We’ve all seen those 90-day workout programs, 30-day squat challenges, even the “Abs in 20 days” apps on our phones. Although these will likely give you some great ideas for high intensity workouts and beat you down for a short while, my question is: What happens after 90 days?

Those 90 days can seem like a long time when you are contemplating how much work and time you are willing to dedicate before seeing results, but the real deal is that 90 days is barely a blip in most of our lives. The problem with these short programs is they don’t give you the education which could set you free into a healthy life.

As a young trainer, I would shoot for the short-term results — thinking that if my clients dropped 20 pounds in 2 months, they would admire me forever! As I gained more experience, I learned that I was making my clients too sore too quickly, and even though I never had a serious injury, my clients were at much higher risk for injury because I didn’t spend enough time on technique and education.

Nowadays, I could spend one hour of a session teaching the proper technique in a squat, just so my client understands how to do it properly and WHY I am instructing some of the cues. I want someone to be able to squat for the rest of their life, not 30 days out of a month for one month per year. I’ve learned to take a slower and more stable, yet most progressive approach to training.

I’ve speculated why some people quit the gym and would like to offer some counterpoints that will hopefully encourage people to stay engaged. From personal experience, I’ve had clients quit because they claim they weren’t losing weight quickly enough. Losing weight is very appropriate for some who are new to stepping into the gym, but changes in the body might not happen in the order or timeline that the client originally desired.

There are also other ways to measure progress in the gym, without looking at the scale. Blood pressure, cholesterol and triglyceride levels, strength gains, endurance gains, waist circumferences and overall confidence are all other factors that can determine if progress is being made. Losing weight may also take more time than anticipated because the body is used to being sedentary, and takes more time to adjust than others on those “before/after” infomercials.

Like I said before, if the first month is focusing on proper technique and building stabilizer muscles, then it may take one to two months just to get the body ready to start losing weight properly. While the anticipation of losing weight can cause some great anxiety, if we step back and look at exercise and proper nutrition as a step into a lifelong decision, the need for instant gratification will dissolve.

The financial investment into your health can at first seem scary. The problem is the perspective of health and fitness is seen as a luxury instead of a necessity. After all, without your health, what else do you have to enjoy in life? Whether it be personal training, a gym membership or spending more money at the grocery store on fruits and vegetables, the money factor is normally at the top of the list for someone who is reluctant to dive into becoming healthier. But let’s break this down a little further. There is a phrase that every personal trainer and health coach has used/heard alike: “You can pay for your health now, or in a hospital bed, years down the road.” This sounds extreme but rings true for everyone at one point or another, like it or not. And if you look at the expense of a hospital bill compared to a gym membership or health coaching, the personal training pales in comparison.

There is another common myth that eating healthy is more expensive than eating unhealthy foods. When examined more closely, this is actually untrue. Planning what you are going to eat for the week and having the necessary ingredients can eliminate last-minute impulsive take-out orders in the middle of the week. Also, when planning and cooking your own meals, it’s common to make “batches” of food like rice, veggies and clean protein, which can be used for leftovers days to come. Turning one hour of cooking into four or five meals is very cost effective.

Although these lifestyle changes aren’t easy when you are in the beginning, the discomfort will pay off in the long run. When you think of what your life can look like five to 20 years down the road if you stick with these healthy habits, the discomfort and risk seem miniscule compared to the reward.

Looking at healthy eating and working out as a lifestyle instead of a six-week program is sure to put the truth about healthy living into perspective.

Nate Wilson is a certified personal trainer through NASM and is the owner of Elite Fitness LLC. He is certified for Fitness Nutrition and is a Behavior Change Specialist. Contact Nate at 640-0668 or [email protected].