Beyond the honeymoon phase: The key to fitness success
This year, I set an ambitious goal: to get my deadlift strength back up to 450 pounds. It was a lofty objective, but I felt confident that I could achieve it.
However, a few months into this pursuit, I started to realize that I didn’t actually care all that much about reaching this goal. At first, this realization bothered me. I felt like I should be more invested in it.
Despite my initial discomfort, I pushed forward, relying on my strong work ethic. I told myself that I simply needed to power through this lack of enthusiasm if I wanted to succeed.
After a few more weeks of grinding away at my deadlifts, it became undeniably clear that I truly didn’t care about this goal. This realization continued to nag at me, prompting me to sit down and think about why.
I came to the conclusion that my passion for working out and preparing healthy homemade meals had waned considerably. There was nothing inherently exciting or enjoyable about these activities for me anymore.
Sure, I could occasionally participate in group fitness classes with friends or take cooking lessons to learn new culinary skills. But, in the end, the novelty of these activities would always wear off.
In a way, it felt similar to a romantic relationship. Initially, there’s a fantastic honeymoon phase filled with excitement, setting and achieving goals, and all the enthusiasm that comes with it. However, eventually, that honeymoon phase ends, and you’re left with the core of the relationship. If you haven’t learned to appreciate each other’s flaws, don’t share the same values, or can’t enjoy simple, “do-nothing” time together, you’ll struggle.
The same principles apply to building sustainable health and fitness routines. If you can’t learn to love the challenging aspects (including making tradeoffs) of working out and eating better, you’ll face difficulties. If you don’t see the value in exercise, improved nutrition, proper sleep, and stress management beyond just weight loss, you’ll struggle. And if you can’t accept that, over time, it will become less exciting, you’ll find it hard to stay motivated.
Much like the end of the honeymoon period in a relationship, the initial excitement for pursuing health and fitness goals will inevitably fade. The thrill that once accompanied each workout session or wholesome meal can dwindle, causing us to question why we embarked on this journey in the first place.
However, just as in relationships, true fulfillment doesn’t stem from fleeting excitement but from embracing the journey itself. Similar to how loving each other’s flaws and accepting imperfections is vital in a healthy relationship, in our pursuit of wellness, it’s about learning to appreciate the process, the highs and lows, and even the moments when motivation is in short supply.
Mark Manson’s perspective on love in relationships holds a profound truth: love is not the foundation of a healthy relationship, but rather a product of it. Similarly, in the realm of health and fitness, the passion for exercise and nutritious eating may not always be the driving force, but it’s the consistent commitment and the ability to find value in these habits that truly matter.
As you navigate your health and fitness journey, remember that the initial novelty may fade, but the enduring rewards lie in the long-term benefits—being able to do the things that enhance our lives for as long as possible. Let’s find joy in the process, embrace the challenges, and ultimately discover that the pursuit of a healthier life is a rewarding journey in itself.