If you heard of a farmer who planted his seed, then immediately dug it up to see if it had sprouted roots or bore fruit, you’d think them pretty impatient.
Or someone who invested their savings and was disappointed a day later when they checked their interest.
I know these are very obvious examples but they illustrate a point – there’s a delay between our work and our reward. All of us impatient humans understand this when we’re talking about other people and other endeavours, but maybe we need to apply it to ourselves too?
When we start a new exercise program or nutrition habit, there’s a delay between the work we put in and the results we see. We’re not going to get a new 1RM because we did day one of our squat cycle, we’re not going to PR our Fran time because we did a few sets of a pull up program, and we’re not going to change our body composition in a day either.
Unfortunately this delay is where most people quit. And it’s why people quit as well. They don’t see a return for their results, get disheartened and give up 🙁
How do we counteract this? How do we stay motivated while waiting for results? After all, results motivate us. We work on finding the other victories: congratulating yourself for eating the salad instead of the Big Mac. Taking pride in attempting to learn a new movement like a snatch or a rope climb. Even just knowing that that one hour in the gym nudged the dial in the direction of your goal better than not training did.
The take home lesson is that we won’t see immediate results. When we accept this we’re likely to get to our ultimate goal faster, because we’ll put more effort into the habit and less into the measuring. More work put in will ultimately lead to more results out the other side!
So when is acceptable to check in and monitor progress? For training cycles, between 4-12 weeks works best. If you’re newer to training you’ll see improvements in strength, speed, aerobic fitness etc. faster. If you’ve been training longer, it may take longer between tests to see favourable results. For nutrition adjustments, every 1-2 weeks works well to step on the scales/take progress pics. It’s also a good time to review how consistent you were and make the tweaks then.
There’s always a delay. You’re not doing anything wrong, it’s part of the process.