We were talking at karate last night about the road to earning a black belt at our club and how along the way one ends up changing. For each individual the change is different but they way it happens is basically the same. Through hard physical work comes a mental change. When the body is worn down it allows the mind to accept that changes must occur.
I think this relates very well to fitness and diets and whatnot. Think about this. Do you know someone who has lost weight simply by dieting? Could be yourself, could be someone you know. I did it a couple of times. Did the change last? Mine didn’t. Clearly for some people it does, and I would argue that in those cases the trials and willpower of the dieting alone is their physical challenge, but for the most part, from accounts I hear or have read, or have experienced myself when someone only diets the weight change last for as long as the diet lasts. When the diet is over, or a goal is reached one rewards themselves with food, or goes back to old habits only to return to the previous weight.
When a physical commitment is made it seems to be a different story. Also from what I have heard, read and experienced that physical must be to an extent where one is pushing themselves to the limit more often than not. The body wants to give up, but the mind pushes you through. Once the mind realized really what you are capable of it becomes the desire to keep going.
I’ve lost weight before by eating less, it like mentioned above lasted for as long as the diet lasted. I’ve lost weight with casual, convenient exercise riding my bike in the mornings when I had a job where I worked at 10am. But when that was no longer convenient I stopped and my weight went back up. It was not until I spent so many hours on the elliptical almost three years ago now that I broke myself and realization came.
Here’s a parallel example for you in case I am not explaining this physical changes the mental concept well enough. The army. In the army you get a whole bunch of new 18 year old recruits. Each of them individuals. The officers work them like dogs, shout and scream at them, ensure they can make a bed so tight you can bounce quarters off them and do push ups for blinking at the wrong time. What does making your bed have to do with the real tasks at hand of being in the army? Discipline! How can you follow the orders on the battlefield if you can’t follow one to make your bed. Then when they have worn these folks down, made them march and push up and run and assemble a gun is eleven seconds, they are changed mentally, they are a unit and will do exactly what you ask them to do. The physical trials change the behaviour. (Yes this is a gross generalization of army bootcamp life)
My point here is, because I have experienced it myself, that if you want your fitness levels to change, if you are starting a path to get yourself in shape and you want it to stick, you have to really, Really put your nose to the grindstone and wear yourself out again and again. Let your mind show your body what it can really do.