Wednesday. 12 PM. It’s lunch time at the office.
I make my way to the kitchen and open the fridge. “Hey David,” calls out a deep voice from over my shoulder. “Quick question for you.” Ugh. More work. All I want is to eat my sandwich – London broil roast beef and three pepper Colby jack cheese on a plump onion roll. MMmmMMMMmmm. And my cookies – Pepperidge Farm Genova. Of course.
“Do you take creatine monohydrate?” WHAT!? My hunger has me questioning whether or not I’m hallucinating.
But I’m not. Someone has simply noticed that I lift. And that I’m doing at least a couple things right, apparently.
Cool Story, Bro
I do. Take creatine, that is.
But what is the point of my super-exciting story? You have to enjoy the journey. You must live for moments like these. While I’m not close to achieving my goal physique, comments like these remind me that I’m on the right path. I’m making progress. No matter how slowly.
Too many people want a shortcut. I blame it on the microwave. I never owned a microwave until a year or two ago. I thank my parents for that. You know… never mind, I won’t get completely sidetracked.
Forget Your Goal
I recently read about an interesting study. It compared the productivity of three groups performing the same project. One group simply performed the project, one group visualized the end-result beforehand, and the final group visualized the entire process that would lead to the end result beforehand. Which group do you think did best? The result (no pun intended) – the first group did significantly worse that the two visualizing groups – they failed to start the project on time in most cases. The surprise is that those who visualized the process did measurably better than those who visualized only the goal. They were more likely to finish the project on time and reported it to be far easier.
Results oriented thinking is all the rage, but why? We all realize that there is no free lunch. No gaining 30 lbs of muscle in just 30 days! But we still manage to lose interest and fall off when we don’t achieve these unrealistic results.
Focus On the Numbers, Not the Mirror
We all want a visible six pack. We all want bigger arms. Bulging shoulders. A Thick back. The list goes on.
To (hesitantly) quote Tony Horton: “Rome wasn’t built in a day. And neither was your body.”
It’s true, and we all know it. But it still tests your patience when you kill yourself in the gym for a month and look virtually the same in the mirror. The visual changes will come. In fact, they might have already came. It is common to miss these changes when you see your body every day, because it happens so gradually (a good reason to take progress photos).
More importantly, focus on the numbers. Did you add 5 pounds to your bench press this week? Maybe 10 to your squat? Boom! Your strength just increased by a measurable amount. Take a second and congratulate yourself. If you are making consistent progress in the gym, the aesthetic changes will follow. When you start to treat lifting itself as a game, one where you are always trying to surpass your previous best – you have already won. The intrinsic motivation this brings will ensure steady progress towards an amazing body.
How to Love Lifting and Guarantee Steady Gains
Once you start to enjoy the journey – the actual process of going to the gym and lifting, and the eating that goes along with it – you will undoubtedly crush the weights and make constant strides towards your muscular potential. Stop waking up expecting to see the hulk in the mirror and instead focus on getting stronger and adding pounds (or kilos) to your lifts. It is extremely satisfying. It becomes addicting.
The 3-5 hours I spend lifting each week are awesome. I am always looking forward to my next session. Always excited to see if I can pump out that extra rep.
It is good to have an end to journey toward; but it is the journey that matters, in the end.
This same principle applies across the board – whether it is your job, meditation, or basketball. As soon as you begin to love the act of doing a given activity, you are sure to improve your skills and eventually excel at it.