How does it feel to know that there is one tactic you can employ to absolutely, 100% completely and utterly guarantee results and progress in whatever it is you choose to do? Want to finally get abs? I can guarantee you that. Want to improve your numbers? I can guarantee you that and I can promise you it all with this simple piece of advice. You may have already guessed what I’m going to say and no, unfortunately, it is not glamorous or quick. Consistency is the ONLY way you can be sure that this time next year you will have made progress. Out of the 365 days, how many of those will be spent working toward that goal? If the majority of the days are, then congratulations, I can guarantee you success.
You do You
Your diet is not going to work if you can not follow it 90% of the time. Your training program will not yield results if you can only half-commit to the volume and intensity required (although this does not discredit the 80/20 principle). So what does this mean? That you should give up and sack it in? Of course not, but what it does mean is that sometimes you need to be a little savvier. Play the game a little bit. A diet program designed for a high-level athlete is obviously going to lead to an improved body composition and an increase in performance, it’s quite literally what it is designed to do. If you or I were to follow such a program, working full-time jobs and training around the rest of your schedule, we may not be able to stick to this program.
Learn From Mistakes
I speak from experience. I spent time cycling carbohydrates, worrying about meal timing and making sure that I was avoiding my fats around workouts etc. Did I see results? Yes. I arguably was in the best shape I had ever been in at that point. Yet fast forward a couple of years later, and here I am again, in even better shape than then, and I have not had to put in anywhere near the amount of mental toil to get there. I found a different way of doing things, a simpler way that worked for me and fitted my lifestyle, enabling me to consistently move toward my goal.
But it’s easy to sit behind a keyboard and tell you over the internet that you need to be consistent. I appreciate I’m basically sitting here saying “just do it and it’ll happen” and I understand that me saying this is not going to give you anything that you can go away and take action upon. So instead of telling you to be consistent, I’m going to put a different spin on things… build habits.
The Habits Hack
The first time I was really exposed to this sort of advice was in the book Fat Loss Happens on Monday. The book is well written, easy to follow and it’s very clear as to how you can take action on the advice given. Despite the “quick-fix” sounding title, this is far from a shortcut. Josh Hills and Dan John clearly lay out a set of habits that you should be able to master to build an effective diet, but on top of that, they help emphasise and map out why the habits work and how they’re important.
To use an example from the book… track everything you eat. Habit numero uno. If you wish to successfully lose weight, you need to know what you’re eating in the first place. Step number one on the ladder to greatness (or some other inspiring shit). It may be quite a struggle at first, you may have to devote a lot of time and energy to logging everything you eat for a week or two, so why should this make it easier? Once you’ve mastered the act of logging your intake, it starts to become a habit. You will begin to log your food autonomously with out thought. Next thing you know it no longer becomes a chore or a burden, it’s just a thing you do. Now you’re ready to turn your focus on to something else, the next step that you need to turn into a habit.
Apply this same process to a skill or a behaviour. Want to read more books? Start by setting aside an hour a week to read until this becomes second nature. Then set aside two hours a week, then three, repeat until you’ve reached your goal.
This same process of freeing up time can be applied to the gym. Trying to find the time to fit in your training or to even start working out can be a huge challenge that on the face of it is extremely daunting. Starting with small, easily manageable steps to turn this new behaviour into second nature will make the transition seamless and the change permanent. Steadily build the time into your schedule. Make small, sustainable changes over time so that instead of becoming overwhelmed by the changes you’re making, they become a part of your routine. As “creatures of habit” we love routine.
Want to improve your double unders? The only way it is going to happen is by consistently working on your doubles. But where do you find the time if it isn’t programmed in class? Can’t set aside an extra half hour a day for skill work? Start with five minutes once a week, then five minutes twice a week, then ten minutes… master this, rinse and repeat.
Taking advantage of an overly used and incredibly cheesy cliche… Rome wasn’t built in a day.