3 Main Reasons Why You Give Up on Your Fitness Goals (….and How to Overcome Them)
We’ve all had goals at some point in our lives. Whether it was getting into the school of your dreams, or something as simple as saving up money to buy your first car. Goals are vast and broad. They give us aim. A result that gives us direction with all of our work. When it comes to fitness, goals are no different. For some of us it could be as simple as losing 10lbs or “toning up”. To others it could be a monthly plan of losing body fat and gaining muscle. For athletes, it could be a multi-year plan of achieving sports success at the highest level. Year after year though, people don’t follow through. We read and search the internet for information. We reach out to friends and family for advice. We even hire trainers and coaches to help us lay out our goals into defined plans. Time and time again though we don’t follow through, and in the end we abandon our efforts. So why do we quit? Why is the initial enthusiasm followed by the sad realization of failure? Lets take a look at the most common reasons why and how we can overcome them
Problem #1: Unrealistic Expectations/Goals Too Big
This is it. It’s a new year. Time for a new you. You’re going to go to the gym 5 days a week, start that new zero carb diet that you saw on Dr. Oz, and before you can say “Jenny Craig” you’re going to have the six pack that you always dreamt about. For most of us, this isn’t a realistic goal in the long run, especially if you’ve had little to no experience working out. It’s great to have these types of goals to work towards, but they can be overwhelming when you hit your body with such a sudden shift in activity and diet.
The Solution: While it can be helpful to have a precise and designed goal behind your efforts, sometimes goals can be too big. Start small. It’s great to have goals that are long term, but instead of making them the primary focus of your fitness journey try working up them progressively. Instead of going from the couch to running 5 days a week, first start with 2-3 days and gradually work up. That no carb diet? First try just eliminating all of the junk food out of your diet, then begin introducing low/no carb meals. Even short-term fitness goals require complete lifestyle changes. By gradually introducing these changes into your life and succeeding at them, you’re more likely to stick to your fitness plan and achieve your final goal.
Problem #2: Time
Life is hectic and our time is precious to us. Between our jobs, families, and making time for a few minutes to ourselves a day, it’s easy to run out of hours in a day and even over schedule ourselves. When asked the question, “If you do not exercise regularly, what is the main reason why?” the most common answer is “I don’t have the time to exercise.” The dirty secret about working out though is simple: You DO have time. It’s just a choice that you have to make.
The first question you have to answer is, “How important is my health and fitness to me?” This is a moment where you have to take a step back and be honest with yourself. To make time for something, we have to place it as a priority in the ever-shrinking days that we have. If we don’t care about our goal, we simply won’t work to achieve it. For many of us though, drive and determination may not be an issue. Time management is also key. Analyze where your daily time goes. Those extra 2 hours you took to watch Netflix? Cut that back to an hour and get your workout in. Your hour lunch break is your only free time in the day? Take 30 minutes of it to get a run in. Early mornings are your only time to workout and the gym doesn’t open that early? Watch exercise videos on YouTube or a DVD and get your workout in at home in the morning. We all have different lives and different situations that effect the time we can spend towards our fitness goals, but there are countless solutions to all of them.
Problem #3: Accountability
You’ve been walking for the past 45 minutes at the gym. You’re tired, work was terrible today, you’ve listened to the same music playlist for the last month, and for some reason the television on your treadmill is stuck on The Home Shopping Network. You just don’t want to be there today. It can be easy to step off the treadmill and go home. When you’re the only one holding yourself accountable, it can be hard to keep up the motivation for every workout, making the right diet choices, etc.
If you find that you let yourself slack off too easily, it may be time to introduce someone else into your life to share and help you with your fitness goals. Having someone join in with your workouts is a great way not only to make your workouts more enjoyable, but also to have someone else be invested in you. Having a workout partner is a great way to keep yourself motivated and keeping up to task. Another great way to keep yourself accountable is signing up for something you have to show up for. This could be boot-camps, fitness classes, or personal training sessions. Forging relations in these settings not only makes working out and keeping your fitness goals on track more fun, but also keeps you likelier to keep attending classes once you’ve met your trainer, instructor, and other classmates. Most of these activities also cost money. For most of us, if we’re paying money for something, we tend to be more likely to continue doing it.
If you’re one of the many people who have tried and failed to reach their fitness or healthy lifestyle goals at some point in your life, you’re not alone. Most of us have had struggles creating the time and maintaining the determination and focus to seeing our fitness goals come to fruition. Taking a closer look at these aspects of your fitness journey we listed can help you take a step back, reassess yourself, and create better parameters for success!
Derrick Berry, M.S.
Exercise Physiologist – Director of Athletic Development