In Episode 09: Expecting Too Much Too Soon, Geof and Todd discuss how changing your body, whether that means losing weight, building muscle or eating healthier takes a long time and more effort than you probably expect it to take. Marketers will sell you solutions that claim to get you to where you want to go within a matter of days and weeks when in reality it is more than likely going to take you months and years to reach your ultimate destination. On the way to achieving your BIG goal it is prudent that you set multiple small goals along the way and to enjoy what you are doing to get there. If you don’t enjoy the journey, you’ll never reach your destination. Some parts of your journey are going “to suck” but by carefully planning, sticking to that plan, altering it when needed, and cutting yourself a break once in a while you can set realistic expectations and achieve them on a realistic timeline.
We’re all guilty of it. We want it and we want it now. We have a problem that we wish to solve or a goal that we want to attain today. Not tomorrow, not next week, not next month. Today. But in health and wellness, it doesn’t work like that. Change takes time, dedication, and consistency. Gaining 2-3 pounds of muscle will take the average person 3 months. Losing 50 pounds will take someone two months, that is, if they don’t eat anything for the next two months. And I’m not using a figure of speech when I say they don’t eat anything. I mean, they eat 0 calories for two straight months. You can eat healthier today but the changes to your body’s cells and tissues won’t occur for weeks and months.
In Geof’s experience in working with clients who want to lose >100 pounds he has found that bariatric clients typically require 2 years or more to reach their goal and it will likely take closer to four years for an individual to lose >100 pounds and keep it off through diet and exercise. If you’re like most people, hearing that it is going to take you 2-4 years to lose >100 pounds will make you want to turn around and walk away.
But it isn’t all bad. Allowing yourself a long period of time to lose the weight allows you to get to know what your problem foods are and what exercises you like. It affords you the ability to take your foot off the gas and to take a break once in a while. It allows you to not be so hard on yourself. If you have tried to diet before and failed and failed and failed you know that each failure leaves you feeling like you are further and further behind. With each failed attempt you have less confidence but more urgency. You’re playing from behind and you need to catch up. There’s no time to waste so you try the next diet hoping that this diet is the one that will work for you. Only it doesn’t, again.
Geof and I want you to break that cycle by taking a break and developing a long-term plan with short-term goals. We want you to choose activities that you like, not activities that you feel like you have to do. The level of calorie restriction you have to go through to lose weight is high. It is really hard. It is going to suck. You’re going to need breaks and you need to stop being so hard on yourself. By allowing yourself more time to lose weight, build muscle, eat healthier, whatever your goal happens to be you allow yourself more room for error and more room for growth.
Bill Belichick, coach of the New England Patriots, and Nick Saban, coach of the Alabama Crimson Tide talk relentlessly about “doing your job” and “the process” respectively. They don’t talk about Super Bowls or National Championships. They are extremely methodical in their gameplanning and execution of that gameplan. They take time to learn from their mistakes. They have both suffered massive failures early in their careers but they figured shit out. They didn’t just figure shit out, they became masters of their respective universe(s). It took each of them a very long time to get to where they are but they got to where they are because they put in the work and tempered their expectations. I’m sure they expected to be great but greatness (or weight loss) doesn’t happen overnight. It happens because of day-in and day-out planning and execution. It comes from making mistakes. It comes from time.
Try to set realistic expectations on a realistic timeline. Know that things are probably going to take more work than you think they will. Even if you initially plan for a lot of work, obtaining your goal will likely be more work than you planned for. No one can really tell you how long it will take to obtain your goal. They can give you ballparks based on age, gender, previous dieting history, physical activity levels, how much (or little) you respond to exercise, your work-life balance, and family dynamics but only you really know what is realistic and what is not. If you know that you are in it for the long haul, you’re more likely to pick activities that you know you can do for the long-haul rather than selecting activities and diet types that you plan on suffering through to reach your goal.
We wish that we could give you more constructive advice for setting expectations but regardless of what your situation is and your goals are, know that it is going to take time, a lot of time, that it is probably going to be harder than you think it is, that it is important that you pick diet types and/or exercises that you enjoy, that you set and celebrate milestones along the way, and that you cut yourself some slack when it is needed.