Impatience? Unrealistic expectations? Challenges faced in working with many exercise initiates. Two common oversights with exercise-initiates are first, not discussing early on the realistic expectations from exercise (and time frames to reach these), and second, not clearly defining what are the targets one should really focus on. The consequence: building frustrations that erode away early at motivations to continue exercising.
People starting to exercise want to experience the deliverables, the results, the fruits of their labor. If not now, they want them soon. We are in a society use to immediate deliverables, where you type it in, immediately you get it. The dopamine pathway of satisfaction is fed repeatedly with immediate deliverables. Who has not encountered questions on why are the results not coming as expected or at the same rate as before?
Let’s focus briefly on appropriate targets one should aim for.
Here is the Achilles heel to qualifying efforts through physical metrics such as weigh scales, tape measures, mirrors, and so on.
Your client announces they will be stepping on the scale weekly to measure results. Is it wiser to redirect this client, minimize the relationship of physical metrics as a qualifier of ones exercise efforts? We all know too well the factors that complicate stepping onto a scale frequently to “see what I have done.” Yet, it’s hard to avoid this metric. The doctor informs you, “you are overweight”. Then there is the on-going discussion about “weight” and its relationship to disease risk. It is the reason you are told to start to exercise. It is what you see everyday. So it is understandable that it is what the patient will use to define their effort and health. All evidence of using weight related metrics in exercise have had profoundly disappointing outcomes in the long term.
How to redefine those initial exercise outcomes?
My discussions go something like this:
The initial physical health changes from exercising are internal, building those foundations of lifelong health, for example, coronary arteries increasing in numbers, coronaries stimulated to grow ever-larger, all with the intent to build the best piping for increasing blood flow as you get healthier, the integral physical changes. These initial changes are mostly unseen, like the first steps in building a new house. The early work is a number of activities, but no evidence of a house being built, digging water lines, running electrical wiring, digging and pouring the foundation, and so on. Essential steps to eventually building a solid home, in similar fashion it is the unseen core changes that must be in place first before your body is rebuilt.
Exercise in the first months builds the pump (the heart) to improve in delivering the oxygen carrying blood. Like that new home that eventually will stand before you after months of work so your external body look and your heart will evolve into your new home for the remainder of life. This is a gradual process and like the new house being built what you see early is clearly not what you will be living in… Oh and by the way regular maintenance for your new home, lifelong daily healthy activity, a must for a lifelong guarantee to be healthiest to the last heartbeat!!