We've all been there, we set ourselves a goal and fail to see it through. This leaves us feeling guilty, with lower self confidence and like we've let ourselves down. With regards to fitness, this happens all the time, especially at this time of the year, people have fallen off their new year's resolutions and lack motivation to get back into it.
So what is holding us back?
1) Unrealistic goals: Setting too large and broad a goal is setting yourself up for failure. A lot of us also expect to see immediate results and if this doesn't happen we are quickly discouraged and give up. It is important to create a SMART goal, this means it's Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Relevant and Time based.
Specific: Saying “I am going to be healthier this month” is too general, it needs to be more specific such as “I am going to exercise 3x a week and cut down the refined sugar I consume”
Measurable: This means you can keep track and hold yourself accountable to it, such as going to the gym 3x a week or losing a specific amount of weight.
Actionable: This means you’re going to chose things you actually enjoy and are comfortable doing. Also are actually doable such as losing x amount of weight in x time frame.
Relevant: These goals are important to you, they are something that has meaning and therefore you are willing to stick to.
Time Based: You have a reasonable time frame to achieve these goals in; you have an end date
2) Focusing on the scale: Focus on how you feel, not your weight! Weight is just a number it does not give you an accurate reading of your health. Someone can be 135lbs and have a large amount of fat will look very different from someone who is 135lbs and has a large amount of muscle. Muscle does in fact weigh more than fat, so if your focus is in gaining more muscle, it is to be expected that your weight would increase. Focusing on how you feel and your health is way more beneficial than some number. That post workout endorphin rush is wonderful and when you feel sore because you did something wonderful for your body, this should be the focus.
3) Comparing ourselves to others: We all have the tendency to do this, comparing ourselves to others. Whether it's in everyday life where we wish we had someone else's career path or friends and family, or with fitness in regards to someone's skill level of body shape. In every case comparing ourselves to others isn't helpful and is just going to make us feel inadequate. We all have different body types and have different health/personal histories. It isn't fair to yourself to wish you had someone else's body, this mind set will set you up for failure! Be kind to yourself and focus only on yourself and what you are capable of.
4) Not stepping outside our comfort zones: In order for our bodies to change we have to overload them; this means introducing new exercises and challenging ourselves outside of what is "normal". If you do the same workout all the time your body will adapt and plateau and you will stop seeing results. This is the same as performing the same sets, reps with the same weight for months and months on end. Progressive overload is "the gradual increase in stress placed on the human body during training" which can overcome accommodation which is "the staleness resulting from a lack of change in the training program" (Ratamass, 2012) Challenge yourself to do things that scare you, that you find difficult because that is the only way you will get better. Remember that those things you're really good at now you were once scared of and weren't necessarily great at. The biggest area of growth lays right outside your comfort zone!
By: Jenna Donovan
CSEP-SCPE (2013) CSEP-PATH Physical Activity Training for Health. Canada
Ratamess,N. (2012). ACSM’s foundations of strength training and conditioning. New York, NY: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.