How to Practice Consistency (To Reach Your Fitness Goals)
Updated: Feb 13, 2020
A consistent effort is a nonnegotiable requirement in achieving fitness goals of any type. Gaining muscle, losing fat, building strength, and generally becoming healthier do not happen without steadily working toward each goal over a long period of time. The fitness industry sells false promises of quick fixes or easy solutions to becoming physically fit—such as a “Six Week Weight Loss Program”. The reality is, results are created by consistently eating well and moving more, for months and years. Ask any person who is extremely fit and they will tell you, they have put in years of work and dedication to build the body they have.
But it isn’t all bad news! Everybody experiences peaks and valleys on their path toward a fitness goal, which is okay. If the overall trend is more consistent than not, the end goal will be achieved. It is better to start your fitness journey knowing it is a process that takes time, instead of foolishly believing results will happen in a few days or weeks. A better method to attack learning consistency involves starting small, working on one goal at a time, and practicing effective time management to make time for workouts and preparing nutritious meals.
Many people fail at their fitness and nutrition goals because they try to force themselves
to change their entire lifestyle to become a “new” person. These people think that they should transform from being sedentary and eating convenient, cheap food to working out every single day, starting a paleo/no fat/vegetarian/no carb diet, and depriving themselves of the normal activities or foods that bring them joy. It’s no surprise these folks quickly burn out and quit their new strict regimen and return to old habits.
Instead, try starting small by slowly adding in new healthier movement habits and nutrition choices. For example, if you’ve been sedentary for several years, start exercising by getting in 20 minutes of movement two to three times per week. You could walk, try lifting weights, take yoga, try biking, etc. Slowly build up the amount of time and intensity of movement. For nutrition, think first about healthy things to add in instead of depriving oneself. New choices might include drinking a set amount of water each day, eating protein with every meal, or eating three servings of vegetables daily. Making smaller, obtainable habits the priority in the beginning allows for a higher chance of longstanding behavior change.
When attempting to build new habits, it is also a better strategy to focus on one goal at a time. Again, trying to overhaul an entire lifestyle all at once only results in frustration and likely reverting back to old behaviors. I suggest working on one new goal for one to three weeks, until that action has become more automatic. Once it has, then choose the next healthy habit to add into your routine.
Finally, time management is crucial in practicing consistency. Scheduling in movement times, as you would an important doctor’s appointment or time with friends, increases the chances of honoring the commitment. Especially for people with an extremely busy schedule, a key practice is looking ahead at the week and scheduling time for workouts, grocery shopping, and food prepping. It might also make sense to consider other time saving strategies like purchasing pre-made meals from food prep companies or enlisting your spouse to take turns preparing healthy meals.
Consistency breeds results. However, becoming a person who consistently chooses to prioritize exercise and nutritious eating habits doesn’t just happen out of nowhere. Learning consistency is a process that happens by starting small, working on one behavior change at a time, and exercising time management. Take the pressure off and remind yourself that being a health-conscious person is not an all or nothing practice. Nobody is “perfect” all of the time! What really matters is making a consistent effort to make more healthy choices than not, over a long period of time. Commit to consistency, learn to enjoy the process, and make real progress toward becoming a healthier person.
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