When we go shopping — doesn't matter where: grocery store, mall, Target — I’m quickly distracted by every little new thing I see. Meanwhile, my hubby is already 10-20 yards away, usually unaware that I’m no longer right behind him. Doesn’t even matter that we may be crunched for time or on a mission.
Given that, it's no surprise that I have Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD), which means I have the attention span of….uh…. Wait….hmmmm…. What was I saying? Oh yeah, I basically have about a gazillion things running around in my head at any one time, and I lack a good filter to tune the extraneous stuff out and focus on what’s at hand.
And that includes navigating the thousands of products I’m exposed to in a store. It’s madness — major FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) in effect. All. The. Time. Ha! What results is the original errand taking longer than it should, or forgetting about it altogether (true story). So frustrating.
Same thing for your results and goals.
This distracted and haphazard approach is how we tend to approach our fitness programs. Whereas some will stick with a plan and focus through to the end, many others will give up before they’ve really given it a fair shot, always tempted by some shiny new thing.
I’ve seen it time and again. Someone goes for the latest and great plan on the internet or in a book or magazine, and after a week or two, decides it’s not working and is on to the next thing. Even while they’re on one program, they’re still searching for the “perfect” program, sure that they just haven’t found it yet. There's always something better out there.
The fact is they haven’t stuck with any one plan for a long enough period of time that’s the problem. Not the program itself, necessarily. It's a lack of consistency. I know that I’ve been guilty of it in the past.
We start with a new training program, excited as hell, and eagerly hit the gym for a week or two or even three. We then get bored with the exercises and/or don’t see the fast enough results, so we jump ship to another program.
I call this Shiny Object Syndrome.
In the hyper connected world we live in now, I think most people are becoming more and more familiar with that unfocused feeling as well. According to Dr. Martin Hilbert at the University of Southern California, we are deluged with five times more information per day than we were in 1986. And that amount only continues to increase every year.
So it’s no wonder we tend to have exercise ADD! There is so much information online -- blogs, articles, and Facebook posts, oh my! But by allowing ourselves to get distracted and bouncing around from program to program, diet to diet, we’re actually hurting our results. It’s causing us to spin our wheels, working hard but not really getting anywhere.
The body needs time to adapt to the stimulus of exercise, for the muscles to build back stronger than before. Your goal isn’t to “confuse” it. That’s just a made-up term.
If you are constantly changing things up, you’re not really getting the benefit of this adaptation process, which leads to shitty results and frustration. Even if do you see a few changes at first, you can quickly plateau.
And the more things you try without quality results, the more hopeless it can feel. You may start to feel like nothing works for you.
So do yourself a favor and try something and then stick with it consistently (that’s the key!) for a minimum of 4-8 weeks. Keep a journal with all of your stats — sets, reps, weights used, body measurements (if applicable), food intake (at least a general idea to make sure you’re eating enough to fuel your activities), sleep quality, stress levels, energy levels, and moods. This may seem like a lot of details to keep track of, but this data can help you decide objectively if the program really is or isn’t working for you and why.
A lot of times we ignore the progress we have made or blow it off as inconsequential. Eh, so my pants fit a little looser? That’s not enough. Big deal! I still have these awful love handles. Ugh! By keeping tabs on these things, you have feedback to take into account to figure out your next steps:
If your sleep quality has been poor, then you may struggle to lose fat, recover from workouts, and have the necessary energy to make the most out of the program.
If you’ve been skipping meals, then muscle and strength gain may stall.
If you are not managing your stress levels well, you may find yourself gaining fat rather than losing it.
If you’re frequently in a foul mood, excessively fatigued, and dreading your workouts, the program may be too strenuous and too volume-heavy for you at this point.
If you are continually adding reps, weight, or intensity to your workouts and you feel good, then you’ve found a winner! Keep going. You don’t need to look elsewhere at the moment.
We’re quick to blame the program when it’s really our adherence to the program that’s the issue. Armed with this knowledge about your body, you can make better decisions and get better results. And that’s what it’s all about, right?
Here’s the thing. A lot of programs work. That’s not necessarily the issue. It’s the consistency behind the plan that creates the magic. It’s you. Your effort.
So please don’t fall for the latest and greatest trend or what someone else is doing until you’ve given your current plan a real shot for a significant period of time. Stop reading articles online and looking for something better. You don’t need it.
Achieving a worthwhile goal isn’t always fun or exciting. But the kind of results that consistency brings about is. So keep working. Trust the process. Place the power in your own hands and not the shiny new program that’s caught your eye. Results will come, and you’ll be so glad you did.