Pushing Forward When Progress Seems Slow

Written by Fly instructor Erin Ng. Erin teaches flyphysique and is our April Spotlight Instructor! Join us for her free community barre class on Saturday, April 21, 2018 at 10AM. Check her out on the schedule here.

In January 2016, I was starting graduate school at UNL. Although I was very excited to start my program, my self-confidence was at the lowest point it had been my whole life. I wasn’t happy with my lifestyle, and my body just felt sluggish. I knew it was time for a change.

I started going to 3-4 group fitness classes a week – a few cardio dance classes and one strength class. The first month or so was so difficult. It was a tough transition for my body at first – I remember being exhausted 20 minutes into every class, wondering if I would be able to make it to the end. But having the support of the instructor, as well as my fellow participants, was what helped me get through those difficult first months.

The change in my body came fairly quickly after my first month. I started losing weight, my energy levels were increasing, and my self-confidence was on the rise. Once I started paying attention to my diet more, the changes came even quicker. It truly was amazing to see how my body responded once I started taking better care of it.

But after the first year or so, the changes to my body started slowing down. I was still working out and watching my diet, but I wasn’t shedding pounds or increasing weight in my strength classes as quickly as I had been. Progress seemed to slow down.

Why wasn’t I seeing as much progress? What changed? In a word, nothing.

Progress in our fitness journey isn’t always quick or easy. Of course progress came quickly when I first started working out – I went from no activity to a regular workout schedule – that’s a big change! But how do we keep pushing forward when we will like nothing is changing?

Here are a few ways I stay motivated when I feel like my progress is slow:

  • Set small goals for yourself. It’s hard to see progress if you aren’t giving yourself a place to reach. As an example, I have a goal of being able to do the splits. I have no clue how long it will take me to get to that goal, but I know I can take a step toward that goal by making a smaller goal for this week or stretching at least 3 times specifically for practicing my splits.  
  • Document your progress. This is a big one. Whether it’s physically writing down the weights you use in HIIT class to monitor your increasing strength or even taking photos to see the changes, it is much easier to notice change when we can actually see it. Going back to my splits example, I will video or photograph myself every once in a while to see how my splits have progressed. There’s no shame in taking a mirror selfie to track your progress!
  • Try something new. There’s nothing like stepping into a new class and seeing what your body can do! I remember being absolutely terrified to step into my first yoga class – I have never been a flexible person. Yes, there were challenges, but I was more amazed by what my body could do than by what it couldn’t, and now yoga is one of my favorite classes.
  • Don’t be so hard on yourself. Maybe you set a small goal and weren’t able to accomplish it. I know I get upset with myself when I hit snooze one too many times and miss a morning workout. But I’ve learned to understand that failure is ok. Progress is made through both success and failure, and continuing on even if we get off track. Pick yourself up and keeping going!
  • Remember where you started. Take a look back to your day one. Think of all the things you have accomplished since then, and celebrate! You’ve done so much already!

Health and wellness is a lifelong journey. Even though we may not see it, we are always progressing and improving ourselves. If you are feeling stuck in a rut, try out a few of the above tips to keep yourself motivated in your journey. Set a small goal for yourself this week. Try a new class. And remember, slow progress is still progress!

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Redefining fitness–to empower you to reach your strongest self. Redefining fitness–to empower you to reach your strongest self.
Redefining fitness–to empower you to reach your strongest self. Redefining fitness–to empower you to reach your strongest self.