6 Reasons You May Be Failing At Fitness
It's officially mid January. How are you doing with your health and fitness goals for the year? As it gets later in the month, I can't help but notice the amount of cars in the gym parking lot dwindling. I know all too well the cycle of fitness failure. The honeymoon phase fades quickly and you are left with the reality of a goal that isn't at all easy. It can start to feel like drudgery and you find yourself making excuses and slowly falling back into your old habits. This last year was the first time in my life that I was able to finally break that cycle and reach my goals. By no means was I perfect. I fell flat on my fitness face several times, but got back up and kept pushing. When I think back on my previous attempts to get healthy, I can see now the ways that I was sabotaging myself without even realizing it. It's most likely that the barriers that you face are self imposed and if you are struggling, chances are you are doing one or more of these things.
1. No Accountability
It's one thing to tell yourself that you are going to go to the gym three times this week, but if you've said it to someone that is holding you accountable the game changes. Not only are you letting yourself down, but you have to own it to those you are accountable to. The American Society of Training and Development (ASTD) did a study on accountability and found that you have a 65% greater chance of completing a goal if you commit to someone. If you have a specific accountability appointment with a person you’ve committed, you will increase your chance of success by up to 95%. Those numbers speak for themselves.
2. Not Planning Ahead
As a single mom, this one is HUGE for me and I think all moms know that time is limited and whether it's your food or your workout, failure to plan properly usually results in skipping the gym and ordering the pizza. Have you ever gone grocery shopping without a list and found that you spend twice as much money as you intended only to get home and realize that you didn't get half the things you actually needed? Trying to implement a healthy lifestyle without a plan is a lot like that. You are trying to create new habits and if you don't plan well, then you will slip back into old habits quickly because that is what is easiest. "Failing to plan is planning to fail".-Benjamin Franklin
3. Not Tracking Your Food Intake
This is one that I really struggled with because I just didn't want to be a calorie counter. I really thought that it would make me overwhelmed and more likely to quit if I were forcing myself to track everything I ate. It wasn't until I actually started doing it that I found it to be one of my greatest tools. Not only did tracking help keep me see exactly what I was consuming, it made me more aware of how those things affected me. I was able to see clearly where my deficiencies were and fix them. I was able to identify certain foods that made me feel more sluggish and even see when I wasn't getting enough calories in. It actually became fun for me to learn more about food and find healthier alternatives to reach my goals for each day. Now that I've reached my goal and have a firm grasp on the foods that I am putting into my body regularly and how they stack up nutrient wise, I don't log my food unless I've gotten off track a bit. It's impossible to really know what's working and what's not unless you are able to look at all of the facts and tracking your food makes that possible. I highly recommend using the My Fitness Pal app to make tracking super easy.
4. Only Exercising
This is one I was definitely guilty of. I would go to the gym and then get a cheeseburger on the way home. In an ideal world, we could all just eat whatever we want and workout a couple times a week and still have rock hard abs, but that's just not how our bodies work. Not only are you missing the most important part of improving health by not improving what you put in your body, but you also are not able to get the full benefit of your workout if you aren't fueling your body properly. It's a double edged sword. Now I am strict during the week and eat whatever sounds good on the weekends. It’s all about finding a balance that works for you.
We live in an instant gratification world, but changing our habits and our bodies doesn't happen quickly. We want to see instant results and get discouraged when we don’t. There is a multi billion dollar diet industry that markets "fast results" for a reason. People want the quick fix. The truth is that, when done right, it will take you time. It will take persistence and consistency and you may have to wait months before anyone says those magic words you've been waiting to hear, "Have you lost weight?" But if you can be patient and celebrate the small victories along the way, you will be doing much more than just losing some weight or getting stronger, you will be creating healthy habits that lead to a complete lifestyle change versus a quick fix diet.
6. Neglecting Your Mental Health
This is, hands down, the biggest one. To be honest, all of the times that I tried to reach my health and fitness goals before this last year, I was not in a healthy mental state. Your mind is in charge and if your mind is not totally on board and up to the task of changing your life for the better, it won't happen. There's no way around it. When Navy Seals go into hell week they are all in great physical shape. They have to be to make it there. It's not their bodies that determine whether or not they make it through, it's their mental toughness and fortitude. How you talk to yourself and what consumes your mind is the number one factor in determining whether or not you will successfully reach your goals. "Your body can stand almost anything. It's your mind you have to convince."
Here's the good news. You can fix anything that is holding you back. Whether it is one of these things or something else. You are the only one standing between who you are now and who you want to be. Stop making excuses. Stop beating yourself up. Stop procrastinating and start taking steps in the direction of positive change. It won't be a sprint. This is a long distance run, but if it is something that you truly want, it will be worth it. And, if you're like me, you may find that, in the end, the physical results are great, but they are secondary to the mental strength and resiliency that you will have gained. Take a deep breath and smile because you CAN do this!