Consistency. Its a word thrown a round a lot in fitness coaching and client relationships, and in articles and blogs about results, much like this one. What does consistency mean? It means ‘conformity in the application of something’. In terms of how it can assist you in achieving a goal, it means following a certain set of rules/habits/behaviors most, if not all of the time.
Just how important is it? Very important. From this coaches perspective, it’s everything. In fact, the simple idea of doing something with great consistency is so important, that the habits or rules followed don’t even need to be perfect. As in, just choosing a few key habits that you know you can follow day over day will yield a better result that trying to be “perfect” when picking up too many habits at once. It is in my experience that I see those with the best of intentions crash and burn when there is an attempt to change too much at one time. If your plan cannot be followed with relative consistency, day over day, week over week, then it simply will not add up.
What are some common pit falls that I see when it comes to struggling with consistency?
- ‘The All of Nothing Approach’. Believing that you need to train all days of the week in order to get the results that you want. Believing that you need to cut ALL sugar from your diet. Believing that certain food groups are bad, or that a slip up or deviation from the plan means that you have failed.
- The belief that diet perfection Monday through Friday will balance out a weekend free for all.
- Eating minimally or perfectly throughout the beginning of the day when you have the most will power, only to lose steam, and your resolve by the time you get home.
- The idea that you will see immediate results if you eat clean and exercise for a week.
- Generally not having a plan – be it in the gym or with your nutrition.
- Lacking a clear and defined goal, or mission statement for your health.
There are still many other reasons why people struggle with consistency, but these seem to be some of the big ones. And I get it, its hard. It takes dedication, a positive mindset, and a plan to find true consistency with our aspirational healthy lifestyles and goals. But the good news is, with just a few tweaks, you can find it for yourself. Below I’ve listed a ‘Top Ten’ that you can choose from to help you get started on your path to consistency. Do you have to follow all ten? Of course not, but if there are a few on here that resonate with you, that you feel you can put into practice right away, then you may just find yourself on the path to consistency.
- Set a schedule for exercise that actually makes sense. Do not worry about going all out in your workouts every single day. Think about what is realistic to expect of yourself. 3 to 4 days, with consistency, will actually get you somewhere if you stick to it. Anything beyond that is a bonus!
- Eat similar stuff most days. I know this sounds boring, but honestly, if you look at the people that are getting it done, and feeling better, and seeing results – they’re likely eating similar things day over day. Saying that you get bored too easily is just an excuse – and if every meal needs to be a novel food experience for you, then its up to you to accept how that’s going to impact your goal and take responsibility for it.
- Engage in activities and the kind of exercise that you like to do. Or better yet, find things that you LOVE to do, that will help you achieve your goals. Find a fun class or sport to get involved in, make some friends, and just keep showing up. Ingratiate yourself into a community, get involved and you will be amazed how easy it is to keep showing up for yourself and for others.
- Become financially invested in your fitness or your nutrition and you are a lot more likely to keep doing it. If you follow the step above, by finding a program or a coach or a group that you enjoy being around, you won’t even mind that there is a cost, its just part of your life and what you do and you’ll make it happen.
- Road races and mud runs are a great way to get you motivated to work towards a goal. There is a defined date that you’re doing the thing on, and a set amount of time to go about getting ready for it. Perfect opportunity that begs for consistency. Better yet, find a group or a friend to do it with you for guaranteed consistency. We humans hate letting other people down.
- Set realistic expectations of an end goal, or break it down into shorter time lines. Want to lose 40lbs in the next year? Totally do able. Want to lose 40lbs in the next two months? Probably unlikely, but you could lose 10lbs in two months and still help yourself get towards the ultimate goal you’ve set. Don’t set yourself up for failure before you even get started.
- Don’t treat your weekends as a free for all. Want to have a splurge, and Friday or Saturday is the best time to do it? By all means, enjoy that meal/event/etc. But understand that a 24 to 48 hour free for all will be very hard to undo especially if you do it week over week.
- To add on to that point, I suggest that you make your Saturdays/Sundays look as similar to your week days as you possibly can(this is under the assumption that you work a conventional work week, but insert in here the days that you have off that may get you in trouble). Eat a similar breakfast, get in some exercise, similar lunch. You spend all week practicing good habits, try and keep it going through the weekend too.
- Question whether you have an all or nothing mindset. Does one oreo at 2pm lead to a complete unraveling of the rest of the day? Do you look at times of opportunity for change that have to start with either a Monday morning, or the start of the next month, or the new year? Today is your day. Your next meal is your next opportunity to get back on track. If you find that you have an all or nothing mindset, you need to really dig into that and find ways to manage and change that mindset, because let me tell you, it will hold you back(this is why coaches are important!)
- Lastly(at least for this list) take personal responsibility. Take a lot of responsibility. If you are not where you want to be right now, its not on anyone but you. This transcends exercise and nutrition. Be someone that takes responsibility for when things are not going right. It will save you so much time, stress and frustration in the long run.
So there you have it! Some steps on how to up your consistency game so that you can start to see those results, feel better, look better, and be a better participant in your own game of life. Get after it my friends!