I’m sure at least once in your life you’ve heard the saying, “Patience is a Virtue”. And I’m sure you’ve seen the truth in that saying many times. Whether waiting in line at the DMV or waiting for that extra 10-20 lbs to come off, patience comes in handy.
Unfortunately, because we live in a world of instant gratification where almost anything we want we can have in a relatively short amount of time, patience has become more and more rare.
Want food? You can have it delivered to your house within 30 minutes, without even leaving your couch.
Want a product? You can have it delivered to your doorstep by tomorrow afternoon.
Because of this consistency in getting what we want so quickly, we have become extremely impatient. We have lost the ability to wait patiently for the things we want.
For fat loss, it is no different. We want to lose the weight today, not tomorrow and definitely not throughout the next few weeks and months.
This lack of patience (the desire or “need” to lose fat quickly) is a killer.
How Impatience Affects Weight Loss
Our impatience leads us to make drastic changes that we cannot sustain. We figure the more we do the quicker the results will come. And it doesn’t help that the world is filled with quick fix programs that promise weight loss in 7, 10, 14, or 21 days.
What many fail to think about (because all they CAN think about is losing the weight) is HOW they will keep the weight off. They put themselves into a gain-lose-gain cycle that seems to never end.
You’ve tried 5, 10, maybe 20 different programs and have not gotten anywhere. The frustration, disappointment, confusion, etc leads many to give up on their fitness goals altogether.
Many fail to see the root cause of their failures; the lack of patience has led to a search for nothing but quick fix programs that in reality have no worth.
Because they do not work/provide the results you want the belief that losing weight is hopeless starts to grow and push you away from being healthy, lean and more energetic.
The solution is not just, be patient. It is a mix of different strategies that will lead you away from this quick fix mentality and drive you towards a program that will make fitness a lifestyle for you, get you the results you want, and allow you to maintain those results.
The 3 Strategies
Number 1: Begin with REALISTIC and/or REASONABLE expectations:
If you start out with the mindset that you are going to lose 10 lbs this week and every week after or lose 30 lbs in the next month, you are setting yourself up for failure.
It is better to make a reasonable goal and surpass it, than to make an unreasonable one, fail at hitting it, and become discouraged. The rate at which you lose fat will vary from individual to individual.
However, a general guideline is to aim for 1-2 lbs a week or 1% of your body weight a week. If your goal is to lose 30 lbs and you are 190 lbs…. 190 x .01 = 1.9 lbs. 30 divided by 1.9 is approximately 16 (15.789 rounded up). It would take you approximately 16 weeks (4 months) to reach your goal of 160 lbs. Note: It is likely that you will lose more weight during the first week or so than any week thereafter.
Understand and accept that this is normal and expect weight loss to slow down as you continue. Also, understand that generally speaking, the more weight you have to lose (i.e, the more body fat you have) the easier/quicker it will come off.
As your body fat percentage drops, weight loss will slow and it will be important to go slower as to prevent muscle loss. Here is a video by Greg Nuckols for more on that here
Number 2: Go Slow! And Think About The Long-Term
I talk about taking things slow A LOT, and for good reason. One of the biggest mistakes I see people make, is jumping into things way too fast.
Someone who hasn’t exercised in over a year jumping into a 5 day a week exercise program is likely to quit and be back on the couch within weeks.
Now, your exercise history and attitude have a lot to do with how quickly you can adopt a higher frequency, higher intensity workout regimen, however, it is almost always better to start slow and increase intensity and frequency at a slow but strategic rate. Note: Start with 2-3, 10-20 minute sessions a week for the first week or two.
You have to experiment with things to find what works for you/what you enjoy doing (unless you have frequently worked out your whole life, in that case you probably know what you like and don’t like). Slowly and strategically add time to your workouts over the following weeks.
Weeks 1-2: 3, 20 minute walks and/or bike rides.
Weeks 3-4: 3, 30 minute walks and/or bike rides
Weeks 5-6: 4, 30 minute walks and/or bike rides
or 3, 45-60 minute walks and/or bike rides
I want to point out that after the first 6 weeks you should begin to implement a mix of resistance exercise, cardio, and flexibility training into your weekly sessions.
Also if you prefer resistance exercise (I prefer it) then replace some or all of the sessions with 15-30 minutes of resistance exercise.
The key is to start slow!
People have this belief that they need to have the perfect program with the perfect exercises, rest intervals, volume, etc in order to see results. Though each of those things are extremely important, an exercise program is worthless if you cannot sustain it.
Number 3: Practice being mindful of your patience (especially in regards to your weight loss)
Being aware of anything we are doing is extremely beneficial in becoming better at it/improving it. Knowledge is power! And figuring out the when, how, why, etc of our emotions and actions increases our chance of changing them (i.e the more we know about something the greater we can understand it and therefore improve or correct it).
Accepting and acknowledging we have an issue is the first step to changing it. However, the issue is many of us stop there or at best try to go about fixing it blindly. We do not pay attention to what triggers it or when we feel a particular way.
To keep this short…be aware of when you start to feel impatient or discouraged (which usually leads to the desire to amp things up and in turn tire you out down the road/cause you to overdo things and quit). The goal is to actively be aware of what causes you to want to turn to quick fix programs and move so quickly.
There is a reason that we begin to feel impatient more specific than “I want to be lean”. If you can figure out what that is you can begin to do some self-talk in those times to bring a more rational point to the part of your mind that wants instant gratification.
Impatience is a killer to our fat loss goals. It leads to seeking out quick fix programs, moving too quickly and ultimately failing in our fitness/weight loss goals.
Setting reasonable and realistic expectations in the beginning, moving/taking things slowly, and being mindful of our impatience and/or what causes it can aid us in taking the right path to weight loss and a more fit version of ourselves.