The Importance of Progress

I want all my clients to see progress immediately.

Confused as to why I have a picture of a turtle on a skateboard? Read on! 😛

But sometimes change is slow to happen. If you slowly make changes to your diet or slowly build your exercise program, results aren’t going to happen immediately.

And while I think that slow steady changes can be best when trying to create new habits, there are times when I recommend clients take an all or nothing approach.

Not seeing the results you want can be frustrating. It can make you feel down. It can make you want to give up.

It can completely derail the healthy lifestyle habits you are trying to instill because you believe they aren’t working.

Forward progress is motivating. Results create excitement and build momentum. They make you even more dedicated to what you are doing because you know it is working.

Progress builds confidence.

So sometimes it is worth suffering through a few really strict weeks or even months to build that forward momentum – to create great progress.

While I’m a huge proponent of slow steady changes, of making realistic changes that you know you can maintain, I do think there are times where you might just have to suck it up and do something that is more intense, more strict, than you would like to maintain. Sometimes there are periods where you have to do something slightly more drastic, slightly unsustainable to get the ball rolling and the momentum moving in the right direction.

This conversation actually came up when I was actually talking to a client yesterday who was frustrated by her very slow progress.

I told her the truth – Her diet wasn’t strict enough and her workouts simply weren’t yet consistent enough to see the drastic changes she wanted as quickly as she wanted them. Her expectations weren’t unrealistic. They were just unrealistic if she made the changes as slowly and inconsistently as she was making them.

I told her she needed to start eating cleaner, cutting her carbs and really focusing her diet on meat, vegetables and fruits.

She then told me that a diet like that simply wasn’t sustainable in the long run for her.

And then I told her something I don’t say very often, “Well it doesn’t need to be!”

She gave me a surprised look because it definitely wasn’t the answer she was expecting.

Sometimes you need to take it back to basics and just cut out everything but the cleanest of clean.

I told her that for the next few months she should focus on just meat, veggies and fruits. If she does that, she will start to see way more progress over the next few weeks.

I told her that once she really got the ball rolling, that forward momentum would start to build on itself and help her keep moving in the right direction.

And as she builds momentum and really gets things rolling then we can slowly start adding back in the foods she enjoys until we’ve created a sustainable diet that doesn’t leave her feeling super deprived.

Because deprivation can derail your diet. There are no ifs, ands, or buts about it.

HOWEVER, if you only deprive yourself for a very short amount of time with a clear end date in mind, it is easier to push through those feelings. It is easier to push through when you know there is a light at the end of the tunnel – when you know this isn’t meant to be the diet you follow for the rest of your life.

And the progress you will see if you choose to buckle down for a few months or a few weeks, will be a huge motivator.

In my opinion it is well worth the few weeks of deprivation to get the momentum rolling in the right direction.

While slow steady changes are great, while I definitely feel like in many cases the tortoise wins out over the hare, if occasionally the tortoise could move just a little bit faster, I don’t think she’d turn down the opportunity.

Stricter periods in your diet and exercise program can help you see results quicker and can reinforce your dedication to your healthy lifestyle.

You aren’t going on a crash diet and expecting it to be the program you follow for the rest of your life. You are just choosing to be a bit stricter for a few weeks to get the momentum going or even just simply to get over a plateau.

You are creating progress with the intention of then slowly developing habits and changes that you can maintain.

You are simply being a tortoise that stumbled on a skateboard and could roll awhile downhill before returning to its steady climb up and over the next hill!

And another one!?! At least you get why I put a turtle on a skateboard now!

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Posted on September 5, 2013, in Diet, program development and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 8 Comments.

  1. Love this.. and agree! I think sometimes it takes a major overhaul to eventually get into the comfort zone to find what works best!

  2. Okay so I tried to comment three different times on your food prep post and WP is being annoying and won’t let me. All I wanted to say is that I forwarded this to my sister and brother in law as they begin their weight loss journey with me training them. Food prep is KEY to success and I found those tips very useful. 🙂

  3. I like the point you made about being strict and how it doesn’t have to be a permanent thing. Sometimes it’s so hard to see past what we’re doing in the moment for our health, so it’s easy to feel like we’re going to have to do it like that forever. Just knowing it’s temporary is helpful because then it doesn’t feel like we’re never going to get that treat food we love so much.

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