This article was originally posted on the site in 2009, but we are posting it again as a StrengthCoach Classic to serve as a refresher and so newer members can see it.
I think I remember Stephen Covey in his book Seven Habits of Highly Effective People making reference to what I believe he called "the law of the farm." The reference was meant to show that most of the truly good things in life take time and can't be forced. Covey described the process of farming and alluded to how it requires patience and diligence to grow crops properly. In addition, farming requires belief in the system. The farmer must believe that all the hard work will yield an eventual long-term result.
As a strength and conditioning coach and sometime personal trainer, the concept has always stuck with me. The process of beginning an exercise program is much like farming or like planting a lawn. There are no immediate results from exercise and there are no immediate results from farming.
First, the seeds must be planted. Then fertilizer (nutrition) and water must be applied consistently. Much like fertilizer in farming, too much food can be a detriment to the exerciser. Only the correct amounts cause proper growth. Overfeeding can cause problems, as can underfeeding.
As I sit on my farm and wait for my lawn to sprout, I feel many of the same frustrations of the new exerciser.
When will I see results?
How come nothing is happening?
All this work and -- nothing.
The key is to not quit.
Have faith in the process. Continue to add water and wait. Farming and exercising are eerily similar. Continue to exercise and eat well and suddenly a friend or co-worker will say, "Have you lost weight"? Your reaction might be, "It's about time someone noticed." Much like the first blades of grass poking through the ground, you begin to see success. You begin to experience positive feedback, clothes begin to fit differently.
When my friends or clients talk to me about their frustration with their initial lack of progress in an exercise program, I always bring up the farm analogy. We live in a world obsessed with quick fixes and instant results. This is why the farm analogy can be both informative and comforting.
An exercise program must be approached over a period of weeks and months, not days. The reality is that there is no quick fix, no easy way, no magic weight loss plan, no secret cellulite formula.
There is only the law of the farm. You will reap what you sow.
In reality, you will reap what you sow and care for. If you are consistent and diligent with both diet and exercise, you will eventually see results. However, remember, much like fertilizer and water, diet and exercise go together. Try to grow crops or a lawn without water. No amount of effort will overcome the lack of vital nutrients.
The law of the farm.
Plant the seeds.
Feed and water properly.
Wait for results; they will happen, not in days, but in weeks and months.