By Dr. Jeff Spencer
Have you ever wondered why change is so difficult to make and maintain? It just seems that no matter how hard we try change is difficult and sometimes no matter how hard we try given enough time we slide back into old habits especially when we're under pressure.
Adaptation In Today's Changing World
No doubt that the world is rapidly and dramatically changing and there's never been a time in human history where the cost of choice making has ever been greater both in terms of downside and upside potential.
An obvious fact that has become a mantra for successful change in today's world is that they who adapt the fastest and best are those who will experience the most beneficial life change and maintain it over time.
This is seen so evidently in the world of fitness. Those who have made gains in their fitness and kept those gains have done so following some very simple steps.
- Clarify the change to be made – A key starting point for change and making it stick is to clarify in as much detail as possible the desired change to be made. Detail is important to help tighten up the accuracy of where energy is allocated to complete a cycle of action. The fewer the details, the less focus present to guide the process to achieve and maintain the goal.
Creating clarity is often a multi step process that needs time to evolve and when rushed inevitably ends in lesser than optimal outcome. So, for fitness take the time to identify what your goals are and then consult with someone familiar with you and your fitness level and goals, and to identify the accuracy of your fitness objectives and assure that they are reasonable, knowing that often fitness goals exceed what's reasonable in the time allotted.
- Show up for duty – Fitness goals are more often an issue of time and effort than anything else. Time is key. The overwhelming main concept is to give yourself adequate time to achieve your goals and never force the pace to get there. Just show up for duty and do your workout faithfully. A couple of things to facilitate that are listed below:
- Workout at the same time so it becomes part of your weekly calendar and rhythm similar to a metronome that paces a musician through the music.
- Give yourself plenty of time to show up on time to workout, as rushing sets the stage for training errors that can end in injury and lack of results.
- Dress the same each time you work out so you're confident you'll be able to finish the workout on time. You can wear different colors and styles but keep it same enough so you know you'll complete your workout in minimal time.
- Take one step at a time – To achieve maximum fitness gains and keep them do your workouts as they're designed and never try to shortcut them. Shortcutting often erodes confidence in yourself and can lead to frustration because you're not getting the fitness results you want from shortcutting, and the frustration from that can lead to impulse driven decisions that further diminish fitness gains making it next to impossible to preserve any gains made.
Whenever you feel yourself starting to rush your workout, and trying to make your fitness changes stick too quickly, just back up a little to a point where the urgency diminishes and you feel confident you can keep the pace over time.
- Trust the process – Nothing ever comes with 100% certainty but one thing the most successful people in the fitness world have that enables them to enjoy a lifetime of fitness is belief in the process that they can get and stay fit. Belief is perhaps the strongest medicine ever for generating successful, lasting change. Trusting the process enables one to get up each and every day and keep lifting one weight at a time and over time each of those lifts creates a micro-step to achieve fitness goals and keep them.
The importance of this is that it also conveys the concept that if a day is missed where a workout doesn't happen as scheduled, then it can be made up later without the panic that the effort has been compromised because it hasn't. It's all about one step at a time and trusting that process, as life rarely happens the way we think it will and trust is the glue that holds the process together to hit the critical mass that results in our fitness gains being realized and maintained.
- Repeat all of the above – To maintain fitness gains requires the process to get there be maintained indefinitely but the good news is is that it requires less effort to keep the gains than it did to achieve them. The brain can't always accept that but that's the truth never the less.
To keep what you've got takes a lot less time and effort than it did to achieve it in the first place. So, when you're at a point in your fitness that you feel you need to pull back and recover, or allot time to something else for a while, cut your program by 40% and you'll still maintain your fitness gains and then when you're ready to move ahead to add back to your program and move to the next level. I know that probably sounds counterintuitive but that's the reality of the body's fitness biology.
Keeping your fitness gains and making them permanent is possible but requires understanding that that will only happen when the process isn't rushed and the gains are maintained through regular workouts at the same intensity but not at lesser volume. That's great news as it means that we don't need to add more workout time to keep what we've got. That inspires me and makes the prospect of a lifetime of good health and fitness possible.
Dr. Jeff Spencer, Olympian, ICA "Sports Chiropractor of the Year", and author is one of America's top builder of champions.
"Dr. Magic", as Dr. Spencer's often referred to, has been directly involved in 40+ World, Olympic, National and Tour de France championships. He has worked with NASCAR champion Bobby LaBonte, World Series MVP Troy Glaus, rock legend U2, and most known for helping Lance Armstrong win all 7 of his Tour de France victories on site. Spencer has also worked his "magic" with PGA, WTA, and Supercross champions, ultra-successful entrepreneurs and business standouts, NFL, MLB athletes, as well as Motocross and Formula 1 drivers.
Spencer received his master's in physical education and his undergraduate degree from University of Southern California and his doctor of chiropractic degree summa cum laude from Cleveland Chiropractic College in Los Angeles. He has taught post-graduate sports rehabilitation courses and frequently lectures on health, fitness, and wellness.
Dr. Spencer is the author of the acclaimed book, Turn It Up! How To Perform At Your Highest Level For A Lifetime and audio program "The Top 10 Tactics From The Champions Playbook".
"Jeff is part doctor, part guru, part medicine man… we believed Jeff could fix all of our problems… while he fixed us physically, he also fixed us mentally… If you judged the most important man on the team by the foot traffic in and out of his door, then it was Jeff. Without him, we know we'd never make it to Paris."
-Lance Armstrong, Every Second Counts