CONSISTENCY AND ADHERENCE
Updated: Feb 7
Ok. This one's been a long time coming and it's time to finally get personal. And by 'personal' I mean less of the usual 'sciency' stuff and more simply taking a step back to look at some of the more psychological behavioral choices we make on a daily basis.
Note: just kidding on the sciency part! :)
If I were to rhetorically ask you, what is the key 🔑 difference between your average 'Joe' and a true Champion?
Is it the diet they're on? 🍲
Is it one's 'god' given genetics? 🏃♀️
Is it solely lifestyle? 😎
Without stating the obvious (yes it's all relative), lets focus on two of the most overlooked areas we forget to acknowledge time and time again...
Consistency: consistent behavior or treatment.
We humans are known for being creatures of habit. Most of us like stability and have daily schedules around our 9-5 jobs we like to adhere to. Some with weekly paternal duties in and outside our usual working hours. Some of us and I mean some even have several weekly social outing responsibilities.
Drink night(s) much? 🤔
We are also either really great at completely following something that 'works' for us or not at all. As creatures of habit, we find it difficult to want to break away from everyday life and routine and have a tendency to want to always feel 'safe' and 'comfortable'.
Part of this may stem from natural human behavior and as a result, we tend to either be 'all in' or not at all when it comes to Fitness.
*insert Flawless Physique idol we are never able to achieve and keep.*
On the plus side however we for the most part love being consistent. Even according to research, our bodies love being consistent day in day out. You see, part of the problem(s) tends to occur with being either in-consistently consistent or consistently in-consistent.
What you talking bout' Willis?!? 🤔
In other words:
a) incorrect Consistent behavior
i.e. logging incorrect MyFitnessPal entries...
b) being in-Consistent
i.e. weighing 1st thing in the morning vs weighing last thing in the evening...
If we apply context to scenario a) i.e. nutrition, metabolism and its effects on weight loss and health, being accurately consistent matters. Following a structured plan where i.e. food choices and macronutrient ranges are 'perfect' can in theory yield greater consistency for the most part.
and *cough* results! *end cough*
Whilst at the very least you are being consistent, you have also removed a large margin of error from consistent behavior. But here's where things get interesting...
How long an individual can sustain from food abstinence tends to become an issue going forward. Psychological associated food behavior becomes a governing factor how long an individual can stay consistent with their behaviour.
Furthermore, when we aren't consistent or habitual as we'd like to be i.e. averaging less than 7 hours sleep per night we are prone to become short tempered, crave higher calorie foods and begin the road to self-sabotage.
Much like having a dietary 'plan' or 'strategy' revolving around your dietary requirements, it can be argued that incorrect behavior is just as equally bad if not worse than being in-Consistent.
When we are b) in-Consistent, well...we all should know by now what this produces...
However, to get the most accuracy possible we must always be consistent towards any given goal or objective. Much like with any type of skill, the more we practice and execute it, the better we get at properly executing it.
Any individual or athlete serious enough about long-term gains is going to require consistent time spent performing traditional weight lifting > getting stronger > performing a variety of movements to optimize strength and muscle size improvements.
Remember, any protocol works so long as we are Consistent. However for long term health benefits we also need to be Adherent.
Adherence: attachment or commitment to a person, cause, or belief.
Before proceeding further, lets nip something in the butt first.
Exercise and Nutrition is often seen as the determining factor whether you will succeed in reaching your Fitness/Fat loss goals. It is also the area where people often donʹt succeed or invest enough in for the long term.
And by invest I don't mean any old plan that isn't specifically tailored to your dietary needs. The most Nutritionally or Exercise sound plan will be of little use to you if you can't adhere to it.
Whilst having some form of basic structure or outline increases your chances of getting from point y > z. The difference in learning how to get from point y to z following 'x' greatly increase your chances of overall success, develop better routines, eating behaviors etc.
Because when we like something, we are most likely *drum roll* adherent.
Unfortunately when we also dislike something, we are *drum roll* non-adherent.
To use a simple analogy:
Non-Adherence can be compared to jumping in a deep body of water without really knowing how to swim. How long can one stay afloat for? Probably not very long...
A recent study looking at individuals over a 12 month period on variously assigned macronutrient & self-reported intakes found much greater weight management success with the greater adherent group.
Provided the dietary or training practice you are following can be 'part and parcel' and not just for health reasons, you will most likely be adherent long term.
Another 'missing link' is accountability:
“Accountability is the acknowledgment of responsibility for your actions with the obligation to report, explain, and be responsible for the resulting consequences.”
In other words, accountability helps keep you consistent and adherent with what you are doing or not doing in and outside the gym. Whatever the case may be for you, create a world and environment for YOU for when you need to get things done or need a quick breather somewhere.
Deep breathing techniques and physical activity exertion are also great tools for relieving and managing stress. Clear the mind and take a moment to reflect whether if it's in the gym, walking or just simply meditating.
For those who've read this far, it is highly imperative we understand that there is no magic substitute formula to transform your physique, health or well-being without investment in measures of time, effort and resolve.
These 'magical' outcomes simply do not happen overnight and reflect a lifestyle of unique demanding processes and overwhelming undertone of consistency.
The #1 rule with following any active dietary lifestyle is Adherence and Consistency[1-2, 15-18].
Without Consistency and Adherence, no training or nutrition program will likely produce long term results.
How to Make the Information Worthwhile?
We live in a time where the apparent cause and effect relationships can be observed and studied in different demographs, times and scenarios.
Whether it's being in communities or groups centered around varying dietary practices, the average gym junkie or cardio bunny wearing their latest fitbit tracker. We now have access to a lot of great information and resources.
Electrical devices have also become economically affordable and available to us all. Having said that it can also become easy to get swept up in the romance of it all.
A simple step tracker and/or smartphone app is sometimes good enough. The research shows that step count and activity reminders featured in the FitBit brand trackers can have a significant impact on exercise adherence and motivation.
Establishing a goal(s) and having access to a commercial mobile app can also clinically produce significant weight loss in most individuals.
Furthermore, stand-alone digital self-monitoring may also be a viable option for those with low-intensity movement restriction and post surgery treatment requirements.
However, you need to know what information best suits you.
A past study looked at the discrepancy between tracked energy (calorie) intake and energy (exercise) expenditure. The results of the ACTUAL caloric intake and exercise showed about a 50% discrepancy.
Another study found most PA monitors overestimated energy expenditure by about 16% - 40% during general levels of activity i.e. walking, jogging, climbing etc.
A further study found that whilst most wrist trackers generally measure heart rate (bpm) well they also overestimate energy expenditure (calories burned) from anywhere between 27.5% > 93%.
A significant problem is most individuals will almost always see they've burned 'x' amount of calories but don't consider their device's large marginal error.
Thus, about half of the recorded population used in studies whom reportedly could not lose weight were also under reporting their total caloric intake.
Note: exercising caution is also highly recommended for individual's to avoid consuming back reported expended calories!
How do we actually use the information to benefit us? 🤔
- When you can objectively look at how many steps you have taken throughout the day, it removes the guesswork. 👣
- When you track how many days you are consistent, you will have a better understanding of why things are where they currently are at. 📅
- When you can see how much food & alcohol you actually consume vs daily / weekly weight averages, you can begin 'fine-tuning' i.e. nutritional accuracy, hydration to produce further weight loss avenues. 📊 We may more often than not, think we are being more active and eating less than what we actually really are. 🍔
Remember you don’t need the most expensive super high tech tracker on the market.
When it comes to getting absolutely the most out of your Fitness journey, how many times you simply show up and try matters.
Will there be days where we slip up or fall of the wagon? Most probably.
All of us will hit a wall at some point. Life happens.
Keeping in mind how long term adherence and consistency comes into play can be the difference between being well above the majority and worlds ahead of where you used to be.
As such, always aim to make your journey a more consistent and adherent one to produce long lasting results!
*Checkout Intrasoft's Goal Tracker to start tracking your behaviour and compliance today! 👇
References: 1. Eat Behav. 2015 Dec;19:33-8. doi: 10.1016/j.eatbeh.2015.06.011. Epub 2015 Jul 2. Dietary adherence and acceptability of five different diets, including vegan and vegetarian diets, for weight loss: The New DIETs study. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26164391 2. Psychiatry Res. 2017 Jun;252:310-318. doi: 10.1016/j.psychres.2017.03.017. Epub 2017 Mar 9. Adherence to dietary recommendations is not associated with depression in two Swiss population-based samples. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28327446 3. Am J Clin Nutr. 2018 Dec 29. doi: 10.1093/ajcn/nqy255. [Epub ahead of print]Impulsivity is associated with food intake, snacking, and eating disorders in a general population. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30596882 4. Appetite. 2015 Jul;90:31-6. doi: 10.1016/j.appet.2015.02.026. Epub 2015 Feb 25.Investigation of lifestyle choices of individuals following a vegan diet for health and ethical reasons. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25725486
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