Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Time Takes Time

There is something that I try to impress upon all of my clients, and anyone else that I talk to about training and nutrition.

Time takes time. This holds true for absolutely everything in life, not just fitness related goals. You want that promotion? Put in the time and effort. You want that girl? Put in the time and effort (Although, I guarantee nothing in this department. Nobody should be taking their advice on women from me. They are Unstable Creatures.) You want to drop 15 pounds or put 50 on your deadlift? Well, you guessed it, put in the time and effort. 

Nothing about training and fitness is linear. The people who will see the MOST linear progression are newbies; strength gains and weight loss can be seen easily and quickly. This is a beautiful thing because people see their results and get satisfied and invested. However, this effect wears off over time. Even the most linear progressions involve an inherent peak and valley system known as the supercompensation effect. 

Supercompensation effect of one workout

Ideal supercompensation curve during a program cycle

So, like I said, time takes time. Under ideal conditions, strength improvements can be much more linear than fat/weight loss. I hate to do this, but think about The Biggest Loser. Even those people (under ideal conditions) will have weeks where they lose massive amounts of weight, and weeks were they lose very minimal (relatively speaking) amounts of weight. 

Given that knowledge, think about what kind of results we can hope for while living the chaotic lives that we all live. You're trying to lose weight while balancing work, school, relationship, kids, dog, friends and money. These facts of life serve to disrupt your training, eating, sleeping and recovery; which all have a direct correlation to fat loss. Hormone levels play a huge role in fat loss, and cortisol (a stress hormone) is the biggest role player. If your stress levels are high, your cortisol is up. If you're eating and sleeping like crap, cortisol levels are high. If you're training too hard and not recovering enough, your cortisol levels are high. High cortisol has proven to have a high correlation with increased adiposity.

Setbacks and plateaus happen, it's part of the lives we lead. Goals will be met, you just need to remember to let time happen. No matter what you do, you can't rush your body. Train the right way, eat the right way, and recover the right way and the things you want to happen will happen. The nice thing is that days only come one at a time, so you can work to make each day perfect before you have to worry about the next one. Strive to have more "great" and "perfect" days than "shitty" days, and you'll do well. Remember that one single shitty day doesn't make or break you, just like one perfect day won't make or break you. One day of eating junk food and having some beers isn't what made you fat in the first place, it was having several months or years of that. It took some time to get you into the shape you're in, it'll take some time to undo it.

You're already in good shape? Well, be prepared to wait even longer. I forget who said this (Cressey? Tate?), but think about how easy it was to get to your first 225 deadlift. Now, think about how much longer it took to get to 315, and then how it took forever to get to 405. That's how it is with every aspect of fitness and training. The first goals are always the easiest, and it gets exponentially harder after that. Each goal takes more and more time to achieve. In the strength sport world (weightlifting and powerlifting) it's well known that the longer you've been lifting, the fewer PR's you'll be hitting. Some athletes can go a full year without hitting a new PR, or only adding 2.5 pounds to a lift. And you know what? That's okay! They are still thrilled when it happens! Why? Because they know that time takes time!

Regardless of who you are (myself included) you need to remember that good things come with hard work and effort, and everybody has peaks, valleys and plateaus (it's part of life). Any method that promises results in a week isn't worth your time. Anything that is worth having is worth fighting for. Remember that, relax and go lift something heavy!

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