So you’ve been exercising consistently, and can’t wait to watch that number on your Fitbit Aria scale go down. Except, it’s not budging—and it may even be going up. What’s going on?
If you’ve recently set a health or fitness goal, but you’re not seeing the results you hoped for, self-sabotage—or rather, inadvertently hindering new healthy habits, by making less health-conscious choices in other areas of life—could be to blame. Here, certified fitness coach and Fitstar trainer Adrian Richardson identifies seven ways you might be accidentally-not-on-purpose holding yourself back, and offers up strategies to get you back on track.
The Setback: You Have Unrealistic Expectations
The Fix: Set “slow and steady” goals
“People often hope to see huge changes right away—only to feel discouraged when they don’t,” says Richardson. “Odds are, you didn’t gain that extra weight in 30 days, so you shouldn’t expect to lose it in 30 days either.” Skip the latest diet or fitness trend and focus on making healthy food choices and regular exercise part of your everyday routine. “Sustainability is the key to steadfast success,” says Richardson. “If you try to do too much, too soon, you not only run the risk of injuring yourself, but will likely burnout before you’ve seen any lasting results.”
The Setback: Your Routine is Too Rigid
The Fix: Create (and stick to!) an evolving plan
You’ve got to make a plan and stick to it to reach your goals. But while driving down the Get Fit Freeway of life, it’s smart to assume you’ll encounter speed bumps and detours, says Richardson. Look at your schedule, consider all of your commitments—work, family, social—and then think about the activities you will actually enjoy doing. “Create a manageable plan that leaves room for life, and pick the low hanging fruit first,” advises Richardson. “Set a goal of 30 minutes of activity three times a week—biking, walking, swimming, and bodyweight workouts are all good options,” says Richardson. “Then, after a few consistent weeks of reaching that goal while juggling all of your responsibilities, you can build upon it.” You might be ready to add a fourth day into the mix. And after that? Maybe in another month you’ll want to increase your workouts to 45 minutes. Soon there will be no stopping you!
The Setback: You’re Going It Alone
The Fix: Get support and advice from true pros
Many people think getting and staying in shape can be a one-person job—just eat less and go to the gym, right? Turns out it’s not that easy—if it were, everyone would be doing it, and thriving. Having a professional behind your plan can help it stick. Think about elite athletes—even at the top of their game they rely on coaches to guide their training. So if you’re serious about seeing results, find a certified trainer who can help you design a routine, or sign up for a program that offers customized video workouts, like Fitstar Personal Trainer, to help you reach your goals faster.
The Setback: You’re Making Too Many Allowances
The Fix: Be Smart About Treats
Many people make the mistake of thinking exercise cancels out unhealthy eating habits. What’s a side of fries when you plan to go for a run later? But That’s not how it works, says Richardson. “Unfortunately the amount of exercise needed to counter poor choices is astronomical!” No joke—it takes about 270 burpees to wipe the calorie slate clear after wolfing down a piece of pepperoni pizza! That doesn’t mean you can’t eat the foods you love or splurge occasionally. “A treat is a treat because you enjoy it every once in awhile, not regularly,” says Richardson. “Making too many allowances sets you up for a fitness plan fail.” Avoid that frustration and disappointment (not to mention feeling too sluggish to move after rich meals, or not sleeping well because of too much dessert!), by being mindful about when and how often you indulge.
The Setback: You’re Hanging with Indulgent Friends
The Fix: Line up your cheerleaders
Take a look at your support system. “Who’s keeping you accountable? Who’s giving you encouragement?” asks Richardson. Some friends and family members might veer you off course, either intentionally or accidentally, and it’s important to know who you can go to when you need a boost. Spend more time with the people in your life who cheer you on, join you for runs, and share their favorite healthy recipes with you. That friend you only ever meet for the all-you-can-eat buffets and gossip fests? If she’s not interested in healthier, more active outings, it’s time to start squeezing her out of your social calendar.
The Setback: You’re Parched—and Don’t Even Know It
The Fix: Hydrate Your Way to Better Health
You know drinking water is good for you—there’s no denying proper hydration can help fuel your health and fitness. But sipping enough—and even knowing how much to drink to begin with—can be a real struggle. “Even worse, some people forget to take in extra fluids to compensate for the sweat they lose during workouts,” says Richardson. “Drinking enough water before, during, and after a workout is crucial,” he says, “and staying hydrated throughout the day can help squash spontaneous food cravings.” To stay on track, you can set a hydration goal and log your water in your Fitbit app.
The Setback: You’re Skimping on Sleep
The Fix: Stick to a Regular Bedtime
Quality sleep is crucial for your overall health and wellbeing, and it becomes even more important when you set a weight loss goal or want to nail a fitness target. That’s why Richardson encourages his clients to keep a consistent bedtime, and power-down screens an hour before bed. “It’s a good idea to limit non-sleep activities, like trolling social media and bingeing on TV, when you’re tucking in for the night,” says Richardson. “Think of your bed as a place you go for rest and recovery,” he says, “so you can wake up refreshed and ready to tackle the next day, and the next workout.”
Drink a little more water here, lean on a few friends there; make sure you’re getting enough sleep, and think of burpees before mindlessly chowing down at that pizza party. There’s room for improvement in every routine. Just remember: you are a work in progress, and since you’re building this new healthy lifestyle, you can craft it as you go!
This article is not intended to substitute for informed medical advice. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat a health problem or condition. Always check with your doctor before changing your diet, altering your sleep habits, taking supplements, or starting a new fitness routine.