NOTE: This post was adapted from the “Introduction” of the book The Body Tithe Devotional: Spiritual Encouragement for Your Fitness Journey.
Whenever somebody starts a new fitness regimen, be it a running program, rehab, home fitness workouts, you name it, they are going on a journey of sorts.
In my book “The Body Tithe Devotional,” I talk about the phases one encounters on the journey.
These phases are part physical, based on the strength you are gaining or stamina that’s increasing, weight that you are losing, or _____________.
The temptation with these phases is to let your results dictate your motivation. When this happens, you can quickly go to an ugly place emotionally. So watch out!
Emotionally there are going to be many ups and downs. The goal is to maximize the ups and minimize the downs.
Fitness is as much emotional as it is physical, if not more. We cannot let the physical results decide for us how we will behave. Neither can we let what we experience emotionally be in charge.
It’s imperative that Christians first approach fitness from a spiritual point of view. By allowing God to align our wills to His, the spiritual can power both the physical and emotional.
The following phases and their timelines are not identical for everyone, but they’re certainly very close for most. I’ve grouped them in a 90-day plan, but you could shorten or expand them accordingly.
The key is to know that whether this week or next, the phases are coming. When you are aware of them ahead of time, you will be better equipped to navigate them.
Weeks 1–3 Fire Phase
You’re on fire! Excited to get started. Excited about the new exercise routine and maybe even the nutrition. If you’re coming back from an illness or injury, the prospect of getting back to the old you is exciting.
Weeks 4–6: Flame Phase
You’re still warm, but not nearly as hot as you were in the first phase. Early results start to taper and you are realizing that this is a long-term endeavor, maybe even a lifestyle. While you’re still interested in the pursuit, the fire has certainly faded to a flame.
Weeks 6–8: Fizzle Phase
Your results have plateaued, which drives you in the wrong direction emotionally. Add to this that the novelty of newness is completely gone and the flame is now barely an ember. This is the danger zone, where most people fall off the wagon.
Weeks 8–10: Fortitude Phase
Okay, at this point you’re just over it. Bad nutrition, missed workouts, painful session with your physical therapist, and poor sleep are becoming more regular.
To compound matters, your frustration makes you less inclined to make the right decisions, not more inclined.
This is when it’s essential just to keep showing up day after day. Like hitting “the wall” in a marathon, you have to just keep putting one foot in front of the next. If you do that, some new results start emerging again toward the end of this phase.
Weeks 10–12: Flare Phase
Your persistence in the previous phase is paying off! You’re seeing some new results start to emerge. Furthermore, you’re getting into a routine, learning better nutrition, improving your sleep, and nearing the end of the journey. There’s light at the end of the tunnel. The feelings of satisfaction and pride give you a confidence that starts to reignite the fire.
Weeks 12 & 13: Fun Phase
You’re realizing the fruits of your labor. You’re learning that hard work works! Maybe fitness as a lifestyle is now realistic for you, and you’re elated that you didn’t give up. Or maybe you are starting to feel like you did before your illness or injury.
Regardless, your enthusiasm is not only contagious, but you find yourself helping others with their fitness.
Again, these phases aren’t identical for everyone, but they hold generally true for most people.
In the coming weeks, I will expand on each one of these phases individually, giving you some tips to help you not just survive them, but thrive in them.
By getting ahead of these phases, you’ll be better equipped for your journey.
HOW DO YOU APPROACH YOUR FITNESS REGIMEN? ARE YOU ALREADY AWARE OF WHAT’S GOING TO HAPPEN AHEAD TIME? ARE YOU PROACTIVE OR REACTIVE IN HOW YOU HANDLE THE UPS AND DOWNS?