When it comes to meeting your fitness goals, there are so many things that I could talk about: how many calories you eat, the amount of cardio you do, how much weight you’re repping at the gym. All of those things are important in order to make progress, but the NUMBER ONE thing that is needed to reach your goals is consistency.

Consistency is key. In order to make any physical changes, it is crucial to develop a routine and stick with it. One day of skipping the gym or eating unhealthy will not wreck your progress, but simply one day of eating healthy and working out will not cause you to lose 10 pounds either. Change is a process and takes time to achieve. It cannot be done in a day or even a week; each day builds on one another and acts as a small step towards one big goal. Multiple weeks and sometimes even years of dedication, depending on your goal, are necessary in order to make improvements in your physique or strength. Progress requires continuous workouts at the gym in addition to eating clean about 80% of the time. Like I mentioned previously, one missed workout or a few days getting off track with your eating will not destroy your progress as long as the rest of the time you are regularly sticking with your routine. Everything is okay in moderation, however, continually straying away from your routine will have negative effects on your progress.

Commitment is also a huge component of consistency. Just like time is needed in order to achieve your goals, you must be committed and dedicated to the process. This means making your goals a priority and finding the time to work towards them. “Not having enough time” should never be an excuse if you want something bad enough. This just means that you will have to reprioritize your daily activities. For example, reprioritizing might look like cutting out an hour of Netflix at night in order to make time to meal prep or go to the gym. Time is a valuable resource and it is critical that it is used in the most efficient way possible when it comes to making headway towards your goal.

A personal example of progress I’ve made is with deadlifting. When I first started lifting, I remember being so excited when I reached 100 pounds. It was a big deal for me that I could deadlift triple digits. My next goal was to reach a plate, or 135 pounds. To achieve this goal, I deadlifted twice a week and continually increased my weight or number of reps each time. I eventually reached 135 pounds and then continued to bump my goal weight a little higher each time I met my current goal. I stuck with this tactic for a few years. About three years after I started deadlifting, I maxed out at 250 pounds. I never would have imagined I would get to that weight when I first started. This goes to show that it can take a while to achieve your goals, but ultimately with patience and consistency, you WILL make progress and see changes.

Having said all of this, because change takes time to occur, it can be hard to continue to stay motivated throughout the process of achieving your ultimate goal. When first starting the journey, it may seem like you are stuck at a certain point and are years away from where you want to be. An easy way to keep your motivation levels high is to break your large goal into smaller individual goals. This way, your end goal will not seem as intimidating and will appear to be more manageable. The satisfaction from accomplishing one small goal will propel you towards the next goal, chipping away at your long-term objective. Taking small steps towards your overarching aspiration will allow you to maintain a strong drive and avoid defeat. Of course, the process will still be challenging and discouraging at times; you may not always reach your goals at the pace you want or unexpected problems may occur, however, breaking your end goal into smaller pieces will be less daunting than trying to tackle the whole thing at once.

Now that we’ve talked about what it takes to see change, what long-term goals do you have? What are the small goals that you can work on accomplishing in order to take steps towards your ultimate goal? Remember, consistency is key, so it is critical to stick with your routine in order to make forward progress.