Consistency Drives Progress
Consistency drive progress, but it can be extremely challenging to stay consistent when we feel like we aren't making any progress. I learn this lesson over and over again, and for some reason I'm always surprised when it happens.
Last year when I was training for my first triathlon, I spent a lot of time swimming and not running. After not running for several weeks I remember going out for a run and going faster with less effort than ever before. I was shocked. My consistency in swimming (which I was faithfully doing twice a week), helped my running...even though I couldn't really "see" any progress in my swimming.
If you have ever felt like quitting because you weren't seeing the results that you think you should be seeing, I assure you that if you are actually being consistent, you are making progress, you just have to figure out how to see it. Sometimes you have to believe in something to know that you will see it and sometimes you are just looking for proof in the wrong place.
This point is where many people give up on their goal (be it aesthetic, athletic, or something else) because if we don't feel like we are seeing results fast enough it's easy to talk ourselves out of sticking with something that doesn't appear to be working. The truth is, this is actually the time where you need to stick with it, believe in yourself, and be consistent!
This is also why using tools like the scale (if you have a weight loss goal) is not a good indicator of your progress. The scale will give you a very limited view of what is actually going on (it doesn't tell you anything about your hydration status, how much muscle you have, etc.). There are many things that influence your weight, and the number on the scale doesn't really tell you what is actually going on.
The same is true for an athletic goal. Sure your goal might be to run faster, but sometimes you need to look at the bigger picture. How did you feel while you were running? Were you able to actually execute the race plan that you set out for yourself? What about hydration and nutrition during your run? One of my best half marathons was NOT one of my fastest. I felt strong for the whole race and was consistent in my effort. I finished with no regrets even though it wasn't even close to the fastest race I've run. My second or third fastest half marathon is a similar story. It was a course of rolling hills and the whole time I kept thinking to myself that I couldn't believe I was actually running up all the hills (and going as fast as I was). Again, not my fastest race, but I found a better way to measure the progress I had made.
It's also important not to compare your progress (or apparently lack of progress) to others. Everybody changes and progresses at different rates. Some people are at different points in their journey (whatever that may be) than you are, so comparing yourself to them doesn't make any sense. Where you start is unique to you and all of the factors that make you unique determine how quickly you will see results in any area of your life. You need to trust that the consistency you are practicing is making a difference.
The most important thing you can do is stick it out and trust the process. It's hard sometimes, especially if you are searching for a sign everyday of a change taking place. It's like my puppy, I see him everyday, but it's not until I leave for a day or two or find something else to compare him to that I see how fast he is growing. Trust me, things are happening, change is taking place, you just have to find a way to see it.
Here are three tips to help you reach your goals, whether they are related to weight loss, athletic performance, or just feeling better overall.
1. Get lots of sleep. Sometimes it's hard to get as much sleep as we want to, but try for at least a couple nights each week to get good quality and a good quantity of sleep (at least EIGHT hours). I use my FitBit to track sleep and my goal is for my weekly average to be above 8 hours. Sleep helps to regulate your hormones, especially those that are responsible for your appetite.
2. Stay well hydrated. If you're feeling thirsty, you might already a little dehydrated. Being hydrated helps your metabolism and helps your body process food. Carry a water bottle with you at all times. There are also apps for your phone that can help to remind you to drink throughout the day.
3. Be consistent with your eating habits. If you're too strict with your diet, you are absolutely setting yourself up to binge after a couple weeks of restricted eating. This is why I try to approach eating with balance. Everything you eat is a choice, and you are never cheating on yourself when you make a mindful choice. Remember that it is absolutely not about perfection, it's about balance and sustainability. Do the best you can each day and make the best choices for each situation.
There is a lot of value in following a plan and learning about nutrients so that you can make good, informed choices. There is no quick fix, the key is to learn about your body and work to level up your life and lifestyle for the long term.
Linking up with Amanda.