Arrrrggghhhh! It’s so frustrating! You started out with the best intentions. You were going to kick January right in the butt, and you did. You hit that gym with the force of a vengeful goddess three or four times a week. You felt the burn and while you could barely move for days after you first started back it felt great to be taking your health and fitness into your own hands. You didn’t just show up to the gym, you brought your A-game to every session. You grunted, you gurned, you sweated and learned. After every session, you hit the showers knowing that you did your best and gave it your all.
Your diet? Forget about it! Your kitchen now looks like a library thanks to all the healthy cookbooks you bought, and you worked hard to ensure that the whole family got a nutritious yet savory meal three times a day. On paper, it looks like you crushed it. You did everything all those lifestyle blogs (including this one) said you should do. Yet, although you feel like you’ve done everything you can, three months in you’ve hit a bit of a wall. After all, three months is the period by which you and those around you should start to notice the changes right by your healthy new lifestyle, right? You should be facing a daily barrage of compliments at work and on the school run about how svelte and healthy you’re looking… But when you look in the mirror you still see the very same you that looked back at you in December. How could this be?
You’re frustrated… But don’t let it be your undoing!
First of all, it could be that you have unrealistic expectations. Depending on your size, your age and the general state of your metabolism, it could well be that you take a little longer than three months to notice the difference. Or maybe there is a noticeable difference but your psychology won’t let you see it. Maybe others around you have noticed, they just haven’t spoken up about it. But, for the sake of argument let’s assume that you have hit a wall. You will probably feel an overwhelming urge to throw in the towel in frustration. It can’t possibly be worth it to work this hard and to see so little in the way or results, right? You wouldn’t be alone. 43% of people have already thrown in the towel by the end of February. But don’t let your temporary frustration derail your plans.
You’ve worked so hard, after all. You don’t want to give up and find yourself doing all of this again the same time next year. It’s time to identify the reason why you’ve hit a wall in terms of your goals. Only by doing this can you right the ship and make more progress…
You tried to take on too much, too soon
People have a tendency to go into any big lifestyle change, guns blazing and find themselves doing too much, too soon. An effective exercise program should encompass both strength training to build lean muscle mass and boost metabolism and high-intensity cardiovascular exercise for fat burning and heart health. Some people, however, alternate days between weights and cardio so they’re at the gym 6 days a week. This is a huge culture shock if you’ve had a mostly sedentary lifestyle up until this point. Recovery time is a hugely under-appreciated aspect of fitness training and if you don’t allow your body off days to repair and rebuild you’re unlikely to make optimal gains.
You’ve probably already heard the phrase “consistency is key” but while this is a simple mantra it can be a hard one to live by. Life is not consistent and the world throws us curve balls in the form of late meetings, after-school ballet recitals, school play productions or impromptu date nights. These can derail us and throw us off our rhythm at the gym and also push us away from our devout meal planning.
That’s not to say that you should descend into a spiral of self-loathing if you miss a session or find yourself grabbing a late night pizza. You should, however, be as consistent as your lifestyle and commitments will allow you to be. Set yourself a realistic target and stick to it. If 4 weeks at the gym is untenable for you, just make sure you hit the gym 3 times a week every week. If you can’t manage to be completely good 100% of the time, just be consistently good 85% of the time. Consistency will yield better results by the end of the year than intermittently crushing it and slacking off.
You don’t know where to turn for dietary advice
If only there were such a thing as healthy eating. The trouble is that while there’s a lot of dietary advice out there, it’s so profuse and so binary that it can be hard to know where to turn. There are some like Dr Atkins and Dr Dukan for whom carbs (even complex carbs like oats) are anathema, and that fats and protein sources are the only way to go. Then there are those like Dr. McDougal who insist that starchy carbs are essential and that the fat we eat is the fat we wear. Then again, of course, we’re noticing an increasing move towards veganism with more and more people swearing off all animal products and claiming that this is the secret to weight loss.
It’s enough to make your head spin.
The truth is that the only way to know for sure is to find the approach that works for you. Every human body is different and everybody has different tastes. However, the simple fact is that you have to find something that suits you, and that you can stick to. As disparate as these diets may be, they all agree on two things; that we should all be eating more fresh veggies and fruits and that we should all be eating fewer processed foods.
You’re sticking to the same exercise routine
It can be difficult to maintain the same enthusiasm and motivation when you find yourself laboring on with the same routine week in, week out. When you find a workout that’s a challenge for you at first, but then becomes easier as you do it more often, it can be tempting to stick with this plan. If it’s getting easier, that must mean you’re getting fitter, right? Not necessarily! The good people at ClubFitness.us will tell you that our bodies improve fastest when under strain, and when they become accustomed to the same exercises they have a tendency to coast. Thus, you may not be seeing the best gains unless you switch up your routine regularly. Talk to an instructor at the gym and they’ll be only too happy to set you up with something more challenging.
You don’t have the time
It’s that one-size fits all get out that we all find ourselves leaning on from time to time. “I don’t have time”, “I’m too busy”, “There’s too much to do”. It’s a convenient excuse but one that anyone can circumvent. How? Wake up at 5 am. Seriously. Get into the habit of waking up at 5 am whether it’s a workout day or not. This will make getting up earlier, and on non-workout days do something fun. Have a coffee, eat a leisurely breakfast, read a book or watch some TV. This will mean that you don’t associate early mornings with laboring away at the gym means that you’ll find getting out of bed easier in the early mornings.
Choose a workout that you can easily fit into your busy life and you’ll find the balance that much easier. Plus, you’ll spend the rest of your day enjoying the post-workout endorphin high!
You’re trying to go it alone
No matter how determined and disciplined you are, there’s only one of you. It can be extremely difficult to stay motivated when you’re trying to do everything on your own. We make much more progress when we have someone in our corner to help keep us motivated. Invite a friend from work to come to the gym with you before or after work or, better yet, get your whole family in on the act. Not only will you stay motivated, you’ll have someone to hold you accountable when you feel like slacking off.
You’re thinking about what you eat but not when
Of course, what you eat plays a major role in your fitness goals, but far too few of us give proper consideration to when we eat. If you feel like you’re eating all the right things but aren’t seeing the gains you’d hoped for, you may want to try out intermittent fasting. This divides your time between feasting and fasting with 16 hours of fasting a day and an 8 hour fasting period. This is proven to boost your metabolism, improve insulin resistance, boost human growth hormone levels leading to greater gains and may even help to keep cancer and Alzheimer’s at bay.
Just don’t give up!
Don’t let your current frustration lead you to give up now. Even if you’ve hit a hurdle, you have every chance of reaching your goals by the end of the year. Find the reason why you’ve stalled and put the provisions in place to overcome it. Then you’ll be unstoppable!