How to lose weight

[Versión en español disponible aquí.]

Today I was browsing Facebook while sipping my morning coffee, and I found this hilarious video:

It ends like this:

“Late one Sunday afternoon you’re writing out your rent check, and you realize it’s been exactly a year since you started working out. You think about those miles you’ve ran, those pounds you’ve lifted, the chicken you’ve eaten, the puddles [of sweat] you’ve made… and it doesn’t seem that bad!
You realize it’s not about hitting a goal weight, or lifting weights. It’s about waiting, beint patient, trusting that life will slowly inch along, and things will get better. After all, change takes time. But time is all it takes.”

And these words, even though they are within a fun video, enclose a couple of very profound lessons. They reminded me, almost instantaneously, of two ideas that I discovered through James Clear (highly recommended reads, by the way): Falling in love with boredom, and Commiting to the fundamentals. Let’s analyze them:

“You realize it’s not about hitting a goal weight […]. It’s about […] being patient, trusting that life will slowly inch along […]. After all, change takes time. But time is all it takes.”  – This sentence encloses the reason why motivation is important to start something, but it will get you nowhere over the long term. Most of the time, we won’t get results fast enough, and we will end up frustrated. Other times, our own plans will turn out to be too time-demanding, or too life-disrupting, and motivation won’t be enough to keep us at it for more than a few weeks (New Year resolutions, anyone?). Quite some times, both things will happen: because we aren’t getting results fast enough, we feel frustration, and the demanding plan we had crafted suddenly seems too daunting to complete, starting a vicious circle in which we do less, thus we get less results, become even less motivated, do even less, and… well, you probably know the rest.

Doing anything worthwile doesn’t require a lot of motivation. It requires enough motivation to actually start and define the reasons why we want to do it. But after that is sorted out, what you need is not more motivation, but more patience. Being completely honest, it also requires being smart and strategic about it (How to use military strategy to build better habits), so that you don’t set yourself up for failure before you even start. But first and foremost, it requires patience. Patience to understand that all things worth it in life are not a sprint, but a marathon. That going off the wagon a couple of days doesn’t matter in the long run, but stopping altogether actually does. That doing just a little bit and building the habit is actually much more important than killing yourself every single day. Because, in the long run it doesn’t matter whether one particular day you were very tired and trained for 15′ instead of 60′: what matters is that you kept going. It doesn’t really matter that results are coming to you much more slowly than you thought: what matters is that you kept at it for long enough that results came anyway.

And that’s why I like this concept of falling in love with boredom, together with its partner commiting to the fundamentals: because real life is more about keeping at it than it is about having the perfect training regime, the perfect diet, or the perfect study plan. Real life, outside of motivational posters, is about doing the most important things, doing them right, and doing them for long enough.

Real life is about having the patience (and the courage!) to understand that those puddles of sweat today will be your pride tomorrow.

Indeed, change takes time.

But time is also all it takes.

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