“Vision without action is daydream; action without vision is nightmare”~ Japanese proverb
We all know people who seem to be constantly busy but also seem to get nothing accomplished. My former boss was one of those people: she was always ‘overwhelmed with work’ but at the end of the day, not much was completed! She really believed she was working hard but in reality, she wasn’t making progress or moving forward: she was just spinning her wheels.
Pretty much anyone who has ever tried to lose weight is familiar with this feeling. It feels like we are working so hard but we’d never know it by our progress! It’s a hard reality to face. We believe we are following the rules, making the right choices, checking all the boxes but when we get on the scale, whip out the tape measure or put on the special outfit we’ve been trying to get into, we come face to face with our disappointing lack of progress! It’s a confusing and frustrating situation. “What am I doing wrong? What am I missing?”
Unfortunately, sometimes we get so frustrated we give up and other times, we convince ourselves that eventually we’ll make progress “if we just keep moving!” It’s a tempting idea: if we keep working, something positive should happen eventually! Ummm… not always. Action for the sake of action alone usually doesn’t go anywhere, but we are so afraid of not moving that we convince ourselves that any action is better than none.
Many times, we are so eager to make progress as fast as we possibly can that we try to do as much as possible, believing that if ‘one is good, more must be better!’ Most of the time, we know that isn’t always the case, but when we are desperate to make progress, common sense goes out the window. All we are thinking of is how fast can I lose weight or build muscle? And this is usually where we trip over our own feet and hurt ourselves!
I see a lot of this frustration and frantic activity at my gym. Some of it comes from people in my water aerobics class or people who want to join the class. They want to know if they will lose weight or inches fast with the class and sometimes they want to know if there’s a diet to go with it. There are usually people in or around the sauna and steam room asking other members similar questions about their own work out programs and a lot of these have bottles full of smoothies or protein shakes. Then there are the questions about supplements and other diet aids!
Whether you want to lose weight, build muscle or develop more strength, it all takes some time and direction. We all know what happens around New Year’s and it also happens right before summer too: everyone wants to lose weight and look their best as fast as possible, so instead of making one or two healthy changes to our routines, we make five or six! Instead of just deciding to eat out less and eat more vegetables overall, we decide we aren’t eating out, we are eating more veggies, we are working out three times a week, drinking eight glasses of water, taking vitamin supplements, and walking 10,000 steps a day! More is better, right? I should be dropping pounds and building muscle like crazy, right?
Likely you would if you managed to keep pace with all those positive changes, but what happens with a lot of us is that we are making so many fundamental changes at once that we get overwhelmed. Keeping up with fundamental changes like these requires a lot of physical and mental work. Reminding yourself to drink the water, take the vitamins, walk as often as possible, scheduling the workouts and the meal prep can feel almost as draining as actually doing all of that on a regular basis. It feels like we are moving at a breakneck pace, so obviously we feel frustrated when we aren’t seeing the results that we expect to see, or worse, we start feeling some negative side effects.
Digestive upset isn’t uncommon when we make radical changes to our daily diet. We’ve stopped eating the foods our digestive tract is used to getting and we’ve added in some foods that are new to us, but if we’ve also started drinking protein shakes or smoothies, or taking new supplements, how do we know what’s causing our problems? It’s the same issue with muscle soreness: the workouts, the walking, or is it something else? Then there is the whole consistency issue: how can we make progress if we aren’t consistent and doing too much at once can be a key issue in staying consistent. We all know about over-restriction and deprivation! (It’s usually what happens right before we binge a whole box of cookies!)
Progress requires action, yes, but it also requires planning and consistency. Prioritize your goals and make a plan to get there. You don’t have to achieve one goal before you make plans for the next, but you should be consistent with your plan of action before you start working on the next one. If you want to lose weight and you’ve decided to add more veggies to your meals, wait until you’ve been doing it a few weeks before you move on to building more muscle by going to the gym more often. It lets you get used to your new routine before you change it again. On the surface, it looks slow but in reality, it removes a lot of the stress, allows you to be consistent and in reality, you make progress faster! It’s the difference between moving forward or spinning your wheels. Why dig yourself a bigger hole when you can move forward instead?