Discomfort is Progress
This is not a feel good about you post. This is your ‘oh fuck, I gotta step it up’ post.
YOU signed up for online training, personal training or some type of coaching with a professional.
You got your program. You’re doing exactly what you’re told. You made a little progress the first two weeks (lost a couple pounds, cardio isn’t so tough, figured out the machines, etc), but now… You aren’t making any progress. You’re doing EXACTLY what’s on the program. You haven’t changed a thing, so why are you not continuing to make the same progress?
PROGRESSION n. The process of developing or moving gradually toward a more advanced state.
So, if you progressed from week one to week two, by doing something different (ie started your online program), how are you progressing now? What are you doing different or not so different with the same program?
Here ya go: As your body adapts to the new stimulus, it will make ‘progress’. But as you continue to adapt to that stimulus (if no overload of stimulus is given) your progress may slow down (read: survival mechanisms kick in) because it’s figuring out what the hell you’re doing to it. Your body is a freaking genius when it comes to survival. Give it some credit for that.
When we implement a program to lose weight, gain muscle, etc etc we are essentially tricking the body or bypassing its survival mechanism that have been developing for thousands of years. You think it’s just going to get a few less calories that you’ve been taking in for months/years and be totally cool with that? Hell no. It’s going to freak the fuck out – thus your weight loss (weight gain is a different beast to some degree) may stall.
By going into the gym 5-7 times a week more than you have for the past couple years your body has added a little strength (read neural adaptations) or isn’t as sore as it was 4 weeks ago when you started (survival adaptations – can’t run from a sabertooth as easily when you’re sore as hell from squats, so your body is going to figure out how to be less sore after that same squat sesh so you can run your ass off after you piss off the ol’ el tigre).
Initially, you were uncomfortable with the added physical exertion of your gym time. But as weeks pass, with no added stimulus, your body will adapt and settle into a comfortable phase. You adapted to the initial progression. So how do you continue to progress toward your physical goals?
The first step to progression is getting over your fear of discomfort.
Hiring someone to write a program (training or nutrition) doesn’t automatically give you results. It’s a start, for sure. And a good program can help you to continue on the path to your goals. But! What you do in your own time, before and after check in pictures and weigh ins is what’s important and where you will find results and progress made.
Are you graduating to the next set of dumbbells for your 3×12’s? Or are you scared of not completing the set, if you go heavier, so you stay with the ‘comfortable’ dumbbells?
The difference between those who will continue to see progress and those that will plateau faster, and more often is the level of discomfort they’re willing to take on and endure until it’s no longer uncomfortable.
Are you willing to go to bed with a rumbling stomach for the third night in a row? Are you willing to opt for the salad with your own dressing at the get together instead of the burgers and fries? Are you willing to eat the veggies you don’t love but can tolerate so you can reach the next phase of your journey?
Are you willing to pick up the next set of dumbbells, struggle through the set (maybe it takes you a little longer to complete the set with 1-2 tiny rest breaks) and continue doing that for a couple weeks so that it becomes your new normal/easy? And when that becomes easy are you willing to do it again with the next set of dumbbells for the next few weeks and the next and the next and the next?
If you’ve taken the plunge to work with a coach, in person or online:
-first realize that you are an adult. You are capable of making your own choices. If your choice is: getting your program and not implementing or not pushing yourself or relying on your coach to hold your hand by asking what weight you should use for the same lift every week….. you’re going to fail. Sorry, but you will.
First of all you’re, most likely, not going to work with a coach forever. What happens when they aren’t there to hand you the dumbbells? When they don’t write your program? When they don’t tell you how heavy you can go? You have to take some responsibility for your progression by engaging in your workouts. Know what weight you did the last few weeks and then tell yourself to put your big kid pants on and add a little weight.
–take the initiative to get to know your strengths, weaknesses, struggles and what comes easy for you. Then implement what you know into the program your coach made and COMMUNICATE that with them. Tell them what’s easy and what’s not. Tell them what you did and didn’t do. What you feel is working and what is not. And if you know you’re not pushing hard enough, be honest about it (with yourself and your coach). Then figure out how to do better.
If you’re being shady with yourself and/or your coach your progress will be lacking. When coach hands you a pair of dumbbells (or writes it into your program) to use and you don’t tell them that it’s super easy to get our 4 sets of 12 with that load, YOU are doing yourself a disservice, not your coach.
And on that note, you don’t have to tell us EVERYTHING. But you do need to tell us what we need to know, ask for and what you feel is important. It only helps you get the results you want which is what you paid us to help you do.
–get comfortable being uncomfortable. Sometimes it’s being nervous, excited. Sometimes it’s muscles being sore, or feeling a little extra tired. Sometimes it’s going to bed a little hungry, or drinking the last of your water and feeling full before bed. Get comfortable MAKING YOURSELF uncomfortable. Maybe that’s adding a couple pounds to the bar. Maybe that’s doing an extra couple reps per set. Don’t expect someone else to make you uncomfortable. Somethings you gotta do to yourself.
–personal responsibility. There’s something most people, these days, know nothing about. Why did you gain 2 lbs the last month? Was it someone else’s fault? The gym shut down so you can’t take responsibility to control what’s going into your mouth? So what if the gyms closed …you can’t take 5 minutes a day and do some GD push ups or jump squats to get your heart rate up? PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY is everything.
So, to recap:
Your progress will depend on your desire and ability to do what isn’t fun.
Luckily, as you push yourself with uncomfortable things, you will find the discomfort becomes a bit easier and a hell of a lot of fun.