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Delayed Expectations

Let’s entertain a thought for a second. Imagine that after eating a healthy meal, you instantly lost weight. When you completed a set of sit ups, your abs literally popped out of your stomach like skittles. Delicious, rainbow coloured skittle abs. The best kind of abs.

Obviously this isn’t true. It’s a bit ridiculous to even consider. But to be honest, our expectations aren’t far off.

Inspired by a sudden urge to “finally get fit,” you decide to go to the gym. The first session goes well, and you go for a second or third time later that week. But, then comes the weekend. Nobody exercises on the weekend, you remind yourself. Besides, you deserve the break. Then when the new week comes around, the inspiration is still there, just not quite as strong. You’ve worked so hard getting out of the house and exercising, but you don’t feel any different. You just feel sore. What’s even the point?

You decide it’s time to eat healthy, chuck out all the bad food in the house, and head to the shops to buy a trolley full of new food. But after a week or two, you don’t really see the results you were hoping. You lose the motivation, and it all becomes a bit too hard. You tried. Next time will be different, you say.

Nothing is new here. For most of us, we’ve gone through this cycle too many times to count. We know it takes longer than a week to make any lasting change or difference to our exercise or eating habits. But we don’t act like it.

Let’s entertain another thought for a second. Imagine if your body had an exact 3 month reaction time. That any sit up you complete now, has a delayed effect for 3 months. And that a healthy meal won’t make you any healthier for 12 whole weeks. To make things more serious, any time you fell off the bandwagon and had a bad week, that 3 month reaction time reset.

3 months is a long time. It feels 10 times longer when you are doing something without seeing any visible results.

But truth be told, if you can’t wait that long to see results, you shouldn’t expect any. This is the long game we’re talking about.

For one, lasting change isn’t created from a momentary change in behaviour. If you want these results to stick around, the new behaviours need to become habits. You’re going to have to keep it up for much longer than 3 months, so you might as well get used to it.

Secondly, you know how the world works. If you don’t vote, you can’t complain about the result of the elections. If you don’t pay your taxes properly, you can’t blame how the government spends it.

Now ask yourself, what were you eating, and how were you exercising, 3 months ago?

If it wasn’t what you’re proud of, you can’t expect the results you desire.

If you’ve forgotten, it probably wasn’t worth remembering.