Healthier choices do not mean that you will automatically achieve your goals. They might bring you closer towards them but thinking that because you improved a few parts of your lifestyle that success is guaranteed often leads to disappointment.
Recently a client asked me why they aren’t seeing the results that they wanted even after making so many changes in their lifestyle- e.g. exercise, nutrition, sleep patterns, etc.
The answer is that they simply haven’t made enough changes for a long enough timeframe to take them to the level that they wish to be at.
When it comes to your health and performance goals, whatever they may be, everything is relative to where you were when you started. If your starting point was very low, making simple changes can have a huge effect for you but only in the beginning.
As an example, if we take a client who:
- drinks 3 cans of coke daily
- Doesn’t exercise
- Drinks 1 pint of water a day
- has 3 pieces of fruit a week
- Has a bowl of processed cereal for breakfast
- eats 1 portion of vegetables a day
For a lot of clients that come to train with us, this is fairly standard at the beginning.
This clients goal is to lose 4 stone of pure fat.
They start off gradually making better choices and developing solid habits that will last a lifetime. They go from the above to:
- 1-2 cans of coke a day
- Drinks 1 litre of water a day
- exercisng twice a week
- Eating 5 pieces of fruit a week
- Still eats cereal for breakfast
- eats 2 portions of veg a day
They make these changes over the course of a number weeks with a total fat loss of 14lb and then they plateau. The fat just doesn’t want to come off anymore but the client doesn’t want to make any more changes- they’ve made huge changes already and it took a lot of effort.
The client is disappointed. They have made so many changes but their bodyfat percentage hasn’t dropped in weeks. They can’t understand.
The changes the client has made will have a huge effect on their health:
- Far less sugar
- More fruit and veg than they were previously eating- vitamins, minerals, finer, etc.
- More exercise
- Drinking more water
These initial changes were enough to kickstart the health and fat-loss process (Reduced risk of illnesses such as diabetes and cardiovascular diseases, better concentration at work, higher energy, increased ability to train and recover, less stress on the joints, etc.) but simply aren’t enough to progress any further. In general, it’s a healthier lifestyle, but overall it’s still fairly poor compared to where it needs to be for long-term results:
- 7-10 cans a coke a week
- still dehydrated
- active only 2 days a week, inactive 5 days a week
- Still starting the day off with a very poor breakfast choice
- Miles off an adequate fruit and vegetable consumption which means a sever lack of natural vitamins, minerals, finer, etc.
This client needs to get their lifestyle to resemble something along these lines if they are serious about their goal:
- 8-12 portions of fruit and veg a day (this is fairly easy when you have the right tools)
- Minimum of 2 litres of water daily (this is a general target that is very easy to accomplish for most people)
- A proper strength and conditioning program 4 days a week (exercising most days of the week)
- A well-balanced breakfast every day (protein, healthy fats, natural carbohydrates, nutrient dense, etc.)
- Removal of fizzy drinks (without a doubt one of the worst things you can put into your body)
When people make changes in any area of their lives, they often tend to expect much more return than they are likely to see. What are small changes in reality (e.g. going from 3 cans of coke a day to 2) are often conceived as huge changes that warrant massive return in the eyes of the person. After all, these are habits that they have been doing for years, it does take a massive amount of energy to change them.
Be realistic about the changes that you have made compared to what you still need to do to reach your goal. You can still have a very low quality lifestyle even after changing so much. Don’t expect unrealistic progress and results if those results require that you step things up a level.
If it were easy……….