Recently we held a 6 week Body Composition Challenge here in the gym. We usually do these once a year (towards Christmas) and I felt like running one in the summer for a few reasons – we had an influx of new members join the gym at that time and it would be a good way for them to hit the ground running. I was also seeing if it would improve compliance over the usually quieter business months.
On those two questions – the first, some new people disappeared almost completely and the second, it didn’t seem to do much in terms of compliance – the folks that generally train consistently, kept training consistently. This just confirmed what I have already observed over the years, a quick fix challenge is not the magic answer to a lifetime of failed attempts at getting ‘fit’ or ‘shredded’. There is an awful lot more that goes on in order to break old habits and patterns and these almost always need to be addressed outside of the gym.
I constantly attempt to get people to increase their own awareness around this and WHY they want to drop weigh / get in shape/ get a 6 pack. But a lot of the time when I ask these probing questions, I see peoples eyes glaze over. Improving habits and awareness around ones own health is a lifetime journey. Trying to delve deeper into what motivates us and exposing the real reasons as to why we want to change, can be the catalyst for change – or at least tell us how much we really want to change. If you are constantly finding yourself at a point where these attempts have not worked or your actions don’t match what you are saying, you really need to explore this. A body transformation (the word makes me wince) challenge is not the answer. And gym hopping isn’t the answer most of the time. I’m about to get zen here, but the answers come from you, not from the next gym / coach / challenge.
Another HUGE pitfall for people is waiting for the perfect moment / time / environment to get started. I say this all of the time, there is no perfect time. People that succeed, do so IN SPITE of their circumstances. In this challenge I had two people that had family funerals to deal with. One person blamed this for going off track, the other person nearly won the challenge. This isn’t a judgement on anyone but just to reaffirm that circumstances are what you make of them.
There are no magic solutions. It comes down to self awareness, awareness of those around you and effort.
To finish though, I will present a small list of some of the bits that people did come back to me with in terms of what worked for them and just things I saw that worked…
- Increase your time in the gym. I know in a hierarchy of weight loss, diet is key, but anyone that trained almost daily, made the most progress. Training once or twice a week is probably a little half-hearted UNLESS diet is dialled in completely. But again, in my own observations, folks that train more are generally more motivated and keen to keep their food intake on track.
- It is worth repeating, there is no ideal time to start anything or than right now. People will read this and still procrastinate.
- Food prep is crucial. The more food you eat that you have prepped yourself, the better. In years gone by I would scoff at some meal delivery companies but this is absolutely an alternative to take aways and worth considering if you truly don’t have time to cook.
- Managing stress is absolutely crucial. Too much of it negatively effects everything.
- It is difficult not to get hung up on the numbers (body fat %) but it is common. There are multiple ways to track progress – performance in the gym, energy levels, mood, sleep quality, how your clothes fit etc. It is worth keeping a training journal to help with this. Despite how long one has been training or how educated we are on this, those numbers can still create irrational responses and it is important to think long term.
- Measuring weight daily can work for some people, as can tracking food everyday. I have some members / clients that solely put this down to keeping them on track and motivated. Others would find this completely off putting. It is a personal thing which takes time and effort to figure out – this is the awareness that I am talking about.
- Having a partner / spouse on board is critical. If you are facing resistance here, things will be almost impossible.
- Balance meals – if you now you are out for a big dinner, have a small lunch. Think ahead.
- If you are out for a few drinks, don’t get drawn into rounds. Nowadays it is easy to get non-alcoholic beers that don’t taste too bad, alternate regular drinks with these. Probably easier to do than drinking water and a lot more socially acceptable (unfortunately) in this country!
That is it. I was also chatting to a friend earlier via texting and he was telling me of his disappointment around a response form a friend when he told them that he had an endurance race coming up. It was a negative and sceptical reaction – my retort was something that surprised myself in terms of insight but it is very true…
Peoples negative reactions are just a projection of their own insecurities and expectations of themselves.
If you are trying to improve yourself, unfortunately there will be those in your circle that are sceptical or negative towards this. I am not going to tell you to cut these people out but do have more faith in yourself and don’t lower your standards.