I shared this photo in our client support groups yesterday:
It illustrates my weight in KGs between July 2013 and yesterday. On the face of it, there’s nothing dramatic or impressive, it’s just a curve slowly tracking upwards.
There are no massive shifts or dramatic falls, just a steady, consistent change.
In short, it’s taken me about 3.5 years to gain 10kg of bodyweight. That translates to less than 3kg per year and about 0.24kg per month, less than 0.1kg per week.
During this time, I’ve been focussing on powerlifting, my total has increased from 580kg (my first ever total in a powerlifting competition) to 678kg.
Squat has increased from 210kg to 245kg.
Bench has increased from 130kg to 155kg.
Deadlift has increased from 250kg to 300kg.
Over the time, I’ve slowly and systematically gained weight, a mix of muscle and fat and added enough strength and size to my frame to allow me to remain competitive in a sport I enjoy.
I shared this with our clients for a simple reason. It is so easy to be sucked into the world of “My progress isn’t good enough” and “I need to be doing things differently, I should have reached my goal already”.
We stare in the mirror or at our training log and feel a sense of dissatisfaction with our current reality. We don’t want to be where we want to be now, we want to make progress immediately and we want to get lean/strong/huge YESTERDAY.
This torrent of frustration leads us down the path of quick fixes, throwing in the towel and changing routines and plans more than we change our underwear.
I share my progress above with you to illustrate what it ACTUALLY takes to make a change to how you look or how you perform. Prior to July 2013, I’d spent over 8 months in a fat-loss phase with the goal of getting lean enough to sustain a mass gaining phase of several years (one that I’m still in…) and I’ve then spent over 3 years in the sole pursuit of strength and size.
Neither my fat-loss journey or my strength and mass phase happened overnight and neither were the result of a special supplement or program.
They are the product of consistency and effort applied to a program fit for purpose.
Could I have made progress quicker? Maybe.
Would it have made me any more happy? I doubt it.
This is where I feel most approaches to fitness and fat-loss go drastically wrong.
When we feel discontent with our current reality, it’s because we feel that something should be different to what it is. We think we should be leaner, stronger and making more progress. The reality, of course, is that none of those things are true. What’s more, none of those things are directly in our control.
The graph of my weight above displays what we refer to as a “lag indicator”, of course, it shows what I weighed on a nearly daily basis for 3 and a bit years but
What it REALLY shows is the result of thousands of hours spent under a barbell and tens of thousands of meals tracked to the gram.
It shows years of me staying detached from the outcome and engaged fully in managing the day to day, controlling the process.
Was progress instant? No way.
Did I enjoy the process? Every bloody minute.
As Yusef, phrased it in a recent article:
The bad news is, there’s no way to accelerate the process. The GOOD news is, there’s no way to accelerate the process.
What we focus on with our products, coaching and courses is helping the client/user determine the tipping point between progress and enjoyment for them.
The point at which the day to day implementation just fades into the background of normal life.
They’re no longer “on a diet” or “following a program”, it’s just a normal Monday, just what they do.
We define the crossroads at which they no longer do things because they feel they need to, they do them because they’re easy and enjoyable, getting leaner each week is just a nice side effect.
I had days where I stayed out late with friends, drank alcohol, went over my calories and failed to hit enough sleep. I had weeks where I didn’t track macros at all and just enjoyed time with friends and family. I skipped training sessions in favour of other things and I almost certainly had days where I failed to hit my protein intake.
Could I have “sacrificed more to win?”, of course I could! I could have resigned to the fact that a social life and International powerlifting aren’t really meant to go together sometimes and I could have decided that my fat-loss goals were more important to me than a date with my girlfriend…
But I didn’t.
Even if I had followed the most strict approach, removed all potential unknowns and tightened every loose component, it would have maybe shaved a few months off the whole process at best.
I know that my progress can’t be doubled or tripled by a magic program or supplement and I know that the more I feel like I can live and enjoy my life while following the plan I’m following, the more consistent I’ll be.
At this time of year, we see a spate of people saying to us that they want to “wait until the new year” to make a change with their health and fitness.
My response is always “why, does your life become that of a hermit 11 months of every 12?”
If your current approach doesn’t have enough room and flexibility to guide you through some office parties and days with your family then in the nicest way possible, what the hell are you doing this for?
How’s that working our for you Ebenezer?
If December is viewed as a “write off” for your fat-loss or strength pursuits then your focus is far too short term.
If you need “time off” to throw caution to the wind and YOLO for 1-2 months of they year then what sort of approach are you actually trying to follow?!
If you can get one thing from this post, let is be this:
You have to decide whether or not you want looking and feeling good to be something you go through hell for and then experience for a few weeks per year or whether it’s something you want to just become the new “normal”.
It’s not easy getting really lean or improving your strength but that doesn’t mean the process has to be horrible. Follow a plan that allows you to really enjoy your life at the same time, then buckle down, accept it will take some time and just love the process as much as you can. Anything else is simply asking for frustration and disappointment.
True, meaningful success takes a long time. There’s no questioning that. Trying to short change the process will work for a while and you may get fast results for a few weeks but the guy/girl who’s resigned to the long game and loves every day while they’re at it will always come out on top.
Lastly, while this may seem like a plug. If you’re really serious about changing your health and fitness, don’t be so naive to think that you can really get the best from yourself without help and guidance. I’ve been in this world for long enough now to see the effect 3rd party objectivity and accountability can have on people.
I was coached for EVERY SINGLE DAY of the journey above. There is no doubt in my mind that had that not been the case, the results would have been very different.
If you want to experience working with us for a defined length of time, learn some new systems, gain a new perspective and get some help along the way, CLICK HERE to apply for our Winter KickStart program, we’d love to help you on your journey.