We just rung in the New Year and I’m sure thousands—if not millions—of people resolved to lose weight and get in shape. I’ve been there. Many of us have. But do you know what usually happens? The gym fills up with weight loss hopefuls in January, slows down a bit by February, and is usually back to just the “regulars” by March. I’ve worked in gyms; I’ve seen these spikes and drops firsthand.
Why is this? I think there are a few reasons, and I feel it’s important to recognize why so many people fail with this approach to getting fit so you can avoid the same fate.
You have to want it. Of course you want to lose weight/get buff/have a six pack/whatever. Who doesn’t? But I mean you really have to want it. Just because January 1st rolls around doesn’t mean you’re ready to hit it hard—mentally, emotionally, or otherwise. I know there were many times I said I wanted to get in shape, when I longed to fit in my old pants. But I had to get to a place where I really, really wanted it. I needed to be in the right headspace. Once I was there, I stuck with it. That just happened to be October of 2014. Maybe the New Year is what some people need to motivate them, but most of the time, I think this approach sets people up for failure.
You go all in. I know doing a total 180 might work occasionally. I’m sure some people successfully transition from drinking soda and booze, eating pizza three times a week, and sitting around on their asses watching TV to being strict dieters who pack their own meals for special occasions, drink a gallon of water a day, and hit the gym six days a week. Good for them, but those people aren’t normal! If most of us tried that, we’d fail miserably within a week’s time. Baby steps. Stop drinking soda and start going to the gym twice a week. You’ll start feeling better and see some fat loss in no time. Woohoo! You’re starting to get motivated. Add a gym day to your routine, up the intensity and swap your morning bagel for a healthy breakfast. Before long, you’ll be a total gym rat popping creatine pills and chasing them with a BCAA preworkout drink. Er, maybe that’s just me…
You’re doing the wrong workout. What do most people do when they resolve to lose weight? Sign up for a gym membership, hop on the cardio machines, and quickly burn out. Not everyone will be motivated by the same activities. Here’s a novel idea: find something you actually like doing and do it! I guarantee you’ll stick with it longer. Take boxing lessons, sign up for dance classes, try group fitness, or maybe yoga is your thing. Like the outdoors? Go hiking or biking. You get the idea. No reason you have to stick to the hamster wheel to get in shape.
You’re broke. I’m a firm believer that you can most certainly eat healthfully on very little money. I’ve done it. When I was in college, I found that buying fruits, vegetables, beans, and rice to prepare my own meals was much cheaper than eating out or buying junk. But I also know that gym memberships, fitness classes, and trainers can sometimes cost more than your budget can handle. Look, you DON’T need to spend a lot of money to get healthy. You really don’t. There are so many home workouts all over the internet and on social media, even your grandma could find them. Walking and running outdoors are free, too. Seriously, try a 20-minute HIIT workout that doesn’t require any equipment and tell me you’re not sweating your ass off.
You have unrealistic expectations. Okay, here’s the biggie…are you ready? Getting fit takes TIME. Yup, it’s true. Don’t believe all that crap you see on Instagram (you know, those pictures where somebody with love handles and a gut miraculously has washboard abs just six weeks later). This is especially true if you take baby steps, as I mentioned above. I’ve been on this path for a year and almost three months and I’m just now starting to see my abs popping through. Sure, I could’ve seen quicker results, but you know what? I’ve stuck with it, created healthy habits, AND enjoyed treats and yummy foods along the way. I truly haven’t felt deprived much at all. This is all part of my bigger goal, which is to live a healthy lifestyle—not just to get a bikini body for summer. I’ve been happy with my progress the entire time, too. I’ve slowly seen “new” muscles showing up, watched as my shoulders get more definition, and enjoyed saying good riddance to cellulite. Sometimes progress slows down and I have to reevaluate my plan and make changes accordingly. But through my entire journey, two things have ensured my continued progress: perseverance and patience.
So, don’t set yourself up for failure. Don’t think a resolution and an arbitrary date will suddenly motivate you. Have you already made a resolution to lose weight or get in shape? Figure out what fits your lifestyle, make a plan, take it one day at a time, and get your head in the right place—find what motivates you and take the necessary steps to reach your goals.