I’ve talked about this before, but it’s worth repeating (or maybe I just drank the Kool-Aid). It’s about being satisfied with the process, not progress.
Progress is temporary. You stop, you look around, maybe take a picture or two, and then you move on. It’s supposed to be temporary. Good or bad, you’re going somewhere.
It’s the process that helps ensure that you’re heading in the right direction.
This is something that I’ve seen show up in almost every facet of my life. When I had a good process, no matter what, I eventually found a way to win, no matter where I started or where I ended up at random points in time. Likewise, when I don’t have a good process in place, long-term success doesn’t exist.
Every facet of my life shows this. My biggest successes have usually been preceded by some monumental failures. I showed up day after day, and nothing was getting better. But I had a good process. I was doing what I was supposed to. Things just hadn’t clicked yet. Eventually, momentum took over. It looked like an overnight success, but quite frankly, the hell it was. I worked for it.
And this stands in contrast to those times where I had temporary success, but I was doing what I was supposed to be doing, and the other shoe dropped eventually.
When we translate this to trying to be healthier, we see good and bad examples everywhere. Fad diets are an excellent example of a terrible idea. It’s not a good process. You might lose weight quickly, even more quickly than you would if you were just doing the basics correctly, but the weight always comes back. I don’t know a single person who has used a fad diet to achieve long-term weight loss. What ends up happening is that they lose the weight, and either because they’re celebrating that temporary success or because the diet isn’t feasible long term, they gain it all back (and usually a bit extra for fun).
That said, it looks like more people are sharing the good examples. You’re starting to see a decent amount of pushback against fad diets, instead focusing on making lifestyle changes. Lifestyle changes are about the process. It’s about parking a bit farther away, taking the stairs, switching to whole grains, etc. It’s not fun. It’s not easy. But it works. And it works long term. You might not see quick changes, but you’re body will appreciate it all the same and it will pay dividends down the road.
The same can be said for exercise. There’s no shortage of exercises that will give you a six-pack, give you killer shoulder, make you 6 inches taller, etc. But we know that’s not the truth. Like food choices, if you’re doing something to the extreme, you won’t maintain it. You’ll either hurt yourself or find some other reason not to do it.
But if you can find something that is sustainable, then you’ve got a real plan. You can ease your body into it to prevent injury, and you can really make it a part of you day-to-day life.
And with all this talk of process and progress, I guess I should share my progress. The process is the same as it ever was (try to walk more daily, run more when the zombies are chasing me, and try to make slightly better food decisions when possible).
Progress is changing. It’s temporary, and I’ll be somewhere else sooner than later, but it’s worth taking a few pictures before getting back to the process.
For running, I’m getting farther. It feels like I’m still having the crap kicked out of me, but when I look at the objective measurements, I’m getting farther, I’m running longer, and I’m running faster. I can’t really ask for much more than that. I know individual race-day conditions might lead to regression from my overachieving first 5K of the Super Awesome Year of the 5K, but I know I’m getting better. I can see the changes.
Looking more directly at distance I’m travelling every day, this is where the change is most noticeable. Since I started running, I’ve been averaging 55,000 steps a week (≈ 8,000 steps daily). Prior to this, I was averaging about 30,000 steps a week (≈ 4,000 steps daily). I knew I was doing better, but I had no idea how much better. I’m not hitting my daily 10,000-step goal as often as I’d like, but I’m clearly doing a much better job of moving around.
As for what I’m eating, I honestly don’t know if I’m doing better. I’m trying to be better about making sure the food on my plate is completely bad for me, even if I’m still eating more than I probably should. I’m making an effort to eat fresh fruit and veggies daily when I can. I’ve ingested a lot more salad this past week if nothing else. I’m starting to feel like I might develop a cotton tail and hop down the bunny trails. It’s a bit disconcerting, to be frank (ok, but I’ll be Ernest).
I can even tell a difference in the mirror.
Maybe my mirror’s lying to me, but I’m ok with that.
The scale, though, it never lies. And there’s a trend of dropping weight. I’m not breaking any records on weight loss, but I’m heading in the right direction.
So yeah, it’s progress. But it doesn’t matter without the process.
And so tomorrow, we’ll get right back to the process even as we celebrate the progress tonight.
#ihaterunning, but I like where I’m going.