The Consistency Factor

I got Invisalign a couple of months ago. It’s basically a substitute for braces, a series of plastic “trays” that fit on your teeth. After a couple of weeks you switch to the next tray and your teeth move accordingly, so on and so forth until your teeth are where you want them.

A client of mine also got Invisalign last year. She is still on her first tray (I’m on tray 7 of 10). We laugh hysterically about it, because she just doesn’t remember to wear it, can’t remember where she puts it until day(s) later, and she’s already lost that first tray three times!

But we recently realized that in the months that I’ve been wearing my trays and she hasn’t been wearing hers, my teeth have moved and hers haven’t. She and I purchased the same product at the same time. We were given the same instructions—wear all day every day. Three months have gone by, but in that time, change happened for me because I wore my trays consistently. Change did not happen for her because she did not wear her trays consistently. Can it really be that simple?

There is so much power in consistency. I’ve said it before and I will say it again, all physical change requires repetition. The factors that I identified in my Invisalign experience are almost identical to the factors of success in fitness goals.

Motivation: I was highly motivated by one particular gap in my teeth that just got bigger and bigger over the years. It sounds like no big deal, but it finally caused me to commit to Invisalign. Nothing happens without motivation. Find yours, and you’ll find the commitment to start or tweak an exercise program that will generate change.

Intensity: Unlike braces which are cemented to your teeth and tightened at the will of your orthodontist, Invisalign is a choice. I alone was responsible for putting it on my teeth every single day, and believe me, it causes varying degrees of pain as your teeth adjust. The key for me was that the discomfort was manageable for the long term. Any fitness/nutrition plan will cause varying degrees of discomfort depending on how restrictive or excessive it is, but it is YOUR choice to participate, so what sort of intensity can you handle for the duration?

Repetition: I had to wear Invisalign day after day after day. If I didn’t wear my tray, my teeth would stop moving and revert back. If you stop exercising or eating properly, your gains will not only stall, your progress will roll back or be lost. You must stay repetitive to succeed in reaching your goals.

Maintenance: I’ve been told I must wear a retainer for the rest of my life if I don’t want my teeth to move again. The rest of my life is a pretty long term commitment but if it’s only at night I can make it work—it’s a good balance. What sort of lifestyle changes can you realistically make that will keep you at or near the results you’ve achieved?

In my experience, those who are most successful in long term exercise and nutrition programs do less on a more consistent basis . . . find that balance and you will not only meet your goals but maintain them!

Previously published on My Edmonds News

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