Patience and the Long Game

Perhaps it is the recent change in the seasons, or perhaps it is my penchant for overthinking things, but I’ve noticed a preoccupation with urgency and hurry. Perhaps this is connected to our current culture’s obsession with convenience and busy-ness. Perhaps we are conditioning ourselves to always be looking forward to the next thing, instead of focusing on the present and recognizing value in what we have now.

I’ll give you a quick example. Some time last week, I was using the bathroom before I coached a Crossfit class. I washed my hands. Then, I turned on the automatic hand-dryer, waited approximately 10 seconds, then rushed out the door and began vigorously wiping my hands on my pants to dry them off. In a moment of self-awareness I stopped and laughed to myself.

A full cycle of the hand-dryer takes less than 1 minute. Yet, how many of us wait until our hands are dry? How many of us rush out of the bathroom feeling frustrated because there aren’t any paper towels and our hands are still moist? More than that, how many of us can’t give a good reason for our impatience and hurried-ness?

As we grow older, our vision of the future gets bigger and bigger. As a child, you rarely considered what the world would be like the day after tomorrow. As an adult, you are probably planning for some kind of retirement 30 YEARS FROM NOW. That notion seems a bit preposterous to me, but I don’t really think the way most people think. Instead of constantly planning for the far-away future, I suggest we endeavor to practice more patience and start loving what we do today.

Before I get to deep down this rabbit-hole, let me provide a bit more context. When you make a decision to pursue a healthy lifestyle, it only really works if it BECOMES YOUR LIFESTYLE. That is to say, if you make the choice to avoid gluten for 6 months, and it makes you feel better, wouldn’t you just continue avoiding gluten for the rest of your life? That is to say, if you picked up a heavy barbell and it made you stronger after 6 months, wouldn’t you just continue training and being strong for the rest of your life?  This same idea can be applied to any concept in your journey to a healthier lifestyle. The point is that the changes you make in your behavior become the way you live. It is what you do on daily basis that adds up to a healthy lifestyle.

Part of living a healthy lifestyle involves occasionally setting specific goals to achieve optimization. These goals may include changing your body composition by losing fat or gaining muscle; these goals may also include external stimuli like lifting a heavier weight or running a faster mile. Regardless of your goal, to achieve success you must follow a plan, record data and be consistent. You must put forth daily effort and discipline, in some capacity, if you are to have any chance of success. You must also develop a strong sense of PATIENCE that will help keep you motivated through the duration of the process required to achieve your goal.

Setting and achieving goals also keeps us interested and focused. Living healthy and pursuing fitness are beautiful pursuits in themselves, but it’s also pretty cool when achieve a PR or finish 1st in a race or win a tournament. Setting and achieving goals also helps us develop patience by providing short-term rewards. These  short-term rewards reinforce the long-term  process of working hard and focusing to manifest the life you want!

The point that I really want to get across to you is this: as you bring more awareness to how you exist in the world, you begin to recognize the value in the steps of the process and not only in the goal achieved. I believe this holds true especially in a training environment like the gym. You no longer look at “working out” as drudgery, but instead look forward to moving your body. You no longer looking at “eating right” as a chore, but instead understand how good your body feels when you provide it with the sustenance and hydration it requires to function optimally. You no longer ignore your mobility work, but instead take an active role in injury prevention and recovery. (I know we are all still working on that last one, aren’t we? Stop waiting until you get hurt to address your issues. Come see me now and let me help you fix what needs fixing!)

It takes a long time for change to happen. It takes a long time for habits to form. It is consistent and mindful repetition that produces positive adaptation over the course of a lifetime. Do this.

I encourage you to check in with yourself this week at the gym. As you use your body, take a moment to remind yourself how blessed you are to be healthy and functional. As you lift and move and breathe, give yourself the opportunity to revel in the discomfort and euphoria you find in the moments between reps and sets. As you take account of your labor at the end of class, puff up your chest and be proud of committing to something and then seeing it through to the end. As you catch your breath and walk out the door, remind yourself how good it feels to participate in a community that challenges and supports you.

Remind yourself to keep showing up, with the understanding that “showing up” is going to look different on some days than it will on others, but you are invested in the LONG GAME, and you don’t mind practicing patience until you earn all the good things you want.

“Every passing moment is another chance to turn your life around.”

Until next time…