How consistent is your consistency?
Let's face it. You’re probably working out regularly (or at least plan to most of the time). Most of the fam have the workout game down. Whether you’re a yogi, runner, barre class fanatic, or fellow sister-in-iron — chances are you have a pretty set schedule of when you work out or hit the gym. You may be on a 3-4 day schedule — whatever works for you — and get to the gym “when you can” most days of the week. You're probably already “eating protein at every meal” (or close enough), and for the most part stay “on track” while allowing only the occasional indulgence. Even if it occasionally throws your macros off. You even shout “trust the process!” from the rooftops, and truly believe it…most days. ;)
But have you ever wondered how different your results could be if you were more consistent with your workouts, eats, and mental commitment to staying on track? How often do you measure your definition of the words occasional, consistency, and trust?
The reason that consistency is so important — and subsequently gets regurgitated every other post — is that it matters the most, yet is relied upon the least!! If you feel like you're getting nowhere on this journey, it's time to check the Consistency Trifecta: food, workouts, mindset — to see what's holding you back from taking your results to the next level.
“It’s not what we do once in a while that shapes our lives. It’s what we do consistently.”
Food: How are your eats? Are you getting in enough protein and fiber? Are you eating according to your goals? Or just eating what you think (aka hope) is “enough” to get the job done? Food matters in every way. Striving for fat loss, but eating whatever you want (and thinking that the macros don't matter) is a recipe for no (or superrrrrr slow) progress. As is running your body into the ground without enough surplus calories to build muscle, yet hoping to look like someone who has.
We all want to do what WE want to get the results, rather than what it takes. Human nature, I guess. But when it comes to your eats, remember that this is where working your consistency muscle will count the most. This is what helps you to create habits that will carry you throughout your journey. Many ladies will complain that they aren't seeing results, despite “doing” EM2WL for X amount of time. As I like to ask my clients, “Yes, but how consistent have you been during that time?”
Try this ~ Remind yourself that though the occasional (even daily!) indulgence can fit into your lifestyle, it's up to you to make sure it FITS, and is not totally skewing your macros each time. Though, at first this may mean taking a hard look at the numbers, the goal is to wean yourself into a balanced lifestyle that ultimately can support both your needs and wants. This means that your eating decisions need to also be cognitive, intuitive, and purposeful. Learn to hear what your body is really saying and understand the difference between a binge and chosen indulgence. A binge is an indulgence that just transcends from one meal to the next with no rhyme or reason. A chosen indulgence is just that, a choice. You decide to eat something, and you move on. Learn to make one of two simple statements: “I'm going to have this” or “nah, not worth it today.” An indulgence eaten at every meal…is no longer an indulgence, but the norm.
Consistency always wins. Some days you'll decide to indulge, other days you won't. But the key is in deciding to do one or the other. And if deciding to have it, ENJOY it thoroughly. No guilt. No penalty exercising. Just moving on at the next meal, balancing the previous out as best you can.
But keep in mind that by rationalizing that you're “close enough” every day can lead you further away from your goals. Being “consistent” only 3-4 days (aka half) the week actually doubles how long it will take you to see the results you crave. If your biggest issue with consistency is in not understanding what to eat, or not having enough time to plan for healthy meals, try investing in a nutrition coach to help you to understand how to eat in a way that works for your lifestyle and goals.
Workouts: While we may see temporary changes from doing something extreme for a short period of time, permanent results are a by-product of doing one thing over and over with commitment, and regularity. Period. It's called the compound effect, and it applies to EVERY area of life.
Just as with your eats, if you are only putting a couple days of challenging workouts each week, it will take you nearly twice as long to reach your goals. If you have the time, and that's all you can do…then you will have to accept that timeline. On the other hand, if you're able to commit to 4-6 days a week, of course you'll reach those goals much faster. Think about when you started school, or even a new job. If you only attended or trained a few days a week, chances are it would've taken you much longer to learn everything you needed to — and become familiar with the material — than it would if you attended/trained all five days of the week. The same principle applies to exercise habits and commitments. Your body responds better when continually being trained and conditioned.
Try this ~ Now, I’m not saying that you need to turn into an exercise-obsessed-gym-junkie in order to be consistent. If you choose 6 days a week to be active, that doesn’t necessarily mean you’re at the gym going hard every single day. You can schedule active rest days (read: take a walk, go hiking, go bike riding) in between weight lifting sessions. Although you are not throwing weights around every single day, you’re doing more than just taking the day off to sit on the couch, eat nachos, and watch the game with your hubs (save that for after the bike ride :P).
If you truly only have a few days to dedicate to working out, then it is what it is. You may not be able to create more hours in your day, or more days in your week. But if you only have a few days, then you need to get serious about those days and develop some laser beam focus. It's not always about increasing time or amount of workouts (although the time may come when you're a vet), yet the intensity should be there. The leisure “feel good” workouts are nice for…feeling good, lol. But if you're short on time, not new to working out, and want results, each workout should be intense and to the point for the goal that you're shooting for. Increase weight, be diligent/precise with rest periods, make sure it's always challenging. Save the leisure workouts for when you have leisure time. And even your leisure workouts should be prioritized (i.e. Pilates/yoga for more core/flexibility focus, over recreational jogging or whatever according to your goal)
Mentality: This really should've been mentioned first, because without thinking the right thoughts, consistently, the rest doesn't stand a chance. If all we ever think about is how “nothing ever works,” and we only weigh, measure, or snap pics to prove our negative thoughts correct…then we can only expect to reap what we sow. This also gives us an excuse to veer into blame game territory (no-THING ever works, leaves no room for user error). We have to hold our own feet to the fire, and EXPECT results. IF they don't happen, we can cross that bridge and troubleshoot when necessary. But if we allow ourselves to dwell on negativity, we will only reap negative results.
By nature we want everything to happen on a massive scale, or change overnight (even when we truly understand how impossible/temporary that concept is). But if we refuse to consider all progress to be progress, we'll sabotage ourselves quicker than we can snap that myotape back in place. We scoff at any seemingly small progress — like only losing one inch in an entire month. Such an insignificant change for SO much work, we think. So we get discouraged, and then slack in one area or another (usually while researching or trying something new…again) because we “knew it wouldn't work anyway.” This slippery slope type of mentality is what leads to the infamous wheel-spinning, half-week (or month), low/no consistency levels. I mean, why try so hard for something that doesn't seem to be working?
This spawns even more negativity — “I just must not be one of the lucky ones…”, “seems like others can eat whatever they want…” “It shouldn't be this hard” — we land at the place of “Ugh!! I've been on this journey for (fill-in-the-blank-amount-of-time) and its just NOT working.” But…if we keep our mentality in check, and take an honest look at our sporadic eating and exercising schedules, what journey have we really been on? One of consistency AND trust? Or one full of one too many “occasional”, “when I can”, and “almosts?”
Try this ~ Religiously set aside a certain day each week to acknowledge any NSVs from the previous week. Give this activity as much — preferably MORE — weight (excuse the pun) than your scale weigh-in, and take it just as seriously. Write it down, announce it to the fam on the Forums, MFP, Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram — just as you would if you lost 5, 10, or 20 lbs — it's that big of a deal, and keeps you mentally focused on all aspects of the journey.
Try to remove words like “only” (or phrases like “not really expecting any changes…”) from your journey vocab, especially when used in the negative. If you lose “only” an inch one month, keep a progress-minded mentality and remind yourself that clothing sizes are based on inches. There's only ONE inch difference between most clothing sizes from 0-10, and around 2 inches difference between sizes 12-24. So only an inch this month, could become 3 sizes smaller if you kept at the exact same rate of progress, for only 8 more weeks. THAT's the power of consistency in mind, food, and workout.
As in many areas of life, those who put in more work tend to have more success and better results. It’s really quite simple. Put the Consistency Trifecta to work for you. Dedicate yourself to the process, believe in it, stick to it, trust and you will reach goals you'd before never imagined possible.