Part III Patience: the Forgotten Ingredient For Permanent Lifestyle Change!
Imagine this: you’re at a red light at an intersection and briefly glance down at your cell phone when you are rudely interrupted by the motorist behind you as he lays on his horn and throws his hands up into the air. No time to wait–you are 3 SECONDS late for the green light! Later that day, you go to the nearest Redbox to rent a movie for the weekend. You are in a small line, and when it’s your turn, you scroll down the list of choices. In no more than 2 minutes, however, you hear more throats being cleared (urging you to hurry up) than you would hear at a funeral in the cold! Heaven forbid you keep those people waiting for more than 1.25 seconds. They have rentals reserved, and you are holding them up!
We live in a culture of “I want it now, and I DESERVE it now!” This attitude of entitlement also pervades weight loss and fitness. In fact, the gimmicks that I hear on the radio about weight loss continually blow me away. Phrases such as “Lose weight without changing your diet,” or “30 lbs down in 10 days” are still commonplace in our culture despite our “enlightened age of understanding.” Even though we consciously hear these claims from advertisers and laugh, we subconsciously form beliefs that we are entitled to quick weight loss without changing our nutrition, abs without dieting, and a supermodel body by performing a 15 minute workout only three times per week!
We are groomed to believe these things because thousands of companies out there are trying to make a quick buck by doping us into believing their silly claims. The truth is that while they might be able to fool us, they cannot violate the principle that anything worth achieving requires sufficient time, work, and most of all–PATIENCE!
Take fitness and health, for example. Let’s say that you are interested in changing your lifestyle for the better. You want to improve your eating habits, exercise more, and drink more water and less alcohol! Fair enough. These are all great goals and all worthy or your desires. The problem stems from the fact that there is a price to be paid for this life-lasting reward. The price will require what I have written about in the first two installments of this article. First, you will need to gain a passion for what you are doing; second, you must persist through the hard times, and third, you must have patience during the process of lifestyle change.
What Will Require My patience?
A) Breaking Your Old Habits
Sometimes habits can die hard. Realize that 96-98% of all of your habits are subconscious. However, this does NOT mean that fitness and health are beyond your control. What this does mean is that you are going to have to be patient and consciously battle your subconscious habits. For example, let’s say that you have enjoyed coming home, plopping yourself in front of the TV for 2 hours, and enjoying a brownie and ice cream for the last 10 years of your life. When you confront this bad habit on a conscious level, it is inevitable that you will feel the full gravitational pull of your old habit. You will come home and that brownie and ice cream will be calling your name.
This is the moment of choice. This is the moment that will require a conscious decision to replace the old habit with something else. Make no mistake about this one–it will require patience as you battle your old habit until it is fully replaced with a newer, healthier alternative.
During those “moments of choice,” you will be tempted to feel sorry for yourself, telling yourself, “man that ice cream sounds good, and I have had a terribly stressful day. I DESERVE this brownie.” There will be times that you will dive head first into your own pool of self-pity. Be aware of this, and execute patience.
This is a great time to pull back from your feelings of self-pity and re-evaluate what you are trying to accomplish, and WHY. When you can connect with your “Why,” which could be any number of things, (for good health, for your family, etc), you will find that your perspective shifts back into your favor. You remember why you endeavored into your health and fitness journey in the first place. Self-pity jades the truth and fills your mind with self-sabotaging storylines that are sure to defeat your efforts if you fail to execute patience. Be patient with yourself, and realize that you have control over the thoughts that go through your mind.
C) The “Screw-It Syndrome”
Over the years, I have watched some of my clients start strong in their quest for lifestyle change but later crash-and-burn horrifically back into their unhealthy ways. The typical reason for this goes a little something like this: Client gets motivated to get in shape. Client begins to exercise and change eating habits. Excitement builds. Life happens. Client gets stressed out. Client states that there is not enough time for exercise. Client gets frustrated and throws his hands in the air and says, “Screw-it! I will try this again when life slows down.”
As we all know, life will never slow down. That it ever will, friends, is the greatest fallacy. The best we can do is prioritizing and execute patience when the going gets tough–because it will. The payoff is equally as great. If you continue to have patience throughout the process, you will find that the “stress of the change” will begin to mitigate, and your newly found lifestyle will help you reduce stress rather than create it.
D) Self-Imposed Expectations
I can’t tell you how many clients have told me in an initial consultation that they “want to get quick results, so that they can stay motivated.” They will continue by saying “you know what I mean? I just want to lose weight quickly so that I stay motivated to continue.”
While I understand this logic, I can’t help but think that, in most cases, the people making these statements have neglected their bodies for months, years, and decades. Be patient and remember that your unique body takes time to shed weight, get stronger and healthier, BUT it does at a much faster rate than the inverse. Remember, it took you a long time to get to where you are right now, and but it will take much less time to reverse the process! Seems like a great deal to me!
Life is good, my friends, so be patient with it!