“Marked by harmony, regularity, or steady continuity; free from variation or contradiction.”Merriam-Webster Definition of Consistent
Attain Wellness works with many different types of people, from all walks of life, with all different kinds of wellness goals. And one of the biggest measures and markers of attaining most goals boils down to one main factor: consistency.
Aside from movement (and nutrition) quality, intensity, variety, recovery, and more, all of those things don’t matter if you aren’t consistent. If you aren’t consistent, you’ll never be steadily workings towards whatever goal you have. But when it comes to consistency, and developing a lifestyle that naturally incorporates your wellness goals into your life, this word can have many meanings.
Similarly, depending on the specific goal you have, it might require you to have different levels of consistency at any given time. True, while in definition, consistency means free from variation or contradiction, there can be changes in levels of consistency needed for each person, during a given time.
This article’s main objective, however, is to address one fundamental point:
Consistency does not mean daily.
Even in its definition, consistent is described as regular and steady. There are no rules, clauses, or additional definitions that describe consistency with a daily requirement.
In the context to health, requiring yourself to change your lifestyle from not participating in certain exercise activities or nutritional activities at all, and suddenly putting a daily requirement on yourself can be rather jarring and difficult to manage, especially if you are starting from scratch.
For most people we work with, daily exercise consistency, specifically, can cause more setbacks than progress. Sometimes in the physical sense, but almost always in the mindset.
Finding even 30 minutes to yourself during the day can be hard enough, and when you put pressure on yourself to exercise every day, it can cause shifts in schedule that are only realistic or easy in the short term, and soon after you begin this routine you might shift your way back into only exercising a few days a week, or in some cases, back to none at all.
This can create a mentality of failure and discouragement, and it can even prevent us from wanting to try to incorporate exercise into our routine in a different way in the future. If we know we tried this before, and couldn’t keep up with it, why would we want to try it again?
“It just doesn’t fit into my schedule…”
But have you considered that your goal wasn’t set properly in the first place? SMART goals (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time bound) have an extremely important characteristic to them – they are attainable and realistic. Going from moving zero days a week to 7 days a week for most people isn’t attainable nor realistic. If you fall into this category, try to start again and take an honest look at your schedule and current routine, and see where consistent exercise can fit into your schedule, and plan out for a specific amount of time into the future. Not just, “next week I’ll…”
Remember: consistency means regular.
If you are able to keep a regular exercise schedule of even once a week, but do so for a few months, you’ve now consistently incorporated exercise into your life.
The best part about this, is, once we are consistent and it becomes part of our lifestyle, we then get to see if and how we’ve reached our goals. Is there room for, or a need to, try and incorporate a consistent second day of exercise? Is this realistic? If so, repeat this process and treat it like you did for the first day.
Because you have already added the consistency of exercising one day a week, this second day can be thought of as only adding in “one” day of exercise, it shouldn’t be thought of as: “Now I need to try and find TWO days to exercise!?”, because you already consistently exercise one day a week – that is now a part of your life – so this second day is no different than the first.
Starting slow, incorporating consistent habits into your lifestyle, then building upon them is almost always the more effective strategy for creating a new routine or establishing a new habit (or even breaking an old one).
It should also be mentioned, now, that when it comes to exercise, daily exercise isn’t often necessary, and might prevent you from performing at your best for each workout due to fatigue and under recovery. Depending on your goal, daily movement or activity might be required, but when we work with Attainers with those needs, there is always a very specific strategy for incorporating daily exercise, where certain days are more intense, while others are lighter or shorter, or maybe only focus on mobility training that isn’t heavily taxing on your body. This keeps injury risk down, while still being able to incorporate maximum levels of exercise.
If you perform the same (or similar) levels of high intensity exercise every day, proceed with caution, and take a look at how you have trended toward your goals.
Is this getting you closer to your goal? If not, then more exercise isn’t the answer since you are already performing it daily.
Begin to look into the intensity you bring to each workout. Do you feel recovered and ready to perform at maximum intensity and quality every workout? Would one day off to recover lead to better form, better mindset, and greater strength for your next workout? Is your nutrition being monitored, where a day of rest from the gym but a day of quality nutrition would better serve your goals?
Depending on your goal and where you are starting, generally speaking, any amount of exercise, or any little amount more of exercise is going to positively impact your overall health. But it is extremely important to keep in mind that for some, there is an upper limit to what our bodies can tolerate, both in order to recover and in order to safely progress.
Thinking that consistency = daily when it comes to exercise can have adverse effects on our minds and our bodies, which can have repercussions that last much long after we first decided that we needed to exercise every day.