want to speak with the manager of your nearest AT&T store. A damn outrage I tell you.
The same has happened in fitness. Almost everything in the fitness industry is geared towards “fast and easy” results. In general, we are immediate gratification society that thinks, either consciously or subconsciously, if something doesn’t work right away, it doesn’t work. If it doesn’t work immediately there is something wrong with the product or the training or the trainer or the time of training or the frequency or intensity or direction the sun rises and so on. There is always an excuse as to why, when people start a training routine that they are not getting the results they want. So, let’s look and why this happens.
In my experience, starting a fitness routine for most people is about looking and feeling good about themselves. We look in the mirror, don’t like what we see based on a preconceived notion of what the human body is supposed to look like, and the action stage of the stages of change begins.
We have this idea of a healthier, stronger, sexier version of ourselves and we want it NOW. We want that body we had when we were 17 or before kids or like that one chick or dude from that one magazine with photoshopped bodies. Either way we have this vision and we say to ourselves, “I’m doing this!!!”. We develop this plan on our heads that looks something like this. I’m going to eat healthy every day, stop drinking during the week, go to the gym 3 days a week, run 3 days a week, drink more water, eat more protein, less sweets, and do yoga too. We go from 0 to 100 mph in 4 seconds flat. Then, we tell ourselves “I’ll be happy when……..I lose, gain, feel, lift, run etc.”, but we never take into account how long it took us to get the body we have right now. We never consider the amount of work, consistent work, it takes to get the results we want, and the reality is, it is a process and not a destination for most of us.
For the first 6 to 8 weeks of training, we typically don’t lose “weight” according to the scale, which unfortunately is the common metric of success in the fitness industry. We will however, with the right training and nutrition adjustments, lose inches, get stronger and begin to develop new taste buds for the healthier options we committed to changing to. That’s the first 6 to 8 weeks, typically. Then, we hit the results phase of training where you really start to see your body adapting to the consistent work you have been doing. Then, we start to lose body fat, build muscle and change our mindset to one of that version of ourselves we envisioned at the outset. However, if we don’t see results after these 8 weeks, we slowly creep back to our old way of thinking and slowly fall off the wagon. We couldn’t maintain the high expectations we set for ourselves nor did we tell ourselves this is a process. We only have eyes on the destination.
So, here is my recommendation. Set realistic goals that cover multiple metrics other than weight. Use strength gains, the fitting of clothes, how you feel, energy levels, sleep quality, levels of stress, nutritional changes, mindset and anything else that doesn’t involve how you look. With gauging your results on these metrics, you begin to develop a lifestyle. A lifestyle that will help you live a happy life not based on some preconceived notion of what you “should” look like.
Getting quick results is all well and good, but it takes up to 5 years to make fitness and healthy eating a lifestyle, so stop beating yourself up and go for consistency rather than intensity.
The question is: Is balls to the wall, beat yourself up, get results now at the expense of learning and changing gradually the way to go?
Or is it make small changes that will lead to another change, that will lead to another and so on. Is immediate gratification the goal or is it sustainability?
I know the right answer for me. I know for me; This body is temporary. Any results I achieve now will change in time, so I choose to be happy with myself NOW, while still maintaining a drive to see what my body can do. This body is just a housing for my mind and spirit, and it is my job to keep it working at optimal performance so I can live my best life. What’s the right answer for you?