Top 6 Obstacles to Nailing Your Fitness Goals
I’m not going to sugar coat it: most of the fitness kicks people invest time and money into fail.
If you’ve tried to change your lifestyle for a decade or more, chances are you’ve consumed more than enough info to know how to eat and exercise.
You might be wondering: I know what to do, so why can’t I do it?
Few of our clients are fitness pros, but almost everyone “knows” enough to be fitter than most of the population and be at a healthy weight: eat more vegetables, watch your booze intake, minimise junk food, and exercise regularly.
But then there’s the “actually doing it” piece.
That’s the hard stuff. And THAT’s what we need to help you figure out.
We all have a general idea of what we should eat and that we need to exercise. So why is it so hard to change our habits?
When we see clients achieve the most rewarding results, it’s because they’ve learnt to do one skill really well. And it’s not perfecting their squat technique, or even having the perfect diet.
Clients who get life changing results TROUBLE SHOOT!
Yes, you need to eat well and train effectively to change your body. But trouble shooting is all about what’s standing in your way to achieving those two key pieces.
That’s why the relationship we have with our clients is not just about training them. We dig out the obstacles and help them find solutions that will work for them.
In the past 12 years of seeing clients at New Image, there are six main obstacles to making change that keep rearing their ugly heads.
Have a read and see if you can spot any of these culprits in your own life, and apply our tips for what you can do to smash these gremlins out of your path.
1) All or nothing mentality
Either you’re on the bandwagon, or you’re waaaaaay off it. And in between is a vast wasteland of sensible compromise that you won’t even consider as a viable option!
There are no immediate consequences to screwing up with your diet or missing a workout. What counts is what you do consistently.
The trick when you slip up, and it’s REALLY tricky, is to experience that disappointment that you didn’t stick to your plan for a moment, and then MOVE ON. Don’t tell yourself that you’re a loser or a failure, or that you’ve blown it now so you might as well PROPERLY go to town on the sweet and crunchy stuff. Just make the next best decision and keep going.
You DO NOT need to stick perfectly to a plan to see results. What you do need is to be pretty consistent over the long term, and just improve on what you’re already doing. That’s it!
We all suffer to some extent from the “I’ve blown its”, but let’s be rational. If you ate a piece of bread that wasn’t on your plan, is eating a whole packet of Tim Tams while vowing to start Monday going to help?
2) Emotional eating
This is a huge topic and well beyond the scope of our expertise as personal trainers and exercise physiologists. If you feel emotional eating is a big problem for you I highly recommend engaging a psychologist or psychotherapist.
Emotional eating in and of itself isn’t a bad thing. We all eat for non-hunger reasons to some extent. One of the best things in life is celebrating with food, enjoying a meal with family, having a little treat or celebratory glass of champagne. And there’s no getting around it: my Mum’s lasagne really DOES make me feel better – it’s like a big warm hug!
But automatically turning to food as your go-to coping mechanism at the first sign of an uncomfortable feeling can make healthy eating hard.
One way we help clients take control of this issue is to keep a food journal. Just doing this for a week can uncover so many habits and triggers. Write down:
- when you ate
- what you ate
- what you were doing when you ate, and
- how you felt BEFORE and AFTER you ate.
This is a judgment free zone, so be honest! Try to be an objective observer of your own behaviour. From there, we can really start to trouble shoot and come up with solutions.
Again, please ask a psychologist or other specialist for help if this is a big issue for you. Treatment is very effective if you seek it out!
3) Failing to plan
We see huge results with our clients when they schedule their workouts and loosely plan out their meals! Most of us don’t do this, but it makes a big difference.
If you want to be successful, you need to make a plan. We can help you, but only YOU know your lifestyle and what you can stick to.
You absolutely have to plan your meals (because you need to eat a few times a day) and you need to book your training sessions into the diary (because you’re busy and you’ve got other things to do!)
If you don’t plan meals, that’s when you find yourself ravenous and subject to making poor choices. Keep things simple, and know yourself!
If you really don’t have time or don’t enjoy cooking, healthy food delivery services are cost effective and take the thinking out of things. At home, we’ve been giving meal planning services a crack and they’ve definitely made life easier.
Don’t be fancy. Pick one or two breakfasts you like and are quick to prepare, and buy your ingredients on sunday. You can also rotate between a few simple lunches and dinners. Prep as much as you can on the weekend. Or if you have the time to cook daily, at least write out a rough plan the night before so you have some idea of what will go into your mouth.
Your workouts NEED to be in the diary if they’re going to happen. We’re appointment only at NEw Image, and even the fact that our clients have to book in a meeting with us (and themselves) like every other commitment in their lives makes a huge difference to making it happen. Even if your current plan is just walking every day (a great plan, by the way), make sure you plan at the beginning of the week and every evening when you’re going to fit this in.
4) Out of control stressing
This is a BIG one. Your ability to manage stress and how you respond to stressful situations is CENTRAL to your health and habits. New Image clients are busy, successful people! And many of you are chronically stressed.
We’re working longer hours, commuting further, doing more for our kids and sleeping less.
A little bit of stress is ok. In fact I’d dare say that if you’re not experiencing occasional stress, you’re not trying hard enough! Mild stress motivates us to achieve and complete tasks and perform better. Stress helps us meet deadlines and push ourselves through mild discomfort.
At New Image, we even design our training programs to stress your body, and then allow for recovery. This is how we instigate change.
But stress becomes a problem when it’s chronic. Our stress hormones cortisol and adrenaline are supposed to increase in times of short-term stress and then return to normal.
One of the first things you need to do to be on top of stress is fixing your sleep.
Simple steps you can implement to promote more, better quality, sleep include:
- Go to bed by 10pm every night
- Turn electronic devices off 1 hour before bed
- Dim the lights at night
- Have a warm shower or bath with epsom salts
- Drink herbal tea with chamomile or lavender
- Find ways of relaxing that you enjoy. Meditation might not be for you (or it just might!), but perhaps a long bath at the end of the day winds you off. Or taking a five minute walk outside when things get stressful at work can give you some fresh perspective.
If stress is a problem for you, I highly recommend you see a mental health professional to get on top of it.
5) Eating out a lot
We want you to have a life. I’d be really bummed out if a client felt they had to miss out on parties or meetings or lunches to reach their goals.
But the fact is that it’s harder to eat well and stay on track when you eat out. When you prepare food yourself, you have complete control over what goes onto your plate and portion sizes. At a restaurant or a function, temptation is everywhere. The yummiest foods are usually high in fat and salt and alcohol is free flowing. And the portion sizes are usually much more than what you need.
The first thing you can do is to simply eat out less. Don’t miss out, but be choosier about when you do. Instead of eating out for every lunch and grabbing pizza on a night when the fridge is empty, pick one or two occasions a week that you will enjoy or that you have to attend for work.
And when you do eat out – guess what? You’re still in control of what goes into your mouth! Our healthy eating guidelines are all about giving you a system to use in any situation.
Learn some simple tricks for keeping on track when out and about. There are no hard and fast rules, but here are some of the tricks our clients find helpful:
- Choose a meal packed with veggies (aim for half a plate)
- Have lean protein
- Pick your spot – if you’re going to have a glass of wine, skip the bread basket. If you want dessert, have a few bites but avoid drinking.
- Have a two drink limit
- Eat slowly
6) Overcomplicating things
When we’re trying to lose weight, most of us jump straight on a meal plan, or a new diet, or a full on regime. This is usually a HUGE leap from what you’re currently doing and sets you up to fail.
Smart, busy, successful people (ie New Image clients) haven’t got to where they are by dumbing things down and simplifying.
Many of our clients who are thriving in their careers also have this terrible habit of overcomplicating their health and fitness. They devour health and fitness information, can tell you everything about the latest fads and trends in the fitness world, and are COMPLETELY overwhelmed by it. It’s paralysing.
Most people who are not athletes will see enormous gains by keeping things verrrry simple and getting right back to basics. This, for most people, will mean three balanced meals a day, booze only on the weekends, and a walk every day. Making these simple changes for 80% of the population will make a big difference.
Get the basics right first, and then we can tweak and optimise to really amplify your results.