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  • Writer's pictureJackie

Change Is Not Easy

To make it last, avoid the quick-fix mirage.

When’s the last time you made a quick fix that worked? Forget stuff like correcting your car to the center of the lane. (Whew!) How often in life have you made a MAJOR life change and done it FAST? Degrees take years to earn. As does growing into an adult. Mastering a profession, too. But we tend to see fitness as a quick-fix kind of thing.

In reality, “achieving” solid fitness can require large swathes of time, like any of the major life changes/accomplishments mentioned above. Why the quotes? Because we should argue that we never actually achieve—or complete—ANY major change. Change is an action verb. Using it as a noun can camouflage the fact that it’s an ongoing, daily process that often involves some cha-cha’ing back and forth. For example, professionals need to stay on top of their game to hold onto mastery. That’s why many fields (including mine) require continuing ed credits. In the same way, maintaining fitness—in terms of healthy eating, muscle strength, endurance, adequate sleep, and the like —means deeply grasping & practicing many lifestyle skills and then KEEPING THEM GOING as longterm habits.

We often hear that “practice makes perfect.” That sounds so pretty, but perfection is also an illusion. Yes, we practice to get really good at something. (Should I need brain surgery, I’ll sure hope my surgeon has practiced to the point of near perfection!) In terms of fitness, practice serves as a kind of cement, fixing habits into our daily routine. You may become an excellent cyclist, for example, but even better, you’ll become someone who cycles regularly. This one activity, IF REPEATED, can alter tons of fitness factors from bodyweight to sounder sleep. Therefore, for fitness purposes, we might sub “repetition” for “perfection.”

So a quick-fitness-fix is NOT a thing. Once we digest that, we seem to surge forward. Here’s another fact: Fitness journeys inevitably fail to be upwardly linear. If you charted one, it might look more like an EKG or the graph of a volatile stock market week. Getting fit involves bumps, sometimes spikes. Many of them. This is NORMAL. Life happens. All kinds of things impede progress & routine from injury to family crises to work deadlines—or even boredom, fatigue, & distraction. The well known model of transtheoretical behavior change actually builds “relapse” into the process. At any single time, we could be maintaining change, or slipping back into not even thinking about it, and then go back to preparing to take the process on again.

How do you know this incremental, up and down course works? Or isn’t currently working? Well, our physical & mental beings respond to repeated demands. We need only peek at the “results” we’re getting, should we dare. Demanding that the body remain awake most of the night, for example, culminates in all kinds of unpleasant outcomes—fatigue, obviously, but also lack of concentration, lowered immune response, food cravings, & negative mood. By the same rule, asking the body to lift weights a couple of times a week increases muscle mass & strength along with myriad other positive after effects. The changes last as long as the requests continue. Hence the bumpy ride. At any given time, we could have one “plate” spinning beautifully at our fingertips while another slows (or even crashes). The important thing is to grab another plate and not allow the shards of a previous effort halt us.

Yes, fitness can feel like a lot to manage. Not only does it require mastery but chunks of time and regular attitude checks! It takes commitment. If we fall into thinking fitness is a quick-fix kind of thing, then we’re looking at a mirage. However, FITNESS is not a mirage. We can measure it. We can FEEL it when we’re building it. Once we adjust that lens just a bit, we’ve already made a momentous leap.

Photo by Julia Larson from Pexels


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