Progress Requires Patience

We’ve all heard the same cliches about progress:

  • “It’s about progress, not perfection”
  • “Slow progress is better than no progress”
  • “Progress is impossible without change”

I agree with all of the above, but also think there are a few more key aspects to progress that people need to be aware of, and give credit to:

Progress requires patience – Sometimes progress is easily seen, but most times it isn’t and it leaves you feeling like you’re putting in effort for nothing. In line with the idea that slow progress is still progress, you need to have patience. Anything worth having won’t come quickly or easily, so learning to persevere, focus on your goal, and continue to work (no matter what) is critical.

Progress can be frustrating – Working your butt off and waiting for visual feedback can be frustrating and really test your mental limits.  Regardless of the fact that it’s competition prep or off-season, there are moments when I get fed up with being patient (or trying to be…) But over the years I’ve learned that frustration is fine, as long as you don’t let it continue bugging you for days on end. In fact, I usually use it as fuel for a great workout – use it in a positive way and push yourself a little hard to reach your goal.

Progress is the best reward – As a competitive person, I obviously always have the goal of placing well at a competition. It’s rewarding and validates your hard work, plus, it’s a goal of mine to continue advancing up the ranks, so placing well is necessary. However, I took a minute to compare some pictures, and the impact which progress had on me was far more overwhelming than any trophy or placing.

Always take the time to look back and see how far you've come.  Day to day, it's too hard to see. Appreciate every minute of effort and work you put into your goal.

Always take the time to look back and see how far you’ve come. Day to day, it’s too hard to see. Appreciate every minute of effort and work you put into your goal.

The picture on the left was taken at my first physique competition (June 2014) and the one on the right is from the stage last weekend (June 2015). These two shows were exactly a year apart… maybe 53 weeks. The off-season goal (for me) is to put on as much muscle mass as possible, and still bring terrific conditioning to the stage. Visibly, the growth is pretty obvious, but when you put a number to it, it’s even more satisfying. In 2014, I stepped on stage around 128 lbs, and in 2015, I weighed in at 140 lbs on competition morning.  Conditioning was great, my posing has improved as my physique has changed, and I feel like I kept a balanced, feminine look. Now, that’s progress!!

Strive for progress, not perfection?? To be honest, I have a small issue with this saying. While I understand and appreciate the basic message of it, in order to make progress, I think you need to aim for perfection in your method. What do I mean, exactly? Well, if I hadn’t put 100% effort and focus into my off-season, would my progress have been the same? If I hadn’t stuck to my training plan week in, week out, if I hadn’t followed my diet plan, would I have put on that much mass? Probably not. Was every day perfect, each workout, each meal time?  No, but overall, I aimed to be as close to perfect as possible in order to reach my goal.


With a nice, long off-season stretched in front of me now, I’m aiming to be just as successful with my progress as I was last year, if not more. Will I see growth and changes regularly? Nope. Will I have bad days that aren’t as perfect as I want? You bet. But, progress will still happen over time, and I hope that my 2016 comparison picture is even more impressive than this one. Go get it!!!


About Ashleigh

I'm passionate about health and fitness. I work as a Health Promotion Specialist, a group fitness instructor, and also a coach for physique competitors / weight loss clients. I grew up as a competitive athlete, and have continued with this passion as a Women's Physique competitor. Research and writing is another interest of mine, which I use to share my knowledge with the general public.
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