Why do we fail to reach our fitness goals?

When it comes to attaining our fitness goals, our willpower only seems to last a few weeks. According to the Fitness Industry Association, about 12% of gym memberships are signed in January, but the numbers fall drastically in February.

So why does this happen and why can’t we keep up a regular schedule when it comes to going to the gym or working out in general? You usually hear things like ‘you’re not strong enough to stick with your goals’ or ‘you’re not determined enough’, but it seems the problem is in the way we’re built.

As humans, we only have a limited amount of willpower and it’s easily spent on regular things like getting out of bed in the morning or going to work. By evening, there’s not that much left, which is why it’s so easy to ditch the gym and get into a hot bubble bath instead.

As humans, we only have a limited amount of willpower and it’s easily spent on regular things like getting out of bed in the morning or going to work. By evening, there’s not that much left, which is why it’s so easy to ditch the gym and get into a hot bubble bath instead.

But there’s more to this behaviour, and the more you know, the easier it will be to prevent gaps in your fitness training routine.

You Fail to Plan

The first step towards failure is in planning. Sticking to your fitness goal is a task that can’t be achieved based solely on good intentions – you need to treat the situation like a project manager.

Set performance goals that are measurable and realistic for your personal situation. This means that your goal to lose 25 pounds before swimsuit season should not be on the list. Instead, you should have goals such as ‘I will improve my workout with 10 more rounds on X machine by the end of the month’ or ‘I will get to run 2 more laps than I do now in the following two weeks’.

If your goal is not losing weight but improving your performance and the way you exercise, your focus will be shifted towards something that’s easier to achieve and measure. Even more, by dividing your huge goal into small bits, you’ll notice an improvement by the start of the swimsuit season.

You Don’t Measure Progress

How would you know where you are in achieving your goals if you don’t know where you started? Many specialists recommend skipping the scale when you’re on a diet, but there are other ways to measure progress.

First, it’s important to measure performance – keep track of the time it takes to do an exercise or the time it takes to run a lap. If you see progress, it means your efforts are put to good use. You can also get a fitness bracelet that communicates with your phone – this way you’ll have an accurate progress reading at all times.

Progress monitoring is very important when you’re trying to create a new habit because you are actually trying to change the chemistry of your brain by creating new pathways. It is a well-known fact that it takes anywhere from two months to eight months to build a new habit so you need to find ways to keep yourself motivated during this time.

There’s No Time to go to the Gym

Yes, we’re all busy people with jobs and families and it gets a lot more difficult to introduce an hour at the gym in your schedule. However, there are ways to work around this problem like doing your workouts at home.

If you don’t want to spend the money on expensive equipment, you can now hire all sorts of machines from treadmills to steppers and strength equipment. The market has evolved and leasing gym equipment is becoming an ever growing solution, making it easy to rent a rowing machine or treadmill.

Finally, you can get the entire family involved in fitness activities and go outside for a run with the kids or a round of tennis. After all, you don’t have to go to the gym to be fit.

Not Focusing on the Right Thing

More often than not, losing weight or sticking to our fitness goals can be frustrating. After all, who wouldn’t be frustrated when they only meet constant failure? But we only fail because we don’t focus on the right things.

For instance, every time you slip, the tendency is to beat yourself up. You feel bad for cheating yourself out of working out and you think negatively about yourself and your level of determination. This ends up in frustration, making it easy to turn to chocolate or comfort foods for a quick pick-me-up.

But you should know by now that the brain doesn’t respond well to negativity. Learn to accept your small failures and celebrate every small step you take towards your goals. Be positive about your journey and tie your goals to positive emotions.

Instead of setting yourself a goal to lose 25 pounds by summer, think of how good you’ll look in that swimsuit. Imagine yourself enjoying the success and create a connection between working out and that positive feeling.

Overall, the way to achieve your fitness goals is by setting a clear intention (planning ahead) and maintaining your progress through consistency and hard work. In order to create a habit out of your workout routine you need to show up as often as possible, and in order to move on with your goals, it’s important to measure and improve progress.

Claire Ward

Claire Ward is a health writer and editor.

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