If you don’t quit, you don’t fail. This is something I say to clients regularly. When approaching a goal in weight loss/fitness the most important component is the will to continue. The will to keep making an effort to improve no matter what setbacks you may face along the way. The process of changing your mindset, habits, and lifestyle isn’t instantaneous so when starting a plan you should realize that it’s not about 100% perfection from day 1. For most people that’s totally unrealistic and I think it’s a big reason why people start and stop so often. When you feel like you’re failing you end up asking yourself “what’s the point?” I think a new spin needs to be put on it.
The bottom line here is any progress is good and should be recognized. Focusing only on the setbacks without acknowledging the effort and changes being made is a recipe for mental breakdown and totally abandoning the goal.
So say you have someone who doesn’t exercise, doesn’t watch what they eat at all, and has never learned anything about training and good eating habits. This person wants to lose 80lbs. Of what it will take to reach their goal they are currently doing nothing. So I start them out on a basic 3 day exercise plan, just cardio at the gym to get them in the habit of showing up, and also to get them moving. For the meal plan they start out at 5 meals per day, prep only needed for 1 or 2 of them to make the transition easy.
After the first 2 weeks they are making it to the gym consistently 3 days per week but are only following the meal plan about 50%. For this client this is a huge success so far. No, it’s not perfect but it’s a really big step in the right direction.
After 4 weeks I get them set up on a 3 day lifting routine. Basic and focused around dumbbell work and bodyweight exercises + the cardio they are already doing on the same days. The habit for showing up to the gym 3 days per week is already there and getting consistent with the new training is no problem. We have been working constantly to break bad food habits and get better on the meal plan. Adherence to meal plan is at 70% and the other 30% the client is actually making better choices and leaving the real junk food behind.
At week 6 the client is ready to add another day of exercise so I program for 4 days in the gym. Adherence to the meal plan is at 80%. We stick with the gym schedule of 4 days, just increasing the program intensity but not increasing frequency or time spent in the gym.
At week 8 we have our first 100% adherence to the meal plan. And we’re rolling ahead full steam.
Week 0- Nothing
Week 2- 3 days per week in the gym for cardio. 50% adherence to the meal plan. Junk food still an issue.
Week 4- 3 days per week of basic lifting and cardio. 70% adherence to meal plan. Better choices made during off plan eating.
Week 6- Client says they are ready to add a day of exercise for 4/week. 80% adherence to meal plan.
Week 8- 4 days per week of lifting and cardio. 100% adherence to plan.
In 8 weeks someone just totally changed their lifestyle and habits. Progress is made along the way and at week 8 the client hits their stride. The goal at this point is a guarantee. And at no point during weeks 1-7 was the client perfect on plan. How many people quit before they get to 100% because they feel like they’re failing during the process?
There are no fad diets or gimmicks here. So even in the months where they aren’t completely hitting the mark, they are learning how and what to eat. After they reach their goal the bad habits have been broken (actually broken, not just put on hold for a few months), things have become easy, and they don’t gain the weight back.
I have had many clients struggle for months and then out of nowhere everything starts to click. So the client who really struggles for 3 months making very, very slow progress, loses 50lbs in the next 4 months. What would have happened if the client quit after month 1 or 2? Back to square one and back in that frustrating cycle of starting and quitting.
I totally believe it’s our nature to focus more on the negatives than the positives and this is a death sentence in anything we set out to achieve. We also don’t spend our lives with extreme positivity like everything is perfect when it isn’t. What we do is recognize what needs to improve and acknowledge what already has. We see both the failures and the successes while working to minimize the failures.
Getting to this point of understanding as a coach has been one of the best things that could happen for me (and my clients). I started competing in powerlifting when I was 15 and have competed in many other things as well. So of course, when I started this business 4 years ago I coached with a competitor’s mentality. Guess what? That doesn’t work well for anybody besides competitors. I realized I was going to have to meet my clients where they were mentally, and then bring them to the other side. I realized it’s not an instantaneous change and I was going to have to put the work in to stay with them and continually help them along their path.
The point of this whole post is this…
If you don’t quit, you don’t fail. You will get there eventually, just keep making an effort.