Motivation is garbage. Habits are where it's at!
Updated: May 9, 2019
Training for real, sustainable results requires years upon years of consistent self-discipline. Save a for a new trainee, expecting to see mind blowing results week to week or even month to month is setting yourself up for failure. The more you train, the more your body adapts to the stress placed upon it. This means at a certain point whether your goal is hypertrophy(muscle gain), strength, or fat/weight loss, eventually you'll become less efficient at it and begin to plateau. This can become very demotivating. That's why building strong, healthy, and productive habits is one of, if not the most important skills to learn when beginning to train towards a goal.
Motivation is usually what gets most people moving and excited towards their goals at the beginning of a training program or nutrition plan. That motivation is fleeting though. After a couple of weeks that spark of motivation that got you out of the gate will seem like a feeling from a different lifetime. Unless you plan on watching or listening to that same movie, youtube video, podcast or whatever that got you started everyday, it's going to be a safer bet to build up your discipline through your habits in order to survive the ups and downs that working towards a goal comes with.
Now with anything that we want to sustain over a long period of time, it's best to start off building those habits at a slow, progressive pace. This will obviously be different for everyone, but if you are starting to get back into exercise after a significant amount of time off(3 months+) or starting for the first time, it's best to start slow and simple with things like: - 10-20 minute walks 1-2x a day, everyday
- some form of resistance training for 20-30 minutes (weights/machines/bands/bodyweight) 1-3x a week
- consuming more water
- getting to bed 30 minutes earlier or waking up 30 minutes earlier
- eating more veggies
Choosing just 1 or 2 of these and sticking with them for 2 weeks will probably elicit results greater than you would think and at the same time start to build good habits that will carry you towards your goal. You may even be motivated by the results of your new found habits!
Again that motivation can propel you to start new habits and when that motivation quickly fades away those old habits and the new ones you choose to build will continue to push you through and keep you consistent.
These new habits become most important once you hit a sticking point. This usually causes people frustration to the point they quit. Unless those habits have been built prior this will always be the case. Being able to push through these tougher times is what sets apart the people who look and feel great and the people who sit around and make excuses for themselves or blame "bad genetics". Most times getting over this hump requires doing whatever you aren't doing. To break it down more simply then it really is, if you've been training heavy for months on end, trying lightening the load and slowing down the tempo. If you've just been going in and trying to get that "pump" in the muscles to look good for the summer switch to lifting heavy for 3-6 reps. Maybe you've been doing a fad diet like a ketogenic diet, and haven't touched a carb in 2 months, eat a damn potato!
Remember the body is constantly trying to adapt to whatever we are doing to it so we become as efficient as possible. This is why those habits will keep you going. You'll be stronger mentally, and more than likely you'll seek out help from either a coach or research on your own once you do get stuck to help you move forward towards your goal. So if you are serious about reaching getting in shape start building those habits today!