Upon entering the world of health and fitness, you’ve probably heard it coined as a “journey”, “roadtrip”, or something similarly analogous. I’m a sucker for analogies because they allow me to explain and share ideas in a way that most of my clients can understand. In many ways, health and fitness is like a continuous road trip: they both need a destination, they both require some sort of invested effort, and they both have the potential to encounter stops, turns, and detours along the way. If you are in the beginning stages of your own health journey, this can give you some insight for what you may encounter along the way.
So buckle your seatbelt my friend, and I hope you enjoy the read!
When you decide to embark on a road trip, it’s helpful to know exactly where you are going; rarely do you find yourself where you wanted to be by just jumping in the car and driving with no clear direction, route, or destination. Sure, driving for the sake of driving can be entertaining in itself, but those types of trips are short with no clear outcome. Health and fitness is no different: starting a diet or just going to the gym with no clear goal or plan is very likely not going to be sustainable for very long. How will you know you reached your goals if you didn’t have any? How do you know if you are making measurable progress when you don’t know where you are progressing to? What steps are you going to take to reach your goals? While doing something is always better than doing nothing, not having a goal or a course of action is suboptimal for success. Figure out your goals and what they mean to you, plan a course of action, and follow through.
Longer trips require more resources, that’s just the reality of it: a trip across the country will require more gas, time, money, food, water, pit stops, etc. than a trip to the next town over. Likewise, the bigger the goals you have set, the more invested effort will be required for you to attain them: losing 50lbs will take more concentrated effort, consistency, and time to lose compared to 5lbs. Likewise, trying to add 100kg onto your powerlifting total can take years of dedicated training, whereas adding 5kg to a single lift may be as easy as a bit of technical refinement. With this in mind, give yourself a reasonable time frame and ample resources to set yourself up for success. Depending on the nature of your goal, this can vary between a few weeks to a full year and require the assistance of a dietician, physiotherapist, or coach. Don’t start a roadtrip with a gas tank that’s almost empty with no gas stations nearby: you won’t get very far and it will be a hard fought battle to get yourself moving forward again. Allow yourself ample time and resources to get to where you want to go, stay focused, and make decisions today that will set you up for success tomorrow.
The road to your destination is never straight; there are always stops, turns, ups, and downs; you can’t predict where road construction is happening 2 provinces or states over, however the best thing you can do is find an alternate route to get around it. This might add a few minutes or hours onto your trip, but you don’t turn your car around and head back home the moment you come to a roadblock. Likewise in fitness, life has a way of throwing obstacles at you in the form of minor injuries, family or holiday occasions, unexpected life events, scheduling issues, etc. Is this a sign that you should stop what you are doing and quit trying to reach your goals? Absolutely not. These are guaranteed to happen at some point and the best approach to take is having the flexibility to accommodate these situations to keep yourself moving forward. A saying that I have with a lot of my clients is “chase progress”, which refers to the ability or intent to always move forward. This is where having a network of support or a source of guidance can be invaluable. If health and fitness is a road trip, you are the driver and coaches are the GPS units: they will help you find alternative routes to ensure that you can either continue to make progress, maintain the progress you’ve made thus far, or set you up to make progress in the near future. Always chase progress. Doing nothing will get you nowhere, just like stopping on the highway will get you nowhere closer to your destination. There are no roadblocks on this road trip, only detours.
So what’s next? You’ve made a goal, you gave yourself ample time and resources, and you followed through to reach your goals without letting life get in the way too much. Congratulations! It’s a very rewarding feeling knowing you’ve achieved what you set out to do and you should be proud. At this point, I like to have a conversation with my clients to discuss the next step. Maybe we pursue further weight loss, or strength / muscle gains? Maybe we shift our focus a bit and put a bit more emphasis on another aspect of health and fitness? Whatever it is we decide to do, we are never stagnant. We always have a destination in mind, a plan to get there, and strategies to follow when life happens. So pick up your road map, choose a destination, and start your next adventure. The journey of health and fitness doesn’t need to end upon achieving your first goal, or your second, or your third; there are many sights to see and things to experience on this road trip, so fasten your seatbelt and enjoy the drive.