January brings with it the promise of a clean slate. It is the month for a fresh start, and a chance to once again work towards goals of positive change. This is why fitness facilities are often packed this time of year — people desiring to reach the goal of having a healthier lifestyle. Why then are the majority of these folks gone by March? What happened to their resolve? Here are three pitfalls people face when it comes to their workout plan and how they can be avoided.
Doing Too Much Too Soon
If you are brand new to working out, it’s completely unrealistic and unnecessary to commit to an intense workout seven days per week. Not only will this lead to burnout, but it could also cause injury and discouragement. The key is to START SMALL! A much more reasonable goal would be to commit to working out three days per week for 30-60 minutes. You need time mentally and physically to adjust to your new workout plan. A new swimmer doesn’t just dive into the deep end of the pool. They start in the shallow end and learn how to float first. Starting small and slowly building throughout the year is a much better way to ensure sticking with your plan.
CONSISTENCY TRUMPS INTENSITY. ALWAYS. A three–day per week workout plan you stick with is far superior to a seven-day per week plan you end up dropping after a month. Lasting results means being patient, taking it slow, and focusing on creating a new lifestyle of health.
Many people take for granted the importance of a quality education when it comes to working out. Even those with more experience often guess at how to design their workout program, how to properly use gym equipment, and how to achieve the results they are looking for. The fitness industry is riddled with misinformation, and it can be quite challenging to separate truth from inaccuracies. How can you best educate yourself?
- Hire a personal trainer who cannot only devise a plan tailored specifically for you, but also teach you about fitness. A good trainer is always a good educator.
- Take group fitness classes. Again, a good group fitness instructor should also be a good educator.
- Find high quality online sources of fitness information. Some of my favorites include Girls Gone Strong, Breaking Muscle, and articles by Tony Genticore and Dean Somerset.
Knowledge provides power and confidence. When you have confidence in yourself, you are much more likely to reach (and maintain) your goals.
Lacking A Performance-Based Goal
The fitness industry is driven by appearance. Do this or that to lose weight, build muscle, get a six pack, etc…. While there is nothing innately wrong with these goals, they are incredibly short-sighted. Rather than training to look a certain way, it is far superior to train for performance. What are some examples of performance-based goals?
Being able to get up and down the stairs without pain
- Improving cardiovascular function to not be so easily winded
- Being able to perform a full-body pushup or pull-up
- Increasing the amount of weight you can squat or deadlift
- Learning how to swim or play tennis
Having performance-based goals creates a mindset of training for life, health, and longevity. It takes the pressure off of you to look a certain way and allows you to focus on developing new skills and increasing the quality of your overall life—not just your appearance. Plus, by concentrating on performance-based goals, you will discover positive bodily changes happening without the need to obsess over them. Focus on performance first, and the physique will naturally follow.
Keys to Acquiring a Lifestyle of Fitness:
- Find something you enjoy doing.
- Find a network of support such as friends, family or a group fitness class that creates community and accountability.
- View fitness as a lifestyle rather than just a “30,” “60,” or “90” day challenge.
- Don’t be discouraged if you miss a workout or get derailed. Life happens! Don’t sweat it, just pick up where you left off and keep moving forward.
- Establish realistic goals that fit your lifestyle. If you can only commit working out two times per week, then commit to two times per week. To avoid frustration and burnout, focus on what you can CONSISTENTLY stick to rather than what you “think” you should be doing.
The information found on this blog is based on my own personal thoughts and opinions. I am not a doctor or registered dietician. Please be sure to consult your health care professional before starting or changing any fitness or nutrition program.
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