Rome Wasn’t Built in a Day

By Detroit Publishing Co., under license from Photoglob Zürich [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

By Detroit Publishing Co., under license from Photoglob Zürich [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

We’ve heard this phrase before.  If you think about the enormity of the Roman Empire, it truly wasn’t built in a day, or a year, or even a decade.  In fact, the Roman Empire existed for just over 500 years.  In comparison, the United States has only been around for around 240 years.  So, why am I giving this information to you?  And what does it have to do with exercise?

We use this phrase to emphasize that anything great takes time.  And as Steve Kamb states over at NerdFitness,

A robot doesn’t become a truck in one step.  You won’t lose 100 pounds overnight.  Slowly transform your diet, make changes that you can live with, and the new YOU will have a much better chance of fighting off the Decepticons and obesity.

So, let’s get started.

By Stefan Kahlhammer [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

By Stefan Kahlhammer [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

The Biggest Thing You Can Do is Have A Goal!!!

And I don’t mean, “I want to lose a lot of weight.”  Or “I want to be ripped like Aa-nald.” (BTW, that kind of ripped doesn’t happen naturally.  It requires . . . “assistance”.)  While these are great as inspiration,  you need to get specific if you want to see results.  As in, you need a clearly defined plan.  Let me give you a couple of examples:

  1. I am just entering my third trimester of pregnancy.  For about a year before I found out I was pregnant, I had a very clear goal: I want to do a pull-up by December.  Then I broke it down.  I knew that I needed a lot more upper body muscle to pull this off (no pun intended).  So, I enlisted the help of a friend to personalize a training plan for one night a week.  It involved a lot of push-ups, a lot of burpees, and a lot of pain and sweat.  I also went with my husband to our local martial arts school to participate in their workout and kung fu lessons once a week.  This was clear, straightforward, and most importantly, something I could actually test.  Could I do a pull-up yet?  Were my muscles getting harder and more toned?  Was I increasing the difficulty of my workouts steadily?
  2. Let me mention a hero to me.  The person that convinced me that weight lifting doesn’t make you bulky.  And someone that inspired me.  Staci, at NerdFitness, started out weighing 170 lbs.  And she tried the “normal” way to lose weight.  She didn’t have a plan but just cut out fat (and food she needed) and ran a lot.  Until it almost made her sick.  She went down to 117 lbs, obsessed over every ounce, and felt physically and mentally miserable.  Until someone told her she was approaching it wrong.  She started researching nutrition and strength training.  And where is she today?  Though she has gained back weight, it is all muscle.  And she can now deadlift . . . 315 lbs.  Head on over to read the full testimony on her transformation, but it was incredibly inspiring to me.  Because I was heading down the same path when I read it.

So, in the first example, it was a clearly defined goal with a step by step plan that helped.  The second example brings me to another part of getting started.

Get educated

Don’t just believe that because someone said something about diet, nutrition, or exercise, that it is true.  Don’t believe me!  Do the research.  Look at the studies and read up on things like how your body processes nutrients or how your body responds to different types of exercises.  Use this information to help you make your plan.  Example: If my goal was a pull-up, cardio would not help me.  I needed to build muscle.  So, I shaped my plan around a lot more muscle building activities.  Do you want to run a 5k?  Then you need more cardio.

So, you have a clear goal, you’ve educated yourself and used that information to form a plan.  Now what?

Community 

One of the biggest reasons to quit is because you are trying to do it alone.  We all need a support group in our lives to help us through the challenging times.  It can be a group of online friends in a forum or a group of real-life friends.  It doesn’t matter who it is as long as they are their to support you.  Let me make it clear now, the friend that has something negative to say all the time about everything is not who you want.  You want positive support.  The day you don’t feel like getting up and working out?  You want someone who will keep cheering you on.  I recommend having at least one person in your life who will support you in this.  Maybe have them call you on the days you have a workout.  Or, even better, tell them you will pay them a set amount of money if you don’t workout.

Conclusion

Let me also add that all of this will not do any good if you don’t actually get started.  I have gotten stuck myself in the plan and research stage without ever moving forward.  It is a double-edged sword.  Without all of the above, it is easy to lose direction and focus, fizzling out like a wet firework.  (Think of the Ex-Wife from Iron Man 2).  But it is easy to feel like the planning is enough.  (“I planned every detail out and now I’m exhausted.  Time to watch some T.V.!!)  Try to find that balance between the two.

So, in the spirit of community, leave a comment with:

  1. Your specific goal
  2. A basic plan to reach that goal
  3. Who will your support as you follow the plan

56 thoughts on “Rome Wasn’t Built in a Day

  1. thanks for sharing your specific goal experience! when i joined crossfit my goal was to do a pull up. i did it! but i am having difficulty finding the motivation to strive for a new goal that i will need to work months for. maybe i will switch my focus to 5K times. thank you again :)

    • Megan says:

      I found the Couch to 5K program to be fantastic. Sometimes, programs like that can help you with the planning part. All you do is follow it. Good luck and congrats on doing a pull-up!

  2. anallievent says:

    Goals do have to be specific! Thanks for sharing your wonderful tips because you are so right, Rome wasn’t built in a day.

  3. I can relate to what you’re saying! I tend to be a jump in and doer instead of planning. I forgot to learn that Rome, or my perfection, wasn’t built in a day! Thanks for that reminder!!

    • Megan says:

      I can easily swing between not planning at all and planning so much that I never get anywhere. If I don’t plan, though, I am so overwhelmed by the big picture of what I need to do that it paralyses me. So, slowly I’m learning to plan. Completely understand what you’re saying!

      • Yes!! Haha! I am that way!! It’s like if I see a blank canvas (day with nothing planned) I just stare at it and even sometimes forget things I could be doing!! I need a to do list everyday!!

  4. I really like your goal of being able to do a pull up. I have always struggled with that, even in high school when it was required in PE. When I first read your goal I thought “man, that’s a simple goal” and then realized that’s the beauty of it! Simple and measurable and you had some specific ways to get toward the goal. I will have to think about this because more muscle tone is definitely what I need too after baby #2 and nursing for 17months has gotten me back down to pre-pregnancy weight but with zippo muscle to speak of!!

    • Megan says:

      I personally love strength training because you can see progress. It’s not always pleasant when you’re doing it, but well worth it. And as women, we don’t bulk up, we tone. Let me encourage you to definitely incorporate some body weight strength training! It’s what I’m planning after delivery this May!

  5. My goal for the year is to feel well enough to participate in important activities. (I have many health challenges, so this is a big deal). My biggest step to feeling better has to be avoiding grain, dairy, preservatives, and refined sugar. If I were to define that further–I would say I could eat each of those things once a week. That would be much less than what I am currently doing while not feeling impossible. :)

    Thanks for this post–it was a great challenge for me to be specific in my goals.

    • Megan says:

      That is awesome! Let me encourage you to look into the Paleo diet. It is essentially what you are describing and there are some great resources out there on the interwebs if you search for paleo. Recipes abound as well as good plans for cutting those things out of your diet! Good luck with your goal and know it is completely possible!

  6. Thanks for the reminder that Rome was not built in a day, I really appreciate it, I really go into things head first when the opportunity arises I just take it and move forward, however the reminder keeps me focused in knowing that as you are working on your goals things take time to be done at their best and know that all things are possible! Good luck with your goal!

    • Megan says:

      It is easy to jump in when an idea strikes, but I can sometimes then over-work myself and get burned out, leaving what I was doing unfinished. In fact, I struggled with that for years and it made me feel miserable. I actually thought at one point that I was incapable of finishing anything! So, definitely keep your passion, but also make sure to pace yourself.

  7. I’m also a firm believer in someone doing the research about nutrition. The bad part is there is so much conflicting information available its mind boggling and not everyone has access to educational databases where one can read studies and peer reviewed journals and material.

    • Megan says:

      This is completely true. And thanks for bringing that up, so that I can mention something I forgot! For anyone wondering where I get my info, some of it is gleaned from blogs I follow, but Google Scholar is a great primary resource that I go to. Be aware that you are getting direct access to scholarly papers and medical journals, so the writing is usually at a high academic level. But if you are willing to scour through the tedious wording, you can get some great data. If I read something, I then look on Google Scholar and also google for .edu websites, ie, college websites, that will also have good information. Thanks for bringing that up!

  8. busymama911 says:

    I have recently embarked on a health improvement journey and one of the thinks I hope to accomplish on it is to loose some weight. I am taking small steps each day in the direction of my goals. I am feeling a little better already. Thanks for sharing your motivation and knowledge about weight loss.

    • Megan says:

      That is awesome! Congrats on starting on this journey! Next week, I plan to post about staying motivated, so feel free to sign up for updates!

  9. My goal is to get back into running, specifically to run a 5K race. I use to race regularly and even ran a half-marathon, but haven’t done anything close to that since my son was born. My plan is to follow the Couch to 5K program, as it has worked well for me in the past. I like the combination of walking and running to help ease back into it. I am leaning on my husband for support because he’ll be charged with watching our toddler so I can get my workouts in!

    • Megan says:

      I can understand. I was much more regular in my workouts until I hit my third trimester. But good job getting your husband to help! Plus it can be some great bonding time with your son too.

  10. Katie @ Pick Any Two says:

    My goal is to get back into running, specifically to run a 5K. My plan is to follow the Couch to 5K training program because I’ve used it successfully in the past. I like the combination of walking and running to ease back into it. I am relying on my husband for support because he’ll need to take care of our toddler while I get my workouts in!

  11. My husband isn’t as much of a support system as I want him to be, but he does like the idea of me losing weight and doesn’t get in the way of my progress (except the occasional inadvertent sabotage, but we’re working on that). I walk daily, use the Couch to 5K program when I can and use online and DVD programs to make it through the rest. I want to be there for my children, I want to not ache just to stand up or sit down.

  12. Goals have always been my issue. I aim to high. I think too big and usually fall short so I give up. I need to work on making smaller goals that are achievable and then reevaluating a new goal.

  13. Great advice! My goal is to gain as little weight as possible this pregnancy and I plan to do it eating more healthy and exercising accordingly. Thank you for the great tips!

    • Megan says:

      I have been in the same boat over the last 7 1/2 months. I knew that if I simply let myself go, I would never forgive myself and would end up gaining way too much weight. I have been doing the same thing. Healthy eating choices and exercising. A winter pregnancy made it interesting, but I have managed to continue with something, even if it was just squats! Good Luck!

  14. I suck at following goals, BUT I know what I want and eventually it will happen. I have gained 20 lbs, I am 5’3 and 160lbs. No not to overweight and look very good for having 6 children, but I want to be 140 and my tummy flat. I have become content knowing my tummy will never look like it did before babies, but I know, because I have done it beofre, that I can shrink my tummy. I am in the process of doing just that. Loosing the weight is not my goal but shrinking my tummy is.

  15. I feel like I could’ve written this post, because it’s ALL advice that I think is spot on! Great job!! I especially love that you included the fact that we need to research the crap outta things, instead of just believing the first person we hear tell us something. I think any source that is willing to tell you up front that “I’m just one source of many…don’t just take my word for it, but do your research” is one that is more likely to be trusted, in my opinion. Because it means that THEY probably did their research, too!

  16. Thank you for sharing your insights and focus on how to do the work you are doing. Thank you for also doing it in the name of Jesus. The same disciplines used for becoming physically fit also apply to being spiritually fit.

  17. I admire the commitment it takes and I’ve recently made a goal of losing weight through dance so I’ve taken up Zumba. I was recently introduced to Yoga and Pilates and it has actually helped me to cut down on food consumption.

  18. I would love to lose about 50 lbs. I have tried Slim Fast, Weight Watchers, and Atkins, all with little success because of my lack of commitment.A light bulb needs to go off in my head first so that my body can cooperate. I really need friends to go on this journey with me, or this will never happen.

    • I completely understand! It doesn’t matter how much information gets passed through our heads if we don’t get that initial jolt that gets the ball rolling! Good luck and find a good support group. That can make a big difference.

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