Direction is More Important Than Velocity

My wife and I this past weekend at the Renaissance Festival. There was lots of good food there, and we ate more of it than we should have (but that’s the name of the game when it comes to special events).

In other words, making progress is more important than quick progress. Think about it; if you want to go to the store, it’s more important for you to turn towards the store and drive slowly than it is to drive quickly if you’re headed in the wrong direction. Making progress with your health and fitness is no different.

People always want the most results in the least amount of time. I get it. We’re all busy, and we are all impatient. We want to see the weight loss, we want to see the muscle gains, we want to have it all, and we want it now!

However, I’m fairly certain that you didn’t get overweight or unfit very quickly; it took time. In my case, it took me 20 years to get to 320 lbs. How could I expect to lose 150 lbs quickly? Fortunately, I didn’t have any expectations for either the amount of weight I could lose or the period of time it would take. I just wanted to be healthy; weight loss was a bonus. I never imagined I could lose 130 lbs in one year, but that’s how it turned out, and I think it’s because my focus was on overall health and not on the scale.

When you focus on overall health and consider all the data points, outliers can be easily dismissed. What’s an outlier in overall health? A rise in the scale for a day or three. Some bloating. Maybe feeling tired or worn down even after a full night’s rest. When taken as one part of a whole, you still see progress happening. Case in point: when I’m being strict with my diet because I want to lose weight, I find that I never lose inches off my waist and pounds on the scale at the same time. It’s like a pendulum, and it’s either one or the other for me.

As I continue my health journey, I keep looking at all the data points: how do I feel? How do my clothes fit? What’s my 2-mile run time? What is the max weight I can squat, bench, or lift? How many pull-ups am I able to do? What’s my weight? What’s my resting heart rate? Most of them will align, and one or two will not meet expectations, but it’s easy to get past that and stay motivated when everything else is looking good.

This past Monday, my runtime was horrible even though my weightlifting went exceptionally well. My weight was also a little higher than I’d like due to indulging in some non-Paleo food and drink this weekend at the Renaissance Festival, but that was expected and I knew it was coming. Taken together with all the other health data points, I decided I was still doing well, still on-track, and it kept me motivated. If anything, seeing setbacks like a higher weight or slower runtime pushes me to do better; to eat better, to push harder, to run faster.

The one thing I never allow myself to do is to try to cheat for better results. I never starve myself, I never overdo my exercise sessions, and I don’t take any pills, powders, patches, and I’ve never had any medical procedures to aid in my health journey. As the old advertisement used to say, I do things the old fashioned way; I earn them.

Don’t set time goals when it comes to your health. Set a direction and don’t let anything stop you. If things are moving slower than you’d like, don’t get discouraged. Keep going. Keep making that progress. Eventually, your hard work will be rewarded and you will start to see the results you’re looking for.

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