The Challenge of Slowing Down

If Week 1 was all about setting goals and finding our true motivation, Week 2 was about setting expectations for the program and measurable goals.
This week also introduced first workouts focusing on quality of movement and building the habit of moving regularly.

We examined our previous efforts in reaching our goals and what we would like to do differently this time around. The idea was to accept that the previous short term or fad program we tried did not work because it was not the right approach and we needed to do the opposite this time.

This week’s challenge

This one was challenging for me. I have come a long way from yo-yo dieting and short-term programs that I know don’t work long term. It’s been a very long time since I tried low calorie restrictive diets, almost 11 years, to be exact. I have learned about importance of protein and resistance training. I have subscribed to the idea of full body resistance training being superior to isolation moves. I have trained regularly, I have built muscle, and I have gone from being sore from body weight squats to squatting 115lbs comfortably. I have lost fat, I have gained muscle, I went down 4 sizes in my clothes, and I felt so good. I felt strong, I felt powerful, I was active, and I was doing it the right way.

Wasn’t I? But if I did it the right way, what happened? Why am I back to square one two years later? And if THAT wasn’t the right way, what the heck was??

So here was my challenge for week two.   I felt that my previous approach worked just fine for me and, frankly, I was fully expecting to do the same thing on this program. So the idea of doing something different took me aback and I had a hard time imagining what that “different” could be.

And I figured it out.   Well, not completely. I have a theory. I took the ENTIRE week to start zeroing in on the answer.


It came to me while I was telling a friend about the program. I described what we were doing and how the focus was on building habits that would support long-term changes. Then I found myself saying almost apologetically, that we haven’t really done anything yet, and the program was moving kinda slow, you know just getting into the whole thing. I said it but I haven’t really bought in to the slow pace of the first two weeks yet. In my mind I was still waiting for the program to begin, and these two weeks were just something to wait out.

A couple of days later I was thinking about that again and I thought, what if THAT is what I need to do differently? What if the slow and steady approach is exactly what I need at the moment?

My previous approach was also right and it worked for me at that time. Back then it was more of an “all or nothing” approach. I was going to do it right, or I wasn’t going to do it at all! I wasn’t hard-core, but it was still hard enough that when I went to do it again this time around, my body rebelled. My body and my spirit both said, we can’t do THAT again. Something happened in the span of two years between then and now that either increased my overall stress or decreased my stress tolerance and now there is just no room for a strenuous program in my life.

I can’t and I won’t tolerate an “all or nothing approach”. I tried to restart my previous program recently and just flat out stopped two weeks into it. Several times. That’s a sign, that that’s NOT what I need at this time.

Slow and Steady instead of Perfect

This time I am going to do it differently. This time it’s going to stick. The difference this time is going to be focusing on one day at a time, starting out slow, scaling down the goals, reducing the stress involved in building new habits.

So those first two weeks when I thought we were doing nothing? In reality they were very valuable! I was just used to hitting the ground running before and didn’t realize that I was actually already doing something. The program has not only started but it has started working its magic!

The magic is in this understanding. In the thinking and the coaching, and the lessons that we get every day. They do exactly what they are supposed to do. Make you think and dig deep, and examine, and reflect. Find your true motivation and find what works for YOU. That is the beauty and the custom approach of this program. If you need to go slow, you can go slow. If you need to go harder, you can do that too. But make sure you tune in to your body and be truthful with yourself. Do what benefits you. And no one else can decide what that is for you. YOU need to do the work. All the journaling and the reflection is HARD work. Facing inward and being truthful with yourself is HARD. And it IS work that you need to do as part of the program. And it works.

I am so glad I made this realization. I don’t need to go all out, I don’t need to be perfect. I just need to SHOW UP, each day, and do the minimum required. If that minimum is too much, then I can scale it down even more. Find that manageable activity that I can do and add it to the day. Just one. For two weeks. And if I didn’t do it yesterday, today is a new day. Focus on one day at a time and give myself the permission to move s-l-o-w.  Like that snail at the top of this post.

I am feeling hopeful now. I feel a lot more confident that I can stick with the program for the year. And If I stick with it, it will be manageable, and it will bring results.   One small step at a time.  Like that snail.

What gets measured gets improved!

Speaking of results. We also spent some time setting measurable goals for ourselves. Yes, we took pictures of our bodies to have the “before” picture and yes, we took measurements. Those are the measurable goals that pertain to body shape and weight.   It wasn’t my favourite thing to do, but I did it. Once you strip all emotion from the image and the measurements and look at them as data to be collected along the way, it becomes a much easier task.

In addition to the physical change goals, we were encouraged to add some of our own measurable goals that we can work on improving during this program.

I want to increase my Squat weight back to where I was 2 years ago, at least 115lbs, and Deadlifts back to 135lbs. I want to do ONE unassisted chin-up (or more), and I want to do an unsupported handstand for 30 seconds.

These are my performance goals. I am looking forward to reaching these a lot more than the measurements. I know that if I put in the work to reach these goals, the weight and the measurements will follow. They are not a goal in themselves, but rather a pleasant side effect.

If you were embarking on a coaching program, what would your goals be? What would you want to do differently compared to your previous programs? I look forward to your comments!

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