Make Continual Progress – Eating and Lifestyle Edition
Mar, 20, 2014
In the Consistency Lesson, I discussed how being consistent was the key to success. If that’s the case and being consistent is the “key,” then progression is the actual “door” of success. Without walking through that door, you only have the potential to hit your goals. With progression, you actually remove the barrier to enter the room of your goals.
All too often, people will do the same thing day in and day out, never moving past their comfort zone. This is consistency in action. The problem with only being consistent is that you’re not challenging your body to make the changes you seek from working out. Being consistent is great if your only goal is to maintain. You won’t get better, but hey, you won’t get worse (for the most part).
Progress changes all of that. With continual progress, you allow yourself to push past the point of “comfort” into having your body needing to adapt to keep up. Progression is the “secret weapon” that all good personal trainers use to get results with their clients and what you can start to implement today to move you closer to the results you want.
For example, adaptation to an interval cardio routine is one that requires your body to move more oxygen to the working muscles while buffering the increased lactic acid build-up. This causes an increase of mitochondria in your cells which helps you utilize oxygen more efficiently. To help you not pass out while doing that interval cardio, your body also has to get better at using the energy in your blood and you end up becoming temporarily better at managing your blood sugar via Glut-4 receptors. In addition, your brain starts to create new neuronal connections, in essence helping your brain to grow, even as you age.
The benefits of exercise are way too numerous to put down, but at the end of the day, the reason your body undergoes these changes is because you’ve pushed it harder than you had in the past. Although this concept is relatively easy to understand, many people still fail to put this principle into consistent action.
Beyond progression with exercise, you will also need to make continual progress with healthy eating. If you start with a “Standard American Diet” which consists of lots of processed foods, small amounts of fruits and vegetables, too much salt and throw in the typical American lifestyle factors of too much stress, not enough sleep and too little time off from work, then you end up with a lot of places you can progress from. And that’s what the rest of this post will talk about – where to go next.
Your Next Two Progressions
As discussed earlier, I do believe being consistent should be the first (and most important) step in any workout plan. Once you get there though, the question becomes, what’s next for you?
To help you figure that out, the rest of this post will highlight two charts that should help you answer that question with much more detail.
Your job is to pick two things from the following charts and focus only on improving those two areas.
Two quick notes about the charts:
1 – The progressions are listed in order of what you should focus on first (Do 1, then move down to 2, then down to 3, etc).
2 – After you’ve achieved Level 3, you can either try to move to Level 4 or move down the chart.
In other words, before moving down an area of focus, you should try to get to Level 3. Once you get to Level 3, you have the choice of continuing on that same focus (eating 9 servings of vegetables) or moving down the chart (eating a complete protein at each meal).
Eating Progressions can be tricky to tie down into categories that everyone should be progressing towards, but I believe that if you follow the categories across the levels and down, this is one of the best ways to ensure that you’re losing weight in the easiest and most sustainable way possible.
Remember, your job is to pick where you’re at and what your next progression is going to be. Do this for one of the categories above and one from the chart below.
Although there are 8 areas of progressions for your “Lifestyle” I do think that if you focus on Sleep first, than all of the others become much more accessible and easier to manage. With that said, unlike the eating chart these lifestyle progressions are not ranked in terms of importance because they tend to meld together. For example, if you stop watching TV at night, often times you’ll get more sleep. If you get more sleep, then you might have more willpower to stick to a budget or energy to ‘enjoy nature’. In general, when it comes to lifestyle progressions, any positive change usually spurs other positive changes throughout your life, so start anywhere.
When it’s all said and done, all you have to do is simply pick the spots you’re going to work on and focus primarily on those things. For me, it’s sleep and keeping a budget. I do most of the eating habits, but sleep and impulsively spending money has been my downfall. Remember, all you have to do is two things:
1 – Pick two points from the charts above.
2 – Focus exclusively on making progress with those two points. If you improve in other areas, that’s fine and will usually happen. If you temporarily fall back in other areas, that’s fine also. You can work on those areas later.
The more you can focus your efforts and disassociate yourself from all of the “noise” inherent in people telling you what you should be doing, the better off you’ll be. When you decide where to go for yourself, the quicker you’ll be able to make progress towards the things that have the most potential to impact your life the best.
So the only remaining question is, what are your next two progressions? Share them below.
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