This Is the One Thing Preventing You From Achieving Your Fitness Goals
It's depressing to know that an estimated 80 per cent of New Year's resolutions are doomed to fail by the second week of February. Considering how intense the pressure is this time of year to upgrade your entire life (no biggie), it's no surprise many of us give up at the first sign of a wobbly resolve. Even a strong start can't necessarily save you from collapse. That's because motivation, as you may know, isn't infinite. Think it couldn't possibly happen to you? Without a plan, statistics say it probably will. Ever heard the saying: It's not the horse that draws the cart, it's the oats? It's like that. Except what'll keep on taking you to the gym isn't your car—ultimately, it's your mindset.
With that in mind, we reached out to three top fitness experts (each of whom has spent their fair share of time troubleshooting client excuses) for the secret sauce to hacking your way to success. Forget the tired advice you've heard a million times ("Lay out your workout clothes before bed!" etc.), we pressed the experts for both the thing they believe prevents most people from achieving their objectives AND how to beat it. From reconsidering the impact of your state of mind, to setting goals *within* your goals (more on that below), read on for everything you need to know to smash this year's New Year's resolution.
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Going too hard, too soon.
"Many well intentioned people start off the new year like a bull charging out of the gates—with super-ambitious exercise goals. The problem occurs if these goals are exponentially greater than the ones they finished off with last year. Nothing wrong with lofty goals, except that when someone can't maintain the hectic pace after a few weeks, they tend to quit. It's much more advisable to start off with a sustainable plan that you build upon with smaller advances." —Benjamin Lucas, Flow Athletic.
Expecting results, like, tomorrow.
"New year, new you? Perhaps. Just don’t expect the new you to surface in the first couple of weeks. Remember—it's taken you a lifetime to get into your current shape, you can't reverse it in an instant. Formulate a long-term plan and you'll be able to keep your results for the long-term, too." —Lucas.
"Set yourself a goal of achieving washboard abs by February? You need to ensure the goals you set are actually doable in the time frame you've given yourself. Otherwise you'll inevitably become disheartened which can push you off track. Within every goal you set, set mini benchmark goals to lead you on a series of successes to your overall target." —Michael Aldridge, Crew Boutique Rowing Studio.
Not considering your "circle of influence".
"Who are the people you spend the most time with? Do they support your new fitness goals? Surround yourself with people who believe in your ambition and encourage you, and you'll believe and achieve, too." —Lucas.
"Share your ambition with a training partner, your SO, family, or anyone you think will be a positive influence. This will encourage you to take action, rather than just writing down a goal in your diary...and forgetting about it. When someone else is involved in helping you achieve, you've got an opportunity to motivate and push each other which can keep the momentum going." —Aldridge.
Ignoring your mental state.
"If you woke up tomorrow and your body, health and energy were exactly what you wish for, what would you be doing differently to be in that place? When we focus on how 'fat' we look, how tired we feel, or why we can’t obtain our goals, we never achieve anything beyond what we're currently settling for. Why? Because motion comes from emotion. Focus on what’s great about you, not what’s 'wrong' with you—you'll feel good, your energy will lift, and you won't need to convince yourself to 'be good'. The right mental state enables you to behave your way to being the person you want to be. The true secret to success is not faking it until you make it, it's faking it until you *become* it." —Benjamin Young, Be More Human.
Failure to plan.
"It’s great to set goals, but without a solid strategy around how you're actually going to get where you want to go, you're less likely to achieve. Take the time to write down an action plan to follow. For instance, if your goal is to lose 5 kg, set an overall goal date, then plot mini goals along a timeline. Next, plan out training days, draw up a training program, set out a nutrition plan and prep your meals." —Aldridge.
ONLY focusing on the outcome.
"Most people are outcome- rather than process-focused. Outcomes are things like; 'I need to exercise more', 'I want to lose weight', 'I should eat more healthfully'. In other words, they're aims that aren't really measurable. (For instance, how do you determine when you've made your diet adequately healthy?) If you focus on process (or behaviour) goals instead, you'll have more clarity around how you're doing. A few ideas; complete 10 minutes of interval training 3 times per week, eat a serving of vegetables with every main meal, or choose high fibre fat sources like avocado, olives or macadamias." —Young.
Letting "busy" get in the way of "important".
"It's relatively easy to start strong with your New Year's resolution—most people are still quite relaxed and not yet out of holiday mode in January. However, when life gets busy, we often drop what's important (see: training/eating right) in favour of what's urgent (work). This is because we haven't structured our day and/or week to accommodate what we need to do to reach our goals. Without a system, we're in a reactive state, which makes us feel out of control. If you're proactive with your schedule, you're much better placed to juggle last minute 'emergencies' without losing your goals in the whirlwind. Being 'too busy' is actually just being lazy. Prioritise the things that need to get done in order for you to reach your goals, and the rest will follow." —Young.