My strength training program is designed as an 8 week cycle (4 different workouts that we alternate during that timeframe). The impact of consistency over these months is undeniable. At the end of a cycle, I do a Progress and Performance Analysis for my clients.
The brain will always tell you it wasn’t enough.
Our minds are also horrible about being in maintenance mode. It seems we’re inherently wired to “do more” and to “keep growing.”
How many times have you reached a goal, only to create a new one in your mind? Without celebrating!!!
Is that how we are made up or is that what we’re told success is?? Perhaps this instinct isn’t 100% inherent, I think it could also be how our society is set up.
Maybe it’s some of both — who we are as individual humans and collectively as a culture.
I think the more important question is:
When do I allow the deep satisfaction of saying, “job well done” to myself?
It’s Ok to Give Yourself A Gold Star
A really cool thing happens when I go over this document with people. Their eyes light up as we track the dates, the reps and the increasing weight or skill.
The brain can’t argue with the data. It wants to.
Sometimes people will bring up counterpoints about their advancements. And then I just point to the paper. These are facts that we could prove. Most of the time, what they’re focusing on are negative thoughts that aren’t necessarily true, but it’s what they believe.
I’ve also been in conversations when people are afraid to celebrate their successes. It feels icky — I’ve heard, “If I celebrate it too much, I’ll be an arrogant jerk.”
The very fact you might describe yourself as egotistical and arrogant, makes you NOT those things. Have you ever known someone who truly is an pompous ass, to self-identify that way.
So please, let yourself smile and feel good about it. Set a timer for 3 mins and bask in it before you move on.
Perhaps someone else will bring you down with sarcasm and “oh, was it really that great???” This sort of odd message that says “Who are you to be that happy with yourself?”
Sarcasm from another person in regard to your success has more to say about their own sense of inadequacy, then it does yours. I don’t really do well with sarcasm… if you’re going to be mean, then have the guts to say it.
Side note, I’m going to fully blame society on this one — sarcasm and belittling in a joking manner have become a very approved way of communicating. Personally, I think it is unproductive, demeaning and a barrier to meaningful connection. If I could wave a magic wand, this would be something I would get rid of forever.
If it doesn’t bother you, then great. NBD. I’m happy for you! But sometimes those off-hand jabs, can bury themselves in us. So, to me, the question becomes how do we process the comments and/or tell the other person to knock it off, it’s not acceptable.
No matter what, it’s ok to give yourself a gold star!!! Stop for a moment to be proud and happy that you did a thing!!
Consistently Progress from a Place of Grace
The other thing that comes out of seeing the progressions document is the evidence of how consistency matters the most. Note the dates, this wasn’t necessarily a high frequency schedule. We weren’t even deadlifting every week. But it was part of a master plan to do this lift regularly in the cycle.
Most people focus on rigidity — “I’m going to do this every day!!! FOREVER!”
I like this quote: “Rigidity is the enemy of consistency.” I’ve seen it happen over and over again with clients, an all-in approach that creates an obsession and restriction. Most of the time, that brings about resistance, rebellion and frustration.
Life is going to happen. Something will come up with yourself, a family member, work, etc. Consistency means you’re set up to show up when needed AND stay true to your intention to take care of yourself.
Rigidity means you’ll miss things because you over scheduled in the first place then beat yourself up for it and then quit all together. No amount of planning and having the best diet protocol is going to matter in the longterm if you’re in self attack.
Let go of rigidity and aim for consistency that fits with your life. And when things do go sideways, because they will, take a grace-centered approach. You will keep going.
No Negativity about Your Physical State
There is a difference between stating a fact about your body and where it is now versus saying how bad you are at something (especially in comparison to other people).
It may be a fact that you have knee pain. It is probably a fact that you can’t deadlift 200lb. These are true statements with no connotation or meaning.
They are different from saying, “I’m so horrible, I can’t even lift this!” or “I’m so weak and uncoordinated and you make it look so easy.”
They’re thoughts about yourself and your body and you don’t have to believe them.
They originate from the Villain’s Voice and are a form of self-attack. If you consistently (there’s that word again!) say this type of thing about yourself, when will you ever proud? Why would you want to keep going? It’ll be from sheer force of will and not very much fun.
It’s way more enjoyable to do things from a place of… “this is new and challenging and I’m learning and getting stronger every day.”
Also, comparison is the thief of joy (thanks Brené Brown). If you’re using comparison as a form of inspiration, then great, but otherwise it is another form of self-attack. Show me a person who feels better about what they’ve accomplished when they’re constantly comparing themselves to other people. I’m not sure it’s possible.
You can’t be in judgment and joy at the same time.
Here’s the guessing game!!
How old the person is who completed these lifts?
35? 42? 60? The answer 72 (almost 73!) Yes, she is 72 and lifting 95 lbs for 10 reps.
But this isn’t something to herald just because of her age (frankly, this is what all my clients experience).
This is the evidence of all three of these components coming together.
#1 She celebrates her wins.
#2 She’s been consistent — training 2x per week since August. She’s given herself grace when needed, but not overly rigid.
#3 No self-attack during sessions.
This could be true for you, too. It is possible.
You’re seeing it on paper and I’ve had the fortune to witness it in real time. My program — both in the gym and virtual — is about bringing balance and consistency to your life, so you’ll have an exercise program that works for you, a useful understanding of nutrition and know what to eat that is best for YOUR body (not someone else’s diet).
If you want someone to be a partner through the process of getting stronger mentally and physically, then write me back and let’s talk.
May you let go of self-attack. May you strive for consistency. May you give yourself a gold star.