Riding the wave of consistency
Staying healthy isn't about being perfect and neither is our training.
I believe it's about bridging the gap between what we need to do and what we are already doing well.
In today's society, it's the instant results that get advertised and flood our feeds. But, in reality it's not what you try that gets the results, but the consistency at which you do it well that delivers the powerful change.
This is true for both the negative and positive endeavors.
It's not the small piece of cake for your birthday that over throws your nutrition and tips the scale, but the consistent daily trips to the pantry.
Same in training. It's usually not the one lift that causes your back pain but more so the repetitive use of poor technique in your daily training.
Perfection is an illusive dream that we hold on to based on what we have been told we should and shouldn't do based on others opinion of us and our situation.
Consistency, on the other hand, is positive daily action that builds self compassion, strengthens our weaknesses, and refines our strengths.
Power is in consistency.
Upward Wave vs Linear Progress
In reality , progress in any endeavor, whether health or training, is not linear.
Progress is more realistically an upward diagonal line full of highs and lows. Like an upward wave. Highs being completed tasks and achieving milestones, while lows are half or failed attempts.
If you focus merely on the lows, progress seems as though it is a downward spiral of failed attempts.
But when the focus is made on the consistent effort over time ( [highs + lows] / time ) you get a growing upward trend.
Riding the wave and experiencing both highs and lows gives us the experience to learn from the mistakes, sharpen our skills , and build stronger more positive habits (and health)
We won’t be perfect but we will get better, stronger, and healthier over time. The longer you ride the wave of consistency and fight the urge of perfection the more exponential the growth.
Eventually, the consistent highs outweigh the scattered lows.
Power in the 1%
As James Clear, author of Atomic Habits, explains, it's about the power in the 1%. By just being 1% better than you were the day before leads to massive change in the long run.
The idea in this case is just being slightly better than the day before.
You did a 10 min workout the day before? Great add just one more minute to your next workout if you’re trying to reach 30 min twice a week.
You drank 2 water bottles the day before ? Great add half a water bottle the following day if you’re trying to increase water intake 3 bottles per day. .
In your training or in your health, the goal is not immediate change but instead to take small consistent steps that lead to sustainable habits and long term gains. Going for the home run or the instant fix will take you nowhere fast.
By learning to ride the wave we are playing the long game. Each day we put in the work we reinforce behavior that helps us stay consistent and make the transformative change we are in search of.
Here are few ways I like to ride the wave of consistency and teach others to do the same:
You can’t make progress without doing the work. No matter what, show up and make it happen. It’s okay if you’re not at your best or aren’t fully ready. By showing up , you give yourself a chance to succeed.
In the case you miss a day, don’t slip twice. Another tip by James Clear on his book Atomic habits. Essentially, hiccups or bad days happen but don’t let them compound. By showing up the very next day you give yourself a chance to continue riding the wave.
Make it easy
Life is difficult already. When creating a habit or sticking to a routine, make it so easy it’s difficult to not do it.The more complicated the task, the more likely you are to bypass it altogether.
Want to have a nighttime stretching routine? Set up a small simple space in your room to do so every night.
Want to eat more fruits and vegetables? Lay them out on the table and bookmark simple recipes to make.
Make it fun
To have a better chance of staying consistent the habit must be enjoyable or at least have a reward worth working for.
Don’t take it too seriously that you forget why you started in the first place. Have fun with it and enjoy the process.
For activities you need a little more motivation, reward yourself with a visual of marking down on your calendar every time you complete the task. You will start to look forward to each completed task while gaining progress.
Do your best
No matter what, do your best. We are not looking for perfection, but instead a string of consistent positive action long enough to break through and make a difference.
Don’t have energy to do your whole workout? Focus on the warm up and work on mobility and recovery for that day.
Don’t have time to cook a healthy meal that day? Order out and find the healthiest option for that day.
Get 1% better
Make the goal for each day to be 1% better than the previous.
As long as you actively present in your routine and do your best you have already done the hardest part. Focus on improving just one small aspect for that day and let those small wins turn into big victories down the road.