It’s that time of year again. The time where everyone tells themselves that “this year will be different.” You promise yourself that you’ll take care of your body, that you’ll eat better, that you’ll exercise and be more physically active. Public big box gyms get flooded every January with people that have this same goal. Yet somehow, 90% of those same people are nowhere to be found once February rolls around!
The obvious answer is that they just don’t stick to their guns. After a little soul searching and some digging, the real answer can actually be a bit more complicated. Personal goals, direction, drive, motivation, confidence, and will-power all play a vital role in changing your routine and behaviors. Let’s take a look at the underlying causes of broken resolutions and some strategies to combat the “inevitable” exodus out the gym doors forever.
LACK OF SPECIFIC GOALS
So many people walk into the gym, sign up for a year’s gym membership and lose their way by the end of the month. Their goals range all over the spectrum. They do a little of this, a little of that, see no results, get discouraged, and are never seen again.
Before you sign on the dotted line and commit yourself to a year of gym time, take the week leading up to New Year’s Day and decide exactly what you want to accomplish by going to the gym. “Being more active” is not a specific enough goal. If you want to lose weight, that’s great. If you want to get bigger, awesome! However, you need to dig a little deeper than that. Choose S.M.A.R.T. goals. Your endgame should be Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and be Time-based. Now your goal of losing fat becomes, “I want to lose 10 lbs of fat within 12 weeks.” This goal is specific and measurable because we now have a number to use as a bench mark for success. It is achievable and realistic because losing an average of 0.83 lbs of fat per week is completely possible. It’s not like you’re fooling yourself into believing you’ll lose 15 lbs a week. That’s insane! Lastly, it’s time-based because we now have an end date for this specific goal. Pick 1 or 2 S.M.A.R.T. goals to get started and don’t worry about shooting for the moon. You can always pick a tougher goal once you’ve achieved the basics.
NOT SETTING REALISTIC EXPECTATIONS
This speaks to the previous point but it goes a little deeper than that. If you’ve chosen a S.M.A.R.T. goal, you’re half way there. The problem is that these days, people expect the world. In an age where we can get groceries delivered to your house by a drone, it seems that people have lost a little touch with the amount of effort that goes into improving their health and fitness levels.When the gains don’t come quickly, they decide that they need to find a magic pill. In other cases, they do make some early gains but get discouraged by the first plateau they hit.
Temper your expectations a bit. Sustainable fat loss and muscle building doesn’t come overnight. There has to be decisive and consistent behavior change. It requires showing up to each of your planned workouts and putting in the work. You wouldn’t expect your taxes to get done by printing your 1040 and looking at it. I’ve got some news for you. that dumbbell isn’t going to move itself. Get up and go and be consistent about it. Don’t worry about the mirror yet. You see yourself every day. That makes it difficult to notice subtle differences in your physique. You’ll find that over time, your numbers will improve. A little further down the road, you’ll start seeing changes in the mirror. Be patient.
NOT STICKING TO THE PLAN
Again, this will speak a little to the first 2 points. People get exercise ADD when they don’t see the results come right away. It’s kind of like sitting at a light waiting for it to turn green. If you just wait a little, it will eventually change. Instead they turn down the next street and arrive at… surprise, another red light. Even if they aren’t discouraged yet, people that don’t see quick results on their current plan, change the route too quickly and wind up going no where fast.
Make a plan based on your S.M.A.R.T. goal and stick with it. Positive sustainable gains take time. Trust the process, enjoy the ride and eventually, you’ll be rewarded for your efforts.
BEING INTIMIDATED BY THE REGULARS
At some point, everyone has been in this position. You finally get up the courage to leave the stretching area and take your first foray into the strength training room. You fumble through some clumsy reps of something you saw once in a magazine and can’t get over some of the looks you’re receiving.from lifters that are clearly more experienced than you. On top of that, some of the hulking and cut physiques will make you take a look in the mirror and think, “I’ll never look like that. Why bother?” This is enough to make anyone shy away from coming back.
Chances are, it’s not the exercise or the form that’s being frowned upon. There is such a thing as “gym etiquette”. I won’t go into the full details here but the key ones that are big no-no’s are: not wiping down your bench once you’re done with your last set, not replacing plates and dumbbells back on the rack where you found them. Those two things are enough to drive any regular crazy. As for the other stuff, everyone that is in that gym was once in your shoes and they all know it. While public gyms can be a jungle, you’ll also find that it can be a very accepting place. While you’ll never get the same accurate information as you would from a personal trainer or strength and conditioning coach, the training floor can hold a wealth of information for newbies. If you want some tips, people will be happy to give you their opinion. If you need a spot, ask! Just make sure you let them put their weight down first.
TAKING THE SCALE AS GOSPEL
No matter what the goal is people look down at the scale way too much. They see the same weight and lose all hope that they’ll ever reach their goals.
Ditch the scale. Seriously. I know the first example had you losing 10 lbs of body fat in 12 weeks. However, body fat isn’t measured on the scale. The weight on the scale is the sum of your fat, muscle, organs, and bones. If your eating well, training hard and you’re not losing weight, there’s s chance you’ve built a little muscle. Muscle is just harder to notice because it’s denser and therefore, smaller than the same weight in fat. Stop looking at the scale and trust the process.
WORKING OUT JUST ISN’T INTERESTING
People just flat out get bored and lose interest. It happens.
Ideally, nothing should get in the way of you and your goals. That said, we’re all built differently and likewise, think differently. You’re in luck. These days, there are a variety of effective options for training that weren’t around 30 years ago. If you like working out with other people, there are plenty of independent bootcamps run by qualified professionals looking for people like you. Bootcamps are engaging, always changing, and flat out fun to be a part of. If you want to go it alone but need some guidance, there’s personal training. A qualified personal trainer can keep you motivated and on the right track towards your destination. These two options tend to have a much higher retention rate is it is. When your goals are at stake, there’s always a way. you just have to do a little research to find it. If you can’t afford instruction, get a partner. Going to the gym with someone that knows a little more than you do will help you be safe, keep you accountable, and provide a little fun.
“IT’S NOT MY FAULT” or “MY SCHEDULE WON’T ALLOW IT”
People will come up with all the excuses in the world why they can’t exercise consistently.
I’ve got some tough news for you. The issue isn’t the schedule. The issue is you. Unless you literally just gave birth, there is always a way to fit some exercise into your day. Once you wrap your head around that concept you’ll stop thinking of ways to get out of training and start looking for constructive solutions to include it into your day no matter what.