Did you ever stop and think about why most workout programs are 90 days, 3 months, 12 weeks? If you haven’t, give it a wild guess. I’ll wait here… (insert Jeopardy theme song)… Think you know? You might just be wrong if you’re thinking muscle confusion or something similar. Ha, you’ve been watching way too many late night infomercials.
It’s actually quite a bit less selfless than that. The three month mark is one of the first danger zones for motivation. We all know those that get weeded out of a diet or workout program in the first week or two. Only the strong survive there, but if you make it past the first month and the second you might be really shocked when you crash and burn at the third month.
Marketers know this so they want to give you a nice end in sight so if you manage to get close then it’s not too much effort just to finish out the last little bit. They don’t have to worry that you’ll get all the way through the Black Hole of Motivation before you get your success story. If you do, then you can repeat it or pick another program. If not, no worries for them.
So what is it about this three month mark that comes out of nowhere and derails you? Pull up a chair while I explain. You just might see yourself here. I know I did many times. When you first start making health changes with workouts, nutrition or both, you’re very motivated. It’s fun and exciting. Changes happen quickly and you’re adding reps, bumping up weights, the scale is dropping.
You’re in that zone of wonder called Newbie Gains. You see those changes in the mirror, feel great and people start noticing. Then usually somewhere around the 10 week mark, something happens. The pounds begin to come off a little slower and you may see a week here or there with no loss. You begin to miss reps and get stuck with a weight for a few weeks. Dammit, what’s going on here?!
All of these things are not only normal, but they’re expected. You can’t add weight forever or we’d be lifting houses and cars at some point. That 10 week timeframe is also about the time that seasons change. You have stuff start to come up in life like the busy season at work, holidays, summer vacations, school starting, school ending. Think about any 3 month block in the year and I’m sure you’ll notice that something big happens during each timeframe.
Unfortunately when that thing called life pops up around the time that results slow, you’ve got the perfect storm to kick your enthusiasm where the sun doesn’t shine. You start out skipping a workout and tell yourself you’ll do it the very next day. You celebrate with a meal here and there, start adding a couple more bites of fun. Suddenly more turns into more and tomorrow doesn’t quite get there.
A great coach knows this going in and can help to head it off at the pass. When someone tells me about their vacation, a big move, or some other life event, the first thing I do is whip out the calendar and see where it falls in their timeline. Red flags begin waving when I see it line up with the Black Hole of Motivation. Does this story sound familiar? Think it will be different this time? It can be with a little effort on your part… outside of the gym.
If you’re working out or eating better to lose weight, for an upcoming wedding, to hit a number on the scale, wear a certain size, get your old body back, you’re doing it for the “wrong” reasons. Physical looks are great motivators so by all means if that gets you started, paint a picture. That image isn’t going to keep you going when the results slow, the dream bod seems ever elusive, and donuts and the sofa show up.
To keep going once the new penny shine is gone, you need to figure out what it does for you beyond looks. All those things you can’t see. How does it make you feel? What can you do that you couldn’t before? Why are you putting in those hours when you don’t always see anything changing? That’s what gets you going and keeps you going on your journey through the Black Hole to the other side.
I had a client who was a photographer for a living. She realized partway through that she was taking clearer pictures since she no longer got the shakes with her heavy camera lenses. I had another that was able to take her young nephew on vacation to a beach and run with him in the waves without having to sit down and catch her breath. Notice she didn’t care about the bathing suit she wore, but the laughing and running mattered.
As a single mom, I lift weights because it helps me take care of myself and get stuff done around the house without relying on paying a contractor. Some want to lose weight to have kids, or to hold off family illnesses like diabetes or cancer, or to live to see loved ones grow up. These are the things that will get you past the 90 day mark and beyond. No, you won’t always want to get up and do it.
My brain hates yoga, but my body loves it so I do it because I’m less stiff. Runners do marathons because of how it makes them feel to finish a race, but they don’t always love every day of training. Some days you’ll want to fling a dumbbell through the gym mirror and others you’ll feel like Superman. You’ll still have those dumbbell throwing/sofa sitting days but they’ll be fewer, and you’ll recover from them faster knowing why you’re doing it.
If you’re struggling with finding your why or need help with motivation, I’d love to chat. You don’t have to get through it on your own and it helps to have someone to remind you why you started. Drop me an email and let me know your why or come on over to Facebook and ask a question. We can lay out a plan to make this time more than just a look in the mirror.