3 Fitness Success Principles That Changed My Life Forever
“I can’t wait till I have a six-pack.” That was my first thought when I jumped into the world of fitness. When I started working out, all I cared about was having visible abs and how perky my butt could look in my jeans. I was SO focused on what my new and improved body would look like. I ended up neglecting the one thing I needed to evolve the most: my mindset.
Almost a decade later — I still don’t have a six-pack — but I’ve learned lessons from my fitness journey that will last longer than any physical results.
- Progress isn’t Linear
Anyone who has embarked on a fitness program will tell you — some days you will feel as if you’re taking two steps forward and the next day three backward. Some days you look at the scale and are excited to see the number drop. Then the following day it goes up again.
But you keep pushing through.
You cannot reduce progress to simple before and after pictures. Through my inevitable frustration, I was able to build grit. I began to apply that principle to my life outside the gym. With anything new I tried, I remembered that progress wasn’t linear.
Some days it felt as if I was failing with no end in sight, and others I was on top of the world. It did me no good to overanalyze every little outcome of my actions. What mattered was that I kept going.
2. Delayed Gratification is Key
“If only I could work out and eat well for a week, and I have abs.” This was a constant thought I had at the beginning of my fitness-centered lifestyle. I declined my friends’ late-night drinking invitations because I would be too hungover and would skip my gym session the next morning. There were days I was too lazy to cook, and wanted to order a burger and fries from Shake Shack instead. Most times, I delayed gratification and kept my eyes on the prize.
Delayed gratification has been shown to correlate with success. The famous Marshmallow Experiment used marshmallows to test delayed gratification in children. Researchers conducted follow-up studies years later and noticed that kids who exhibited delayed gratification had higher test scores and lower rates of drug abuse as well as high test scores in other measures. Staying outcome-focused — in the gym, and in everyday life — will help you achieve your goals.
3. Discomfort is Your Friend
Being uncomfortable sucks. Physically, mentally, and emotionally. But discomfort — not pain — is one of the sensations you must learn to embrace when working out. If it feels like a walk in the park every time you work out, then it’s likely that you are not making much progress. An effective workout tends to feel challenging. The muscle soreness you feel the day after lifting weights is called DOMS, or delayed onset muscle soreness. DOMS is due to the tiny tears to the muscle that occurs when you lift weights. Muscle growth, or hypertrophy, is what occurs when your body repairs those tears.
I’ve learned to embrace this in other aspects of my life. Growth isn’t always fun. A lot of the time it feels uncomfortable. I’ve switched careers, moved to a new city where I didn’t know a single soul and approached a potential love interest. These were all daunting tasks that made me uncomfortable but changed my life for the better. I do not intend to glorify all discomfort. My goal is to encourage others to welcome things outside of their comfort zone that will spur growth.
It’s common knowledge that exercise has many physical benefits. Whether your goal is to grow stronger, get leaner, or feel better.
There is way more to it than that. We know that lifting weights will grow our muscles. We know that we may not see the results right away, but that we have to stay the course. We know that our bodies might feel a little sore after trying a new movement or using a heavier dumbbell.
But when we also take those same principles and apply them to life, the growth we can achieve is limitless.