The Problem With Minute-By-Minute Thinking

When it comes to most things in life, achieving what we really want takes time and commitment.

– Weight Loss

– Entrepreneurial success

– Saving to buy a house

– Trust and Intimacy

– Strength

In our current world, however, everything is so fast. Things like free 2-day shipping, pre-made healthy foods, Uber pick-ups, saved credit card numbers for impulse purchases, google for everything.

We’ve learned to operate and expect things to happen fast through the conditioning of technological advancements, societal shifts, and learned patterns. It’s not that these things are bad, but it’s important we understand where some of them impact our ability to accomplish tasks or stay motivated when results aren’t visible right away.

In the Physical Therapy world, many of my clients with either acute pain, or higher intensity chronic pain, struggle with the day-to-day shifts in their symptoms when we implement a strength or rehab program.

While it’s good to be aware of our bodies, it’s not always good when we let them dictate our choices all the time. It’s quite common to experience something negative and pivot quickly in attempts to remedy it. While there is a time and a place for quick moves, more often than not, we need to stick to our plan.

I try to encourage folks to shift analyzing their symptoms, or their strength gains, or their weight loss journey, from a minute-by-minute lens, to a week-by-week or month-by-month lens. Anything more frequent puts them at risk for premature changes.

To give an example, someone might go to bed after a movie and popcorn date with the hubby one night, weighing 135lbs, only to wake up the next morning weighing 138lbs. While it’s discouraging to see a 3lb increase on the scale, which is usually followed by shame cycles, stress, and “clean” eating to offset the setback, it actually does not call for making drastic or restrictive changes.

To break it down a bit further and prove this point, the reality is that it’s highly unlikely this woman consumed 3lbs of food the previous day. For reference, 3lbs of food would equate to 10,500 calories in addition to the calories this person must consume in order to function daily, which we can make something up and say is ~1700 calories additional. Per my google search just now (yay, quick gratification!), that would equate to more than 10 McDonald’s big mac meals, where each includes a burger, medium fries, and medium soft drink.

The reality is that those extra 3lbs are likely just a bit of water retention, undigested food, and bi-products of other processes happening in her body. These side effects are very normal to expect during weight loss journeys, especially from day-to-day. If anything, with a good plan in place, it’s best to expect 2-5lbs in fluctuation from day to day, while also imagining this fluctuation range is slowly sliding down. For example, the range would go from “135-140lbs” to “133-138lbs” to “130-135lbs” etc.

The point in this example is to illustrate that we must work on reframing and adjusting our lens to more realistic timelines when we are trying to create changes of any kind, as well as challenge our narratives with more logic and a little bit more faith. Otherwise, we might create undo stress, at best, or sabotage our own success, at worst.

I will often encourage folks to seek coaching of any kind when they’ve been in a prolonged yo-yo state of trying and “failing”, as a coach can often be the person to guide you well in trying times. This applies to anything, whether it’s climbing out of chronic pain experiences (yes, this is possible!), losing weight, building an empire, or making new habits.

If this speaks to you, then, for now, start by making rules with yourself to not pivot aggressively, not make drastic life changes, not throw yourself into a new diet anytime something feels or looks off. Tell yourself to take a breath, slow your mind, carry on as you have been, and re-evaluate every week or every month before you make changes. Be sure to follow a plan and have objective measures so you can appropriately evaluate progress.

If you feel you need support or someone to help you create a plan, take the step and reach out to a coach. As always, I’m happy to help where I can, whether it’s via check-in accountability calls, a single consultation, or full blown coaching to get you started.

Dr. Megan-Marie Delegas PT, DPT