How to Conquer the Three Percent Problem

How to Conquer the Three Percent Problem

Tell me if this sounds all too familiar.  You’re working out three to five times a week for 60 minutes.  You are dedicated, busting your ass within the gym, and have a real desire to achieve your goals.  You have been consistently going to the gym for weeks, yet you aren’t getting the results you want.  I feel and understand your pain - working your ass off and not seeing results.

But why aren’t you seeing results?  While there are a multitude of factors to consider, ultimately it boils down to making decisions that are undermining all the hard work you put within the gym.  

I call this the Three Percent Problem.

Allow me to explain.  As we know, there are 24 hours within the day, but do you know how many hours that is per week? Put away those Calculator apps;  It’s 168 hours. So, if you are only working hard towards your goal within the gym (i.e. five hours per week) that equates to 3% of your total week (3/168.  I don’t know about you, but only putting in 3% of effort doesn’t sound like a recipe for success.

So, how do you solve this 3 Percent Problem without having someone following you around knocking the food/drinks out of your mouth?  Well unless you are actually a “One Percenter” who can hire someone to do that 24/7… realistically, your best choice is your only choice: you need to improve your self-discipline skills.

How to Develop Self Discipline

Self-discipline is the number one trait need to accomplish your goal, regardless if you simply want to workout consistency or finally see your abs for the first time.  Sure, It’s easy to skip dessert when you don’t have any within your kitchen because you Red Light, Green Light your Kitchen,(click here to learn more) yet how about when you are at a friend’s BBQ and you’re offered another burger?  If you have, then you have actively practice self-discipline - the ability to monitor and control behavior.

Despite what many people think, self-discipline is a learned behavior.   By developing this skill, you’ll be more capable of dealing with setbacks and make positive decisions without thinking. I won’t lie - It does requires conscious effort, practice, and trial and error.  However, once your self-discipline is rock solid, your behavior and choices won’t be dedicated or influenced by spontaneous decisions, feelings, or impulses. You’ll be making more informed, rational decisions without feeling overly stressed or upset by the situation.  

Improving your self-discipline will allow you to live a higher quality of life by helping you establishing good habits, breaking bad habits and improve your self-control by making simple changes to your everyday routine.  However, life will throw you a curve ball (because life is mean like that) and you’ll need to quickly avoid this obstacle.


Step 1: Know Your Daily Obstacles.  

Chances are you have tried dieting before and for one reason or another you didn’t receive the results you worked so hard for.  That’s why you need to clearly establish what your obstacles are and figure out solutions. Without clearly identifying the problem, you’re unable to solve the underlying issues.  By confronting the issue, we are able to create an action plan to achieve your goals.

What is a Good Action Plan?

Words rarely results in action, so it doesn’t do too much good to simply “exercise more and eat less”.  If that worked, America wouldn’t be the obese nation it is and you wouldn’t be reading this article. Action plans only work because they are specific and establish a particular time, place, and behavior to achieve your goal.  

A simple action plan could be as simple as:

“After work on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, I’ll hit the gym for at least 45 minutes of lifting and 10 minutes of HIIT for my cardio.”  

This is a simple and straightforward. The more complex the plan is, the more likely you won’t be able to follow it.  Instead, adhere to the K.I.S.S method - Keep it Simple, Stupid. Now, we don’t live in a perfect world where there are no conflicts, meeting aren’t thrown into our schedules without notice and all our plans proceed in a linear, non-setback world.  This is why you need to have a Plan B - Coping Plan.

your plan vs reality

Everyone struggles with something when it comes to fitness.  It could be actually working out, making time, nutrition, or being consistent with all three.  It is different for each person to varying degrees, but this illustrates how we need a Coping Plan to remain on track.

Coping Plan 101

Coping plans are a specific habitual healthy response to a less unhealthy response. A coping plan comes into place to offer a healthier option, or smaller, positive steps. A successful coping plan accomplishing three important goals,

  1. Identify the Problem

  2. Highlights what caused the problem

  3. Asking yourself what you could do instead

For example, if you are pounding 10+ beers every week, there’s a very good chance you aren’t going to lose any weight.  So, for the person pounding 10+ beers throughout the week, their coping plan would be:

    1. For every beer, I’ll drink one glass of water.

    2. After a night of drinking, I will write down how i feel when I wake up.

Even with the best intentions, eventfully life still gets into the way to upset our progress.  How to do you prevent this? You need to constantly ask yourself “why is this important to me?” By staying engaged with your goal, the better you’ll be able to weather the storm.

Don’t just focus on the superficial level, but really ask yourself why does this matter to me??

Go deep.

For whatever your reason is I want you to maintain it through the process.  If you are unable to immediately answer this question, then you have some thinking to do.

Step 2 - Remove those Temptations

Self control is often easier when abiding by the phrase “out of sight, out of mind.”  If you are finding that you struggle with your eating habits once you finally get home from a long-ass day at the office, then remove all temptations and distractions from your environment will be your first critical step.  You want to set yourself up for success by ditching the bad influences.

Step 3 - Accept The Imperfect Progress

Now, let’s get this out of the way: There is no such thing as perfect progress.  I don’t expect it out of myself and in no way I expect it from you. HOWEVER, what you should focus on is developing self-accountability. Without question, it’s a necessity for your overall success. Otherwise, there’s no way to know if the plan is feasible. Simply put, if you are unable to follow the plan even in the most general way, it’s time to make a new one.  

Successful programs constantly use self-monitoring to show people how their behaviors influence their weight. When things aren’t moving in the right direction, ask yourself what win’s did i achieve throughout the week?   We already spend too much mental energy on our failures, so by showcasing our highlights, we are able to stay motivated. Learn from your mistakes, apply those lessons, and then make the next best decision.

Instituting a new behavior or way of thinking won’t always go according to plan.  You will have days of amazing success and you will have days of flat out failure. This is normal and all apart of the process.  The key is to learn from your experience and keep moving forward. Use those hiccup moments as a learning moment for the future.  The longer you beat yourself up for those mistakes, the harder it is to keep going in a positive direction.

Once you are able to master self-discipline, it’s like having a personal trainer with you 24/7, even when you are dealing with the Three Percent Problem.  


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