Personal Training, Fitness and Nutrition Motivation

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Make Progress Your Goal and Forget About Perfection

Fitness is about progress and not perfection. Many of us struggle with a perfectionist personality to the point of interfering with our quality of life and derailing fitness attempts. When our focus becomes more realistic, not based on comparisons or the way we think fitness should be is when awesome stuff happens.

First, allowing ourselves to be a beginner is important. No one starts at the top and sometimes we even need to start over due to an injury or illness setback. I speak from experience when it comes to being knocked down from an injury and although the setback was difficult, I applied a progressive program to recover. There is nothing pretty or perfect in hard work and if you look good at the end of your workout, it certainly wasn't done correctly.

We can put so much pressure on ourselves with exercise programs doing too much too soon. Somehow we take on this belief that we should be at the same level as a seasoned athlete. This only leads to discouragement and frustration. It takes months and years to develop our fitness levels. If your goal is to run a marathon, it takes baby steps of progression and adaptation to this type of program. The same applies to muscle development. We certainly are not going to see a bicep cap after one session of resistance curls.

When we approach our fitness programs with a progressive attitude, it's more realistic and enjoyable. Progressive simply means:

  • starting where you are
  • accepting where you are
  • not comparing yourself to others
  • doing what you can
  • mastering what you are able to do
  • then moving forward to the next level

Progression is what gets us to the next level of fitness without injury and with a healthy body and mind. Let's say you struggle to perform a pull-up and hang there stuck on the bar. First, the pull-up is one of the hardest body weight exercises to perform and we have all been in this position as a newbie.

Believing your first attempt should be a successful body lift with head over that bar is unrealistic. It takes a progressive training program of slow back strength development to accomplish this challenging exercise. Those who can perform one or more pull-ups have been doing this exercise for years and have built enough back strength to perform the exercise. This is called realistic fitness progress.

Progress includes modification to exercise to build strength. Let's take another look at the pull-up and apply realistic methods of progression. In order to build back strength over time to achieve the goal of performing a pull-up, implementing modifications is necessary and may include:

  • negative pull-ups (starting at the top and lowering yourself slowly)
  • using a spotter 
  • bench spot
  • Gravitron machine (removes a percentage of your bodyweight for easier lift)
  • TRX straps or resistance bands hooked around feet 

Consistency with modified exercise and building strength will enable you to progress and eventually perform the exercise without assistance.

Progression can also be applied to incorporating healthy foods into our nutrition.  Begin slowly by eliminating one thing like soda, and replacing it with drinking water and herbal tea. This process continued over time will enable you to adopt healthy eating as you eliminate unhealthy food choices. The goal should be to eat healthy 80 to 90% of the time without feeling deprived. Implementing eating well using progressive methods is shown to be less stressful, enjoyable and lifetime sustainable.

Life is already hard enough without making a healthy lifestyle feel like a burden with unrealistic expectations. Applying progressive methods to our workouts and daily food intake creates a positive outlook mentally and physically. It enables us to feel accomplished with our programs and feel good with each step taken toward our goals

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Be well and Stay Healthy


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