There are stages of awareness you will go through as you improve not only your fitness, but your understanding of how your body works. Oddly enough it happens in quantum leaps, not gradual stages. One day you’re going to find you’ve reached one of these stages and possibly more, and you’re not even sure how it happened.

I remember a time when I was looking in the mirror, and I decided it was time to get this whole fitness thing under my belt. Oddly enough, it wasn’t until I had won my first bodybuilding show 7 months later that I had confirmed I was making progress in the gym. It’s hard to see results when everyday we’re seeing ourselves. Especially when those results are physical in nature and we haven’t used the tools to accurately measure our results.

The first stage of awareness is the unconsciously incompetent stage. This is where you don’t know that you don’t know. Your programming, your exercise selection, your perceived exertion, they’re pretty lacking; you’re just starting to cultivate some of the mechanisms to understanding yourself at this stage. Certain things might not even be in your sphere of awareness yet, in other words, you might not even be aware of how important it is for a balanced training program in order to successfully move forward. In some areas, you might even have a distorted idea of how you’re doing. You might view yourself as a pretty hard working, knowledgeable person, when really, you’re lacking the fundamentals of a basic exercise program. Another trait of this stage is you might have a tendency to trick, or fool yourself about how bad your problems are or where you are in your particular development.

You probably have a lot of self-defense mechanisms that are set up to protect yourself and your ego a long the way. You may even realize you have a problem with your nutrition, and your results, but you have an optimistic viewpoint. In other words you think somewhere in the future things are going to change. You may not have a plan for it, but believe it probably will. You don’t really have a plan to take the reigns of this and do anything specifically, but you’re kind of leaving it to fate to change and bring the situation you are hoping for. Very often, you’re misunderstanding what it is you need to change to fix the problem in your life. You might think that running on the treadmill is going to burn off the extra calories, when really it’s only one element of your arsenal in order to burn calories effectively. You also probably have a very low sense of insecurity about where you are at. You don’t feel that intimidated about where you are, and there might be moments where you wish things were different, but the majority of the time your issues are out of sight and out of mind. Now, somewhere down the road you’ll probably bottom out. This is where you’ll transition from this unconscious incompetence stage and realize that the majority of the problems you have are caused by these issues you’ve been ignoring. This might even cause you to be down in the dumps depression.

Now it is conscious incompetence. This is where the majority of the clients I deal with come into the picture. They’ve removed the denial, they’ve gotten rid of the blind spots, and everything is painfully aware to them that they need to get this part of their life tackled. This is where they realize they don’t know what they’re doing, and they also don’t know what to do to get themselves out of this stage. Being aware of everything in this way can be a very depressing stage when you know you don’t have the methodology, exercises, and so on to get better. However, this is the ultimate positive turnaround where the switch flips and the ability to change occurs. It’s when people finally get serious about changing who they’re for the better. Once you get past this stage, right at the end of the consciously incompetent stage, you make a decision to become consciously competent. You’re going to finally start getting to work on some of this stuff.

Now, the consciously competent stage is kind of a misnomer because you’re not necessarily competent. What you’re finally doing is trying to use good, effective strategies to turn this around. You finally know what track you ought to be on. This is where the second bottom out begins. Intellectually you know what needs to be done, but when put into practice, you might not necessarily get the results you were hoping for. You’ve been given the information, but you haven’t personalized it to your own personality, and physique. This is where the majority of the benefits of personal trainers come into play. The techniques, the strategies need to be tailored to you. If you have a habit of going on a diet for 3 weeks and then falling off for a week, then you need to break this cycle. That problem isn’t universal, it is unique to you. The sooner you can begin to understand yourself, and how you make it hard on yourself, the sooner you can start to work past it and get the results you’re looking for.

The process of exercise is going to be a bit of an up and down. You’re going to have some good times, and some disappointments. You’re going to feel like you can’t lose, and then like you’re in the biggest losing streak and wonder how you are going to get out of this pattern. You’re going to feel hopeless, and one day feel great. Now, once you start to get those victories under your belt, you’re going to realize you can weather out those points where you can’t make any progress. This usually happens when you actually have a steep learning curve.

If you have some kind of ambient desperation to you, some part of you that needs to get this done and taken care of really quickly, that can be an artificial accelerator to change, and to holding you back. You’re going to be more emotionally tied to the results because you feel this desperate need to get over your problems as quickly as possible. You might become hyper-attentive because you’re trying to make everything work. If you stay committed to the process, you will weather on. Sometimes you’ll feel like you’re riding the stock market trend, up one day, down the next, up the next day, down the next three days, and you want to know how to get consistent wins. If you keep persisting, just like the stock market, you will average out to an overall increase.

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