The value of patience

I have alway fancied myself as a gardener…growing healthy, organic stuff for my family has always fit in nicely with being a fitness and performance coach. Getting out in the dirt also helps me get away from day to day stress of owning my own business and helps me blow of some steam. More recently, the kids have begun to help me (as much as they can anyway) with small jobs in the garden, which I think is a really important knowledge set for them to learn long term. My eldest particularly enjoys smashing the caterpillars that eat her plants.

All in all, gardening is a good thing for me. However, all last summer was a hot, stinking mess with my gardening attempts.

See, one of my biggest problems in my attempts to grow stuff is impatience. I just want stuff and a lot of it to grow NOW! This tendency sometimes leads me to make silly decisions that cost me time and effort down the line. Here are two of the finer examples of my brown thumb foibles from last summer…

I had a ton of plants happily growing in my mini greenhouse in the early spring. Each morning, I would drag that out sucker out to get it in the sun and then pull it back in at night. I was doing great with this system until a very windy day came along and someone (raises hand) forget to put some ballast rocks in the bottom. Imagine my dismay when my greenhouse was blown over when I came home that night and three weeks worth of happy plants were smashed on the ground.

Three or four weeks later to the aforementioned incident, I had another nice set of plants growing in the greenhouse (with rock in the bottom this time).  My impatient side of me thought, “Hey more sun will really get these plants going to make up for the lost time!” so I moved them out into more direct sunlight for a few hours. Cue even more dismay when I came back out later that day to find that half of the plants had wilted from the excessive heat!

The common theme between the two incidents? I was too impatient with my efforts with no clear plan to guide them.

This impatient, unplanned approach that so easily sidetracked me last summer is actually quite common in the fitness world as well.

People want to get fit/strong/tone/lean/lighter/etc…And they want to do it now!

Unfortunately, they often try to get their results as fast as possible with little concern for the big picture and very little planning. Here is a more recent example we saw at the facility of someone getting into big hurry with their fitness that caused them to waste a lot of effort with little reward.

One of our clients was doing a great job of blending great nutrition, solid strength work, and timely cardio to get in the best shape of her life over the course of several months. However, after a hectic month or so at work and in her kid’s athletic season, she started to swerve off her plan a bit – life happens after all.

When she noticed the scale starting to move in the wrong direction, this was all it took for her to scrap her approach completely and start running like mad woman! In the past, she had always been able to easily “run off a few pounds”, so she thought this was all she would have to do to get back on track.

However, her new body didn’t agree with the old approach! As the miles increased and her lifting decreased, her strength that she had worked so hard to build started to wain. She felt beat up and crappy. When she came back in for a re-assessment about a month ago, her weight was still up AND she found out she had lost some muscle as well!

When she saw this, she was highly agitated. As we discussed the results, we kept coming back to the same concept that I struggled with early on last spring…impatience.

As we discussed her results and her situation, she came to realize that she has made a massive shift in her approach (i.e. excess cardio) without really thinking about the new rules she had established for herself (great nutrition + lifting + timely cardio). Her impatience then caused her to get even more off track than before.

To get her moving back in the right direction, I recommended to her that she cut back on the extra cardio and add the lifting back into her routine. I was pretty certain that this would jump start her metabolism and her body would eat up those extra pounds pretty quickly.

Fast forward a few weeks later and the results for her have been very promising. She feels stronger again, the scale is moving back in the right direction, and most of her frustration is gone. Most importantly, she is happy with her fitness again.

While the more patient and thoughtful approach may seem to take longer, the results that come with it are long lasting, less stressful, and that much more valuable. Try to keep this idea in mind when you are about to make an impulsive, impatient decision with your fitness. Try to slow it down and consider how this decision will fit into your plan.  I am certain it will save you a lot of time and effort if you do!

P.S. My gardening attempts have been much better this year. I’ve only killed off a few plants here or there with no extinction levels events…yet!

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