You work hard. You really do. So why aren’t you progressing in the way you think you should?
Does that sound familiar at all? I think that every one of us might be confronted with this at one point or another, and experience the ensuing frustration. Even though we know that progress can be a long-term process, it’s hard not to fall into complete discouragement when we find ourselves stalled.
Yet, it could be that some of what you’re doing is actually hindering your own progress. It is possible that you’re unknowingly working against yourself? Here are three things to watch out for!
YOU BELIEVE THAT MORE IS BETTER
With all that’s constantly thrown at you in terms of fitness information, it’s easy to start believing that going hardcore is the only way to go. After all, isn’t that what’s being glorified all over the place?
And so you push further. You work out longer. You up the intensity. You skimp on recovery. You keep thinking that you’re not doing enough, and so you do more, and more, and more…
Until you find yourself completely exhausted, underwhelmed, and downright confused. Why isn’t this working the way you’ve been told it would?
What to do instead: Remember that the more intensely you work, the more recovery time you’ll need, and you might actually just be doing too much without sufficient downtime. Focus on the basics (strength training 2 to 4 times a week, ample movement on a daily basis) and invest the rest of your time in proper recovery. You’ll be surprised how doing less can lead to better progress!
YOU FOCUS ON THE STRUGGLE INSTEAD OF THE WINS
I see this regularly illustrated when I work in the gym with my in-person clients. Truth be told, it makes me chuckle every single time.
“But the last reps are still challenging!”, I am told on a regular basis.
Of course they are!
I’m a big fan of progressive overload, so obviously with each session, my clients will do more reps, use more weight, or perform more challenging exercises. That’s how progress happens.
Yet so many people get hung up on the fact that it still feels hard.
Forget the fact that they’re squatting twice the weight that they were when they started working with me, or that they can now do weighted ball slam intervals with relative ease when a short set of bodyweight reverse lunges used to get them completely breathless and exhausted a few months ago!
Whether it’s in fitness or in any other realm, I’m a firm believer that life will keep meeting us where we are with challenges that match our level. If we only focus on the struggle, we’ll fail to realize how our ability to face these challenges has grown with time.
What to do instead: From time to time, take the time to look back and remember the road you’ve traveled so far. Keeping your eyes on the prize can certainly be good, but only insofar as you can also get a healthy perspective on the gains that you’ve made along the way. If you haven’t done this in a while, you might actually be surprised!
YOU’RE IMPATIENT WITH YOUR PERCEIVED LACK OF PROGRESS
At this point, you’re probably aware that progress isn’t actually a linear process—intellectually, at least. Except that when you hit a plateau, you start to panic. And besides, why does it have to take sooooo looooong?!? Surely there’s got to be something wrong with you, right?
I always like to use the image of a flower, when discussing this:
When we plant a seed, we don’t look at it in contempt because it’s still in its seed form. Instead, we trust that it will grow and become a flower in due time. And when the first little bud appears, we don’t think less of it because it hasn’t fully blossomed yet. We know it’ll get there, and appreciate it for what it is.
So if we’re able to realize that this flower fully worthy at every single stage of its development, why aren’t we able to extend ourselves the same grace?
What to do instead: Honour every single part of your journey, because—regardless if you wish you were further along or not—that’s where you are right now. Wishing it away will not make it go any faster. Be fully present instead, and you’ll learn more lessons, and reap more benefits which will actually help you along the way!