Life is a journey.
We define end points that we want to achieve but the only time we have is the now, the day to day.
Yes, it sounds like I am a hippy, a Zen master, Yoda or an ultra spiritual master. But this is the reality of our existence.
We need goals – in fact this is the first thing I focus on when it comes to helping people make a fitness change!
But without ENJOYMENT we will likely never reach our goals AND we will be unhappy along the way!
Enjoyment and fulfillment are what most people search for. Sometimes it is called happiness but what it really means is that you ENJOY every day and go to bed at night feeling a sense of fulfillment. Feeling like what you are doing each day is ‘worth it’.
If you HATE exercise, will you feel as much enjoyment?
If you have a bad relationship with food and view it as good and evil, will eating ever be fun?
Will you be able to achieve your goals?
Possibly, but it is making the entire process harder and less rewarding.
There is a cliché term ‘the journey is the destination’. In fitness, this is the KEY to achieving what you want. By focusing on the JOURNEY, the destination will come without you noticing.
There is something very rewarding about having a client pleased with themselves about achieving some weight loss, strength gain or any fitness goal. It is even more rewarding when they got there without really noticing it. Of course, it was hard work, but it came QUICKLY in their mind, even when it was 4-6 months that had passed. (note: 6 months is still quick from any perspective for a big change in fitness)
This is because they were focusing on their daily journey and not fixated on the destination!
Fitness change takes time
Almost all changes that you want to make with your fitness will take time. This is the harshest reality of the fitness world and something most people want to tune out from!
We want that QUICK FIX. I will tell you straight up that it won’t happen overnight.
If you are still reading, then congratulations you have what it takes to make something of your fitness change. Accepting that it will take time is the most fundamental step in achieving the end goal!
Let’s look at a few examples of the fitness timeline for a few common goals
If you are trying to lose 30kg, it may take you 2 YEARS to achieve this!
If you are a guy trying to pack on 20kg of muscle this could take you 3-5 YEARS!
5 Years? I can’t even get motivated to work out for a few weeks.
And therein lies the greatest problem with the focus on the long-term end.
Our internal motivation once we have that initial spurt of it could last us a few hours or a few days if we are lucky. 5 years? Motivation is not going to cut it.
Nothing kills motivation faster for most people than looking at how far you must go and how many more weeks, months and years it will take you to get there.
It makes getting fit feel like it will never end. Like whatever you try it just won’t work as you are so worried about losing that 20kg or gaining that muscle as fast as possible!
I have talked with many young guys who after being unhappy with their slow muscle gain have turned to using steroids. They could have got to the goal they wanted without them but it would have taken them 5 years instead of 2!
Ensuring you enjoy that day to day fitness is the key to getting there.
After change occurs, it must be maintained
So, you have lost 30kg.
It has taken you 2 YEARS of hard work. Now you can party right?
Even after you make that amazing change (and 30kg is a massive achievement) then you still have to MAINTAIN it.
This maintenance may be somewhat easier than the losing part. But it is still going take effort!
If this was simply the end of your goal, then where do you go from here?
Do you keep eating well?
Do you return to eating poorly only to inevitably gain the 30kg back?
If you want to keep the weight off then it is going to take a focus on that journey again.
Without fitness being enjoyed it is hard to achieve it at all
This is probably the most fundamental reason that focusing on the journey is needed.
Even if you were NOT to care about how you went after the goal ended, you will likely never get there at all without focusing on your day to day journey!
The key to success lies in getting the right balance between your longer term vision and your short term enjoyment of the process to get there.
Because fitness change has so many bumps along the way, somebody focusing only on the end goal will never make it!
There is a reason the most famous bodybuilders like Arnold Schwarzenegger got so far. They enjoyed their training and the process.
Sure they also enjoyed winning, but winning is not enough when it takes 10 years of sustained effort to get there!
Understanding the journey
The human body and mind adapts very rapidly to its current situation.
What was once hard becomes normal. Think back to when you learnt to drive a car, it was probably hard to work out everything at once. Over time you adapted and now it is second nature to go for a drive to work without even thinking of what you are doing.
We adapt to BAD health habits.
But we can reverse this and adapt to good health habits!
Once you are doing healthy things as the NORMAL then it feels abnormal to not do them. Something like eating a healthy meal as a habit means getting some takeaway on the way home is far less likely to come into your focus.
When you are used to working out every day then missing a week feels like you haven't moved in months!
Ups and Downs are Inevitable
Recently I was saving a family from a bear attack. I had chased the grizzly bear down and saved the family, but I feel and broke my toe and a few ribs.
Ok well that is the story I tell myself, I really just fell after stumbling over a wall…
I was the fittest I had been in a long time. In a matter of seconds, one of the silliest movements had caused me immense pain for many weeks.
I had to stop doing weights and even stop walking. Total rest.
I had just written up my brand-new workout program and the very next day I was going to get started to achieve some major fitness goals!
Now I felt more unfit than I had in years. I could hardly pick up a 5kg weight without pain.
How many things could potentially throw you off course?
Injury, illness, death in the family, losing a job etc.
What will you do when these things go wrong?
If you are focused purely on that end point and all your energy is tied on achieving it, these down times will likely keep you down for good.
If instead you can focus on the enjoyment of improving your fitness as a journey, you can regain your fitness after these down times!
In our lifespan, we are always going to have ups and downs. Focusing on the journey itself means we can take the good from these down times. Having the time off after my injury gave my body a bit of recovery time. Whilst it felt like a ‘down’ to not be able to do anything it was a good chance for my body to rest and recuperate more fully!
Implement enjoyment with fitness and health
So, what do you do to focus more on the journey and less on the destination?
We don’t want to forget goals entirely. They are still a driving force that can help you get where you want to go. The key point is to focus LESS on them and MORE on the day to day stuff.
This means focusing on making the daily changes that will drive those end goals and keeping a balance between short term and long term.
Here are a few ideas. Some are perspective changes and others are actual things you can do: