The #1 Tip For Continued Results That Is Often Neglected
Today I received a lovely surprise letter in the mail from none other than..... my 13 year old self!!!!!
One of my English assignments in grade 8 was to write a letter predicting where I'd be in 10 years. It predicted things like I'd be 6'6'' (got one thing right), and I'd be running my own computer and robotics company after graduating from university with a degree in computer engineering. Not quite right on that one ;)
Clearly I have veered in a completely different direction from what I was interested in 10 years ago and that is the take home point of today's post ladies and gentlemen:
Training and Nutrition are constant experiments. You have to forever be changing up one variable at a time to learn what works best for you. -Tweet This
What the Hell is Going on?
Receiving this letter was quite the serendipitous occurrence since I am currently facing a dilemma with my training. I have been following the same training program for 22 weeks now, because it works so great! It's a 12 week program with lots of variation, so the training stimulus stays fresh throughout. It worked so great the first time that I decided to go through it a second time. By the way, it's called the Swole System and it rocks for getting you jacked, strong, and ripped all at the same time!
So if it works so well then what's the problem?
While I'm still getting great results from it, the fact that I've been following the same sort of structure to each workout for so long has started to bore me a little. I think it also has to do somewhat with the fact that September was my month from hell with 3 strongman competitions and my nervous system was fried, since the Swole System includes a lot of plyometrics and explosive exercises, which are also stressful on the nervous system my body had enough and said NO MAS!
I'm going to switch up my training program for a little while and focus on adding some overall strength and size to help me with overhead lifts my strongman competitions next year. With that being said, I am not drastically altering my nutrition or anything else in my life at the same time!
You have to make changes one step at a time!
Change is Necessary
The human body is exceptionally adaptive and likes to stay balanced at a set point. This is called homeostasis.
When you change something with your body, whether it be through training or nutrition or even a lifestyle change to reduce stress, your body will adapt to that change for a little while. People who go on crash diets and try to change everything at once do lose a lot of weight as it is drastically different from what their body is used to. The problem comes when they slacken their resolve just a little bit and cheat more on the diet, because they think it's ok now that they've got a slimmer body, their body starts storing fat again exceptionally well to get them back to their "set point."
I do believe in set point theory to some extent from personal experience and accounts of others. It's hard to say exactly how long it takes your body to get used to a new set point, but several other experienced people suggest on the scale of several months to half a year and I tend to agree with that.
Over the years as my body has changed I went from a 230 lb fat kid to a skinny 190 lb basketball player. Then as I tried to put on muscle I hovered around the 200 lb range and got above it several times, but always came back to the same weight. Then it was 220 lbs and I stuck around there for over a year. And now my set point seems to have adjusted to the 240lb range with the necessity of weighing more to handle the weights with strongman training.
The secret to lifelong success
As you can now see, results are not linear and do not automatically stick around once you get to your desired weight.
Losing weight or building muscle is only half the battle, keeping your newly shaped body is the second half. - Tweet This Quote
As a beginner you should look to make the smallest changes possible, because your body will respond to the changes positively and it will help you to avoid reaching plateaus in your results, because you'll be able to change something else to continue moving forward. It also appears consistently that the slow and steady strategy will beat the homestasis dilemma, since you can always change something else in your training or nutrition that will keep you seeing results. This is where coaches become useful, because they are experienced in recommending the changes that will help you to keep moving forward, without overdoing it and causing your body to rebound.
When you become a more advanced lifter, or enter the realms of a professional sport like figure and bodybuilding, a change might entail a complete makeover of your diet or training, since at that point your body requires a greater stimulus to elicit change.
What should I change?
Change something that is going to be easy to stick with! If your family is used to sitting down to a Thanksgiving feast every evening, don't try to change that at first, because you won't have the social support to help you follow through with it regularly.
Form each new change into a HABIT for success. Work diligently on that one change for 2-3 weeks until it becomes a habit, then reassess your success and move on to the next habit.
Sample Fuel Changes:
- if you skip breakfast, make it a habit of having something fast and easy like a high protein smoothie, or yogurt and fruit.
- pack your lunch? Great! Now just make sure to pack the right things. Think large salad with protein (chicken, cottage cheese, or canned tuna)
- chop up a week's worth of veggies one or two days a week and package them in ziploc bags. Each bag will have two servings worth of veggies, for two daily snacks and you can have them with a high protein dip like hummus or tzatziki.
Sample Fitness Changes:
- add in 1 extra day of HIIT for 15 minutes or 3 days of 15-20 minutes of extra low intensity cardio
- incorporate resistance training with free weights into each of your training sessions at least 3 times per week
- change up one day of your current training program with a sample day of a training program you want to try and see how you like it before jumping fully into the new program.
Success doesn't have to be a secret in training and nutrition, you just have to forever be changing small things in order to see lifelong results.
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