In part 1 of this article series, we took a deep dive into uncovering who it is you’re striving toward on this journey, and what your deep, underlying motivations are for wanting to achieve that.
If you haven’t read Part 1 of this series and gone through the exercises, we highly recommend you doing so here.
Now that you know who you want to be and why, let’s take a closer look at another concept that tends to separate people who achieve life-changing, sustainable success from those who can never quite seem to get going, or have trouble sustaining their progress for a significant amount of time.
Make the game winnable
Constant calorie counting…
Elaborate macronutrient diagrams…
Ultra-detailed meal plans…
What do all of these approaches have in common?
Most often, they’re the approach of an individual or “fitness guru” who has decades of experience living the life you’re striving for.
Taking advice from such an individual doesn’t sound problematic. After all, if you want to be more like that person, shouldn’t you just do what they do?
Well, yes and no.
Most often, the person giving this advice or offering this service is someone who, again, has spent the majority of their lives being this individual. The elaborate schemes come naturally to them because they’ve already spent years living it.
So if it works for them, why is it not the best approach for you? For the exact same reason.
You aren’t that person. You aren’t your friend Mike or Hannah. You are your own person, and you’re equipped with your own set of strengths and abilities, knowledge, life experiences and circumstances.
That means that your ability to be successful along this journey is completely unique to you. What worked for one person may not work for you.
Most often, it won’t.
So how do you know what approach WILL work for you?
Start at the start
First, you’ll need to understand exactly where you’re starting from.
The path to fitness is not one without obstacles and pit stops. In fact, it very much resembles levels in a video game. Those levels are made up of stages, and in order to progress to the next level, you’ll have to go through all of the individual stages, one at a time.
Most of the time, we get ourselves into trouble thinking we can bypass a stage, only to come to the rude awakening that we don’t possess the knowledge and skills to be successful at this stage.
When this happens, we revert back to where we started. Demotivated. Uninspired. Crushed.
So, be honest with yourself and where you’re starting from. You can’t “fake it till you make it”, here. After all, the only person you’re really fooling is yourself, and that will only last for so long.
If you’re not sure what stage you’re at, check out this infographic. It neatly outlines what habits, behaviors, and skill sets are associated with each stage, and what it would take for you to move up a stage.
Set realistic expectations
Next, you’ll need to understand what realistic progress looks like over a typical period of time.
We tend to get caught up in the miracle transformations we see on the news and on social media, or amongst our friends.
But unlike the dining experience at a popular restaurant, you seldom hear about all the people whom this magical transformation didn’t happen for. Which makes total sense when you think about it.
There’s no shame in writing a terrible review for a restaurant or service that didn’t go nearly as planned.
But for a person to admit a diet or fitness approach didn’t work for them? Well, that person would have to admit that they “failed”, and we never want to seem like a failure, not to ourselves and certainly not to our peers.
For every 1 person who is successful using a particular approach, you can bet their are at least 10 people for whom that approach did not work for.
To put it simply, these miracle, lightning-fast transformations aren’t realistic. Not for you, and not for the vast majority of people. If they were, it probably would have happened already.
To give you an idea of what realistic progress looks like, let’s use weight loss as our example.
If you had to guess what a reasonable, sustainable amount of weight loss would be over a weekly basis, what would you guess?
Would it surprise you that a reasonable, sustainable amount of weight loss on a weekly basis ranges anywhere from 0.5 lbs – 2 lbs?
And it varies from person to person based on where they’re starting from, past experience, and current life circumstances.
When it comes to weight loss, most people will fall around 1 lbs per week as a realistic marker of sustainable progress. Although it may not seem like much, over the course of a couple months, that number adds up quickly.
Over the course of 3-6 months, that equates to 12-24lbs of sustainable change. If we told you that you could be the person you always dreamed of being, and it would only take you 6 months to do it, you might have a completely different outlook on that progress pace, right?
We drastically overestimate what we can accomplish in a day, and drastically underestimate what we can accomplish in a year.
So, no, if what you’re after is sustainable, life-changing results, then it won’t happen overnight. But, with a subtle shift in mindset, it can happen a lot sooner than you think.
Set realistic expectations from the outset, and make sure you have fun with the process. After all, what game is worth playing if it isn’t fun and engaging?
Progress, not perfection
Once you’ve identified exactly where you’re starting from and what realistic, sustainable progress looks like to you, the last step is to do it.
And here’s another potential area where people slip up. The majority of people we work with come in with the idea that they have to be perfect in order to be successful, but this couldn’t be further from the truth.
In fact, you might be surprised to know that achieving the results mentioned above requires a score that is far from perfect.
You don’t even have to be a B+ student in order to get amazing results!
How can this be?
Well, we’re going to blame the “fitness guru” (poor guru).
When you play a game where the odds are stacked against you, either because you’ve chosen a stage that is beyond your current capabilities, or because you’re not being realistic with your expectations, the pressure to be perfect becomes overwhelming.
If you don’t do things perfectly, you’ll probably fail.
But you’re not falling for that same old trick, right?
You’ve already decided you’re going to be realistic with where you’re starting from and with your expectations.
That’s where the last piece of this mindset puzzle comes into play – focusing on making progress, not being perfect.
You don’t need to be a math wiz to know that 1 + 1 = 2.
You being even just a little bit better next week than you were the week before means that you’ll make progress. The speed in which you make that progress, again, is relative to the individual, but is progress nonetheless.
So give yourself permission to be a B student. Heck, you might even realize you can win your game by floating a C in this course.
It’s not all or nothing. It’s always something.