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Beware of the Six Week Syndrome! by Matthew Romans

New Year's resolutions generally begin in earnest at the beginning of January. Many people, filled with good intentions, resolve to start making significant changes in their lives. Resolutions can take on many forms, such as quitting smoking, spending more time with family, going on a diet, watching less television, and doing more charitable work. One of the more popular resolutions is the vow to exercise and get in better physical shape. The process begins amid a rush of initial excitement and the expectation of fast results. When tangible results don't happen right away, enthusiasm turns into boredom, followed by frustration, disillusionment, and quitting altogether. This is often referred to as the Six Week Syndrome.

2020 started only a few days ago, so I thought this topic was pertinent. No doubt you have already seen many commercials for Planet Fitness, Nutri-System, Peloton (those commercials annoy me the most) and a variety of other diet and fitness-related products. I worked in commercial gyms for several years, so I have seen the Six Week Syndrome first hand. Drive by a commercial gym sometime in the next couple of days; depending on what time of day you go, you're likely to see a crowded parking lot. Go back to that same parking lot in the middle of February, and you're likely to have very little trouble finding a parking space. This little exercise epitomizes the Six Week Syndrome. Most people sign up for gym memberships around New Year's and stop using them within a couple months (often less). The owners of these facilities don't really care if you use their facility as long as you pay your monthly fee. In fact, if everybody who paid for a membership regularly used it, the attendance would exceed the capacity of the gym. Despite what the ubiquitous fitness and diet commercials might lead you to believe, success does not happen overnight. It is incredibly unlikely that anyone will achieve their goals in six weeks, and setting unrealistic expectations is a recipe for disappointment.

It's important to understand how habits are formed. According to James Clear, author of the book "Atomic Habits", "On average, it takes more than two months before a new behavior becomes automatic - 66 days to be exact." That means that in six weeks, a habit is not yet part of your life. In order for something to become a habit, it has to be something that is important to you. Written reminders can be a big help, at least until something becomes second nature. Writing out goals, and having a specific plan of action to achieve them. Most people who work in commercial gyms are primarily concerned with increasing their membership totals, and they are woefully ignorant of the science behind safe and effective strength training.

We very rarely see the Six Week Syndrome at Total Results. One reason for that is because many of our new clients are referred to us by successful current clients, but also because most of our clients really do their research before they contact us. They generally know what to expect before they set foot in our studio. It also helps to come in with an open mind and a willingness to learn. There is a lot that we teach new clients in the initial few weeks, but it takes time to build skill. Our clients usually just start to scratch the surface of their potential in six weeks. They have probably gotten to a meaningful level of resistance on each exercise, have acquired enough skill to thoroughly inroad the musculature and start to see some tangible benefit. By the six week mark clients should have started to implement some of the lifestyle changes that we recommend, such as eating a diet high in saturated fat and consisting largely of whole foods, and avoiding sugars and processed foods. Getting consistent and restful sleep should also be a priority. If these changes are made, clients will likely notice an improvement in how they look and feel, and they will find that they have to exert less effort on activities of daily living.

Don't fall prey to the Six Week Syndrome. Set lofty but reachable goals, and formulate a plan of action to achieve success. Be a learner. Think long term, rather than short term. A large portion of our clients have been with us for at least a few years, many have been with us for ten years or more, and we even have a handful that have celebrated fifteen years or more with us. Let us help you start your journey today. Get Total Results.

Posted January 07, 2020 by Tim Rankin