Anyone who has been in a relationship is familiar with the “honeymoon” phase. When two people fall in love, life becomes a romantic comedy montage of ice cream, sex, and longing looks. A new romantic relationship is a magical combo of both the novel AND the familiar. Keeping things interesting requires little work on the part of the new lovers, and everything seems to flow magically.
Chicks love flowy shirts. And juiced up bros.
And then, somewhere between 6 to 24 months in… reality creeps back in. Suddenly your partner is no longer the prince or princess you had thought. The drug like high starts to wear off and oftentimes the very traits you found so attractive in the beginning start to drive you batty. And for those with a modicum of emotional maturity… the real work of the relationship begins.
I think this also plays out in the relationship people have with training and nutrition. It’s not uncommon for folks to think that they’ve “finally found it.” This new training modality or nutritional strategy is “the one I’ve been waiting for all my life.” Or maybe they’ve been afraid to work out altogether, so after a few weeks of progress they know that this is their fitness “soul mate.”
And not unlike any relationship, things go so well in the beginning that it seems like the fun will never end! The first few pounds seem to fly off. A new sense of well-being and empowerment starts to affect every element of the new trainee’s life. Strength gains come on a weekly basis, and LIFE IS A MOTHERFUCKING SONG!
Then. Life happens.
First, a missed workout here or there. Then, a night of revelry turns into a whole weekend of debauchery. A little bit of the physique gains are lost after a few mediocre weeks, an old knee injury starts acting up, and suddenly… doubt creeps in. What if this isn’t…“the answer??” What if it’s all been a lie and your new vision of yourself as a fitness dynamo was a ruse??
An on-going topic of discussion of this blog is modern society’s desire for instant gratification. Many folks think a few weeks of dedicated focus should be enough to undo decades of less than idea lifestyle choices. Not only should we be able to lose 30 pounds, we should be able to keep it off and keep losing for as long as we want. We should have no more self-control battles to get us to go to the gym, and we should lose our craving for cupcakes forevermore.
Sadly, humans don’t work like that. Although many folks dive face first into a new fitness lifestyle by enrolling in our Snatched in 6 Weeks Total Body Makeover, it can’t be overstated that this is merely a quick start; NOT a quick fix (hat tip to Tom Venuto for this smart clarification). The real work for most new Ninjas isn’t the Snatching process, it’s the discipline that’s required to keep the fitness ball up in the air AFTER they achieve their new Snatched physique.
And how long does THIS part take? No easy answers here my friends. Everyone is different. I think most folks need to stay on the fitness train for six months to a year before it’s truly a part of their lifestyle.
WHAT. THE. FUCK.
Yes. Not the sexiest or happiest answer. But I don’t make the rules. And I must confess, there are absolutely folks who start riding the rainbow and never look back. But when living in an obesogenic environment (EVERYTHING IS TRYING TO MAKE YOU SEDENTARY AND FAT), for most folks this isn’t the case. Most Ninjas need to keep at their fitness goals for months until it becomes second nature. This is why social support has proven time and again to be one of the most crucial elements in adopting a new fitness lifestyle.
Life moves in cycles and seasons. Until one has been through a “season” of a few weeks or even a few months where they keep the momentum up enough while tooootally not feeling it, they’re not yet a fitness “lifer.” In time, those that make it through are able to make fitness a habit and a non-negotiable part of their lifestyle.
To go back to the romantic relationship metaphor, you’re not in the real relationship until you’ve managed to have some disagreements and work through them. Not unlike fitness, many humans tend to struggle and fall apart here and move on to the “next thing” or decide “relationships just aren’t for me.”
If this seems heavy, let me offer you this glimmer of half-full cup-edness. I submit the very value of a long term, substantial relationship is that it allows for personal growth in the way that the “honeymoon” phase does not. I think there’s more romance in doing the day-to-day work of a relationship than hoping for a romantic comedy relationship that doesn’t actually exist. There is no shiny new thing. Wherever you go, there you are, and everyone you meet is another teacher, waiting to grant you another opportunity to work on your shit.
And honestly… I don’t think that sounds so bad. When you know you’re not perfect, you’re willing to embrace the uncomfortable work of getting better. Paradoxically, there’s a certain freedom in commitment. And ultimately, being truly conscious with another human isn’t only the best we can hope for; it’s straight-up fucking MAGIC.
So when you find yourself concerned that you may have “lost that loving feeling,” take heart. It’s often a necessary step on the path to making fitness a permanent part of your life. Instead of desperately trying to get back into a honeymoon phase that has faded away, embrace the process and the journey. By choosing to do the work day in and day out, you will create a lifelong habit.
The endgame is finding your personal balance of health and hotness that allows you to live a full life and avoid being overly obsessive, but still give your body the training and nutrition love it needs to allow you to be your best self.
By embracing fitness as part of our life, we honor the single most important relationship any of us will ever have: our relationship with ourselves.
Now let’s go get ice cream, go ice skating, and then look at puppies.