on forward progress

When we try a new diet, or a new fitness routine, oh my gosh it can be hard. The worse our starting trouble quotient, the harder it is. The worse our current lifestyle is, or rather, the further away it is from what we are trying to do, the more difficult it is.

But the people who stick with it for 6-8 weeks tend to see some amazing progress. There are a lot of reasons for this.

Photo by John Cameron / Unsplash

Generally because anything works for 6 weeks. Even most silly, nonsensical things. The jolt to your system is crazy. If you are going from eating a giant candy bar 3 times a day to once a day, we are talking 14 giant candy bars lesser a week. That's a huge change, even if one changes nothing else. Replace candy bar with your thing, and you'll see.

And whatever craziness we are trying, we are able to stick to it somehow as the duration is short. The end is clear.

Over the course of the past few years, I've seen people who make a long-term mindset change (even if progress is slower) and people who see incredible short-term progress but invariably lose their way. The latter are the ones who are trying to lose the same 5-10 kilos at the start of every year. The former might not have anything mind-boggling achievements but when we chart them over multiple years, especially from the context of where they started, they are unrecognisable!

If you’re pointed in the wrong direction, it doesn’t matter how fast you’re traveling. Inversely, if you’re locked on to your desired destination, all progress is positive, no matter how slow you’re going. You’ll reach your goal eventually.

- Shane Parrish

keeping an eye on our humble beginnings helps

This was my story as well. Once I made it a habit to show up, regardless of how hard or terrible things were, progress was inevitable. Depending on our potential and the quality of the coaching and guidance, the first few milestones are rapid. What happens after, when things get harder as they are bound to and the plateaus start to appear, well, that's a key step.

The words we need to hear often come from those we wouldn't expect to say them. In this case, this was inscribed in a wall of a bathroom stall.
Photo by Hayley Catherine / Unsplash

For me, the answer was obvious. I had come from zero! I could not reach past my knees, I could not run 500 metres, I could not last a simple warm-up. I had figured out the right forward direction - strength training - and all I had to do was find the right coaching for it and stay there. This was a fundamentally important decision that was somehow easy for me. Because it was so obvious.

Strength training made me move forward physically and mentally from where I was. And there is a lot more to this. All it requires is for me to continue, and figure out the way past these plateaus and complications.

but ...

Quite a few of my students do falter at this step, unfortunately. It invariably results in them stopping training with us at The Quad. Because they continue to expect easy and straightforward progress.

Life gets in the way, our commitment will be challenges, we will need to wave up and down. There's just way too many things. It is how it is, and just like any road trip has a lot of fun things to see, quite a bit of twiddling thumbs, a bunch of grunt work, so is this journey.

But they look around at the rest of the world. Social media is more of a curse than a boon in these things. They see nonsense, they see fads, they see nonsense. And they think that's what they need to be doing. And undo all the good work, and go chasing something else.

And of course, they will see short-term progress there. But unless one sticks on to a proper methodology and approach for the longer-term, it will invariably fail.

Instant gratification and noise are two huge battles to be fought, in addition to self-doubt and the difficulties of actually doing the work.

people like us do things like this

The Quad has a large community of people who have trained with us for a significant amount of time as well. Over the course of learning with us and training with us, they undergo a mindset change.

They understand that health and fitness has to become a part of the lifestyle. They start to identify themselves as people who are into this. And not look at it as outsiders. It is a huge battle, if you think about it. I needed to stop identifying with myself as the weak-ass kid from 8th grade, or the overweight sloth from college before I could make true progress.

But once this mindset shift occurs, magic happens. Because one does not think about walking up stairs instead of taking the elevator as a chore or to get one's steps in. It is what we do.

Coaching this mindset, and I still do not have a straightforward method to help people get there, is a game-changer. When a person has the courage to be patient, amazing things are inevitable.

Imagine sitting on a commuter train and your stop is near the end of the line. If you were certain that you were on the right track, you wouldn’t get off simply because the train stopped from time to time. You know that stops are part of the journey. You can learn a lot from them, and eventually the train will start moving again. Yet when it comes to the goals that are most important to us in life, we tend to jump tracks the second we stop perceiving forward momentum. We’re choosing the illusion of progress over what really matters.

- Shane Parrish

But this courage will happen only when

Courage.
Photo by Oliver Cole / Unsplash
  • one knows for certain that they are on the right train, using Shane's wonderful analogy.
  • we are observant of the progress we've made, physically and mentally.
  • we are kind to ourselves and celebrate the small milestones.
  • we have an intentional community around us to be along for the ride.
  • we have good coaches, who will not shy away from sticking to their guns.

At The Quad, we stick to our guns. Nonsense and terrible gassers will work, until they harm you. Stupid, unsustainable diets will work, until they don't.

We will coach proper strength and conditioning. We will tell you that it will take time. We will call you out on silly goals (I want to lose 10 kilos in a month). We are smart enough because we've been dumb before in our personal lives. This is the better way, and we know it. We will show you only the better way, and not the other one that everyone is blathering about.

Get on the train. Stay on it. Enjoy it.

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