A few years ago, my old car died, so Jenn and I were searching for a new one. We're cheapskates, so we were pouring through dark corners of the internet and shady used car lots looking for deals. We finally found a good car that might not explode in 5 years and decided to buy it. We go to the lot, test drive it, then go back inside to sit down and 'go over the paperwork' with the car dealer. Now many of you know this dreaded moment... the price talk. I'd been googling 'negotiation techniques' for weeks, so I was feeling super smart. Jenn and I step away for a minute, pretended to be talking, and then came back ready to lay our negotiation bombshell on the table. I say, "If we can get the price down to X, I'll pay you in cash right now, and we'll be on our way." I was sure it would work, after all, the internet said it would! The car dealer waited for me to finish, paused just a beat and said, "That would be nice."
What a perfect response! I've thought about it for a long time afterwards. What this car dealer was really doing, besides upping the price on me, was pointing out a critical flaw in expectations. Wouldn't it be nice if our expectations met exactly with reality? Wouldn't it be nice if I could get a cheap car, at a discount, and get it today? Wouldn't it be nice to pay the price I want instead of the price he wants?
I've had a similar conversation many times with clients about training, and even more times with myself. The thinking goes like this: I'm working really hard. I think about fitness all the time. I'm spending a lot of time and energy on this. I see people who think about it and spend less time and money with more progress than me. Shouldn't I have more progress at this point? Shouldn't I be stronger, fitter, better than I am?
The unfortunate answer to this question is "no." I often find myself answering it jokingly in the fashion of my sage-like car dealer. Wouldn't that be nice? Wouldn't it be nice to make more progress with less effort? Wouldn't it be nice to get stronger every day with no setbacks? Wouldn't it be nice to never get injured? Wouldn't it be nice to eat what you want and still be lean on the beach? Wouldn't it be nice to not have to work first to get benefit later?
People who train for years know that training is more like a grueling marathon where you get punched in the face at the end than a fun skip to the donut table and an after-party. Training requires a lot, a lot, a LOT (did I say a lot?), of effort for minimal amounts of progress. This is frustrating to all of us, because we see all the people in the winner's circle with the flat stomachs, huge squats, and smiling faces in the magazines and on social media everyday. What we don't see are the years, and years (did I say years?) of unseen effort to lead to these physiques.
Training obeys the basic laws of the universe including this one: you get out what you put in. Our bodies look exactly the way they are supposed to based on the environment and stimulus we've given them. We have exactly the strength, definition, and progress we deserve based on our efforts. No more, no less.
It's easy to say, shouldn't I get more out of this when I put so much in? My answer is, wouldn't that be nice?