This is my 185th post. I started this blog more than two years ago with great expectations. Can I be honest with you? Those audience expectations have not been reached yet. In fact, if I’m being really honest, there’s still a long way to go before this has the impact I was hoping for.
Have I felt discouragement? Yes. Have I thought of giving up? Yes.
You may even feel this way about exercise. You’ve been at it for a while and the results aren’t even close to what you were expecting. Have you also thought about giving up?
I’ve realized motivation is a pretty simple formula. If my perceived results are greater than my perceived effort I am motivated to keep going. But, if that formula is reversed…my perceived effort is greater than my perceived results…I struggle with motivation.
In other words, if I’m spending a lot of time working on blog posts and they aren’t reaching as many people as I hoped for I begin to wonder if it’s even worth it. If you spend a lot of time exercising and you’re not seeing the results you hoped for you begin to wonder if it’s worth it.
This is the Fitness Danger Zone.
Building a blog audience takes time. Seeing results from exercise takes time.
But, that initial burst of excitement you felt when you started has long faded and that motivation formula becomes real. If we feel like we are putting in a lot of effort and we don’t feel like we’re getting results it’s hard to keep going.
And, sadly, this is when people stop. They stop posting blog articles. They stop exercising. It’s just doesn’t feel worth it anymore.
How do you survive the Fitness Danger Zone where both results and motivation feel non-existent? Here are three things you can do today to help you keep going.
DON’T LOSE YOUR VISION
Walking has changed my life. I believe it can do the same for you. Walking with intentionality and intensity is great exercise. It’s also the perfect activity to build a fitness habit. And, even if you don’t use walking as exercise, regular walks can have powerful emotional, mental, and spiritual benefits.
I also know that there are 28-million Fitbit users. That means a lot of people are interested enough in walking for fitness that they invested money in a step tracker. My vision for this blog and podcast is to help them reach fitness success. That has not changed and is worth pursuing through the Danger Zone where my effort feels much greater than my results.
What is your fitness vision? There are so many research proven benefits of exercise that each of us can have a different reason for pursuing fitness. You may want to feel better, have more energy, improve your health, lose weight, look better, age better, or something even more specific.
When the results of your exercise don’t match the effort you’re expending it helps to remember why you even started. Your fitness vision is a powerful weapon when you’re in the Danger Zone.
That said, it also a good idea to make certain the results you’re aiming for are somewhat realistic. I’m a fan of setting big goals…goals that may even feel out of reach. But, those big goals need to have some basis in reality. For example, my fitness vision is all about aging better. Great goal. But, if what I really mean is looking younger and younger so when I reach 80 people will think I’m 30 that’s probably not going to happen.
But, having the cardio function of someone 30 years younger is a big goal that is also possible. In other words, have a big fitness vision, but don’t frustrate yourself aiming for a goal that you can never reach.
EXPAND THE TIME
When I started the blog I made a commitment to myself that I would keep going for at least one year even if no one read the articles. I understood that a blog takes time to build an audience and I didn’t want to get discouraged if it took longer than I hoped it would.
That was a mistake.
I should have made a five year commitment. While I understood there is not an automatic audience when you start a blog, I was naïve thinking it would only take a couple years. I had listened to a bunch of podcasts featuring bloggers who grew sizable audiences in just a year or two. For me the Danger Zone started after my “one year commitment” ended and the audience was not as big as I hoped it would be. Again, my perceived effort was greater than my perceived result.
Fitness always takes longer than we expect. And, making things even more complicated, some fitness results are hard to measure. Sure, you can measure weight loss, but exercise alone is actually a poor weight loss plan, so even that can feel super slow.
And, just like me listening to podcasts about blogging it’s hard not to compare our exercise results with others and not get discouraged.
To survive the Fitness Danger Zone it’s better to expand your timeline because it’ll take longer than you expect. It also takes the pressure off and helps you realize you’re normal. Those who reach fitness fast are the outliers.
Lastly, even if it takes longer than your expanded time line keep going. When your perceived effort continues to be greater than your perceived results the question, “Is it worth it?” will always be there. This is why it’s called the Danger Zone. Because if you stop you’ll NEVER see the results you wanted.
WHAT’S A WIN TODAY?
Even though I have a strong vision and now recognize it’ll take even longer than I expected, I still have days when I really feel the disconnect between effort and results. Those days are discouraging. Those are also days when I need to feel some progress.
It’s the same with exercise. You can have a strong vision and a realistic view of how long it’ll take, but it can still get discouraging. You also need to feel some progress.
It’s helpful to change the perspective on what progress feels like…change the game from results to process. In other words, focus on the progress you’re making with the process.
Instead of always looking at how many readers each blog article attracts, I’m looking for other wins. It’s a win learning how to build a website, creating PDF’s through Canva, and developing an SEO strategy. It’s a huge win to write a new article every week that can impact other people! (If you want to read my very first post check it out HERE) These are all a part of the process of building an audience.
It’s also a win when you make a commitment to exercise and stick with it. It’s a huge win when you reach your step goal on days when you don’t feel like it. And it’s a win when you increase that step goal and keep going!
The results will come, but there are many opportunities to see wins in the process. Even though my audience size is not what I hoped for by now, I have learned so many new skills in this process. That’s a huge win! When you develop patience, persistence, and the ability to do a hard thing with exercise that’s also a huge win.
And, these wins impact more than just writing a blog or doing exercise. They can spill over into other parts of your daily life. I have a “technology confidence” I didn’t have a couple years ago. I look forward to trying new things now. Sticking with a hard thing like exercise even when you don’t feel like can give you confidence to try other hard things.
RENAME THE DANGER ZONE
Yes, when your perceived effort is greater than your perceived results you are in the Danger Zone. This is when it’s easy to give up. But, if you hold on to your vision, expand your time line, and look for how you can win today the Fitness Danger Zone actually can become…
The Opportunity Zone!
WHAT YOU CAN DO TODAY
If you find yourself in the Fitness Danger Zone how about changing the game and focusing on how you’re winning right now. Every day you reach your goal is a win! It can be a game changer to track those wins every day and have a tangible reminder of the progress you are making.
I’ve put together a special 90 Day Win Tracker that will help you FEEL THE PROGRESS as you reach your daily step goal and keep moving through the Fitness Danger Zone. It’s free and you can start right now!
If you don’t have a Fitbit I recommend the Fitbit Inspire HR. While it’s not cheap, it’s less than a few months at the gym. The Inspire HR also tracks your heart rate and sleep so you get an even wider picture of your fitness progress.
Lastly, this blog is designed to help you embrace walking for exercise. As a fitness activity, walking is sustainable, flexible, effective, and fun. Every week I post new articles with stories and helpful suggestions.
If you click FOLLOW (below on your phone…to the right and above on your computer) you’ll receive an email with a link to each new blog post.
Please don’t stop writing your blog! I look forward to reading it every Wednesday. I too set my goal timeline to soon. I wanted to lose 100 pounds by Christmas this year. I began my journey last August after having a revision knee replacement. I was walking 3-5 miles every day and lost 60 pounds. Then my other knee gave out and am facing a knee replacement in the coming months trying to put it off until Covid disappears. Walking around the house is as far as I can go. So I will resume my walking journey after surgery. My weight loss won’t continue this year, but by Christmas next year I will reach my goal!
I write a Weekly newsletter for work and I feel your discouragement about readers. It’s hard work and even the best of newsletters don’t get read. Keep up the fight!
Thank you Karen. Praying for a quick recovery once you have the surgery!
I enjoy reading your blog; I’ve been a subscriber for a year or more. Hope you continue!
Thanks Bonnie. I have no plans to stop!
I find this blog is always inspiring! Thank you!
Thank you Amy!
Dave keep up the great work that you are doing. I look forward to reading your blog. You have been an inspiration to me on my walking journey. Thank you😊
Dave, I too, continue to be inspired by your wisdom and knowledge of fitness and how vital it is in our lives! I have been a subscriber for over a year now and your Wednesday posts are just what I need to keep on keeping on with my daily walks. When I’m tempted to not do my steps, I think about your words and dedication and I put my shoes on and get out the door! Bless you for all the time and effort you put forth to encourage others to get healthier one step at a time!
Thank you Cathy!
During the stay-at-home order I started walking on my treadmill. Nothing big, just a goal of 1 mile a day. Back in 2002 I trained for the Avon 3 day walk by putting in 360 training miles. I was then in the best shape of my life (age 45). Now, in 2020, using that motivation of years past and your blog, I’m walking again. Since May 2020, I’m walking 3 miles a day, lost 8 pounds, lowered my blood sugar and feel fantastic! Thanks Dave for bringing walking back to me.
That’s fantastic Lenetta! Thank you!!
I don’t remember how I got to your blog but I have been following it since long before your 20,000 steps a day challenge ended. It encouraged me to up my steps. I’m on day 400 something on the increased step count. I too get discouraged because I don’t see the results I want with my increased challenges. Some mornings I just don’t want to, but I do. Keep going Dave.
Thank you Erika!
I love your blog. It’s always encouraging and motivating. Don’t quit! We would miss you and your great writing. Walking has helped me immensely to get to my lowest weight in years. I still have about 20-25 lbs I’d like to drop. It is a slow process. But I am enjoying the journey.
Thank you Deb! Keep going!!
Hoping you continue your blog for a long time! I look forward to the weekly post with great interest. In a culture of quick fix and instant feedback and results, danger zones crop up easily!
Thank you Missy!