In part one of this post, I discussed efficiency and control as two key areas in making progress in the gym and with your diet while not turning into a details-obsessed control freak. The third and perhaps, most important aspect of these three areas is patience. I believe patience encompasses the other two points because patience understands what needs to be controlled and what needs to be let go of. Patience also takes the time to plan and implement, leading to greater efficiency. Patience understands it also takes more than one day of effort for all these things to come together
Patience: But I want it NOW
Regardless of whether you've made New Year's resolutions or not, I think it makes sense to look back every 3, 6 or 12 months to assess progress whether its in the gym, at home, work, in relationships or with your diet. Narrowing down goals into too short time spans can leave you feeling like you've made no progress or even regress. Imagine checking your 401K every single day or week. In the short term, your 401k rises and falls all the time, but usually leans towards an upward trend so that every time it falls and rises, it ends a little higher than last time. Imagine making consistent progress on every single thing in life; things would lose their sense of accomplishment and enjoyment if every aspect of your life made small, incremental and progressive improvements with no downward trend ever?
If you added 5lbs to all your lifts, $500 to your 401k and made one additional friend for every single month forever with these three things, pretty soon they would lose meaning and appeal. Upward and downward trends happen to us all the time without us even knowing it. Even when dieting for fat loss, the body doesn't just consistently lose “X” amount of fat every week with no fluctuation. Instead, there are times during the week and certainly day to day where your fat cells absorb a little energy and release a little energy but the trend always runs towards releasing more than storing. But you can't even tell that's happening, right? Instead, you control what you can, work hard and stay patient knowing that no matter the ups and downs, you are ultimately achieving your goal.
Or do you?
Is the short-term completely distracting and derailing you from the long-term? Some things simply can't be forced and I believe this is where the super-efficient people need to let go of a little control and focus on patience. If you bench 200 and want to bench 300, can you force it? Can you just work up enough nerve to get under that son' gun and press it? No. Can you will yourself to lose fat faster just because you think about it all day? Again, no. Most of us seek out the cheapest gas even to save 20 cents a tank because we know in the long-term, it makes a difference. If 20 cents is making or breaking your wallet, then a bigger bench or smaller waist is probably not your biggest concern. But you make the concerted effort to buy the cheapest gas because you can see the long reaching effects of your efforts. Sometimes we need to take the same approach to our diet and training; focusing on making small measurable improvements in the short term will get us that huge improvement over a long time span.
Those extra few reps in a set, improved technique, a little less rest between sets, one less cheat meal a week; these are all short-term measurable goals that build into your long-term ones. I've already written about control and how we need to achieve our success through what we can actually improve with will and effort and the rest is just going along for the ride.
Even the best diet plan can't have you saying “at 5:46pm on April 12th, under a full moon, I will achieve 7% bodyfat”. All you know is you're dieting and training hard, being consistent and patient and the end result will happen when it happens, maybe in a general planned time frame, but there are no guarantees.
This is all a process, all three of these suggestions. Efficiency comes with practice and time. Control or the release of comes with its own process of learning and adapting. Patience is the ultimate test of the process, though, bringing all three of these together and relying on an understanding of efficiency and control to bring your goals to fruition over time.
SO, ultimately what did my three suggestions come down to?
Get better at cooking chickens( is this a metaphor?)
Only control what you can and let go of the rest
If I can leave you with one thing that will help keep much of this in perspective and add some level of rationality for all of this, it would be to keep a journal. Keep one for food and one for the gym. Write down all of your workouts including sets and reps, possible rest used and how things felt or if you changed your form etc. Same with diet; constantly bloated or gassy? Write down a few days worth of food and record how you feel after each meal. If you notice a trend towards feeling poor after a certain meal or always three hours after a certain meal, then you can pinpoint the issue.
Sometimes progress is measured one rep and one pound at a time. Maybe you haven't incline dumbbell pressed in a while and hit a top set of 70lbs for 8 reps. That could be good or maybe not...who can remember? But then you check your journal and realize your last time performing that exercises was 70lbs for 6 reps. Now you feel like whatever you've done between last time and this was moving you forward and making progress. Now you have more knowledge and thus more control over your programming. You can use that information to become more efficient at implementing new strategies and you'll know it'll take some patience to measure similar progress again.
So, write down your goals, what you need to do to get there including what you can control and implement. Then practice repeating those strategies to become more efficient. The rest is being patient for it all to come together. Now start with cooking that chicken!
Oh, by the way, the Dollar Store has perfect composition notebooks for keeping a record...for $1!!