Every January, fitness clubs across the nation are packed with people who have the best of intentions and big plans for transforming themselves. By the end of February, almost all those newcomers are gone.
My years of experience as a trainer has shown me that something occurs after that initial excitement of starting an exercise program. If people don’t see quick, visible, dramatic results, they tend to get discouraged and quit. I’ve seen this happen time and time again — usually at around four to six weeks.
Let me just tell it like it is: Here are six common mistakes that can undermine your efforts, and how to avoid these pitfalls as you start the New Year with good intentions.
#1 Overdoing it
If you can barely walk the next day, you sure won’t be able to exercise. And if you can’t exercise, you’re losing a valuable chance to establish a healthy exercise habit. A little soreness and stiffness is fine; it will usually disappear once you warm up your muscles again. However, if the pain is sending you straight to the medicine cabinet — or right back to bed — you’ve pushed too hard for your current level of fitness.
#2 Watching the clock
There are lots of books and articles out there that claim you must spend at least an hour a day working out if you want to see results. If you have that kind of spare time, there’s nothing wrong with this advice. But if you work full time and have kids, it’s probably unrealistic. And it’s discouraging — if you can’t manage an hour, why bother?
That’s why I tell busy clients to start small. Ten minutes a day is a lot better than zero minutes a day. It’ll take longer to reach weight loss goals this way, to be sure; but your results will last longer, too. The key is to establish a routine that is versatile, flexible and fun — and fits your lifestyle.
#3 Doing too little
#4 Checking your weight every day
I speak from experience here — I stopped weighing myself daily years ago when I came to realize that my one step onto the scale in the morning dictated my mood for the day.
Step away from that scale. Your weight can vary by several pounds, depending on water and hormone fluctuations. If you’re strength training, you’re building muscle, which will slow the weight loss you see on the scale, even though you’re losing fat. If you’re getting on the scale once a day — or more — you’re setting yourself up to be discouraged. Give yourself other goals instead, like fitting into your old jeans. And if you must, weigh yourself once a week.
#5 Comparing yourself to others
That green eyed envy monster will stifle your progress. If you won’t be satisfied until you look like one of those small-boned movie stars who can afford to spend three hours every day with their private trainers, you will never think that who you are and what you can do is enough. Set your own goals and be happy in your own skin. Be proud of who you are and what you can do.
#6 Expecting immediate results
We’ve grown accustomed to faster food, faster technology, and faster transportation, so we get impatient and disappointed when we can’t take weight off as fast as we can put it on. Remember: an extra pound means you’ve consumed 3,500 extra calories. Get your body moving and keep it moving for a lifetime and you’ll see long-term results.
Stay committed and focused. Success is in your future — I feel it!